Marimba and brass bands greet longer days


Williams College

With five different dance companies under its direction, the Williams College Dance Department offers a rich experience of movement to its students and wider community at the ‘62 Center in Williamstown as part of the spring performance season.

On Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., Kusika and the Zambezi Marimba Band will present a dynamic production. "Pavement! Pavement!" draws inspiration from the many liberation movements that have risen across the African continent and diaspora.

The ensembles are known for their high-energy performances, fast-paced action, dramatic lighting and dazzling, colorful costumes. As long-standing dance department director Sandra Burton takes a well-deserved sabbatical, this year visiting co-directors Nia Love and Tendai Muparutsa lead the ensembles, lending new voices to the choreography and rhythmic sonority.

Kusika means "to create" in the Shona language of Zimbabwe. Its members are drawn from the Williams community and perform music, dance and storytelling from a variety of different African cultures including Ghana, Zimbabwe and Senegal. The Zambezi Marimba Band includes music from Zambia and Zimbabwe performed on an array of wooden marimba xylophones custom designed by the ensemble founder and longtime director, the late ethnomusicologist Professor Ernest Brown.

Both groups benefit from working with distinguished visiting artists and guest performers throughout the year, which this season includes members of the Capoeira club skilled in the Brazilian martial arts dance form. This spring performance also includes a special appearance by guest jazz musicians The Antoine Roney Trio, led by saxophone player and recording artist Roney.

Tickets cost $3. Information: (413) 597-2425.

Rudolf Steiner School

Little ones can enter the magical world of marionettes on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Great Barrington Rudolf Steiner School when the early childhood teachers of this south county Waldorf school bring the classic story of "The Frog Prince" to life in a puppet performance inspired by the writings of the Brothers Grimm.

Puppetry holds a special place in the Waldorf world of some 1,000 schools that follow the educational principals of educator, philosopher and scientist Rudolph Steiner. Using soft handmade marionettes, gentle color schemes and steady, soothing speech patterns, the shows stimulate the imagination with atmospheric settings.

The full-length play is appropriate for children up to the age of 7 years old and their accompanying adults, and admission is free. Following the performance, children can play in the Early Childhood classrooms known for their nurturing, natural environment. Information: (413) 528-4015.

Berkshire Music School

The sound of a traditional British brass band conjures up images of summer days lazing in lawn chairs on a village green listening to sprightly marches as polished instruments glint in the afternoon sun. While it's still a long way until the weather warms up enough for outdoor concerts, hearing the New England Brass Band play on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. at the Zion Lutheran Church in downtown Pittsfield imay be the next best thing.

The Berkshire Music School has arranged a return visit by this acclaimed Boston-based 30-piece brass and percussion ensemble of experienced volunteer musicians drawn from throughout New England, from Rhode Island to Maine. With a series of recordings and 25 years of experience, the award-winning group will perform in Pittsfield as it prepares to compete in a national brass band competition.

The ensemble is led by Stephen Bulla, former chief arranger for the President's Own United States Marine Band and White House Orchestra. It performs a varied repertoire of sacred, traditional, popular and patriotic brass band music, as well as original works and well-known marches by John Philip Sousa.

Tickets for the concert are $20 for adults and $5 for students and children. Information: (413) 442-1411.


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