Vespers

Music: Mikel Rouse (Quorum, 1984)
Choreography: Ulysses Dove
Staging: Nasha Thomas-Schmitt
Lighting Design: William H. Grant III
Duration: 19 minutes
Premiere: October 18, 1986; Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (Dayton, Ohio)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: March 13, 2008

Rachel Foster in Vespers.
Photo © Angela Sterling

The 2008 Seattle premiere of Ulysses Dove's Vespers was generously underwritten by Carl & Renee Behnke and Aya Stark Hamilton.

Vespers was inspired by memories of Ulysses Dove's grandmother, her energy and the small wooden building where she met with other women to worship. Set to driving percussion score by Mikel Rouse, six women in black dresses assemble and reassemble themselves in and around wooden chairs. Choreographed in 1986 for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Vespers has also been performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Writing in The New York Times, Jennifer Dunning described Ailey company's performance: "...Vespers drew tumultuous cheers... and it is easy to see why. Vespers is a series of ventures from and back to the ranked chairs that frame the dance's second half, and of brief, bursting, spinning solos and encounters in the black space between."

Vespers is the third work by Ulysses Dove to enter Pacific Northwest Ballet's repertory. The others are Red Angels (acquired in 2005) and Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven (acquired in 2006).


Notes by Doug Fullington.

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