Cleo Parker Robinson Dance returns to Moscow this Friday

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble presents Mexican legend-inspired “The Four Journeys”

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MASON MARON

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble comes to Hartung Theater this fall

GABRIELLE FELICIANO, Evergreen reporter

The Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble is returning to Moscow this Friday for the 50th anniversary of UI’s Festival Dance and Performing Arts company.

The ensemble will perform their latest work “The Four Journeys,” a retelling of a Mexican legend, at on 7 p.m. on Sept. 23 at the Hartung Theatre. UI students, taught by a Cleo Parker Robinson Dance teacher’s assistant, will also perform a separate work as part of the show.

The legend recounts the story of Mexican folk icon Catarina de San Juan (also known as the China Poblana), an Indian princess captured and brought to Mexico. Featuring an original score and costumes, “The Four Journeys” explores indigenous, African, Asian and European roots in Mexican culture through its portrayal of the princess’ journey. Viviana Basanta, artistic director of Mexico’s Ballet Folklórico de México, conceived the work.

The ensemble will also perform “The Four Journeys” at Lapwai Elementary School on Nez Perce Reservation.

“Oftentimes, as African Americans in our country, we never get a larger picture — a worldview — of who we are,” Cleo Parker Robinson, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance founder and artistic director, said. “We’re always reminded of the Middle Passage and slavery, but we don’t really see the extraordinary intersection of our cultures. I think [“The Four Journeys”] really broadens that and celebrates it.”

Based in Denver, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance is an internationally-acclaimed company with experience performing across the United States and in more than 40 countries on five continents. The ensemble also performed for Festival Dance and Performing Arts several times in the past.

For the upcoming performance, UI students will perform with the ensemble in a separate work titled “Springtime in Mourning.” Choreographed by Cedric Hall, a teacher’s assistant with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, “Springtime in Mourning” is a 10-minute performance about remembering life before the COVID-19 pandemic choreographed to the compositions of Aaron Copland. “Springtime in Mourning” originated from a collaboration with the Arapahoe Philharmonic orchestra.

“It’s stemming from our everyday lives coming from the pandemic, and how we choose to jump into a new normalcy—or for some of us, we want to stay and dwell in what we had before the pandemic,” Hall said. “It’s that concept of just remembering.”

Tickets for the show are available online through Festival Dance and Performing Arts’ website. Including all fees and tax, tickets cost $36 for adults, $30 for seniors over 62 and $25 for children under 18 and students.

For any questions, contact Festival Dance and Performing Arts through their website or UI ticketing at (208) 885-9084.

“We celebrate the spirit of collaboration, but we allow for lots of different ways of approaching it,” Robinson said. “I want everybody’s voice to be heard and honored.”