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UNM flamenco, modern dance show features ‘abstract theme’

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — About 40 University of New Mexico dancers will showcase flamenco and contemporary choreography at the Rodey Theatre this weekend.

Dubbed “ARS LONGA vita brevis (Art Is Long, Life Is Short)” the program combines vanguard choreography from international guest artists and UNM’s resident faculty. Performances run on weekends through March 5.

The dancers will perform two flamenco and two modern dances, UNM head of dance Donna Jewell said.

“It’s a huge abstract theme,” she said.

New Mexico native and UNM alumnus Dana Tai Soon sent two dancers from his company to work with students.

“It’s about departing a homeland,” Jewell said.

Soon has served as cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department for more than 20 years.

Choreographed by Rafael Estévez and Valeriano Paños, “Çiertas Danças” combines escuela bolero with classical Spanish dance and ballet, Jewell said.

Estévez and Paños are among the most highly regarded choreographers in flamenco/Spanish dance today.

Amanda Hamp’s “The northern sky, a westward facing window” was provoked by former slave Harriet Jacob’s self-confinement in a 7- by 9-foot garret in her grandmother’s home after she faked an escape.

“It’s about what happens to a human being when they’re confined,” Jewell said.

Famed Canadian choreographer Danny Grossman’s “Ecce Etude” was inspired by the religious paintings and sculptures of Michelangelo.

“It’s evocative of sculpture of the human body,” Jewell said.

Grossman designed the drapey, flesh-colored costumes, she added.

“I find it hilarious,” Jewell said. “It’s delicate, it’s vibrant; the music is very uplifting. It’s almost like these statues come to life.”

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