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Oberfelder Dance Project Introduces Moravian Dancers to Marc Chagall

Production of “Landmarks of Dreams” to include Moravian students – April 21

Bethlehem, Pa., April 18, 2005—The New York-based Jody Oberfelder Dance Project has been rehearsing with six Moravian College dance students in order to have them participate in its performance at the College on Thursday, April 21, 7:30 p.m., Foy Hall.

The full-length work, Landmarks of Dreams, is inspired by the art of Marc Chagall (1887-1985), the great Russian-Jewish painter whose most famous pieces are the giant murals at the Metropolitan Opera in Lincoln Center.

In Chagall’s colorful, often humorous world, peasant artists and musicians, as well as farm animals and flowers, often float through the air or bounce between buildings and clouds. The cover of the long-playing record album and now the CD for the musical Fiddler on the Roof, though not by Chagall, is based on his imagery and spirit. The poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti paid homage to Chagall’s childlike topsy-turvy world with a poem that begins, “Don’t let that horse eat that violin! cried Chagall’s mother.”

“Landmarks of Dreams explores the beauty of the human spirit through dance,” says Oberfelder in her program notes for the work. It includes a dancing violinist (Lisa Gutkin of the Klezmatics), animals, acrobats, and “floating Chagall figures twirling right before your eyes!”

Oberfelder’s sets are by visual artist B. Wurtz, costumes by Katrin Schnabl, and projections by underwater photographer Pamela Crimmins in collaboration with lighting designer Kathy Kaufmann.

Original music is by Frank London of the Klezmatics, Ed Ratliff, and Rob Schwimmer.

The Klezmatics are a klezmer band, playing Jewish popular music of Eastern Europe with bouncy rhythms, sweet-and-sour melodies, and blue notes that prefigure American jazz.

Oberfelder and one of her dancers came to Moravian for a residency in March, at which time they worked with the Moravian students who will fill out the piece. (Oberfelder has nine dancers in her company.) After teaching the students their part, an athletic and exuberant set of lifts and line dances, Oberfelder left Moravian faculty Dawn Ketterman Benner and Mary Anne Hoffman to supervise the practices of the piece.

Ketterman Benner is professor of physical education, associate director of athletics, and senior women’s athletics administrator, as well as women’s tennis coach for the College. She founded the Moravian College Dancers 30 years ago and was honored in 2000 by a designated fund in her name, to be used for dance scholarships and expenses.

Hoffman, who has taught ballet at Moravian since 2001, is the artistic director of the Moravian College Dancers. She also teaches dance in the Aspire after-school program for at-risk students in five elementary schools of the Bethlehem Area School District.

The students are Jessica Cusumano ’07, Devon, nursing; Cathleen Lavelle ’05, Bushkill, psychology; Rebecca Moore ’06, Easton, political science; Andrea Nudelman ’05, Haworth, N.J., psychology and graphic design; Bridget 0'Rourke ’07, Lansdowne, art; and Kathryn Washer ’06, Long Pond, music and physics. Alycia Piazza, jazz dance instructor at Moravian and assistant artistic director of the Moravian College Dancers, also is participating in the piece.

The students take dance classes as an elective and participate in the Moravian College Dancers on their own time. Most have danced for at least 15 years before coming to the College, training with teachers in their home towns and participating in regional dance competitions.

Kathryn Washer’s mother, Trinette Singleton, is a former lead dancer with the Joffrey Ballet and was pictured on the cover of Time magazine in 1967. Kathryn has studied with her mother and at the School of the Joffrey Ballet in New York.

Bridget O’Rourke also takes classes at the Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia. Andrea Nudelman was a prize-winning high school gymnast and still teaches and judges gymnastics.

In another aspect of the collaboration between the dance company and the College, art major Kirsli Spinks, ’05, Lebanon, N.J., designed the posters and rack cards for this event.