Arts and Culture | Local

UA dance concert to benefit Holocaust History Center

Amy Ernst’s “In the Shadow of the Dreamers” featuring members of the UA Dance Ensemble. (Ed Flores)

“In the Shadows of the Dreamers,” a dance commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, will be part of a University of Arizona School of Dance concert later this month to benefit the Holocaust History Center at the Jewish History Museum.

The concert and reception will be held Sunday, April 17 at 4 p.m. at the Stevie Eller Dance Theatre on the UA Campus at 1737 E. University Blvd.

Amy Ernst, a UA dance professor, choreographed the piece to “Five Hebrew Love Songs” by choral composer and conductor Eric Whitacre.

She explains that in “Five Hebrew Love Songs,” the composer set to music a series of poems by his wife, who was raised in Israel.

It was while listening to a news report last year on the anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation that she decided to use the love songs for a piece marking that occasion.

In the piece, the dancers “move in and out of reality, a sort of dreamlike state,” depicting scenes such as a Jewish wedding, Ernst says. “I wanted to make it seem as if these 12 beings were kind of caught between being imprisoned and dreaming, remembering the special times before the horrors began.”

“In the Shadows of the Dreamers” premiered last spring and was so well received that Jory Hancock, director of the UA School of Dance and dean of the College of Fine Arts, requested that it be performed again for members of the community who didn’t get to see it, Ernst says.

Nina Trasoff, a member of the advisory board for the UA School of Dance, arranged for the benefit performance. Local Holocaust survivors will be invited to attend and Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, who was in Poland last year for the anniversary of the liberation, will introduce “In the Shadows of the Dreamers.”

The concert will also include excerpts of works by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin and other UA dance faculty, starting with a light piece set to music by George Gershwin, says Trasoff. Two guest artists from the Ohad Naharin company are spending six weeks working with the UA School of Dance.

Tickets for the April 17 performance are $54; $45 for Jewish History Museum “patron” members. To reserve, contact Jane Scott at 577-9393 or