The Chapman University Dance Touring Ensemble, directed by assistant professor of dance Alicia Okouchi-Guy, consists of an elite group of 14 dance majors who rehearsed throughout the fall semester for an interterm tour of numerous high schools in Southern California as well as throughout the San Francisco and San Jose area and Las Vegas.  This year’s tour ensemble presented an exciting, informative showcase highlighting a variety of genres of dance. This unique performance entertained, but also educated prospective students about the multiple possibilities a degree in dance can offer.  The dance ensemble performed original works created by some of Los Angeles’ top industry choreographers. Many young dancers are unaware of the variety of opportunities a professional career in dance has to offer.  The tour ensemble worked to inspire young students to find confidence in selecting dance as their major in higher education.

Liz Maxwell, assistant professor of dance, organized a community outreach program during the interterm session highlighting the experiences of select Chapman dancers in learning the repertory of Merce Cunningham.  “Chapman Dance Ensemble: Cunningham” embarked on a series of performances targeted at high school performing arts programs in the Los Angeles and Orange County areas. The lecture-demonstration presented excerpts of Cunningham’s work as a MinEvent, a unique, uninterrupted sequence of excerpts of his work including repertory representing 70 years of dance making. This MinEvent was an abbreviated version of the original 30-minute sequence staged by Daniel Squire which was performed in Chapman’s Fall Dance Concert.  The dancers demonstrated and discussed the process of learning the choreography and adapting to some of its unique qualities, in order to enlighten new audiences as to the importance of Cunningham’s groundbreaking work and allow the Chapman performers to share the ups and downs of the yearlong process they spent learning about his work.

Chapman’s University Singers, under the baton of Dr. Stephen Coker, director of choral activities, toured the Pacific Northwest in January, wending their way from Washington state down through Oregon and back into Northern California.  During their 12-day tour, the University Singers made 20 separate singing “appearances”, including community concerts, high school workshops, and several worship services. These engagements involved audiences from 14 high schools from the Pacific Northwest and Bay Area.  The Conservatory of Music and the Office of Alumni Relations also co-hosted a reception for Chapman alumni and prospective students following the choir’s stunning concert performance in Lake Oswego, Oregon.  The acclaimed 34-voice mixed chamber choir performed a beautiful program ranging from Mendelssohn, Byrd and Rossini to contemporary pieces by George Shearing, Conrad Susa and Andrzej Koszewski.  Back home at Chapman, the University Singers will offer a Post-Tour Concert featuring the same program on Friday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall.  Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 seniors and non-Chapman students.  For tickets, call 714-997-6812 (or purchase at the door).

On the heels of Chapman University Singers’ tour, the Chapman Chamber Orchestra, led by Daniel Alfred Wachs, director of instrumental studies, and the Chapman Percussion Ensemble, under the direction of Nicholas Terry, headed to Las Vegas, joined by Robert Becker, director of string studies; Paul Sherman, conductor of the University Wind Symphony; and Teren Shaffer, adjunct professor of conducting and Chapman alum (’08).  The Alumni Relations Office, The Conservatory of Music and Office of Admissions co-hosted a reception for Chapman alumni and prospective students following a capstone performance at the Las Vegas Academy for the Performing and Visual Arts.  “We were delighted to return to Las Vegas. Over the past few years, we have built relationships with the region’s finest music programs, of which there are many. On this tour, in addition to performing, we held clinics and master classes,” says Professor Wachs.  “Let’s hope that what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas!”