Photo by David Lancaster.
MADCO performs Accidentally on Purpose choreographed by Lindsay Hawkins in collaboration with Double Date Barbershop Quartet in fall 2015.
In this fast-paced world, it can be a challenge for artists in any field to remain relevant, much less reach significant milestones. St. Louis' Modern American Dance Company, however, has withstood the test of time — and in its latest production, the company hopes to get even you dancing as it celebrates the beginning of its 40th season.
This weekend, MADCO joins forces with Arianna String Quartet at the Touhill's Lee Theater for Invitation to Dance
, a collaboration of modern dance and music. The shows kick off the dance company's 40th anniversary year and the quartet's 25th.
And there's more. An hour before the evening shows, you can take a free ballroom dance lesson with Prestige Ballroom — and then dance the night away with both companies at a party following the performance.
"In thinking about what we wanted to do, it’s a performance of course, but it’s also a party. It’s a celebration kicking off an entire year of our 40th anniversary," MADCO artistic director Stacy West says.
The program will consist of four pieces. Three are brand new works: one by local choreographer Tricia Zweier and two choreographed within the company. The fourth is a reconstructed work by co-founder Alcine Welch.
"That’s a really special thing to have him back in the studio working with the dancers. He’s incredible," West says. "He’s almost 80 years old and is still a great teacher."
And then there's the quartet providing the show's music. West says MADCO doesn't go into any project without seeking out collaborations like this.
"It makes the work better. It makes the experience for the audience better. It makes artists more interested in delving in to the work deeper. Everything about it is better when you collaborate."
For these performances, the quartet will join the dancers on stage.
"We don't believe in musicians in the orchestra pit," West explains. "We believe that they are just as important to the formula as the dancers are, and that it’s interplay back and forth between music and dance. And we want the audience to have that experience."
A heavy emphasis in live music and collaboration is one of MADCO's more recent additions. One thing that hasn't changed over the years, however, is company's commitment to education.
Today MADCO works with the University of Missouri St. Louis' SUCCEED program, a two-year certificate program that teaches life and job skills to students with disabilities. The work motivated the company to provide its first-ever sensory friendly performance at the Saturday matinee, followed by a dance class.
"That performance will have adjustments in sound and lighting, and it’s fine for people to get up and move around if they need to, and it’s really meant to be a non-judgmental environment so that people with disabilities can come to the theater and enjoy dance, have an opportunity to enjoy it like everybody else," West says.
West says she hopes Invitation to Dance
gets audience members excited about all the things that MADCO will be doing throughout its year of 40th anniversary celebrations.
"This show is just getting us started."
You can see MADCO in Invitation to Dance
tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m., as well as at the sensory-friendly performance tomorrow at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit touhill.org