At 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14, Sweet Briar College will welcome the Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company to Murchison Lane Auditorium for the first event of the 2009-2010 Babcock Season. Hailed by The Village Voice as "visual poetry," the Asian-American troupe combines modern and traditional Chinese dance in its new show, "Song of the Phoenix."
Named for its Taiwanese founder and art director, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company last visited Sweet Briar in 2004. Mark Magruder, a dance professor at the College, described that performance as "fantastic" and "visually stunning," but what seems to have stuck with him most were the "water sleeves."
"Nai-Ni did an amazing solo with water sleeves," Magruder said, describing the garment as a tunic with 6- or 8-foot-long sleeves. "It's really cool because you get this gorgeous, flowing effect that with the lighting makes a rippling pattern."
During the upcoming concert, the dance "Passage to Silk River" - an homage to Chen's ancestors - will feature water sleeves.
Other pieces on the program include "Bamboo Prayer," which uses rattan to "symbolize the strength and resilience of women"; "Incense," in which Chen looked to her religious roots for inspiration; "The Way of Five" referring to the five elements; "Raindrops," which draws on the choreographer's childhood memories; "Crosscurrent," a dialogue of passion and strength; and "Mirage," which was "inspired by the unique rhythms and dance movement of the Uyghur people of Xinjiang."
"I think people will be in for a very beautiful visual experience and some very exciting choreography," Magruder said.
Tickets and are $10 for adults, $7 for seniors and free for children younger than 12. For tickets, contact the SBC box office at (434) 381-6120 or firstname.lastname@example.org , beginning Monday, Sept. 7. Credit card orders can be placed after Sept. 7 via www.lynchburgtickets.com.