Dance Ensemble Punctuates Festival of the Cranes Week

SOCORRO, N.M. November 15, 2012 – Nature in her fall elegance on display at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and grace and beauty onstage at New Mexico Tech’s Macey Center – what a delightful time to be in Socorro and enjoy it all.


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The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble is a world-renowned troupe based in Denver. The group will perform Friday at Macey Center.


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The Ensemble performs a dynamic body of work inspired by the African-American experience, and rooted in ethnic and modern dance traditions worldwide.


As part of their inaugural visit to Socorro, members of the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble will make their Macey Center debut at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 16, in a Performing Arts Series (PAS) event.


The performance coincides with the 20th annual Festival of the Cranes, which brings thousands of visitors to town for the week-long celebration at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge.


“This is just a great way to showcase two Socorro County treasures – the Bosque del Apache, and our own Performing Arts Series, both tremendous assets to this small city in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico,” said Ronna Kalish, Performing Arts Series director and community volunteer.


“The PAS couldn’t be more pleased to have the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in town to help close out Festival week,” Kalish said. “We’re hoping that Festival visitors will join us at Macey Center for what is going to be a superlative performance.”


The troupe will be busy with educational youth performances and workshops at Macey Center, Alamo-Navajo and Magdalena Schools, in keeping with the PAS mission of educational outreach. There will be a free dance workshop Wednesday, Nov. 14, 6:30-8:30pm at the Rising Star Dance Studio on the Plaza (south of the U.S. Post Office) for youth and adults with some dance experience.  


Dance aficionados will recognize the name of Cleo Parker Robinson as founder, executive artistic director and choreographer of the 40-year-old Denver-based artistic institution that bears her name. Ms. Parker Robinson, who taught her first dance class at the University of Colorado when she was only 15, leads a professional dance ensemble, youth ensemble, a school of dance, an International Summer Dance Institute, a 300-seat eponymous theater, and a vast number of community outreach programs.


Her philosophy of “One Spirit, Many Voices” is reflected in all she does, and is the vision she brings to everyone she meets, everywhere she goes.


“Cleo Parker Robinson is highly respected in artistic circles,” Kalish said.


In 2007, Ms. Parker Robinson received the Kennedy Center Medal of Honor during its Masters of African American Choreographers series. More recently, the Anti-Defamation League honored her with its Civil Rights Award, and the Urban League of Metropolitan Denver bestowed on her the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award.


She continues to receive accolades from civic, community, and artistic organizations around the world, and brings her Ensemble for performances, workshops, master classes, and motivational seminars in a variety of venues.


The Ensemble performs a dynamic body of work inspired by the African-American experience, and rooted in ethnic and modern dance traditions worldwide.


The Ensemble performs regularly for Denver audiences, including three major concerts each year. As a National Cultural Treasure, the Ensemble tours nationwide throughout the year, and has performed in many prestigious venues and festivals such as New York City’s Lincoln Center, American Dance Festival, The Kennedy Center, The Joyce Theater, and Jacob’s Pillow.


As Cultural Ambassadors, the Ensemble has toured around the world to more than 20 countries including Nigeria, Egypt, Peru, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Singapore, Israel, Kenya and South Africa.


According to program literature, the Ensemble has a diverse repertoire of dances, the oldest with a premier date of 1983, and the newest from this year. For example, “Escapades” which premiered 29 years ago, was choreographed by the late American dance icon, Alvin Ailey, to an original composition by legendary drummer Max Roach.


Two dances premiered in 2012 – “Fusion,” an original work by Haitian choreographer Jeanguy Saintus (to be performed in Socorro); and “Conversations,” choreographed by Nathan Trice. These stories, told in dance to polyrhythmic music, embrace the emotional themes that reflect the African-American experience through power and passion, live and onstage.


The Performing Arts Series depends on outside funding to cover the cost of bringing big city style entertainment to the rural community of Socorro. Sponsors for the Ensemble are the City of Socorro, New Mexico Educators Federal Credit Union, New England Foundation for the Arts, Western States Arts Federation, National Endowment for the Arts, El Camino Restaurant a Lounge and Holiday Inn Express.

Tickets are $16 for adults, $14 for senior citizens 65 and over, and $8 for youths 17 and under, and are available at the Tech Cashier’s Office (second floor of Fidel Center), Brownbilt Shoes and Western Wear, Burrito Tyme drive-up, by calling 575-835-5688 or at the door.

– NMT –

By Valerie Kimble/New Mexico Tech