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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Men thriving through dance

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By Rachel Toraño-Mark / New Mexico Daily Lobo

Graduate student and choreographer from UNM Peter Bennett during the rehearsal for his piece on Tuesday afternoon at the Carlisle Gym for the Real Men Dance concert.

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The testosterone will flow at this weekend’s UNM Friends of Dance Alumni concert. Though the cast of the performances is an even balance between men and women, each piece was choreographed by men alone.

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Exercise science senior Kaitlin Innis, left, and dance senior Kevin Clark jump into the air during a rehearsal for Real Men Dance at Carlisle Gym while Peter Bennett, the choreographer, watches them from the back seats. Bennett’s piece, “Close(t),” is a jazz dance that talks about the love of two men that have to hide their affair from their wives and society.

By Rachel Toraño-Mark / New Mexico Daily Lobo

“Real Men Dance,” this year’s UNM Friends of Dance Alumni concert, will feature seven male choreographers who have gone through or been affected by the UNM dance program in some way, said Kathy Anthony, co-president of UNM’s Friends of Dance.

“We try to do a special theme every year. There is always an interest in men in dance and we are trying to highlight where the men have come from, as well as show that they can go in many different directions,” Anthony said.

Peter Bennett, one of the men contributing to the show, is a third-year graduate student in the dance program with a BFA in dance from Niagra University in Lewiston, N.Y.. The inspiration for his piece, titled “Close(t),” comes from those who have had to hide themselves from others, Bennett said.

“(My piece) is set in the 1950s. It looks at a time where it wasn’t all right to be a homosexual male, and the inner struggle that comes with not being allowed to express yourself,” he said.
Though the show features only male choreographers, the overall cast is a balance between men and women, Bennett said. The men choreographed for and rehearsed with their dancers before bringing it all together.

“It can be different sometimes (working with male choreographers),” said Lisa Nevada, a 2002 UNM graduate student working on her MFA. “Men see things women don’t and vice versa. Men can see the power of a woman or a dancer and accentuate things that another choreographer may not. It depends on the work and the statement they are trying to make.”

Nevada performs in two pieces in “Real Men Dance” and has done other alumni showcases in the past. Nevada said the event shows off the well-roundedness of the male dancers in Albuquerque.

“There is a stigma about dance, that it is not masculine, not for men. What they don’t realize is that dancers must train like an athlete,” Bennett said. “And then there is the artistry and the poetry that separates it from just a bunch of moves and techniques. That’s what makes it an art form. Regardless of age, sex or gender, everyone should be able to experience dance.”

UNM’s Friends of Dance holds a unique dance performance annually during homecoming weekend. The show embraces a different theme, such as men in dance, or last year’s “A Family Affair,” which aimed to be family friendly.

“We try to do ideas that are interesting to both the community and the University. There is always an interest on men in dance and we try stage material that is relevant,” Nevada said. All proceeds from UNM’s Friends of Dance goes toward scholarships at UNM. Over the years, the group has given more than 100 scholarships to UNM students in the dance department.

For more information about the choreographers and their pieces, visit theatre.unm.edu/news

UNM’s Friends of Dance presents “Real Men Dance”
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
Elizabeth Waters Center for Dance