“(Re)Visionary Dances” — Feb. 4-7, Power Center
The Dance Department started off 2010 with a bang, showcasing its technical virtuosity and impressive artistic utility in a concert featuring original debuts by dance professors Amy Chavasse, Jessica Fogel and Sandra Torijano, and as a restaging of prominent American modern choreographer Paul Taylor’s “Le Sacre du Printemps” (The Rehearsal). The University Dance Company displayed a remarkable range of talent as it tackled works both old and new. “Le Sacre du Printemps” was restaged in honor of Taylor’s 80th birthday and displayed a fresh outlook on Taylor’s renowned choreography while remaining true to the original work. In addition to commemorating a classic composition, the company reminded the audience of its strong voice and originality in the refreshingly innovative faculty pieces. The concert set the tone for what turned out to be an impressive season for the department.
The San Francisco Symphony — Mar. 8, Hill Auditorium
The audience at Hill Auditorium went wild after the last heavenly chord of Gustav Mahler’s massive Second Symphony rang out. In honor of the composer’s 150th birthday, the combined San Francisco Symphony and University Musical Society Choral Union — both Grammy Award-winning ensembles — crowded the stage of Hill Auditorium under the baton of world-renowned Maestro Michael Tilson Thomas. Spectacle was the theme: Before the performance, President Mary Sue Coleman awarded Tilson Thomas and the SFS the honor of UMS Distinguished Artist Award. Thomas then went on to lead an army of choir members, orchestra players and two female soloists in a masterfully handled interpretation of Mahler’s epic “Resurrection” symphony. The conductor brought out all of the emotional complexities of the 90-minute work — its luscious romance, a sense of overwhelming frustration and the religious ecstasy of the final choral movement.
A Very Potter Sequel — May 14-16, Walgreen Drama Center
Fans, cameras and enthusiastic mayhem descended upon summer’s sleepy Studio One last May to an intoxicating effect. The reason? The highly anticipated “A Very Potter Sequel,” a musical martini with a comical twist inspired by the “Harry Potter” series and concocted by Team StarKid, a theatrical production group made up of University students and alumni. The musical was posted on YouTube in July, racking up over a million views since that time. ‘U’ alum Darren Criss (who has recently gained fame as Blaine on “Glee”) starred as Harry and also wrote the hit music and lyrics. The tight bond between the group of writers, producers and actors stood out like Potter’s lightning bolt scar, so character interactions rather than punchline jokes created soaring laughs. Despite the humor, “AVPS” was no parody. The writers shared a love of “Harry Potter,” illustrating that the series is a genuine treasure to our generation.
UMMA Projects: Jakob Kolding – July 31 – Oct. 24, UMMA
Berlin-based Jakob Kolding juxtaposed urban structures with images of skateboarders and breakdancers in multimedia collages of urbanity for his UMMA Projects exhibit. The artist, who has a background in sociology, explored the contradictions in how modern, urban spaces are planned and used. His thought-provoking collages contained diverse materials: black-and-white images, cityscape photos, patterned paper cut into phrases and his own drawings. Themes of urban decay and inner-city revitalization were also featured in the exhibit. Images of trees and grass were often collaged to poke through concrete, reflecting the blur between urban decline and renewal. Kolding drew inspiration from Detroit for this exhibit, and some of his new collage works featured his own photos of Detroit spaces, making the exhibit of particular interest to Detroit-area audiences in Ann Arbor.
Gibson Fleck – Nov. 18-21, Arthur Miller Theatre
While audiences are accustomed to experiencing works by William Shakespeare and Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, as well as other notable names, the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s “Gibson Fleck” reminded University audiences that talent can be found at home. “Gibson Fleck” is an original piece of musical theater conceived by three musical theatre majors (the book was written by junior Ali Gordon and music and lyrics by seniors A. J. Holmes and Carlos Valdes). This beautiful and “homemade” production incorporated folk rock alongside other more familiar musical theater sounds to assist in telling the story of a young man who is searching for a place of his own.