UM Museum, Ford Center Host Weekend of Holiday Festivities

Music, activities and a winter wonderland on tap to help families get into the spirit

The Holiday Village, featuring an enchanting array of edible structures, is open Dec. 1-15 at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Mississippi Museum have a weekend of fun-filled holiday activities scheduled for the whole family.

The Ford Center invites families to an evening celebrating the holiday season Friday, (Dec. 1) with “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Handel’s Messiah.”

Gian Carlo Menotti’s renowned one-act opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors” shows how faith, charity, unselfish love and good deeds can produce miracles. The performance is a collaborative project involving alumni, students and community members.

Ole Miss alumnus Paul Gamble will sing “Balthazar” during the performance and university opera theatre and dance students will perform in several roles. Six community guests also will join opera students in the Shepherds’ Chorus, including Oxford dentist Walker Swaney, emeritus music faculty Cynthia Linton, College of Liberal Arts project coordinator Patti O’Sullivan, theatre arts staff member Ed Neilson, alumna Sissy Neilson and Oxford attorney Jim DeLoach.

The second half of the night features “Handel’s Messiah.” The hourlong production includes performances by the UM Choir, a select orchestra and alumni guest artists as soloists, including Allison Stanford, Viola Dacus and Kyle Davis.  The orchestra of professional musicians and students is conducted by Selim Gray, professor of music and orchestra, and UM Choirs, conducted by Don Trott, professor of music and director of choral activities, also will perform.

These performances are made possible through funding by Nancye Starnes and the Kite Foundation.

Tickets for the show are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels, and $18 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for Ole Miss faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office. Tickets also can be purchased online at http://fordcenter.org/.

The UM Museum will host a Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day on Saturday (Dec. 2). The drop-in workshop, set for 9 a.m.-noon, will allow participants of all ages to create seasonal art, eat holiday snacks and learn about winter wonders, including holidays from around the world.

The museum also will have a sensory play area for the youngest artists, and all ages are welcome to participate.

Children create their own holiday-inspired art at last year’s installment of the UM Museum’s Santa’s Workshop. Submitted photo

“Santa’s Workshop is one of our favorite events as we celebrate the magic of winter, snow and holidays,” said Emily McCauley, the museum’s curator of education. “We also hope to expand our horizons this year and look at what is happening around the world during the winter holidays.”

Santa does not attend the event, but participants can take a Flying Tuk sleigh ride between the museum and the Ford Center’s Holiday Village, a collection of locally-themed gingerbread houses.

“We are so thrilled to have the Flying Tuks partnering for rides to the Holiday Village again, as that was a highlight from last year’s event,” she said.

The museum’s Family Activity Days are sponsored by Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi and the Ignite Ole Miss campaign. For more information about Santa’s Workshop Family Activity Day, contact McCauley at esdean@olemiss.edu. To keep up with museum exhibits and upcoming events, visit http://museum.olemiss.edu/.

The Holiday Village will feature 19 gingerbread houses, made entirely from edible confections. The Ford Center also is adding a miniature Christmas Village to celebrate holiday traditions from around the world.

The village is also open for group reservations, which can be scheduled by contacting marketing director Kate Meacham at 662-915-6502 or kmeacham@olemiss.edu.

Here is the full schedule of Holiday Village Hours:

Friday (Dec. 1) – 1-7:30 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 2) and Sunday (Dec. 3) – 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 4) – 1-7:30 p.m. Guests can visit the village after the Oxford Christmas parade for hot chocolate.

Tuesday (Dec. 5) through Friday (Dec. 8) – 1-5 p.m.

Saturday (Dec. 9) – 1-5 p.m. The Oxford Civic Chorus will perform at 1 p.m., and Santa will be in the village from 1 to 4 p.m.

Sunday (Dec. 10) – Noon-3 p.m.

Monday (Dec. 11) through Friday (Dec. 15) – 1-5 p.m.

For more information, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

BodyTraffic to Perform at Ford Center, Host Workshops this Week

West Coast troupe renowned for blending traditional choreography with contemporary dance styles

Dance troupe BodyTraffic, renowned for combining traditional choreography with contemporary dance styles, is hosting student workshops and performing this week on the UM campus. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts hosts the internationally recognized dance company BodyTraffic for one performance Thursday evening (Nov. 9).

Ticket for the 7:30 p.m. show are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center. They are $30 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $26 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $22 for the balcony level. A 20 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office.

Founded in 2007 by Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berkett, the West Coast dance troupe of six dancers has performed for sold-out audiences in theaters and festivals around the world. BodyTraffic, renowned for innovating traditional choreography into contemporary dance styles, was named “the company of the future” by the Joyce Theater Foundation, one of Dance magazine’s “25 to Watch in 2013” and “Best of Culture” by the Los Angeles Times.

“BodyTraffic is wonderful company that is a leader in the Los Angeles dance community,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “They are able to adapt their programs to work with different groups.

“It’s very important to us to be able to bring companies like BodyTraffic to the Ford Center for more than just a performance. It’s an invaluable experience for Ole Miss students and a way for members of the community to experience the arts in a more in-depth and meaningful way.”

The dance company will also be on campus for two days before the performance, hosting master classes for Ole Miss students in musical theater, jazz, tap and contemporary dance. Additionally, BodyTraffic will host workshops for 21 United, a Down syndrome advocacy and awareness group based in Oxford, as well as an elementary school class from Holly Springs.

The troupe appeals to new audiences as well as dance enthusiasts with their works from choreographers including Kyle Abraham, Hofesh Shechter, Barak Marshall, Richard Siegal and Victor Quijada.

For more information about tickets and upcoming performances, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

Ford Center Hosts ‘Rent’ Anniversary Tour

Award-winning musical set for Thursday UM performance

The acclaimed musical ‘Rent’ comes to the Ford Center for one performance Oct. 26 as part of the production’s 20th anniversary tour. Photo by Carol Rose.

OXFORD, Miss. – The 20th anniversary national tour of the smash musical “Rent” visits the University of Mississippi for one performance Thursday (Oct. 26) at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Rent” follows the lives of seven impoverished artists in New York City over the course of a year as they fight to pursue their dreams without giving up or selling out. Underneath the story are inspiring messages of joy and hope, facing fears, friendship and love.

“This courageous love story has resonated with opera audiences since 1896 with Puccini’s ‘La Bohème and again with its modern reimagining 100 years later in ‘Rent,'” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “It is hard to believe that this 1996 musical is now 20 years oldWhether it is your first time or 10th, this musical still rocks.”

The Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning musical continues to capture audiences two decades later. It is one of only five musicals to win both awards.

“It has enormously valid things to say about the ways in which we all seek out community and form families, and how we take care of one another in very difficult times,” said Michael Greif, who directed the original off-Broadway and Broadway productions. “The message of the musical is to truly appreciate the time that we have and to truly appreciate each other, because you don’t know when someone will be gone from your life.”

The performance, based on the original direction by Greif, is restaged by Evan Ensign and choreographed by Marlies Yearby.

The “Rent” 20th anniversary tour is produced by Work Light Productions, whose other productions include “Cinderella,” “Mamma Mia!” “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” the Vocalosity national tour and “Crazy for You.”

A limited number of tickets are available at the UM Box Office inside the Ford Center. Tickets are $75 for orchestra/parterre and tier 1 box levels, $69 for mezzanine and tier 2 box levels and $63 for the balcony level. A 10 percent discount is available for UM faculty, staff and retirees when tickets are purchased at the box office.

For more information, visit http://fordcenter.org/.

Cyrus Chestnut Quartet to Perform at Ford Center

Thursday show is first in the 2017-18 Jazz Series

The Cyrus Chestnut Quartet performs Thursday at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will host a night of jazz Thursday (Sept. 14) with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet.

Chestnut, a Baltimore native and soulful jazz pianist, blends contemporary, traditional and gospel jazz styles with soulful sounds and a mix of Latin and samba. His style allows him to explore a wide range of emotions with his music, all while keeping it under the jazz umbrella.

The performance is part of the 2017-18 Jazz Series, made possible by a gift to the Ford Center from Marty and John Dunbar.

“We are looking forward to opening our first Jazz Series with the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “We are truly grateful to the Dunbars for their generosity. It’s a great addition to our season and a wonderful opportunity for our students.”

Chestnut also will conduct a master class at noon Wednesday (Sept. 13) in Nutt Auditorium. The class is free and open to the public.

The New York Times praised Chestnut’s performance at a previous concert: “His brand of crisp articulation and blues inflected harmony evokes another era … multifaceted and dynamic. … Mr. Chestnut was the evening’s star and he brought charisma to the role.”

Tickets are $25 for the orchestra, parterre and tier 1 box levels, $20 for the mezzanine and tier 2 box level and $18 for balcony seating. All tickets are available at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center. Tickets can also be purchased online at http://fordcenter.org/.

Upcoming Ford Center Season Includes Broadway Smash ‘Rent’

Schedule includes new jazz series, productions for all ages and tastes

OXFORD, Miss. – The 20th anniversary tour of “Rent” books a room in Oxford this fall as the Broadway musical comes to the University of Mississippi for one show at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

The Ford Center’s 2017-18 season also features a national tour of “The Sound of Music” and “Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility,” plus jazz concerts, children’s shows and much more.

“We are excited to launch some new initiatives and have expanded the offerings this season with a new jazz series and children’s series,” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “We have our audience favorites as well, with musicals, a classical play and dance concerts.

“Our Holiday Village will feature gingerbread houses, miniature Christmas villages, the North Pole and an international corner. This will open on Dec. 1 to coincide with our big event that features a holiday theme for the entire family.”

The season kicks off Sept. 7 with “Nashville Songwriters Night featuring Dickey Lee and Pat Alger with Roxie Dean.”

The Ford Series begins Oct. 26 with the Broadway tour of “Rent,” which follows seven artists struggling to follow their dreams. The von Trapp Family will thrill Ford Center audiences in “The Sound of Music” Jan. 24, with performances of classic songs including “My Favorite Things” and “Do-Re-Mi.”

On Feb. 27, Conspirare, a Company of Voices will perform “Considering Matthew Shepard,” the story of a gay student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie who was kidnapped and left to die nearly 20 years ago. This concert-length work uses musical styles, poetic texts, passages from Shepard’s journal and interviews with family members to tell his story.

The Ford Series concludes with the Tony Award-winning performance of “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” which offers a contemporary take on the classic tale.

The Artist Series begins Sept. 21 by making the audience part of the show in “Artrageous.” The musicians, singers, dancers and artists pay tribute to musical icons and genres in multiple art forms, including a gallery of finished paintings.

BodyTraffic, a dance company from Los Angeles, is slated to perform Nov. 9 at the Ford Center. Submitted photo

On Nov. 9, Oxford audiences will have an opportunity to see a performance named Best of Culture by the Los Angeles Times. West Coast dance troupe BodyTraffic, which recently toured Israel and Jordan, will perform its contemporary dance styles at the Ford Center.

Aquila Theatre continues to expand its adaptations of classical works with “Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility,” coming to the Ford Center on Feb. 13. The story revolves around two sisters in a time when choices were limited for women. The comedic romantic tale of the English upper middle class includes seduction, courtship, love, heartbreak and surprise.

The Artist Series concludes March 25 with “Revolutionaries: Ginastera and Beethoven,” featuring acclaimed German pianist Andreas Klein and North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra conductor Steven Byess. The artists will contrast the styles of Beethoven with works of 20th century Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera.

The Jazz Series, made possible by a $25,000 gift from Oxford residents Marty and John Dunbar, will begin Sept. 14 with a performance from the Cyrus Chestnut Quartet. Pianist Cyrus Chestnut blends contemporary and traditional jazz with gospel, Latin and samba and has become one of jazz’s most beloved and acclaimed musicians.

The series continues with “The Birdland All-Stars: The Art of Jazz” featuring Tommy Ignoe. The New York musicians have dazzled audiences for 10 years and return to the road with arrangements featuring music of David Bowie, The Police and Steely Dan, among others.

The series concludes March 1 with “Celebrating Gershwin: A Stroll Down Tin Pan Alley” by the Julian Bliss Septet. Bliss is one of the finest clarinetists of our time and he is joined by some of the best musicians in jazz to form this septet.

The Ford Center also will host a Campus Connections series, beginning Dec. 1 with “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” one of the most popular American operas during the Christmas season, and “Handel’s Messiah.” This collaborative project, made possible by a grant from Nancye Starnes and the Kite Foundation, includes performers from the community, university and professional guest artists.

On Jan. 27, the Malpaso Dance Company brings Havana to Oxford with movement and music from Cuba’s rich dance tradition. From April 20 to 22, the Ford Center will host Ole Miss Theatre’s performances of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Thanks to a gift from Billy and Rebecca Long, the Russian Folk Orchestra will perform Oct. 3 at the venue. This pops concert features popular selections combined with traditional folk music and is sure to appeal to a variety of audiences.

Throughout the year, the Ford Center also will feature a variety of performances for children as part of its Daytime School Series. “Dinosaur Zoo,” set for Nov. 16, offers two opportunities for schoolchildren to explore life-like dinosaurs and prehistoric creatures in an entertaining theatrical performance that will stimulate the imaginations of children.

On Dec. 13, “Mr. Popper’s Penguins,” based on the book by Richard and Florence Atwater, follows a painter and decorator who dreams of Antarctic adventures when one day, a penguin arrives on his doorstep. The hourlong musical features original songs and penguin puppets, serving as the perfect family treat for the holiday season.

The School Series concludes April 10 with two performances for all ages of “Huck and Tom and the Mighty Mississippi.” This musical, based on the novels of Mark Twain, follows one of the greatest adventurers in American literature and his friends as they explore the river that defined their lives.

For more information about performances, visit http://fordcenter.org/. Tickets are available for all shows at the UM Box Office, inside the Ford Center or online at http://olemissboxoffice.com/.

Madison Couple Establishes Fund for Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra

Gift to support Ford Center programming and outreach efforts

The Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra will perform at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts in October, thanks to a $20,000 gift by Billy and Rebecca Long. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will bring the Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra to the University of Mississippi this fall, thanks to a generous gift from Dr. Billy and Rebecca Long of Madison.

The $20,000 gift established the FCPA Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra Fund. The Longs became interested in assisting the Ford Center through Cheryle Sims, a Ford Foundation board member and former patient of Long’s.

“Several years ago, she invited us to attend a ballet performance and introduced us to this wonderful facility,” he said. “Since then, we have gotten progressively more interested in attending various events. We realize what a wonderful venue the Ford Center offers to the greater Mississippi community.”

Last year, the Longs traveled to Russia and attended several opera, ballet and symphony performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg while also touring academies where young Russians are trained in artistic skills. The UM alumnus and longtime Ole Miss sports fan wanted to provide a way to bring these performers to the United States.

Billy and Rebecca Long visit St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Their $20,000 gift to the Ford Center will allow the Russian Folk Instrument Orchestra to perform in Oxford in October. Submitted photo

“We are excited about the future offerings at the Ford Center, and the intention to promote the performing arts to a wider audience,” Long said. “I hope that our interest in the Ford Center may spark an interest in our junior high and high school students to see live performances. 

“The Ford Center is an essential part of the university’s outreach to Oxford and the surrounding area, but also to our college students who wish to develop an appreciation for the performing arts, and even become a performer themselves.”

The performance is set for March 6, 2018 and will include an outreach activity earlier that day for area students, said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director.

“It will be an international cultural event that will appeal to arts enthusiasts of all ages, and I believe our Oxford audience will embrace this group of talented young musicians and welcome them into our community,” she said.

To contribute to programming at the Ford Center, contact Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-3181 or ambarlow@olemiss.edu.

Ford Center Gift Brings Jazz to Oxford

Marty and John Dunbar establish $25,000 Jazz Series Fund

Marty and John Dunbar established the Jazz Series Fund at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts with a $25,000 gift. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts will bring nationally recognized jazz artists to the University of Mississippi, thanks to the establishment of the Jazz Series Fund by Marty and John Dunbar.

The Oxford couple donated $25,000 as an initial gift, in hopes of encouraging others to contribute to the fund in the future. Marty Dunbar is an Ole Miss alumna.

John Dunbar hopes that this gift, with the support of Friends of the Ford Center, will bring some of the nation’s best jazz musicians to perform in Oxford over the next year and offer master class sessions for music faculty and students from the university and local high schools.

“We want to support excellence in jazz in Oxford and Ole Miss,” he said. “We have enjoyed performances by the faculty and students of music at Ole Miss over the years, such as Michael Worthy and The Mississippians, and have met so many talented people there.

“We see this as a special educational opportunity and we hope the series will be enjoyed by our community in Oxford and Ole Miss, so we are pleased to partner with Julia Aubrey and the Ford Center for this series and hope it will gain traction and continue for years to come.”

Plans are already made to present three jazz groups next season, thanks to the Dunbars, said Aubrey, Ford Center director.

“Their support enhances the quality of life in Oxford with professional musical offerings that will provide both valuable education for our music students and fine entertainment for our community,” she said. “We are expanding our offerings next season and this new series brings exciting energy to our programming.”

Next year’s Jazz Series includes Cyrus Chestnut, Julian Bliss and the Birdland All-Stars, all of which are headliners at prestigious jazz venues and festivals around the world.

“This is a dream come true and I am truly grateful for the Dunbars’ vision and generosity,” said Michael Worthy, associate professor of music. “I will work hard to maximize the educational outreach opportunities that will come with the Jazz Series, and I am excited for Ole Miss students to have more opportunities to interact with world-class jazz musicians.”

To contribute to the Jazz Series Fund, contact Angela Barlow Brown at 662-915-3181 or ambarlow@olemiss.edu.

UM Opera Theatre Presents Benjamin Britten’s ‘Albert Herring’

Production being performed in English by Ole Miss vocal music majors

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi Opera Theatre presents a lighthearted musical adventure that offers a perfect introduction to the world of opera when it performs Benjamin Britten’s “Albert Herring” this weekend at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts.

“Albert Herring” is a comic three-act opera composed by Britten in 1947. Set in East Suffolk at the turn of the 20th century, the production depicts a May Day festival that goes wrong when the quiet young man who has been elected as May King chooses to experience life’s pleasures as he breaks away from the rules and expectations society has placed on him.

“Albert Herring” will be performed by Ole Miss graduate and undergraduate vocal music majors, supported by the UM Orchestra. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Saturday (April 22) and 2 p.m. Sunday (April 23).

“‘Albert Herring’ promises to be a delightful experience,” said Kate Meacham, Ford Center marketing director. “It’s also a great opportunity to try opera if you have never seen one.

“It’s sung in English, so it’s easy to follow the story. The show is very funny, and the cast and crew have done a wonderful job bringing the show to life.”

Before Saturday’s concert at 6:45 p.m., assistant professor of music Jos Milton will deliver a lecture offering a brief exploration into the life and works of Benjamin Britten.

“Come support our university student singers and orchestra as they present ‘Albert Herring,'” said Julia Aubrey, Ford Center director. “You will be delighted with the quality voices, acting and support from the orchestra pit from these young musicians. The set, lighting and costume designers have created a wonderful visual component that you do not want to miss.”

Tickets are $21 for Orchestra/Parterre, $18 Mezzanine, $15 Balcony $21 Tier 1 box seats and $18 Tier 2 box seats. A 10 percent discount is available for all UM faculty, staff and retirees. Tickets are available at the UM Box Office at the Ford Center, online at http://olemissboxoffice.com/ or by phone at 662-915-2787.

Marty Stuart to Headline Concert at Mississippi Bicentennial North

June 24 event also features Mac McAnally, Steve Azar and salute to state's musical heritage

UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter (left) and Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant join country singer Steve Azar, Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson and Craig Ray, director of Visit Mississippi, at Rowan Oak to announce plans for the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration North, set for June 24 in Oxford. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – Country and Americana music legend Marty Stuart will headline the Governor’s Concert at the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration North, set for June 24 in Oxford. The free event is part of celebrations around the state during 2017.

“In a state known for master storytellers, Oxford is a literary capital,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “There is no better backdrop for a celebration featuring some of Mississippi’s greatest songwriters than the land of William Faulkner, where our literary tradition thrives.”

Stuart will lead the Governor’s Concert lineup at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts at the University of Mississippi. The Philadelphia native began his career as a sideman for country legends Lester Flatt and Johnny Cash before striking gold and platinum in his solo career, which spans more than three decades.

The Governor’s Concert also will feature singer-songwriter Mac McAnally, a hitmaker for Kenny Chesney and Alabama and a longtime member of Jimmy Buffett’s backing band, plus Mississippi’s Music and Culture Ambassador, Steve Azar, and Shannon McNally.

“We Are Mississippi,” a salute to the state’s musical heritage conducted by Jay Dean, executive director of the Arts Institute of Mississippi, will kick off the concert. Additional acts in the showcase include Vasti Jackson, the Roots Gospel Voices of Mississippi, 2015 Ultimate Elvis Tribute Contest winner David Lee, the Mississippi Bicentennial Symphony Orchestra, the Mississippi Bicentennial Singers and the 200-voice Mississippi Bicentennial Chorus.

“As shown by our more than 200 Blues Trail and Country Music Trail markers, Mississippi is very fortunate to have generations of talented musicians to lead us in celebration during the bicentennial year,” said Glenn McCullough Jr., executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority.

The Bicentennial Celebration North officially begins from 5 to 6:30 p.m. June 23 with the “Mississippi: 200 Years of Statehood” exhibit in the Faulkner Room at university’s J.D. Williams Library. A live taping of Thacker Mountain Radio in the Grove will follow at 7 p.m.

“The state’s bicentennial celebration is a great opportunity to showcase the wonderful Lafayette-Oxford-University community and all of the north region,” UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said. “We appreciate all the hard work by the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration Commission and partner organizations to mark the 200th anniversary of Mississippi’s statehood.”

All events during the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration are free and open to the public. Due to limited seating, the Governor’s Concert is free with ticketed admission. Attendees must reserve tickets online at http://www.visitmississippi.org/200. Visitors are limited to two tickets each.

“By hosting these bicentennial events in three major regions of the state, we are able to celebrate with our towns and communities and showcase what makes Mississippi truly great,” said Craig Ray, Visit Mississippi director.

Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration events are also planned for Dec. 9 in Jackson during the grand opening of the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. For more information on the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration, visit http//www.visitmississippi.org/200.

Mississippi: The Dance Company Presents ‘In Real Time …’ this Weekend

Performance includes piece that garnered invite to regional gala

Students rehearse for their upcoming performance of “In Real Time…” at the Meek Auditorium April 7-9. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s resident modern dance company is set to perform seven works, including one that earned the troupe an invitation to a regional dance gala, this weekend in Meek Hall Auditorium.

Mississippi: The Dance Company presents “In Real Time …” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday (April 7-8) and 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (April 8-9). Tickets are $12.50 for general admission, $10 for Ole Miss students and $9 for children and senior citizens, available at the UM Box Office at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, http://olemissboxoffice.com/ or by telephone at 662-915-7411. Tickets also will be sold at Meek Hall Auditorium 30 minutes before each performance.

The concert includes “attic,” a piece choreographed by guest artist George Staib of Staib Dance Company. Staib’s work, about his experiences as a child in Iran at the beginning of the Iranian Revolution, earned the UM company an invitation to perform in the gala concert at the South Regional Conference of the American College Dance Association last month.

“Mississippi: The Dance Company has been attending ACDA since 1990 and we’ve been chosen for the gala seven times,” said Jennifer Mizenko, professor of movement and dance. “It’s always a high honor. I am very proud of these students.

“They have worked very hard and all of their work shows onstage. What you also see while watching these students dance is their passion for the art form and their deep investment in bringing this dance work ‘attic’ to life every time they perform it.”

Seven Ole Miss students participated in a five-day residency taught by Staib over Wintersession, spending five or six hours daily learning the 12-minute piece.

Forty-four dances were submitted this year to the ACDA, but “attic” was among only 12 chosen to perform at the gala.

Genevieve Walker, a senior from Vicksburg majoring in secondary English education, attended ACDA with the company for the fourth time in her Ole Miss career.

“Being able to participate in dance at Ole Miss has been one of the greatest parts of my college career,” Walker said. “Mississippi: The Dance Company works as its own family unit. George’s piece exemplified that idea.

“The adjudicators all commented on the piece’s ability showcase that connection. We are all individuals onstage, but when we dance together, we feed off of each other’s strengths.”

For more information, visit http://theatre.olemiss.edu/olemisstheatre.html#msdco.