Baltimore Dance Theatre pays tribute to Scott Joplin


February 11, 1991|By J. L. Conklin

For the sixth year, Eva Anderson and her Baltimore Dance Theatre have put together an entertaining and instructional tribute to American composer Scott Joplin.

The program was split between Joplin's music in the first half and dances choreographed by Ms. Anderson, based (albeit loosely) on facets of Joplin's music, in the second. Guest pianist Raymond Jackson and Ms. Anderson provided historical insights and anecdotes for each of their selections.

Mr. Jackson, a professor of music at Howard University, provided renditions of various marches, waltzes and syncopated melodies, such as "The Strenuous Life," "March Majestic" and "The Maple Leaf Rag," with a bright but leisurely tempo that, as Mr. Jackson noted, was in tune with the pace of life at the turn of the century.

Ms. Anderson's talented company performed "Rock-A-My-Soul," "Ceremony I" and "Ceremony II" -- works with roots firmly fixed in African religious ceremonies. "Ceremony I," a work described as a modern dance version of a voodoo ceremony, used traditional African movements to create its mysterious world of spirits called up by the ritual's participants.

"Ceremony II," to music that Joplin composed for his opera "Treemonisha," took the voodoo ceremony into a classical motif.

"The Cake Walk March," during which the troupe invited audience members onstage to learn dance steps such as the "World's Fair," "The Clean-Up Dance" and "The Dude Walk," closed this spirited and enlightening program.

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