The universal teen ritual of social dance events and the timelessness of dance as a social medium are the overarching themes of the Evanston Dance Ensemble’s (EDE) March 2014 production The Big Night. Opening Friday, March 14, The Big Night is presented in two acts – Graduation Ball and Prom 2014 – and marks the first time EDE has created an evening of dance pairing a stylized classical ballet with a second act of individual contemporary concert pieces. EDE will present five performances of The Big Night at the Josephine Louis Theater on Northwestern University’s campus (20 Art Circle Drive) – Friday, March 14 at 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 15 at 1 and 4 p.m.; and Sunday, March 16 at 1 and 4 p.m.
In Act 1 of EDE’s The Big Night, the dance company presents Graduation Ball, a delightful 45-minute classical ballet which was originally choreographed by David Lichine to music composed by Johann Strauss II and first performed by the Original Ballet Russe in 1940. For its production, EDE will feature choreography from special guest Laura Berman, former Associate Artistic Director of the Grand Rapids Ballet Company. The ballet is set in an all-girls school, which is preparing for a graduation ball. The headmistress has invited the cadets of the city’s military academy to attend the ball, and flirtations, exuberant dances, and a secret romance ensue. In keeping with the ballet’s tradition of a man dancing the role of the head mistress, EDE welcomes special guest dancer Mike Gosney, founder and artistic director of Elements Contemporary Ballet. Graduation Ball will also feature guest performances from: Glenn Leslie, formerly of the Jump Rhythm Jazz Project and founder of Classic Jazz and Tap Productions; Luke Joiner, a dancer with Elements Contemporary Ballet; and Britt Banaszynski, a company member of Striding Lion Performance Group.
EDE jumps into the 21st century and contemporary dance movement in the second act with Prom 2014. According to co-artistic directors Béa Rashid and Christina Ernst, choreographers were asked to interpret the concept of a social dance event for teens. The inspiration for the pieces created range from shopping for the perfect dress to formal dance etiquette to the universal group of awkward teens and on to the ever-present queen bee clique. In addition to choreography from Rashid and Ernst, guest choreographers include: Jeff Hancock, founding member of River North Dance Chicago and a former dancer with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; Michel Rodriguez Cintra, choreographer and dancer with Lucky Plush Productions; Enid Smith, founder of enidsmithdance; and Julie Cartier, artistic director of Especially Tap Chicago Dance Company.
Over the past 16 years, the Evanston Dance Ensemble has gained a reputation for creating innovative and exciting productions for audiences of all ages. The Big Night promises to enhance that reputation as the evening offers a variety of dance styles, professional music, costumes and set design, and the timelessness of dance as a way to communicate and to connect as a community. Tickets for The Big Night are priced at $16.00 for children under 18, students and seniors, and $24.00 for adults. Tickets go on sale February 5 and may be purchased by calling the Northwestern Box Office at 847.491.7282 or by going online at www.tic.northwestern.edu. For additional information on the Evanston Dance Ensemble, view the company’s website at www.evanstondanceensemble.org or call 847.328.6683.