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Dance Kaleidoscope 'Music of the Night' Production brings Company Dancer Emily Dyson into New Light

by Rita Kohn
October 24, 2018
Indiana Repertory Theatre
140 W. Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-5252
Rita Kohn, member: Dance Critics Association, Authors Guild, Dramatists Guild
Dance Kalaidoscope’s news release for their upcoming “Music of the Night” program fulsomely beamed; “We are excited for audiences to see this show at Indiana Repertory Theatre, October 25-28. This show is like a glass of champagne—uplifting, fun & bubbly. From the live music in Act One played by American Pianists Association laureate Eric Zuber, to the FABULOUS new piece by Cynthia Pratt with music by Duke Ellington, to DK dancer Emily Dyson's premiere in her first lead role for the company - it's thrilling!"

Indeed it is thrilling for a dance writer to learn a stalwart ensemble member has been promoted into the upper echelon of a company.

“Emily Dyson is coming into her own as a soloist with Dance Kaleidoscope,” said DK Artistic Director David Hochoy, during a conversation following a rehearsal of “Sophisticated Ellington.” [on Oct. 15.]

“From the start, Emily has worked hard and consistently to grow, learn and become the fully-fledged artist she is today.”

Throughout Act One, Dyson appears in her usual ensemble roles; Act Two she is front and center for the reprise of “Sophisticated Ellington,” which premiered in 2007 featuring Liberty Harris as the lead in Hochoy’s trajectory of love sought and found across eight Ellington and Strayhorn 1930s through 1940s jazz and blues standards.

Liberty Harris retained tenure with the company as Rehearsal Director when she retired from dancing exactly four years ago; now she is coaching Emily Dyson into Hochoy’s delight-filled choreography depicting a shy young woman’s journey toward love sought and found, amidst a throng of people taking the ‘A’ Train “to sugar hill way up in Harlem….”

Hochoy touched on his joy in this act of passing on. “To see Libby sharing a piece she had ownership in, made a statement in, found her voice in,” is what Hochoy names as yet another gift as he moves into his 28th season as DK’s artistic director. “Jazz is Libby’s idiom, Emily is doing an inquiry into the genre. When I choreographed for Libby in 2007, she was at the height of her power, now Emily owns the role in her own way.”

“This performance [as a whole] is a rollercoaster of different types of movement and music I'm looking forward to sharing with audiences,” said Dyson, “especially with most of our first act being accompanied by live music, the energy in the theatre is going to be overwhelming. The music for this entire concert is gorgeous. Each piece is very different and has its own charm. Even though Three Preludes and Fascinatin' Rhythm are both by George Gershwin, they each have a completely different feel. I look forward to hearing the beautiful subtleties in the music come to life when played by American Pianists Association pianist Eric Zuber.”

Dyson says musically she basically had to start from square one. "Before this concert I hadn’t heard a lot of music by Duke Ellington, so I've spent the past few weeks listening to his amazing works. They just transport me to a 1940’s jazz club. Sophisticated Ellington has a captivating sense of mystery and grace with the collaboration of movement and music. This is an exciting opportunity for me to learn and to continue to grow both in the studio and on stage. I'm looking forward to this being a season of new discoveries and continuing to look up to my peers for inspiration.”

“There’s so much joy in the Ellington piece,” underscores Harris, and her memory of “pride in and love of” dancing the work is what’s getting passed on not only to Dyson, but to a dozen other members of this 2018-2019 company—equally finding their way into music of Ellington. Veteran soloist Jillian Godwin is the only at-present company member who danced in the 2007 premiere of “Sophisticated Ellington.” Reprising her original role as the outgoing, up-for-gutsy moves member of the crowd out for a night, Godwin also now is taking on a segment from Harris’ original role. In making this choice, Hochoy stays closer to both Dyson’s and Godwin’s personalities and to the trajectory of the unfolding story that follows Dyson and Timothy June, partnering throughout a thread of discoveries about their relationship, leaving it as that—a touching glimpse of two under-the-radar people finding togetherness.

The subtext for Dyson is the relationship that’s basic to her tenure with DK.

“Ever since my first few weeks of being with Dance Kaleidoscope, I have looked up to rehearsal director Liberty Harris. I first moved to Indianapolis in 2011, not knowing anyone. Liberty took me under her wing and made sure I knew I was a part of the DK family. That has always been my goal—to help make sure that new dancers, especially ones whose families are far away, know that whether in or out of the studio, I will always be there to support and encourage them.

“Dance Kaleidoscope is my home, I am so thankful that David Hochoy took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to make Indianapolis my place to grow,” added Dyson. “I plan to stay and dance with DK as long as my body will allow, and to help grow our local audiences. I teach at a few studios in the area and my overall dream has been to provide dance students with the opportunity to see that becoming a professional contemporary dancer is a real, achievable goal, as long as they have the determination and passion. It is an amazing and rare thing for a contemporary dance company to be around for as long as Dance Kaleidoscope has been, and I would like to continue to reach new audiences to show them just how powerful and moving contemporary dance can be so that in the future my students will have the same opportunities I have.”

Choreography is a living thing, affirms Hochoy, alluding to Martha Graham’s dictum, asking new bodies and souls to dance eloquently to music from the past. “Music lives in the body of each new dancer.”

What: Dance Kaleidoscope 2018-19 season opening concert: "Music of the Night"

Act One: Choreography by David Hochoy; danced to live music by American Pianist Association laureate Eric Zuber: “Three Preludes” (2002), music by George Gershwin; “Fascinatin’ Rhythm” (2000), music by George Gershwin; “Clair de Lune” from “Seasons” (1993) music by Claude Debussy.

Eric Zuber appears in collaboration with the American Pianists Association, Indianapolis.

Choreography by Cynthia Pratt, “Duke’s Place (World Premiere”, music by Duke Ellington [recorded]

Throughout, lighting by Laura E. Glover, costumes by Cheryl Sparks

When: Oct. 25-28, 2018

Act Two: Choreography by David Hochoy; danced to recorded music, “Sophisticated Ellington (2007), music by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn.

Where: Indianapolis Repertory Theatre OneAmerica Stage, 140 W. Washington. St., downtown Indianapolis, IN

Tickets: DanceKal.org or 317-635-5252
Emily Dyson rehearsing 'Sophisticated Ellington.'

Emily Dyson rehearsing "Sophisticated Ellington."

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


Emily Dyson and Timothy June rehearsing 'Sophisticated Ellington.'

Emily Dyson and Timothy June rehearsing "Sophisticated Ellington."

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin


Emily Dyson and Timothy June rehearsing 'Sophisticated Ellington.'

Emily Dyson and Timothy June rehearsing "Sophisticated Ellington."

Photo © & courtesy of Freddie Kelvin

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