Winterdances warms up dance scene

Winterdances, Jan. 24-27, features choreography from the fourth New Work Award winner Cynthia Gutierrez-Garner, Associate Professor Luc Vanier, Professor and Department Chair Simone Ferro, Lecturer Katie Sopoci Drake and Milwaukee Ballet choreographer Petr Zahradnícek.

Gutierrez-Garner explores Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings,” and Vanier choreographs to Bela Bartok’s “The Miraculous Mandarin,” performed by Kamil Tokarski and Music alumna Johanna Schilling. Drake presents “Space Time.” Ferro reconstructs “Magnetic Field,” which was featured at “FALL(ing),” with former Pilobolus company member Edwin Olvera. Zahradnícek’s “Fall to Rise” also was performed for “FALL(ing).”

Vanier, artistic director of Winterdances, points out that there is no overarching theme to the program, but the works have a relevance to the students who will be dancing for the faculty and guest choreographers. For example, “Milwaukee Ballet choreographer Petr Zahradnícek did an excellent job of highlighting the strengths of our student dancers and showed them at their best,” Vanier says. “As a result, our dancers stood up very well when being compared to professional dancers, and we are happy to reprise that for Winterdances.”

Thanks to a generous donor, the Dance Department has had an annual commissioning project open to department alumni (BA, BFA or MFA) for the past four years; the donor recently renewed that pledge for an additional four years. The fourth cycle was awarded to Gutierrez-Garner (’10 MFA), who is based in Oregon. The New Work Award offers a $4,000 commissioning fee to create a new work on Dance majors.

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” is this commissioned premiere. It explores the mystical by embracing the work of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This beautiful tale chronicles the journey of a fallen angel stranded in a seaport village.

Winterdances is presented in the Mainstage Theatre Jan. 24- 27. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, with a preshow talk at 7 p.m. The Sunday performance is at 2 p.m.

Contact the Peck School of the Arts box office, 414-229-4308, for ticket prices. Tickets are available through the box office or online at

More information about both concerts is available at and for Winterdances at