Eight live dance concerts of variety and depth will be offered in Salem this month.  Veracity, a presentation of ten pieces featuring more than 40 dancers performing classical, modern and aerial dance, aims to transform audiences, says artistic director, Jessi Fouts.

“This will redefine what dance is at Willamette University,” Fouts says.  “There will be tap, a cappella singing and live piano.  There will be something for every palate.  You don’t very often get the high caliber of choreography we will have.”

Fouts, adjunct professor in the Department of Theatre, directed “Beginnings” last year and hopes Veracity will propel the dance program into a more central part of the school.  She thinks it can happen.

“I had people come up in tears after ‘Beginnings’ last year,” she says.  “There is a truth and honesty in the student’s movements, and that truth led me to create this new vision.”

Fouts, who began dancing when she was three, says that even those with no exposure to the medium will be moved by it.  “Dance can touch a part of you that you don’t get through anything else,” she says.  “With bodies in motion, it’s honest.  You can read people’s body language.  Bodies don’t lie; I feel dance is the most honest art form.”

Six different people, including instructors who work professionally, choreographed the ten pieces.  Among them are Annie Joslin, who owns the American Ballet Academy in Salem, Michele Ainza of Michele Ainza Dance in Portland and EJ Reinagel of Willamette Theater Department.   Fouts herself, who has performed aerial dance professionally in a number of different venues, choreographed an aerial piece.  She says aerial dancing allows expressiveness other forms cannot.  “You can move in so many ways you can’t when you’re tied to the floor; you can move 360°,” she says.  “It’s very liberating.”

Several students also created original dance work for Veracity.  “It’s very hard to choreograph your first dance,” Fouts says.  “I mentor the students through the process.  If they’re not getting what they want, I’ll try to spur more thought so they can create what they want to see.”

Veracity will be presented at the M. Lee Pelton Theater on the Willamette University campus.  The performing arts facility completed a $5.6 million renovation in 2010.


A dance concert

M. Lee Pelton Theatre

Willamette University Campus

289 12th St SE

November 13-22

Tickets at www.boxofficetickets.com

and Travel Salem, 181 High St.