Dancers from all of the Greater Mountaintop Communities will be appearing in the Joan Harris Centre’s 32nd annual recitals scheduled for June 13th and 14th at the F. M. Kirby Center. In all over 500 performers are slated to take the stage over the weekend in An American Songbook, a show designed to demonstrate the succession genres of both music and dance that were created by American artists.
The Kirby Centre will morph into a museum of sorts, dedicated to music, moves and moods as the cavalcade of choreography and compositions span the ages and our country treating the audience to the spectrum of these age old forms of art. An explosion of lights, music and motion will both entertain and educate the audience as some of the American musical genres to be explored will include; Jazz, Funk, Big Band, Pop, Blues, Country, Hip Hop and, of course, Rock-n-Roll.
Thoughtful lyrical odes and graceful jazz pieces will be joined by hard hitting, industrial tap and street funk numbers. Elaborately costumed performers representing five counties of Northeastern Pennsylvania will be appearing in the fast paced song and dance review.
Some of the featured pieces in the production will include Clowns, directed and choreographed by Elisabeth Harris, Dallas. The piece, set to the haunting Door’s song “The End”, is inspired by the Joffrey Ballet’s work of the same name which it staged in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War. The dance opens with a large explosion with what seems to be a heap of clowns with one sole survivor. The protagonist amazingly revives his friends and they all go back to their usual clown antics. Soon, however, the revived clowns revert to the basest levels of man’s tendencies and return to violence. It is not until the protagonist clown entraps his companions in a giant balloon, that the hostility ends and he is left alone once again as the sole survivor.
This eerie piece which concludes act one is the perfect counter point to the work which will open the second act of An American Songbook. The modern work, Pandora’s Box, first staged by Elisabeth Harris fourteen years ago and being re-staged by senior-instructor Megan Brady is based on the Greek myth and is ultimately a story about persevering in the face of despair. The show concludes with a percussion set titled Jammin. Choreographed by Sean Harris, the work debuted in 1997 and uses both tap dance and unusual instruments to explore urban beats and rhythms.
The performance marks the conclusion of one of the most successful seasons in the school’s history. During the past year, the Joan Harris Dancers have been showcased in over 30 productions ranging from professional shows and television appearances to regional festivals and theatrical events. The studio recently produced the full-length ballet; The Sleeping Beauty and these weekend showcases are the fifth and final full school recital of the season. Instructors from the school have worked with professional companies from across the country as well as credited course at area colleges and universities.
The production is slated for three performances, Friday June 17th at 6:30 and Saturday June 18th at 1 and 6 p. m. Tickets are $16 and can be purchased in advance at the Joan Harris Centre in the Harris Conservatory for the Arts in Luzerne. For information call 287-7977 or visit www.joanharrisdancers.com.