The Dance Season

Three Distinct Dance Ensembles are on Kansas City’s Horizon

The rhythm of dance has always been the pulse of the Harriman-Jewell Series. The very first concert presented by the Series in 1965 featured Edward Villella and Patricia McBride, two stars of the New York City Ballet. Now, even in the midst of a pandemic, one can spot joyful, life-affirming dance on the horizon. The Harriman-Jewell Series has planned three outstanding dance performances, and they will be well worth the wait.

The Harriman-Jewell Series will present Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Jan. 29, 2021 (in partnership with Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey), Parsons Dance on Sept. 9, 2021, and Dorrance Dance on Jan. 21, 2022. All performances are in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

“Dance is incredibly important to the Series,” said Clark Morris, executive and artistic director of the Harriman-Jewell Series. “Dance certainly adds to the variety and scope of what we do.
So many things can be done with dance, as it’s layering movement on music. And it’s very theatrical. I enjoy that aspect of it very much.”

Kansas City has had a longtime love affair with dance. In addition to the Kansas City Ballet, one of America’s finest regional ballet companies, Kansas City is home to several excellent dance companies. Morris says the Harriman-Jewell Series complements the local dance scene by presenting some of the most acclaimed dance companies from around the world.

“I think it’s really good for us to bring a few companies every year that give a peek at what else is going on in the world of dance,” he said. “Also, we want our local dancers and our local choreographers to be able to see these companies without them having to travel. I find the audience gets a lot of joy out of seeing the varied and interesting perspectives of the professional companies we bring.”

Series founder Richard Harriman was an early champion of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; the Series first presented the dance company to Kansas City audiences in 1968.

“Richard helped build a foundation of support for the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, which now has a permanent link to Alvin Ailey’s work in Kansas City, and, of course, all the education and great programming that benefits the community, particularly our young people,” Morris said.

Choreographer David Parsons considers Richard Harriman one of his mentors because of his early support and guidance. Parsons Dance, with its jaw-dropping athleticism, has been a fixture on the Harriman-Jewell Series since its first American tour in 1988. Its next performance in Kansas City will feature a new work set to the music of Yusuf/Cat Stevens.

“It’s called The Road because Cat Stevens has been on a spiritual journey,” Parsons said. “I really wanted to honor his journey.

The dance goes from stage right to stage left the whole time. It keeps moving across the stage. We found a 2010 performance of Peace Train that was done live at Albert Hall we’re using. We’re just really excited to be doing it in Kansas City.”

Dorrance Dance is new to the Harriman-Jewell Series and Kansas City. This tap ensemble was founded by Michelle Dorrance in 2011. Dorrance was one of the stars of the Broadway production of STOMP, the critically acclaimed and highly acrobatic dance show.

“Michelle Dorrance is brilliant, a MacArthur Genius Grant Award-winner,” Morris said. “Her company showcases her style, which is really mesmerizing. She brings an urban style of dancing and mixes it with classic tap. It can be funny at times, but it can also be incredibly complex and rhythmic. We’ve been trying to bring this company for several years. We’re just thankful that we’re finally able to do it.”

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Jan. 29, 2021
(Additional performances will be offered by Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey.)
Parsons Dance: Sept. 9, 2021
Dorrance Dance: Jan. 21, 2022

All performances in the Muriel Kauffman Theatre, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts. For more information, visit hjseries.org or call 816-415-5025 for assistance.

–Patrick Neas

About The Author: Contributing Writer

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