Dancing People Company welcomes back the sun

Late dawn. Early sunset. The December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere — along with Dancing People Company's annual solstice celebration, "Bring Back the Sun."

Members of the Ashland dance troupe will share new choreography and stage an artful performance that pays tribute to the rituals of the season. The show begins with dancers interpreting the dark winter, then spring's arc into the intensity of summer.

This year, Dancing People Company will be joined by The Curtain Climbers; the English Country Dancers; Peter Gross and his Uphonic Soundsystem with singer Danielle Kelly; singer Vanessa Nowitsky; dancer Alonzo Moore; and Heather Hutton, David Bylsma and Scott Miller of Druid's Dharma.

Shows are set for 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 21-22, at the Historic Ashland Armory, 208 Oak St. Saturday's preview performance costs $5. Evening shows cost $17; $10 for ages 11 and younger. Sunday's matinee costs $15; $10 for ages 11 and younger. All tickets can be purchased at Music Coop, online at www.dancingpeople.com or at the door. Call 541-488-9683 for details.

The evening shows culminate with open dancing to live music by the Robbie DaCosta Trio. Sunday's matinee also will conclude with open dancing, but no live music.

Highlights of the show include new performance pieces choreographed by DPC Artistic Director Robin Stiehm: "Cascade of Spring" — with DPC's Veronica DeWitt, Erin Drummond and Brianna Rae Johnson, along with Ashland dancer Liz Finnegan and accompaniment by cellist Michal Palzewicz and steel drummer Tom Berich — and "Winter" — with DeWitt, Drummond, Johnson and Moore dancing with Stiehm, who hasn't performed live for many years.

The Curtain Climbers will interpret the energy of spring with aerial silks and floor dances, accompanied by Uphonic Soundsystem and Kelly. Adult dancers from the community will perform with DPC in "Look Around," a dance about the season accompanied by soul-inspired music played on cello, percussion and vocals by Druid's Dharma.

Singer Nowitsky will perform an Icelandic folk song in its native language, and the English Country Dancers — led by Brooke Friendly and Chris Sackett — will present a 17th-century style folk dance inspired by the solstice.

Dancers from Ashland High School will join DPC to present "Elements," a piece created during the company's fall residency at the school. Students and company members were involved in developing the movement of the piece. Stiehm then shaped it into the final dance. It uses the four elements — fire, wind, earth and water — for its inspiration.

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