University of Dayton pianist Eric Street sat mesmerized in the front row of Dushu Lake Theater in China’s Suzhou Industrial Park as he watched the fluid, graceful movements of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.
The world-renowned troupe had never performed in China. And they stepped foot on this stage for their only rehearsal of “Os padroes” just 30 hours before a dedication concert celebrating the Aug. 8 grand opening of the University of Dayton China Institute. As the music pulsated through the largely empty theater, they danced with abandon.
“I’m hoping the Chinese will be entranced by them,” said Street, who’s performed professionally all over the world. “This will be the first time I’ve performed with an entourage, but I say, ‘the more, the merrier.’”
China seems an unlikely place to enjoy Street’s rendition of ragtime or the final movement of George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” but Suzhou Industrial Park is not an ordinary venue. With a heavy international presence, it’s as cosmopolitan as New York or Paris.
Members of the University of Dayton Horn Quartet broke into applause when the dancers finished rehearsing the concert’s grand finale. For these students, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform on the same stage as DCDC, let alone in China.
“It’s pretty crazy,” admitted Sara Jordan from her seat in the darkened theater. “The final details are last minute, but we’ve been practicing our stuff all summer.”