WANT TO GO?
"Poetry in Motion"
Presented by the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
WHERE: Culture Center Theater
COST: Adults $12, seniors and children $10
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fans of the arts are in for a treat Friday night as the worlds of poetry and dance collide in "Poetry in Motion" at the Culture Center Theater. In the program, the River City Youth Ballet Ensemble will perform 10 dances inspired by and incorporating poems from "Wild Sweet Notes," an anthology of West Virginian poetry spanning 1950-1999.
The event begins with Kanawha County student contest winners reading their original poems. Readings of works by local poet Jean Anaporte will be interspersed through the evening.
Recently, the ensemble allowed this writer to view a studio rehearsal. Even without the grandeur and ambience of a larger stage and audience, the dances were quite captivating and very effective in their depictions of the selected poems.
Michelle Raider, the group's founder and artistic director, choreographed the cinematic opening piece, which is based on WVU professor Gail Galloway Adams' "Three Women on a Porch." Poetry Out Loud winner Anthony Braxton will read the poem, and the dance will feature music by Tori Amos, Patsy Cline and Enya.
Raider's poignant portrayal of the poem focuses on three old women in a nursing home, reflecting on different periods of their lives. We follow their memories, as represented by younger dancers, from little girls playing dress up through adolescence and motherhood. The series of recollections tenderly culminates in the elderly women dancing alongside their childhood counterparts.
Raider also is responsible for the outstandingly dramatic and somewhat frenetic performance of "Touching the Stars" by West Virginia's first female poet laureate, Vera Andrews Harvey. Fund for the Arts director Margaret Lieberman, a choreographer in her native South Africa, orchestrates many of the other dances.
Lieberman's merry re-imagining of the square-dancing verse "Faldang," from former West Virginia poet laureate Louise McNeill's epic poem, "Gauley Mountain," is sure to be a crowd pleaser, thanks to the adorable, giddy young dancers. She also provides an elegant, romantic rendering of Barbara Tedford's natural nocturne "Incantation," accompanied by the gorgeous music of Chopin.
The centerpiece of the evening is a stunning interpretation of Muriel Miller Dressler's signature poem, "Appalachia." Dressler's lovely testimonial for the Mountain State, as told to an outsider, gave the "Wild Sweet Notes" volume its title: