Friday, May 14, 2010

Exit Dance Theatre rises again

Funny thing is that when Fontaine Dollas Dubus takes the stage for a performance of “On the Third Day,” her new piece for Exit Dance Theatre, you might not even notice her, because you’ll be looking in the wrong place because she won’t be one of the dancers — not in this piece, at least. She’ll be in the chorus, one of 17 voices in the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Choir, lead by Don Argyrople, while nine dancers perform in front of her. Kind of a strange place for a dancer and choreographer to be, right? Um, yeah, if you look at it that way. Dubus doesn’t.

Yes, she’s a dancer and choreographer.Yes, she’s been performing with a modern dance company for more than two decades. And, yes, she’s also the owner of a Newburyport dance studio. But Exit has always been about more than “just” dance. Just look at the name — Exit Dance Theatre, spelled the fancy French way. It’s always related dance to theater and drama, and approached dance as more than movement, as a way of telling a story.

And Dubus, while primarily a dancer and choreographer, also studies acting and has sung all her life — in choirs, in schools. She recently returned to the Annunciation choir, after a long absence. She long ago found inspiration in how the old Slavonic texts mixed with the music, “which, to me, are the sound of old Europe,” she says, “All of my life I imagined movement with this music.” And this week, it all comes together.

The piece will include parts of five hymns rooted in Russian and Byzantine hymns, drawing musical pictures of lost, ancient times. It will premiere this weekend during “Sound Moves,” the new Exit program. Much, if not all of the lyrical content will likely be lost on the audience, but not the feeling.

But “On the Third Day” the is not the only choreography set to live music in “Sound Moves.” Byfield cellist Kristen Miller will provide the musical backdrop, with three original pieces for a trio choreographed and danced by Dubus, Susan Atwood, and Sarah George.

And it’s not the only surprise in the production. Gordon Pryzbyla will premiere a new experimental film, truly turning the “Sound Moves” into a multimedia event. And Dubus and recently returned Exit co-founder Stephen Haley, who is also suddenly all over the local scene, directing “The Agawam” at the Firehouse, “Waiting for Godot” at Wentworth and as a Theater in the Open fundraiser and currently working on a new production of Ionesco’s “The Bald Soprano,” will team up together for the first time in a duet — “Bloodstone,” which examines the relationships of obligation, love and abandonment.

Erin Foley brings back an extended verion of ReRot, which was inspired by Kundera's "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" and its references to human existence as perceived through the philosophy of Nietzsche. The new piece continues the exploration of mortality and timelessness.

JUST THE FACTS, MAN: Exit Dance Theatre will perform “Sound Moves” at 8 p.m. May 14 and 15 at the Firehouse, 1 Market Square. Tickets are $18, $16 for members of the Society for the Development of the Arts and Humanities and $14 for seniors and students. For more information, log on to or call 978.462.7336.

JUST THE FOLKS, MAN: Performers in Exit Dance Theatre's Sound Moves show include: Susan Atwood, Darlene Doyle, Fontaine Dubus, Nicole Duquette, Erin Foley, Sarah George, Wendy Hamel, Stephen Haley, Jennifer Steeves, Edward Speck, Tricia Walsh. Also performing will be Don Argyrople and the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Choir and Byfield cellist Kristen Miller.

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