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Theater meets dance in Aurora Borealis festival

Arts collaboration Feb. 9 to 12 in the Calderwood Pavilion

Students rehearse “Breach,” a dance in Aurora Borealis: A Festival of Lights and Dance. Photo by Vernon Doucette

For Micki Taylor-Pinney, director of BU’s dance program, an upcoming University stage production provides a perfect opportunity to link disciplines that lend themselves to collaboration. The College of Fine Arts school of theatre will join the dance program to present the fourth annual Aurora Borealis: A Festival of Lights and Dance from Thursday, February 9, through Sunday, February 12, in the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End.

“In a large university, we’re always in danger of living in our own domains,” says Taylor-Pinney. “It’s really exciting to have a chance to collaborate between academic departments.” Dancer Cary Kandel (CAS’06) agrees. “It’s a great experience branching out and working with the CFA students,” she says.

Theater and dance have always shared deep connections. After all, “dance is theatre,” wrote revolutionary dancer and choreographer Martha Graham.

Although dance courses are housed within the Department of Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance (PERD), dance and theater have been linked for years at BU: movement and dance are components of theater training at CFA, which offers a dance minor.

Taylor-Pinney is codirecting Aurora Borealis with Judith Chaffee, a CFA associate professor of theater and a former choreographer with the Boston Dance Collective—a group that Taylor Pinney now directs. “We have similar aesthetics and visions in putting dance on the main stage,” she says.

Chaffee will restage her rarely seen 1,2,3,4,5,6, a dance she choreographed in 1977 to Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 and performed in the first Aurora Borealis production. Taylor-Pinney will premiere a work with a large cast of students from CFA and BU’s Dance Theatre Group, which she supervises. Her dance, with the working title Breach, is based on visual images from Hurricane Katrina.

“The images I saw of the levees bursting, the destruction, and the people comforting each other were very powerful,” she says. The dance will be set to jazz saxophonist Wayne Shorter’s version of Bachianas Brasileiras No. 5, written by the great Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos.

The production will also include works by BU ballet instructor Margot Parsons and former dancer Betsy Polatin, a CFA assistant professor, along with two pieces by theater arts major Gabrielle Orcha (CFA’06): Channeling Grandma Esther and Rollin’ Boil. This is the fourth appearance in Aurora Borealis for Orcha, who is minoring in dance.

Aurora Borealis: A Festival of Lights and Dance will be performed on Thursday, February 9, at 7 p.m., Friday, February 10, at 8 p.m., Saturday, February 11, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, February 12, at 2 p.m. in the Calderwood Pavilion, 539 Tremont St., Boston. Tickets are $10 for the general public, $8 for BU alumni, students, senior citizens, and Huntington Theatre Company subscribers. For more information, call 617-933-8600 or click here.