School For Creative and Performing Arts

Basically Dance

Peter Mueller

Cincinnati Ballet Principal Dancers Kristi Capps and Dmitri Trubchanov perform Luca Veggetti's Traces.

Local dance news has brought highs and lows during the past couple of weeks. You might have heard about a handful of students peacefully protesting the layoffs of dance teachers at the SCHOOL FOR CREATIVE AND PERFORMING ARTS on March 22. Two of the eight SCPA teachers to be let go are DARYL BJOZA and MEREDITH BENSON, both from the dance division and former Cincinnati Ballet dancers, cutting the SCPA dance staff in half. SCPA Principal John Carlson notes that the Cincinnati Public School district is going through a $40 million budget cut that affects SCPA to the tune of an $880,000 loss and that CPS is planning additional academic teacher layoffs for April. "This is not a problem just for us," he says. "This is a whole districtwide problem." According to Carlson, there are teaching positions in the district the surplus academic teachers might be able to secure, but for the dance instructors landing another job won't be as easy. Perhaps that's why the students focused more attention on the dance curriculum layoffs during their brief walkout. Although five students were suspended for refusing to return to class, Carlson says, "I respected the kids' passion. I was trying to get them to understand that we're only dealing with the budget that's handed us.

I was appreciative of their dedication to the program." Carlson explains that the situation hasn't just affected dance. "We're at a critical situation (in) that our arts program is on the verge of non-existence. Our whole mission of the school is in danger right now with all the budget cuts." Time will tell, but with the new SCPA slated to break ground soon at Central and Elm streets, the timing is rather inauspicious. ...

Four principal dancers from CINCINNATI BALLET represented our fair city March 24 in an installment of the popular performance and discussion series "Works & Process" at New York City's GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM. The four danced a triptych of contemporary pieces from acclaimed Italian choreographer LUCA VEGGETTI, whose continuing collaborations with Cincinnati Ballet (Victoria Morgan hopes) will offer the company a "unique" identity, according to a New York Times review by Gia Kourlas. I caught the local sneak preview performance of one piece, "Traces", March 22 at the CAC. The edgy, tension-filled work was last seen here in its world premiere during the Ballet's New Works Festival (see my review "Fit Works," issue of Oct. 4, 2006), and the CAC's presentation differed in that it was performed without the stark projected images and was danced in silence — ostensibly due to technical difficulties, I found out later (though you'd never have known.) No wonder the dancers seemed despondent when I asked how it felt to perform the movements without music! Fortunately the audio was back on track for their Guggenheim show. ...

It's no secret that Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director VICTORIA MORGAN keeps busy, but did you know that she has plans to perform again? Morgan, a veteran principal dancer formerly with San Francisco Ballet and Salt Lake City's Ballet West, will emerge from retirement to take the stage for ART IN MOTION, a special art and performance event at the company's studios in Over-the-Rhine April 28 to benefit Cincinnati Ballet. Information: 513-871-4402. ...

Speaking of benefits, on May 5 Morgan will also be participating in DANCING FOR THE STARS, a benefit for the Overture Awards and Academy, where six Cincinnati celebrities will be paired with some of the area's top professional dancers in a competition program at the Music Hall Ballroom à la Dancing with the Stars. 513-621-ARTS. ...

Here's a chance to check out some African dance styles rarely seen in Cincinnati and set to bold live music, direct from Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo: SOUKOUS STARS, presented by WAIF's African Village Buka program (88.3 FM), offers an exciting night of Congolese music, dance and culture Saturday at the 20th Century Theater in Oakley. Tickets: 859-816-5194.

contact julie mullins: jmullins(at)

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