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Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008

Seasonal Relief

DANCE PREVIEW

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Lately it seems that everything from window displays to theater bills are heavily doused in Christmas spirit. That makes it all the more refreshing when you find something that isn’t. Ko-Thi Dance Company’s annual Holiday Recital offers welcomed relief from wide-eyed carolers and fake snow. Instead, the infectious rhythms and pulsing music that define the company promise to chase gift lists and stocking stuffers from your mind.

When founder and Artistic Director Ferne Caulker began staging these yearly recitals, they were intended to capture the festive mood of Kwanzaa. However, noting that her clientele included members of many backgrounds, she decided to switch the focus to a more generic theme. This year’s performance will center around the development of the dance piece itself, from a series of practiced combinations to a fluid and complete whole.

“It’s kind of nice because the family [of performers] gets a chance to see what this all grows into,” Caulker says.

The youth ensemble Ton Ko-Thi will begin by performing routines they’ve been working on all year. The adult ensemble will then do the same. The evening will culminate in the youth ensemble performing a complete piece in full costume. Given their reputation for highly energized and captivating performances, it should make for an entertaining show. Caulker has made the prospect even more tempting by keeping ticket prices low: $5 for adults, and free entry for senior citizens and children.

“It’s not a moneymaking endeavor,” Caulker says. “It’s about building [an] audience, building clientele for the studio and it’s about teaching the community about fitness and culture.”

Like many arts organizations, Ko-Thi has somewhat struggled of late, but is more determined than ever to stay afloat. This performance is their way of going into the new year with an eye to consolidating their ties with the community; showing them what Ko-Thi can offer and what they can offer Ko-Thi in the capacity of performer or patron. What’s more, Caulker says one of the most enduring objectives of the recital is to “give people a sense of what children can strive for.”

Ko-Thi’s holiday recital takes place Saturday, Dec. 15, 11 a.m., at the MilwaukeeHigh School of the Arts, 2300 W. Highland Blvd. For ticket information, call (414) 273-0676.

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