Entertainment, The Features, We Love Arts

We Love Arts: Bowen McCauley Dance

Bowen McCauley Dance performs to Stravinsky's Mass with the Cantate Choral Singers. Courtesy of Bowen McCauley Dance.

As a young balletomane, I was fascinated by the story of the explosive performance of Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, performed by the Ballet Russes on a night that basically produced mass hysteria in its audience. Star dancer Vaslav Nijinsky choreographed, and apparently had to stand on a chair in the wings shouting out counts for the dancers, who could not hear the music over the outraged audience’s uproar. The music and movements were so revolutionary, the elite had a collective heart attack that erupted into a riot.

Saturday night I had the privilege of attending the world premiere of a piece by Bowen McCauley Dance, set to Stravinsky’s Mass with the Cantate Chamber Singers led by music director Gisele Becker. Stravinsky’s music is notoriously difficult, but we no longer expect the audience to scream in protest and throw punches at each other as they did that night for The Rite of Spring (though, wouldn’t that be an interesting evening at the Kennedy Center?)!  When Becker approached BMD artistic director Lucy Bowen McCauley about collaborating on a piece of music never before choreographed to, by a composer many consider impossible if not painfully hard to tackle, her first reaction was -“What have I got myself into?”

Luckily, the company was well up to the task. No riot occurred, just a beautiful evening of vibrant dance and song.

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Bowen McCauley Dance


Alicia Curtis and Dustin Kimball in "Lucy's Playlist," Bowen McCauley Dance. Photo credit: John McCauley

 This Sunday, Bowen McCauley Dance will be performing three pieces at the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage, free at 6pm. Featuring not just the artistry and athleticism of the professional company, but the Kenmore junior company and Dance for Parkinson’s Disease (PD) as well.

Bowen McCauley is the only dance company in the area to provide free weekly classes for people with PD, artistic director Lucy Bowen McCauley having received training and certification from the originators in New York – the prestigious Mark Morris Dance Group. This Sunday class participants will perform a piece called “If I Can’t Dance,” accompanied by folk singer Grace Griffith.  

“On this small stage you will see a huge show,” says Lucy, “involving the young, the old, the disabled, the professional, with live musicians and all for free.” Sounds pretty uplifting to me after a dreary grey week. Head out to the Kennedy Center this weekend and enjoy.