Surge is one of several Baltimore dance companies that has tried to crown a new identity with a new name.
Unlike the ill-fated Harbor City Ballet and Maryland State Ballet, however, the metamorphosis has worked for Surge.
And its new name -- unusual for a contemporary dance troupe, which usually is named for its founder -- indicates an energy that fuels a wide range of activities.
Anchored for two years at the Carver Center for Arts & Technology in Towson, Surge will perform works by its members this weekend at the center.
Its performances are just the top layer of its commitment to Carver, for which it provides teachers, workshops, hands-on experience, children's classes and a professional role model.
The relationship between the company and the arts magnet high school is symbiotic. When it moved to Carver, Surge found something rare in the modern-dance world: a home.
"I was very happy to take that portable sack of dance clothes out of the trunk of my car for the first time in my life," says artistic director Ken Skrzesz, 37, whose name is pronounced Skir-shesh.
When Carver invited the dance company, it offered "free rehearsal space, free theater space and a chance to work with young artists," Skrzesz says. "It was everything that I believe should be happening, philosophically, everywhere."
In return for its space, Surge gives the center:
A full curriculum for dance majors at the school, including modern, ballet and jazz studio classes, choreography, dance history and dance production. Five of Surge's members lead this program, called Dance Prime.
Dance classes, taught by two Surge members, for Carver's after-school program for preschoolers through middle-school students.
Dance performances and workshops for other county schoolchildren.
Internships for Carver and Goucher College students to learn what it is to run a dance company by stuffing press packets, writing grants and news releases and running the box office.
A place for Carver's theater, visual arts, cosmetology, carpentry, literary and culinary arts students to practice their skills.
On Surge's program, for instance, is a piece by Skrzesz called "Big Day," an affectionate look at a '50s wedding set to "Chapel of Love" and other rock-and-roll nuptial songs.
"The cosmetology students are doing the wig work for 'Big Day,' " says Skrzesz. "We couldn't have a 1958 piece without big hair!"
All this because Carver's administration saw the creative potential of having a dance company in the building.
Surge was originally called Kinetics, a Howard County company founded in 1985 by Dorothy Freed. Skrzesz became its administrative director in 1993.
Then the Carver Center, a new arts magnet school that had opened in the former Towsontowne Junior High School, asked Kinetics to be its resident dance company.
At first, it agreed. Then Kinetics' board of directors decided the troupe could not sever its ties to Howard County and its Center for the Arts in Ellicott City, where Kinetics rehearsed and performed.
So Skrzesz and most of the dancers packed up their dance gear and moved to Towson under the new name of Surge.
There is still a vestigial Kinetics organization, led by dancer Cathy Paine, who teaches movement classes in Howard County.
Surge, meanwhile, has gone on to a wider world. The company went to Almada, Portugal, for a dance festival in November. The first week in March, it will perform at Merce Cunningham's capacious Westbeth studio in New York. It will participate in the Baltimore Theater Project's "Danceteria" in April, perform at Columbia's Florence Bain Senior Center in May and be resident dance company for Goucher College's summer dance workshop June.
But busy as all this keeps Surge, nothing is more important than its work at Carver, Skrzesz says.
The studio and office space alone are a fair return for Surge's work. Its very basic annual operating budget of $70,000 would "easily" grow by $20,000 if it had to rent space elsewhere, Skrzesz says.
Skrzesz came to Kinetics with a graduate degree in dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a brief term of teaching at Southwest Missouri State College. ("The Midwest was not for me," he shudders.) His principal mentor was Ruth Currier, director of the Jose Limon Dance Company in New York.
Two other members, Amanda Thom Woodson and Elizabeth Lowe Ahearn, teach at Goucher College. Woodson is on maternity leave and is being replaced this season by Jane Martof, a medical assistant for an eye surgeon in Pikesville.
Other dancers in the company are Linda McDevitt, a full-time mother of two children; Stephanie Thibeault, who is completing a degree in dance education at Towson University and has a day job with Johns Hopkins Medical Center's Wilmer Eye Institute; Luke Loy, an engineer with the U.S. Department of Transportation; Anne Parshall, who teaches hearing-impaired children at a West Baltimore school; and Amy Wade, who works at a Bibelot.