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The Sean Curran Dance Company will perform a program of four dances at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 25, at Lafayette College’s Williams Center for the Arts. Seamus Egan (flutes) and Winifred Horan (fiddle) of Solas will provide live music for “Six Laments,” a dance that premiered last year.

Tickets for the concert cost $15 and may be purchased by calling the Williams Center box office at 610-330-5009.

In addition to the performance, two master classes will be given: “Movement for Theater Students” from 1-2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23, at the Williams Center, and a class in dance at 5 p.m. Friday, March 24, at Muhlenberg College’s dance studio. Both workshops are free and open to the public. For more information, call the Williams Center at 610-330-5010.

Curran’s deep explorations of music and dance as a member of the Bill T. Jones-Arnie Zane Dance Company and his starring role in Broadway’s Stomp have made him especially attentive to the musical underpinnings of dances he creates, as evidenced by the program he will perform at Lafayette.

“Six Laments” is set to a new commissioned score by Egan, who played the music for it with Horan last summer at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Visual design for this dance of seven was provided by Kieran McGonnell. Co-commissioned by Jacob’s Pillow and the National Dance Project, “Six Laments” addresses how loss can simultaneously break our hearts and startle us awake.

Excerpts from “Five Points of Articulation” consist of three different solos performed in front of graphic artist Mark Randall’s projected designs and images. The emotionally driven scores of Leos Janacek, Fritz Kriesler, and Antonin Dvorak are the musical backdrop. “In the excerpts from ‘Five Points of Articulation,’ Curran shows the brilliant physical articulation he has so long been capable of as a dancer, and Increasingly as an actor, too,” says The Boston Globe.

“Symbolic Logic” draws much of its mystery from the haunting contemporary Indian songs of Sheila Chandra. This dance for nine is Curran’s third collaboration with graphic artist Mark Randall. The formality of choreographic structure is juxtaposed with a metaphysical context. Chandra’s modern methods of traditional Indian singing, rhythm, and instruments enhance the metaphysical aspect. The work was originally commissioned by The Joyce Theater’s Altogether Different Series.

Curran’s witty and wildly popular “Folk Dance for the Future” is a spirited and contemporary send-up of Irish step dancing, a technique Curran was trained in as a boy. It was originally commissioned by and premiered for Celebrate Brooklyn. This work for ten is performed to traditional Irish mouth music. “Juxtaposing old and new, poking fun, and reveling in camaraderie, it is a rousing finale danced to Irish mouth music that sounds the triumph of the human spirit – and Curran’s own,” writes The Berkshire Eagle of Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

Curran’s work expresses the “quiet desperation” of people who are surrounded by others, but fail to connect with them, says Suzanne Carbonneau in an essay for Jacob’s Pillow. “Curran has indicated his own identification with the emotional truth of the world depicted by the American painter Edward Hopper, whose cityscapes seem as barren and inhospitable as any prairie,” she writes. “He notes that Hopper’s paintings often portray two people, each of whom is made to seem even more solitary in the presence of the otherIn ‘Six Laments,’ a stage full of people exist in detachment, the depths of their separateness heartbreakingly apparent with each look, with each gesture.”

Curran’s solos are autobiographical, raising issues of madness, unease, abuse, and loneliness. “He wears his influences proudly—from the Irish step-dancing of his childhood, to the spatial felicities of Twyla Tharp and George Balanchine, to the unceasing inventiveness of Trisha Brown,” notes Carbonneau. “He considers Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane, in whose company he danced for ten years, as his ‘artistic parents.’ From Jones, he learned a commitment to politics, the value of outrageousness, and the nobility of honesty. Zane instilled in him a love of art history, and an appreciation for structure and formality. Curran sees himself as part of a continuum, and he is carrying on the modern dance tradition, not only by creating his own work, but also in establishing a community for people who want to dance. In founding the Sean Curran Company he has, in some sense, re-created the company structure, the ‘family,’ that was his own gift from Zane and Jones.”

“Sean Curran is unquestionably one of the finest choreographers working in modern dance today and can be dubbed a real ‘choreographer’s choreographer,'” says Backstage Magazine. According to The New York Times, last year his company “arrived in time to preserve the [Jacob’s Pillow] festival’s reputation for eclecticism.” “Curran demands a lot of himself, and his solo works are often rigorously soul-searching,” writes Dance Magazine.

Egan and Horan last visited Lafayette as part of a September 3, 1999 Solas concert at the Williams Center. Solas has been a featured group at Bethlehem’s Celtic Classic Festival, and earned back-to-back best album awards from both the Association for Independent Music and Irish Echo newspaper for its 1996 Solas and 1997 Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers. In just a few years, the band has progressed from club gigs to theaters and headlining status at festivals. Solas’ breakout album, The Words That Remain, was released in 1998 to critical acclaim. How that carries over into concerts is noted by The Washington Post in a review of the 1998 Washington Irish Folk Festival, which mentioned that the “interplay and virtuosity displayed” by the band “often produced an exhilarating effect.”

The 1999-2000 Performance Series at Lafayette College is sponsored, in part, by grants from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Mid Atlantic Foundation for the Arts.

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