College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

The DM: Mississippi: The Dance Company Debuts a ‘Fresh Start’

March 31, 2016 | By Devna Bose, The Daily Mississippian

winterThe University’s resident dance company is putting an innovative twist on their annual modern dance concert, this year entitled “Fresh Start.”

The program and the dance company are under the direction of Jennifer Mizenko, professor of theatre arts. Mississippi: The Dance Company has existed on campus since the early 1960s. Mizenko is internationally recognized for her choreography and has instructed master classes in Italy, England and the United States. She has been with the dance company since 1989 as artistic director. The company has reached national attention under her leadership.The dance company made regular appearances in national performances, including performing at the Kennedy Center in the nation’s capital in 2004. This is Mizenko’s 27th year directing and choreographing for the dance company.

The concert embodies the idea of spring as well as “restarting after a fall or let-down,” as described by Mizenko. The program will consist of nine dance pieces, each reflecting a unique perspective on the fresh start concept. The many music and dance styles incorporated in the program will range from “solemn and meditative to high energy and acrobatic, and also from pure dance to dance theatre,” according to Mizenko.

The concert will feature collaborative dances choreographed and composed by students and faculty alike. The choreographers for the concert include Mizenko, Department of Theatre Arts Interim Chair Rene Pulliam, Visiting Assistant Professor Seth Lieber, and Instructor Roxie Thomas. The Guest Artist is Corrie Cockrell. Student choreographers include Genevieve Walker, Drew Wheeler and Victoria Burrow.

Jennifer Mizenko

Jennifer Mizenko

One of the most distinctive parts of the concert is a special segment called the “Water Dance.” This unique feature of the dance is being created in conjunction with National Water Dance Day and will be transported to the Mud Island River Park in Memphis, Tennessee from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. on April 16. The event will be begin with a poetry reading by University students and will be followed by the dance, which will move along the model of the Mississippi River. Facts will be recited about the river and the culture that surrounds it throughout the performance. This event will be a part of a documentary film meant to spread awareness about the issues that threaten the Mississippi River.

Freshman Blair Caton will perform in two dances in the program, including the Water Dance, and said audiences should expect a riveting performance that everyone will be sure to enjoy. She said the program consists of an extremely diverse array of pieces that range from comical to dramatic and graceful.

“The two dances that I am in are probably two of the most diverse pieces in the show. The water dance is a long, beautiful piece, and the other dance I’m in is very different and more sassy. It’s something that the audience is going to have fun with,” Caton said. “This is my first time being a part of the dance company here and it’s been an amazing experience. It’s so exciting to dance with such an impressive company on a collegiate level, and working with Jennifer Mizenko has been equally as wonderful of an experience. She is really able to connect to the performers and help them progress as artists. She molds the performance to express her creative vision perfectly.”

The concert lasts approximately 90 minutes.

“It includes something for everyone,” Mizenko said. “Young, old and everyone in between will walk away with their favorite dances. It is family friendly, and appropriate for all ages.”

The event will be starts at 7:30 p.m. April 1, 2 and 7:30 p.m. on April 2 and at 2 p.m. on April 3 at Meek Auditorium on the University campus. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the University of Mississippi Theatre website or the University of Mississippi Box Office.