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Dancing with only a wing and a prayer
by Krystal Bick
Jul 02, 2008 | 953 views | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Krystal Bick- Lindsey Christensen, a member of the Wing and a Prayer Modern Dance Company for five years, practices an ending pose for one of the groups' dances to be performed at Artown July 3.
Tribune/Krystal Bick- Lindsey Christensen, a member of the Wing and a Prayer Modern Dance Company for five years, practices an ending pose for one of the groups' dances to be performed at Artown July 3.
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Three dancers stood in a tight circle, the floor an open stage around them. While flittering their hands in front of their chests, almost like an exterior heart beat, more dancers joined them, eyes straight forward. With each step and lunge, an exhaled breath escaped into the hot auditorium as arms and legs poised gracefully without effort, focusing on nothing but the music and keeping time.

The dance is called “Promises and Dark Chocolate” and this is just rehearsal.

Wing and a Prayer Modern Dance Company, created nearly 14 years ago by executive director Debra Smith and artistic director Sara Bogard, is used to rehearsing. Every Monday and Wednesday they can be found at the American Legion Hall on Ralston Avenue in Reno, drilling poses, arm motions and even proper breathing techniques for three hours, this time preparing for the opening of Artown.

“We’ve performed at the very first couple of years of Artown,” Smith said, explaining that this would be the first time the company would have a concert all its own. “We have a lot of new works and it’s been a year in progress.”

The show “Wings on the Water,” will open today at 8 p.m. at Wingfield Park.

The company, which has 11 current members, is open to all ages, allowing for auditions every year and apprenticeship spots. Such an availability, the dancers said they feel they try to convey in their performances, making modern dance accessible to all audiences.

“I think a lot of us choreograph a feeling that the audience takes from it what they can,” said Scooby Meredith, a member for the past five years. “It’s really open to the audience, we want them to be affected.”

With choreography by several company members like Meredith and Angela Ritchie as well as other guest dance directors like Jennie Pitts, Levi Tony and Tammy Cheney, Smith promises the multiple-dance performance will showcase completely original works and “music that you’ve never heard before,” including ethnic folk music from the likes of Croatia that entertains with lively string instrumentals and heavy drum beats. And as they are known for inventive dances, such as one that represents the Biblical Garden of Eden in which dancers incorporate dancing with apples, Wing and a Prayer is always looking for something different.

"The range of the choreography and work we get to do is amazing," said Lindsey Christensen, a member for five years. "And we've become a family because of it."

It is this unity that has earned Wing and a Prayer recognition in the dance community, having been awarded from the Dance & the Child International, the E.L. Cord Foundation, the Gannett Foundation and the Nevada Women's Fund.

Wing and a Prayer specializes in dance education primarily for ages 9 through 18, offering full and partial sponsorships for youth dancers who cannot afford the tuition, in hopes of exposing more people to dance.

"The great thing about modern dance is it's accessibility and expression of a full ray of human emotions," Smith said.

Admission to the show is free.

For more information, visit the Wing and a Prayer Web site at www.wnpdance.org.

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