ArtFul Living: St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

Great music and great dance add up to a great month!

St. Louis welcomes Stephane Deneve as he begins his first season as the new Music Director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The multi-lingual conductor, who lives in Brussels, Belgium with his wife and 10-year old daughter, promises exciting performances. While everyone is eager to experience Deneve on the podium, there are two performances this month that are not-to-miss.

On March 9-10, SLSO performs with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra Chorus. Nathalie Stutzmann conducts the performance of Brahms’ A German Requiem and the SLSO premiere of Stravinsky’s Funeral Song. This Requiem is unusual as a non-liturgical work intended to offer comfort to the living. Old and New Testament passages are sung in German. The Funeral Song, written in 1908 by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, honors the death of Stravinsky. On March 15-17, violinist Anthony Marwood leads the SLSO both as soloist and concertmaster in an intimate evening of works by Beethoven and Hayden. Performances are at 8 p.m., with a Sunday matinee at 3 p.m. Ticket info at www.slso.org.

Love dance? You’ll have something to do every day March 28-30, with two intriguing dance performances across those dates.

In the Lee Theater at the Touhill Performing Arts Center on UMSL’s campus, MADCO performs the UNITY Movement Across St. Louis City: Building Community Through Dance. “By asking the community about their fears and aspirations for the city, we were able to use their words as inspiration for the choreography,” says Belicia Beck, MADCO dancer and choreographer. Drawing inspiration from Amy Hunter’s Ted Talk “Lucky Zip Codes”, guest choreographers Stephanie Martinez of Chicago and Joshua Puegh of Dallas collaborated with dancers and local b-boys Richard Grzelka, Fred Fuller, and Dorreion Robinson, beautifully merging their artistry alongside MADCO dancers. “The work does realize a sense of hope, hard work, and showing up for one another,” commented Martinez. Three free community performances of The UNITY Movement will follow in the heart of St. Louis neighborhoods that helped inspire the work.

One of MADCO’s goals is not only to entertain audiences but serve as a platform to bring the diverse members of the community closer together. The division between neighborhoods and communities in St. Louis is something MADCO wishes to start a constructive and optimistic conversation about through these three distinctive, inspiring works. Said Artistic Director Nicole Whitesell, “We’re not just talking about what divides us, but what unifies us.” Details at www.madco.com.

On March 29-30, Karlovsky & Company Dance creates a moving landscape inspired by concepts of time in their newest dance production, SHIFTING TIME, at The Grandel Theatre.

This work explores thoughts, perceptions, and experiences of human and environmental time with original choreography by Artistic Director Dawn Karlovsky and guest collaborator Megan Nicely, Artistic Director of Bay Area-based Megan Nicely Dance. Original sound scores by St. Louis musician Tory Starbuck fill out the fresh performance. The company repeats the performance in San Francisco in June. Find details at www.karlovskydance.org.

Contra Dance and English Country Dance are communal style folk dances, fun and easy to learn. No partner or experience is necessary. A caller leads the dancers though a series of moves; the pattern repeats. The Contra website declares, “If you can walk, you can dance.”

Most people come to Contra dances without partners because, as a communal dance, people change partners after each dance. A 30-minute workshop is held before the dance to introduce the basics, with a caller for each dance, to give instructions as a live band provides the music. Childgrove Country Dancers host Contra dances at the Monday Club, 37 S. Maple in Webster. The group has been merrily dancing along since it formed in the 70’s, attracting people of all ages who want lively exercise, music, socializing and just plain fun. Check the dance schedule at www.childgrove.org. Interest in Contra dancing is spreading with a new dance group just organized by the Crossroads Arts Council in the Wentzville area, with a dance scheduled on March 30. For info about that event, call 636-336-2521. Then polish up those dancing shoes!