Modern dance, with roots in the early 20
century, is no longer truly modern.

A better term for what is happening in the world of artistic movement now is contemporary dance, and a one-night festival of innovative works by choreographers nurtured at Chapman University is coming to the
Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts
on Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. The performances are part of Opening and Preview Season for the new 1,044-seat venue.

EmC x BD – Emerging Voices in Choreography
is a collection of works curated by Jennifer Backhaus ’94, an instructor in the
College of Performing Arts
’ Department of Dance and the founder and artistic director of Backhausdance, an award-winning Orange County dance company. The title of the event is meant to suggest the formula for energy.

Performers on stage

Athleticism is a hallmark of the works choreographed by Blythe Barton ’04, whose “In Turn” will be part of the April 27 festival. (Photo by Sue Brenner)

“What’s happening in dance now is really a fusion of many styles,” said Backhaus, who was selected as one of OC Metro magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2009 and honored by Chapman University as Alumni of the Year in 2007. “There’s a ballet vocabulary intermixed with things we would consider more modern dance or things that are very pedestrian that we consider postmodern,” she said. “Contemporary to me is a fusion of all these movement styles.”

Other choreographers whose works are featured in the festival include Blythe Barton ’04, whose “In Turn,” features big, athletic movement.

“Headspace,” by Elke Calvert ’11 and The Fyber Vision is “more avant garde and moody,” Backhaus said, and features Chapman alumnae Ellen Akashi ’13, Emily Duncan ’13 and Elyse Frelinger ‘12.

Gracie Whyte ’10 and Laura Berg, a duo known as WhyteBerg, collaborated on “Unlocking Rooms,” an intimate duet the two perform themselves.

The selection with the largest group of male dancers is excerpts from “FAM,” an evening-length work choreographed by Genevieve Carson, ‘07, the new artistic director of the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company. Drea Sobke ’05 is one of the performers.

“That is going to be really beautiful and moving, and have a nice emotional ensemble feel in the connection between people,” Backhaus said.

Performers on stage

Among the companies represented will be the Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, led by its new artistic director, Genevieve Carson ‘07.

The only piece that is not choreographed by a Chapman alumna is Yin Yue’s “Untitled,” featuring former Chapman dancers Tawny Chapman ’05, Kaitlin Regan ‘08 and Amanda Kay White ’02.

Performances by Backhausdance will open and close the program.

The event is unusual for a facility of the Musco Center’s size, Backhaus said, with such venues typically focused on ticket sales and drawing from a predictable selection of well-known companies such as Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Hubbard Street and Alvin Ailey.

“We’re really excited about presenting dance there,” Backhaus said. “I think it’s great that we are supporting emerging artists in choreography. I think it’s very rare.”

Reserved Tickets: $10–$25. Student Reserved Tickets: $10 (any level) with ID. Purchase tickets online or by calling 844-626-8726, Monday through Friday noon to 4 p.m.

(Display photo at top by Watchara Phomicinda)