Bowen McCauley Dance Teams Up With Alexandria Symphony


(Friday, February 29, 2008 8:01 AM EST)

Lots of good things come in threes - three-day weekends, triple cheeseburgers, the Three Musketeers.

Arlington-based Bowen McCauley Dance Company is hoping to add to the list with a dance trilogy it will perform with the Alexandria Symphony and Alexandria Choral Society the weekend of March 8-9 at Rachel Schlesinger Concert Hall, located just over the county line in Alexandria.

In its 12th season, the contemporary dance company has had a long history of collaborating with music groups, but the company has never had the chance to work with a full orchestra and choir.

For this performance, the seven-member group will be joined on stage with approximately 70 orchestra members and 80 chorus members.

“Live music is dear to me. I think it enhances the theatrical experience for the audience and for the dancers,” said Bowen McCauley Dance artistic director Lucy Bowen McCauley. “I feel very grateful and jubilant that I get to do this. Not all choreographers get to work with an orchestra.”

The dance company's partnership with the two musical groups began about a year ago, when Bowen McCauley attended an Alexandria Symphony concert and was floored by the performance. She e-mailed music director Kim Allen Kluge, congratulating him on the orchestra's excellence, and he responded saying he was looking to partner with a dance company on a new three-part work, spotlighting the music of three different composers.

And so, the search began for the right music.

In an effort to tie the three parts of the work together, Bowen McCauley and Kluge picked pieces that followed a basic concerto form.

The approximately 25-minute work, entitled “Alleluia, Amen,” starts with Faure's stately Pavane, followed with a softer, slower piece, Beethoven's Elegischer Gesang, Op. 118, and ends with the exuberant Zadok the Priest by Handel, which Bowen-McCauley describes as “the Messiah in six minutes.”

Having the chance to collaborate with a full orchestra and choir is a dream come true for Bowen McCauley, so even breaking her knee at Thanksgiving didn't stop her from continuing to choreograph the work. Now that the performance is nearing, she is very excited to see everything come together.

“You can rehearse with a CD forever, but not really know what it's like,” she said.

The world-premiere performance will the first time the troupe has danced at Schlesinger Hall, located on the Alexandria campus of Northern Virginia Community College.

Bowen McCauley said she understands that some people are hesitant to see a contemporary dance performance, because they think they might not understand it. But she wants them to know that they don't have to worry.

“I like it when each person has a different interpretation of what they saw. I don't like telling people what to see,” she said. “You don't have to get it, and hopefully you enjoy it and find it musical and moving.”

Performances will be Saturday, March 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 9 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $40 to $60, with $10 discounts available by purchasing tickets on the Web site at Tickets for students are $5.

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