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Letters 09-29-2014

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Roads and Republicans

Each time you hit a road crater while driving, thank the “nerd” and the Tea Party controlled Republican legislature.

Home · Articles · News · Features · Let‘s Dance
. . . .

Let‘s Dance

Carol South - February 2nd, 2006
Crackling with exuberance and excitement, the 11-member Michigan Dance Collective will storm the stage at the City Opera House this Saturday, February 4.
Presenting a joint show with the InSync Dance Theater from Holland, the local adult dance troupe will present classic jazz, contemporary ballet, contemporary jazz and musical theater pieces. Themes incorporate a love triangle tragedy, being a modern woman, “The Look,” and power struggles between
a couple.
In other words, grown-up issues and real-life struggles played out in dance. Not to mention a lighthearted ensemble tribute to Ella Fitzgerald entitled “Sweet Elle Suite.”
Life experience is key, fuel that adult dancers can draw on to express love, loss and struggles as they flesh out their moves.
“The adult population, they are the ones who really appreciate the difference between the adult company and the student companies,” said co-founder Philip Leete, a veteran dancer, teacher and choreographer. “That was the feedback from last July.”

NEW WATERS
Launched a year ago by Leete and colleague Melinda Baker, the Michigan Dance Collective is charting new waters in the region, determined to raise the bar on dance. They want to educate audiences and generate enthusiasm about professional dance, just as jazz music has become a cultural touchstone here.
Despite the relatively small size of Traverse City and the surrounding communities, Michigan Dance Collective founders see a critical mass of arts and culture that could support a professional dance company. Film festival, arts shows, jazz festival, Blissfest …one day: dance festival.
“We hope to expose northwest Michigan to exciting new dance, to see fully mature dancers,” said Baker. “We have wonderful dance schools here but we don’t want people to think that dance stops after high school.”
Their first season last year featured a performance in July, also at the City Opera House and also a collaboration with InSync. Leete was one of InSync’s first members during his undergraduate years at Hope College. That company is Michigan’s only professional tap and jazz company.
A core principal or founding vision of the Michigan Dance Collective is collaboration. This spirit drives Baker and Leete as they seek out other artists – vocal, instrumental, visual – to weave into their performances. Guest musician Don Julin was part of the July show and plans to return for this one. The Cherry Capital Chorus’ barbershop quartet will accompany the dancers on another number in the show.

GUEST ARTISTS
The upcoming performance will also feature choreography by Interlochen dance instructor Mark Borchelt, who crafted a duet for Leete and Baker. Dancer Cara Steen, a former high school standout now dancing professionally in New York, choreographed another number, and Greg Patterson, a professor at Oakland University, a third.
“We’re excited about the amount of talent in Northern Michigan,” said Baker. “Beyond that, we’re hoping to occasionally showcase or fly in a guest artist from another place.”
Bristling with energy and the king of networking, Leete choreographed one piece for the February 4 event. A dance teacher at Dance Arts Academy, Ballet, Etc., and West High School, Leete is also the house manager at the City Opera House.
In fact, his life revolves around teaching, sharing, talking, breathing and performing dance.
“My true passion is the non-verbal communication aspect of dance, tying in the emotion,” said Leete, whose wife, Angela, is a member of the collective.
The sky’s the limit for Leete when he dreams about the Michigan Dance Collective’s future.
“I think if we could look forward ten years, we’d like to have a professional company that provides a contract to dancers for a performing season,” said Leete. “A 36-week contract for ten dancers.”

Tickets to the Michigan Dance Collective show at the City Opera House, scheduled for Saturday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m., are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Tickets are available at Horizon Books, by calling 409-0184 or at the door.
 
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