The Union Recorder

April 17, 2013

World renowned dance company to inspire local talent

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE —

A Cleveland, Ohio native, Cedric Hall’s dance interests and talents have constantly evolved since becoming a company member with one of the oldest and most awarded dance companies in the United States. As a member of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble (CPRDE) for the past six years, Hall hopes to inspire and motivate local students who have a passion for movement.

I started out in hip-hop, but now I’m seeing myself doing more contemporary jazz style choreography. It takes hard work, persistence and just not giving up,” he said Wednesday while rehearsing for the afternoon performance of “Dream Catchers” for Baldwin High School students followed by a public matinee show. “There will be a lot of moments that you will face obstacles and you have to really just know what you want to do and how to get there. Live everyday as if it were your last and make each moment and second count.”

As part of the company’s three-day residency in Milledgeville, a few of the 10 company dancers will conduct lectures, demonstrations, master classes and workshops for Georgia College dance minor program students and Baldwin High School students today. Also visiting are Ensemble Rehearsal Director Winifred Harris and CPRD Founder, Executive Artistic Director and Choreographer Cleo Robinson herself.

Robinson said students must not be afraid of hard work and “finding out what magic happens when you bring your dreams together with someone else’s dreams.”

“We’ll give students the tools and share the experience; the sky is the limit,” Robinson said. “Dance is within every one of us; we’re born with the ability to move and to continue to move through life. When you stop moving, you become more rigid in your mind, more rigid in your body, and more rigid in your emotional space. Dancers are beautiful humanitarians.”

The dance company’s stay will come to an end in a main stage dance concert at 8 p.m.  Friday in Russell Auditorium on the campus of Georgia College. The concert will include a new work, “Fusion” by Jeanguy Saintus, and will be complemented by a mixed repertory program. Admission to the performance is $15 for adults, $12 for the Friends of Allied Arts and Georgia College students are admitted free with their university ID.

“This is my first time putting a concert of this nature together. The audience can expect to see an extraordinary range of artistry,” Robinson said. “I will be doing my own work about the Egyptian queen Nefertiti ‘In The Valley of the Nile,’ for which I worked with the national composer of Egypt Halim El-Dabh. There will also be an excerpt from ‘Lush Life’ which was a piece done with Dr. Maya Angelou in 1983.”

The CPRDE’s residency and performances in Milledgeville are funded, in part, by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Southern Arts Federation, the New England Federation for the Arts, and the Georgia Council for the Arts. Town & Gown Arts is sponsored by Allied Arts and the Georgia College Arts Unlimited Committee. 

“These dancers are very good role models as professional working artists for our students. They convey to students a lot about the hard work it takes to do this, and in addition to being a dancer, the work of touring is really taxing on them. Students recognize that and appreciate it because they don’t get to see this in everyday life,” said Randy Cannon, Allied Arts director. “They function like a large family and are supportive of each other. This is the company’s third visit to Milledgeville and I’m sure it won’t be the last. These dancers want to reach out and engage the students in conversation and help them realize that their individual dreams are attainable through hard work and making the right choices.”

The 41-year-old Denver-based artistic institution’s mission is to foster appreciation of and the development of new audiences for dance. Robinson attempts to educate audiences about the rich heritage and ancestral gifts on which this predominately African-American ensemble draws through a year-round dance school, an international summer dance institute and through national and international performances.

“We’re thrilled to be back in Milledgeville; it’s a community that is diverse and is well connected. I feel like there is a great appreciation for the arts, which is unexpected when arts have been cut all over the country,” Robinson said. “We’ve toured for 43 years around the world, and it feels so good to us to be in a smaller community that is racially diverse and has been through so many transformations and has some real history. I just think we have found a family here.”

For more information about the dance company, visit www.cleoparkerdance.org. For tickets to Friday’s performance, contact Allied Arts at (478) 452-3950 or visit www.milledgevillealliedarts.com.

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