'Call Back the Sun'

Ashland's Dancing People Company brings a little light and energy to December's darkest day.

The modern-dance company, under the direction of Robin Stiehm, depicts the changing seasons in its seventh annual solstice production, "Call Back the Sun." Shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 21, for 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, and for 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 23, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St.

This year's program features new choreography, new pieces, new costumes and some new faces.

Tiffany Watson, 31, a professional dancer from Portland, recently was added to the company's roster, which includes Veronica DeWitt, Erin Drummond and Brianna Rae Johnson. And Portland-based dancer Jeff George will join the company as a guest and provide the male presence in the final piece, "Grassfire."

The show opens with the magical and mystical "Mistletoe Weaves a Web of Winter," in which DeWitt descends from the ceiling and wraps the other three company dancers in her silks, symbolizing the darkness, mystery and ritual that comes with this time of year, Stiehm explains.

Vocalist Heather Hutton and cellist David Bylsma composed "Mistletoe" and will accompany the dancers.

In addition to the core company dancers, DPC's trapeze students are featured in the quiet and beautiful "Shimmer in the Light." Robin Bryant's HeartDance company will perform in "Being Held by Winter," and The Curtain Climbers in the "Running With the Bulls," a piece that illustrates "the exuberance of spring and summer and coming back to life."

Returning and novice community dancers, ages 25 to 75, will participate in "The Sages of the Seasons," and DPC's adult students will present "Five of Wands," a piece composed by guitarist Matt Grubb of Lost Maven with choreography by Drummond.

"(The group) demonstrates the joy of movement, and the company's philosophy that dance is empowering to everyone," Stiehm says.

The company will close with a past favorite, "Grassfire," accompanied by drummer Kelvin Underwood. The choreography conjures up images of grass blowing in the wind and "a fire passing through that regenerates and rejuvenates," Stiehm says.

After this final performance, the audience will be invited to join the dancers for a community dance party.

As the seasons unfold, the dancers will change from long, dark skirts to blue and, finally, bright green and orange costumes.

"It (the show) is a collaboration of the community that brings together different disciplines — aerialists, musicians and dancers of all different forms," Stiehm says.

Tickets cost $15, $10 for ages 11 and younger, and are available at Music Coop in Ashland, www.dancingpeople.com or at the door. Call 541-488-9683 for information.

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