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Grand Valley to perform 'Appalachian Spring' during Fall Arts Celebration

  • Susan Kikuchi and Shawn T Bible rehearse with alumna Lauren Blane

Posted on October 18, 2010

Through a special licensing agreement with the Graham Foundation, Grand Valley State University is very privileged to bring an iconic work of modern dance to the West Michigan community. 

As part of Fall Arts Celebration 2010, the GVSU Music and Dance Faculty and Students present "Appalachian Spring," Monday, November 1, at 8 p.m., at the Louis Armstrong Theatre in the Performing Arts Center, Allendale Campus. Due to strong interest in the performance, the 5 p.m. final dress rehearsal on Monday will also be open to the public, students, faculty and staff. A limited number of complimentary tickets, required for admission at either time, are available through the LAT Box Office by calling (616) 331-2300.


The regisseur for the legendary Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance, which has provided instruction to such luminaries as Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Madonna and Betty Ford, is in town providing stage direction and insights for Grand Valley's production.


Susan Kikuchi, a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company from 1978-1984, has served as director of both the Martha Graham Ensemble and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. She is also the daughter of the famous Yuriko, original member of the Martha Graham Dance Company and founder of the ensemble. 


“Each person in the cast brings their own imaginative and creative experience to the performance, so this production will be unique,” said Kikuchi. “Yet the cast must also work together and become a community of dancers that relate to each other well on the stage and agree with the music. I have been impressed with how quickly this group has learned the choreography.” 

Students, faculty and guest artists will perform the Pulitzer Prize-winning score by composer Aaron Copland and choreography by modern dance pioneer Martha Graham, with an original set design by the famed sculptor Isamu Noguchi. Strict requirements by the foundation have been enforced for the selection of cast members and the caliber of performance to ensure an exceptional creative experience. Another clause in the agreement requires the local costumes, by Cat O'Callaghan, to be reconstructed from the original designs by Edythe Gilfond. They must be given to the Graham Foundation afterward, to prevent their use in other shows. 


Peter Sparling, former Martha Graham Company member, also visited Grand Valley to advise the casting process. Both Sparling and Kikuchi have worked closely with Shawn T Bible, assistant professor in Grand Valley's Dance Program, who coordinated about 50 hours of rehearsal and other aspects of the performance.


Grand Valley's cast of dancers include Dance Program faculty members Bible (The Revivalist), Mary Lohman (The Pioneering Woman), Calin Radulescu (The Husbandman) and Dance Program alumna Lauren Blane (The Bride). Four students from the GVSU Dance Ensemble will also perform (The Followers). 


Blane, who graduated from Grand Valley in May, is on a full-year scholarship at the Lou Conte Dance Center, home of the Hubbard Street Dance Company, located in Chicago. “I appreciate the opportunity to work with such a dance icon as Susan,” said Blane. “She has so much knowledge and experience to share and does it in a way that is meticulous, positive and informative.”


For more information about Grand Valley's Fall Arts Celebration, visit, or call (616) 331-2180.  

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