UI's family-friendly November Dance honors beloved professor

UI's family-friendly November Dance honors beloved professor

URBANA — This year's November Dance has special meaning for the University of Illinois Department of Dance.

Last November, the department lost a beloved professor. This year's event is called "Celebrating Kate Kuper" and starts today at Krannert.

The concert's director, Professor Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, said Ms. Kuper was the community-engagement faculty member and inspired the department with tireless work to reach everyone from children to people with Parkinson's disease.

"She taught creative dance for children," Nettl-Fiol said. "She touched the lives of lots of people. She taught our students to teach children, taught dance for people with Parkinson's and worked in public schools all over the state."

The family-friendly concert features new works by Professor Jennifer Monson, student choreographers Mauriah Kraker, Charlie Maybee and Krystal Collins, and guest choreographer Olga Zitluhina, a dance artist from Latvia who created "Just Enough" during her residency in September.

This work for seven dancers explores the excesses of contemporary life, asking us to consider questions like "Why is everything so fast? Why do we throw so much away?"

The exchange was part of the Global Practice Sharing, a consortium of artists and presenters from Eastern Europe and the U.S.

"We participated in the first part of the exchange two years ago when one of our faculty members went to the Latvian Academy of Culture," Nettl-Fiol said.

Other pieces in the concert include "As Such, Or Not," danced by five graduate students in a structured improvisation; "Tuning the Turn," inspired by weekly pre-dawn rehearsals on the Barnhart Prairie in Urbana as part of the creative process, and "Where We're Going," a dance that explores the language of black girlhood.

The concert also features a solo tap piece by graduate student Charlie Maybee. "Pyrolysis," created for senior Lauren Mendelson. It uses friction and exhaustion to shed the tap dancer from standard conventions.

"There's no musical soundtrack," Nettl-Fiol said. "The musicality comes from the physicality of the dancer, who creates images of a superhuman ability to create fire through the friction of her tap shoes."

If you go

What: November Dance.

Where: Colwell Playhouse, Krannert Center, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Tickets: $10 to $22.

Info: 217-333-6280.