Spring Dance Festival set, Feb. 23-25

Princeton University's 2007 Spring Dance Festival on Feb. 23-25 will feature advanced student performers in new work by New York-based guest choreographers James Martin and Christopher Williams, dances by three faculty members and pieces by student choreographers.

Performances will take place in the Berlind Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 23; at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 25.

The concert, produced by the Program in Theater and Dance, is directed by program founder and head Ze'eva Cohen and associate head of dance Rebecca Lazier, whose work will be featured along with Meghan Durham's. The program provides students the opportunity to work with professional artists in the field for six months, furthering their artistic experience in addition to mentoring them in their own choreography.

"This year's guest choreographers have inspired our students to dance in new ways," said Lazier. "Jim Martin's dance, 'Grand Mothers and Frogs,' inspired by the music of Zabe i Baba, an exciting new group from Bosnia, dazzles with its ferocious speed and intricate shifts of dynamics. Christopher Williams incorporates magical puppets to bring to life a mythological story of a roaming island just beyond the known horizon where strange and beautiful creatures dwell in an eternal springtime. Composed for the dance, music by Gregory Spears, a Princeton graduate student, combines the sound of celesta and high cello with low drums and exotic percussion to create a fairytale-like atmosphere that reflects the otherworldliness of Christopher's dance."

Cohen will present two seminal works from 1985. "Walkman Variations," with music by the Pointer Sisters, juxtaposes the complex, odd and often funny interactions that occur between people in an urban setting with their hearing attuned to their Walkman rather than their environment with the fantasy of escaping the oppression of a hot summer day in a crowded urban neighborhood. "Ariadne," performed by senior Natasha Kalimada, is a solo where the spirit of a fallen sculpture comes to life in search of wholeness.

Lazier, in her first collaboration with jazz composer Vince DiMura, creates dance that layers sinuous twisting lines of unison dancing with bursts of individual provocations. The score calls for bass, saxophone and piano, which will be performed live by Princeton students.

Durham has created "Nine Part Invention," an ensemble work that uses the personal stories and social scripts of the dancers to examine art as artifice and the paradox of a "true story." A sound score blending the music of Estonian composer Arvo Part and Japanese composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, with recorded original text by the dancers, accompanies the piece.

Also featured on the program are selected student choreographies. Jessica Baylan, Preston Burger and Hans Rinderknecht created a quirky, kinetic slapstick dance that finds three characters absorbed and distracted by their newspapers. Natasha Kalimada, Jillian Olsen, Julie Rubinger and Elizabeth Schwall portray four women in search of self within sisterhood. Sarah Outhwaite tackles the music of tango composer Astor Piazzolla in a trio that depicts a world whose inhabitants inflict tender blindness on each other. Also featured are student choreographers Kelsey Berry, Sydney Schiff, Katerina Wong, Theresa Cho, Francine Saunders and Ery Shin.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $5 for children, and are available through the McCarter box office at (609) 258-2787 or www.mccarter.org.