In celebration of its 10th anniversary season, Lehrer Dance, Buffalo’s globetrotting professional dance company, returns to the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts Mainstage Theater on Oct. 1 to open the center’s 2016-17 M&T Bank Dance Series.
Led by former Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago star and UB grad Jon Lehrer, the company has evolved from a barely known upstart to being a respected and sought-after touring troupe. It recently completed successful tours in Europe and Russia, and before hitting the road again, looks to re-create last season’s sold-out performance at UB with another jam-packed production complete with company favorites and world-premiere works, one featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus.
The program – conceived, choreographed and directed by Lehrer – kicks off with 2015’s “Chukchi” set to music by Ergyron (Sunrise), the Russian State Chukchi-Eskimo Song and Dance Ensemble. The energetic dance work pays tribute to the people of Anadyr, Russia, where Lehrer Dance performed in 2014.
“Troika,” the first of three new works on the program, follows. It is a male trio danced to music by composers Michael Nyman and Keith Kenniff (a.k.a. Goldmund) that taps into the dancers’ physicality and comradery.
Rounding out the program’s first half will be Lehrer Dance’s signature piece, “A Ritual Dynamic.”
The program’s second half opens with 2014’s “Femeie De Lume” (Romanian for “Woman of the World") set to music by Italian composers Geminiano Giacomelli and Ludovico Einaudi. The work for one woman and four men showcases the strength, beauty and vulnerability of the woman.
Next, the world premiere of “Pulp” marries the worlds of silent film comedies with the super-cool vibe of Quentin Tarantino’s movies.
“I was inspired by old Buster Keaton movies to do a comedic piece,” Lehrer said. Not wanting it to be a rip-off the Keystone Cops, Lehrer said the look, feel and music is all very Tarantino-esque with a nod to steampunk. “It’s as if Buster Keaton were in a Tarantino film.”
After the Buffalo premiere of the childlike adventure solo “Rascal,” performed by mighty mite company dancer Rachel Leonard, the program concludes with the world premiere of “Rhapsody” featuring the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus led by music director Adam Luebke.
Lehrer said he wanted to continue an initiative of performing with live music by area artists which was started last season with rockers 10,000 Maniacs. For this 10th anniversary production, Lehrer said he wanted a celebratory feel as a thank you to the people of Buffalo. “My mind kept going to wanting a big chorus,” he said. Enter the 100-member BPO chorus. They will sing live, contemporary choral arrangements of the popular music hits “Somebody to Love” by Queen, “Africa” by Toto and “Some Nights” by alternative band Fun.
When not on the road, Lehrer said the company will be in the area for several smaller performances this season including at the Burchfield Penney Art Center from Nov. 10 to 13.
Who: Lehrer Dance
When: 8 p.m. Oct. 1
Where: Center for the Arts University at Buffalo, Mainstage Theatre, North Campus, Amherst
Tickets: $31.50 adults, $13.50 students
Info and tickets: box office or call 645-6915 or (888) 223-6000. Visit ubcfa.org or tickets.com.