MUSCATINE, Iowa-As Riverside Park bursts into bloom this spring, Hancher Auditorium looks to bring it to life with its “Dance into Spring” performance, one of the first major outdoor events of the year. Following a year when people missed enjoying live shows, Hancher Auditorium Executive Director Chuck Swanson believes the program will allow people to come together once again while still staying safe. “Everybody’s missed that opportunity to gather,” he said. “One of the assets communities have to heal is the arts.”
In the past, Hancher has brought several different performances to Riverside Park, including a concert by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and dance programs performed by the Joffrey Ballet and Ballet West II. This performance will continue the tradition of making the arts accessible to Muscatine Residents by showcasing work from several dance companies with Iowa connections.
At 5:30 p.m. May 2, Ballet Des Moines will open the performance with their short pieces “In Formation” and “Sliding Figures,” which features live accompaniment from the Roseman Quartet. Next, Miami City Ballet dancers Carlos Quenedit and Katia Carranz (formerly of Ballet Des Moines) will perform the “pas de deux” from Don Quixote. The University of Iowa Dance Company will finish out the night’s repertoire with two pieces, “And Let’s Go,” set to the music of the Iowa Hawkeyes Marching Band, and “De Antônio, de Brincante e Vira Mundo.” For young dancers and musicians interested in learning more about what goes into making such a show, performers will make themselves available for an outdoor question and answer session earlier in the day at 12:30 p.m.
A fast paced show, Swanson predicts the performance will last about 90 minutes. With a varied selection of pieces, Swanson considers it: “a very accessible program. I think it’s a program that people who haven’t seen a dance program can enjoy.” As an an added layer of meaning for Muscatine residents, Hancher will also sell copies of their book “Fishtastic,” a children’s book which draws in part on stories written by Jefferson Elementary students about the Wellspring fish sculpture outside Hancher Auditorium.
As Muscatine residents come downtown to enjoy a free evening of the arts, and maybe get a good dinner from a local restaurant as well, they will need to continue observing certain public health measures in order to keep everyone safe as COVID-19 continues to circulate. All attendees to both the question and answer session and the performance will need to wear a mask, remain socially distanced from other groups, and bring their own lawn chairs or blankets to sit on.
With “Dance into Spring” set to open in Muscatine in just a few days, Swanson looks forward to bringing Hancher’s newest outdoor performance to Riverside Park. “I’m always amazed because Muscatine always rolls out the red carpet,” he observed. Muscatine, in turn, looks forward to welcoming the first of many outdoor events planned for this summer.