Sweet Briar dance program director Mark Magruder zipped into the Tractor Supply Co. store lot one day and saw a shipment of cattle feeders being unloaded. So he did what any tractor-loving modern dancer would do: He bought one.
The big, round metal cage will be configured on stage when the College presents its Spring Dance Concert at 8 p.m. Friday, April 26 and Saturday, April 27 in Murchison Lane Auditorium at Babcock Fine Arts Center. Admission is free with general seating.
The feeder will be a prop for “Array,” the dance Magruder choreographed for himself and nine students.
“I walked over to one and hung on it and saw that it would hold my weight and I said, ‘hey, I gotta make a dance,’ ” recalls the wiry professor.
He modified the three-piece feeder to form two archways — through which dancers will move over, under and balance on.
“We use the array like a giant jungle gym,” he says.
He also “beefed it up” to support several dancers at one time.
The piece is set to an original score by Jeff Jones, percussionist and director of the Sweet Briar Chamber Orchestra. It’s an homage to Steve Reich’s “Clapping Music,” for which Jones has created a melodic composition, Magruder said.
Professor of dance Ella Magruder also choreographed a trio for the concert. She is calling it “Magritte’s World” for the surrealist painter René Magritte. Eboni Watlington ’16 of Madison Heights, Ashlynn Watson ’16 of Shipman and Lily Hoblik, a sophomore dance major from Edgewood, Ky., will perform the work.
The dance is a “journey through the absurd,” says Ella Magruder. She’s still pondering her accompanying music, but will probably incorporate “musique concrète,” a technique using recorded sounds from everyday life — the jingling of car keys, for example.
Sweet Briar’s program emphasizes choreography and several students also will present original dances performed by fellow students. Choreographers include seniors Jessica Murphy of Lynchburg and Sarah Fletcher of Virginia Beach, Sadé Fountain ’15 of Danville, Tiffanie Brown ’15 of Woodbridge and Hoblik.
Fletcher will perform in Hoblik’s dance with fellow Virginia Beach resident Samantha Cochran ’16. The as yet untitled piece is about finding an equal balance between who you are and what the world wants you to be, Hoblik says.
Fountain has choreographed a trio called “Relinquish” that deals in an abstract way with issues in America’s schools — the absence of parent involvement, social pressures on students, striving for excellence when success is measured by standardized tests and “surviving our education system without slipping through the cracks.”
For more information, contact Mark Magruder at [email protected] or (434) 381-6150.