SoMar Dance Works, Erie’s always-innovative dance company, is excited to announce a brand new concert, SoMar and Friends, on Saturday August 23rd, at 7:30 pm. The concert will be at the Dafmark Dance Studio located at 1033 State Street, in downtown Erie. General admission tickets are $15.00 and are available at the door.
As the title implies, SoMar and Friends is a dance concert event that features SoMar Dance Works’ co-directors, Solveig and Mark Santillano along with eight of their friends from the dance community. As assistant Professors of dance at Mercyhurst University, both Solveig and Mark spend much of their time in the studio with college-aged dancers. They imagined it would be a nice experience, for a change, working with a different population of dancers. So they started calling friends, arranging schedules, and rehearsing. This concert is the result.
The idea to do a concert with their dance friends came to them several years ago. However, logistics and other commitments prevented it from coming to fruition. “This project has been brewing on the back burner for a very long time,” said Mark Santillano. “We’re thrilled the stars have finally aligned and this project is ready to happen.”
“We’ve really enjoyed our time in the studio engaged in the creative process with these new voices. It has been so nice working with artists who have a deep level of life experiences to draw on,” said Solveig Santillano. “There’s nothing better than doing what you love with people you really admire, and that is what this collaborative concert is all about.”
Joining Solveig and Mark will be their friends: Dafna Rathouse-Baier and Jean-Marc Baier (directors of Dafmark Dance Theater); Cleveland-based choreographer Falon Baltzell; Pittsburgh-based hip-hop artist Teena Marie Custer; Carla Hughes (dance director at Collegiate Academy and director of SheWorks); Lani Weissbach (director of Shen and Bones Performance Group); Mercyhurst Dance alums Sara Lawrence-Succato (currently with Cleveland’s Dancing Wheels) and attorney Jo Alspaugh.
Aside from working with these varied artists, this project is atypical of most SoMar performances in that Solveig and Mark are not the only choreographers for the concert. Every one of these dancers is contributing to the event by either presenting their own choreography and/or collaborating on a group piece. With music by Toby Twining, The Dresden Dolls, Sage Morgan-Hubbard, Felix Mendelssohn, and Ravel’s iconic Bolero, there really is something for everyone.
Solveig and Mark Santillano are seasoned artists who have performed around the world prior to settling in Erie to raise a family, transition into a teaching career and pursue their work with their company. Now in its fifteenth year of bringing inventive choreography to the stage, SoMar Dance Works is known for its wit and creativity and for presenting theatrical events that range from the poignant to the preposterous. SoMar has been awarded eight grants from Erie Arts & Culture and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and is currently “in-residence” at the Mercyhurst University Dance Department.
So what can you expect at SoMar and Friends? According to Mark Santillano, “The unexpected, of course.”