“Dance in its most primal form has always conveyed what is happening in society,” says Patrick Brown, executive director of Solas An Lae (SAL), an American Irish dance company. The innovative group returns to the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck this weekend for three performances of its latest version of Irish dance, a production called simply Soul. Set to a musical score that includes works of rhythm and blues, gospel, jazz and Celtic music, this debut performance of the all-new SAL aims to address the possibility of a deeper connection to spirit and to each other. “What we’re feeling, trying to convey with the show is that, yes, there is change going on in the world. We’re not trying to make the show about politics or any one culture or society – rather to explore relationships, responsibilities that we have toward each other and the people we love.”
In their choreography, Brown and co-director Deidre Lowry synthesize classical concepts of dance with “a flexibility of movement and rhythmic pattern inside and outside the technical structure of traditional Irish Dance.” SAL performers, all between the ages of 12 and 18 years old, “explore signposts and current perceptions in society that are ushering in a new world of hope and promise.” Brown points to the vibrancy of youth and the tendency for young people, in our culture at least, to question authority and express themselves through this primal urge to move their bodies. “Popular music is returning to a more soulful ground. It’s very interesting to see the girls dealing with a score that is this vibrant.”
The Solas An Lae Dance Company was established in 2005 by Lowry and Brown as a performance extension of Lowry’s School of Irish Dance. Translated from Gaelic, solas an lae means “light of day.” Against video and abstract montage backdrops, SAL dancers deliver a memorable theatrical experience for audiences of all ages. As they say, Lá Fhéile Pádraig (St. Patrick’s Day) will never be the same.
Tickets for the March 16, 17 and 18 performances of Soul cost $20 for adults and $18 for seniors and children. Friday and Saturday performances will begin at 8 p.m. and the Sunday matinee performance at 3 p.m. For more information and tickets, call the box office at (845) 876-3080 or visit www.centerforperformingarts.org. The Center, a non-profit arts and education organization, is located at 661 Route 308, three miles east of the village center in Rhinebeck.