Violence, fear, loss and running water are just some of the themes Kinetics Dance Theatre explores in three performances this weekend at the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City.
The first performance will be presented at the company's 11th annual Gala Concert at 8 p.m. today. The black tie fund-raiser will feature a champagne and dessert reception after the performance.
4 The concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. tomorrow.
A free student concert, featuring a lecture and demonstration by the Kinetics Student Company, will be performed at 3 p.m. Sunday.
The Ellicott City-based studio has 200 students in its school, 13 in the Student Company and nine dancers -- five women and four men -- in the Professional Company.
The first two concerts will showcase five original pieces that have been performed by the Professional Company in Baltimore, Washington and New York. Those concerts also will feature a piece developed and performed by the Hammond High School Dance Company of Columbia.
The pieces by the Professional Company include "Sketches" by company member Elizabeth Lowe Ahearn, which deals with the relationships of three couples.
"It's a completely abstract movement," said artistic director Ken Skrzesz. "The first couple does a movement that is picked up by the second couple and then the third. The first movement is fun and frivolous and progresses to the third, where it gets more serious."
"Elegy," choreographed by guest artist Stephanie Powell to music by Handel, expresses individual feelings of mourning for lost loves, opportunities and dreams.
"The movement and gestures are clearly of grieving," said Mr. Skrzesz, 34. "But the piece ultimately communicates hope."
"Round Dance," choreographed by guest artist Jan Van Dyke to music by Peter Gabriel, was first danced in London in 1985. The piece evokes images of primitive ritual.
"The piece is very confrontational," Mr. Skrzesz said. "Warriors gather at a glade in a forest. There's a lot of stamping and pounding of hands on the floor. Dancers communicate in pairs and come to the center of the circle to communicate. The movement is sharp and grounded, rather than lyrical and soft."
"Shadowlands," by choreographer Amanda Thom-Woodson, explores the lives of people who live in fear.
"It's based on Bosnia and the fact that life continues even in war time," Mr. Skrzesz said. "Within choreography, there are images of death and destruction juxtaposed on images of daily life. There's an exhaustive scene where a young man is courting several women. That romance is happening against images of war."
"Variations of Joy," created by Mr. Skrzesz, is set to Mozart. It explores the concept that happiness may be found in even the darkest aspects of life.
The piece, which is about the breakup and reconciliation of a relationship, begins with a monologue and solo dance that Mr. Skrzesz performs without music.
"The reconciliation in a relationship produces the joy that's based in the second movement," he said.
After the five Kinetics pieces, the Hammond High School Dance Company will perform "Assault and Battery," based on the teens' perspectives of how violence affects society.
The dance developed as part of an educational partnership between Kinetics and the Howard County Public School system. Mr. Skrzesz and Brooke Kuhl, director of the Hammond dance program, wanted students to create a piece based on issues concerning them.
"We were talking about what's going on in society, how we don't solve problems other than with violence," said Allison Hicks, 18, a senior at Hammond High. "So we have movements that express killing, loneliness, racism, sexism.
"We're telling our audience this is what's happening now, the reality going on in our society. But we're also saying there's hope."
Mr. Skrzesz gave assignments to the 20 female students, who are in 10th through 12th grade, that evolved into dance pieces.
"They developed a concept and movement," Mr. Skrzesz said. "I just supplied the structure. I like their creativity and approach to original movement. They have a real understanding of the movement they created. They perform the concept with real intent."
In one part of the assignment, students were required to perform brief monologues within a piece.
"It was interesting to see how we each made up eight movements and they became the basis of an entire piece," said Julie Finglass, 17, a Hammond High senior.
"They've been very challenged," said Ms. Kuhl. "They went to the Kinetics Theatre to rehearse. That was a positive influence. It gives them something to shoot for -- some are considering a dance career and some never danced before. This is really a big deal."
The Kinetics Student Concert on Sunday will feature three pieces created by Kinetics faculty that will be danced by all 13 members of the company, girls ages 7 to 17.
Sharon DiPache created the modern piece "Agua Caliente," which is "based on the concept of running water," Mr. Skrzesz said. "It's physically and spatially oriented.
"[The dancers are] playing around with weight. They hold each other up. They're leaning on each other, pulling away from each other and lifting."
Stephanie Thibeault created the ballet piece "La Joie De Jeunessee," which explores elementary ballet steps and movement.
Mr. Skrzesz choreographed the musical theater piece "Country Swing," which is set to songs from the Broadway musical "Oklahoma."
Kinetics Dance Theatre at the Howard County Center for the Arts in Ellicott City will present its 11th annual "Gala Concert" at 8 p.m. today and will repeat the program at 8 p.m. tomorrow.
A free student concert will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $35 for for tonight's gala and $10 for tomorrow's concert.