College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Mississippi: The Dance Company Presents ‘Crossing Borders’

Troupe will showcase eight original dance pieces this weekend in Meek Hall Auditorium

MARCH 20, 2018 BY STAFF REPORT

Students in Mississippi: The Dance Company perform ‘Redefining Carmen,’ which runs this weekend at Meek Hall Auditorium in the company’s ‘Crossing Borders’ spring concert. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

Students in Mississippi: The Dance Company perform ‘Redefining Carmen,’ which runs this weekend at Meek Hall Auditorium in the company’s ‘Crossing Borders’ spring concert. Photo by Thomas Graning/Ole Miss Communications

The University of Mississippi’s modern dance company will perform eight original works, including a piece choreographed for Mississippi: The Dance Company by Cuban choreographer Osnel Delgado, this weekend at Meek Hall Auditorium.

Mississippi: The Dance Company presents “Crossing Borders” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (March 23-24) and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (March 24-25). Tickets are $20 each, available through the Ole Miss Box Office inside the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts or online at https://olemissboxoffice.com/.

Each piece in the show is built around the theme of defying a boundary and was inspired by the Dance in Cuba study abroad trip last year. Styles of the pieces vary from contemporary to musical theatre to jazz.

Seven students studied modern dance with Cuban dance company Malpaso for two weeks in December. Delgado, the company’s choreographer and artistic director, created “Redefining Carmen,” in which the students portray what it means to be a contemporary woman.

“Getting to dance the contemporary style, which is what we’ve done in Cuba, it’s really empowering,” said Lydia Myers, a junior musical theatre major from Laurel. “It’s very liberating. It’s very different and very unique.”

Students in the dance company are from a variety of disciplines across campus, many of which do not involve dance. The students’ dance and cultural education both improved while studying in Cuba, said Jennifer Mizenko, UM professor of theatre arts who led the study abroad trip to Cuba.

“Their skill levels are very different, and they still are different,” she said. “The ones with less experience, though, really improved and came a long way and have learned these professional standards.

“And the ones who had more skill level have gotten sharper, have more understanding of nuances of tiny little instructions. There was a lot of growth.”

She added that the students performing “Redefining Carmen” learned the process of working together to portray a message through dance.

“I think all of them, in general, are more aware of how one individual is so important to the whole group,” Mizenko said. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, but your individual role really makes the group what it is.

“They learned how to take the choreographer’s visions and create that vision through the piece.”

Besides Delgado’s composition, the show will include three faculty pieces by Mizenko; Rene Pulliam, associate professor of theatre arts; and Roxie Thomas, adjunct instructor of theatre arts. Four students also will debut their pieces.

Mississippi: The Dance Company has been at the university since the 1960s and under Mizenko’s artistic direction since 1989. Her goal is to make members of the Ole Miss community patrons of the arts.

“We need people not only to perform, but we need people to be in the audience and support,” she said. “Our culture and our society need the arts. If our society didn’t need the arts, they’d just go away, but the arts are always going to be there.”