Spirit Dance, a new theatrical production that hopes to do for Native American culture what Riverdance has done for Irish culture, will launch a U.S. tour with a Sept. 13 performance at the UCLA Center for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. No other road dates have been specified, but the show is intended to eventually reach Broadway at a date and theatre TBA, according to show spokesman Adrian Bryan-Brown.
Spirit Dance will make its debut a year before the L.A. date, on Aug. 7 & 9 at the 2,200-seat Weidner Center in Green Bay, WI. A wider audience will get a glimpse of the show in March 1999 when the Green Bay performance will be broadcast as a PBS pledge special. Spokesman Peter Holmes a Court of Back Row Productions, which is producing the show, said (May 26) the video was partly intended to stir interest in the show, fueling the tour. The tape will also be available for purchase.
The show boasts a creative team of disparate talents. Broadway veteran Wayne Cilento (The Who's Tommy, How to Succeed...) is choreographer of the piece. The show's composer, Peter Buffett, is a Milwaukee-based musician whose credits include the film soundtracks Dance With Wolves and The Scarlet Letter. Chief Hawk Pope, meanwhile, in addition being lyricist, vocalist and musical collaborator on the project, is the Chief of the Shawnee remnant tribe. Spirit Dance features a cast of 70 in a fervent display of Native-American dancing and drumming, including 20 contemporary and traditional dancers, percussionists, musicians, traditional vocalists and the Green Bay Oneida Nation Girls Choir.
Holmes a Court said that the show would not incorporate sacred dances, but instead created new dances in the Native-American tradition. Though several tribal styles of dance and music are represented in the show, the predominant language in Shawnee, he said.
For information on the Green Bay performance, call 1-800-328-TKTS. -- By Robert Simonson