MMC March Program Notes

By Mary Alice Brunner

This month’s theme is “ Crusade for Dance and Strings” and the program will take place Monday, March 2, 2015; 2:00 PM at the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center, 601 Main Street in St. Joseph.  The program is open to the public.  The March program will feature  a violin performance by Beth Oeseburg, and the Berrien County Dancers under the direction of Theresa Graziano.

 Beth Oeseburg was born and raised in Kalamazoo, where she began studying violin at age seven. She went on to study music at Western Michigan University where she earned a Bachelor of Music degree, specializing in violin performance. Since then, she has performed in the Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, and South Bend symphony orchestras, as well as the Southwest Michigan Symphony and LaPorte County Orchestra. She is currently teaching in the Saint Joseph, Michigan, school orchestra program as Artist in Residence for high strings, as well as teaching privately through the Citadel Dance and Music Center on both violin and viola. Beth currently performs in the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra as assistant concertmaster, and is the Junior Prep Strings Conductor for the Lake Michigan Youth Orchestra.  She will be performing Sonata for Violin and Piano, opus 24, "Spring" by Ludwig van Beethoven, accompanied by Paul Flyger.

 Members of the Berrien County Dancers are Audrey Ballard, Carley Beemer, Grace Brackman, London Cook, Elizabeth Feldbruegge, Katie Harner, Anna Haynes, Ashley Main, Hannah McGrew, Kate Miller, Mallory Mishler, Lexi Sanders, Raechal Smith, Alyssa Swanson, Ashley Weber, and Lexi Winkler.  Throughout the school year, the members base their primary focus on modern dance technique, but also spend time learning techniques of jazz and ballet.  Students learn about elements of composition and are offered opportunities to choreograph their own works. Outside of learning student choreography, BCD members also learn repertoire from Mrs. Graziano and outside professionals including  Nan Giordano, Giordano Dance Chicago, Randy Duncan, Jon Lehrer, LehrerDance, Frank Chavez, Laurie Eisenhower and Eisenhower Dance Ensemble,  Mari Jo Irbe, Sarita Smith Childs, Winifred Haun, Lisa Catrett-Belrose, Jennifer Archibald,  Autumn Eckman, Taryn Kaschock Russell, Hubbard Street 2, Adam Houston, and Cesar Salinas.   The troupe will perform the following three dances: No FM, with music from 21 Pilots, choreographed by Audrey Ballard; Metempsychosis, with music from Alt-J, choreographed by Elizabeth Feldbruegge; and Trudge, with music from DJ Chus, choreographed by Cesar Salinas.

 Theresa Graziano, Artistic Director of the Berrien County Dancers, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in Dance from the Barat Conservatory of Dance and a Master’s Degree in Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment through Walden University.  She was the Associate Director at the Citadel Dance Center in Benton Harbor from 1999 through 2004, where she helped to build the strong foundation that the Citadel continues today.  In 2001, Mrs. Graziano was hired to serve as the Artistic Director and teacher for the Berrien County Dancers located at Lakeshore High School with the responsibility of developing a complete curriculum in dance for high school credit.  The program has experienced consistent growth on multiple levels under her leadership and has developed a reputation for excellence in dance as well as offering a unique program for high school students in southwestern Michigan.  Mrs. Graziano has been the Choreography Director for many Lakeshore High School musicals, adding a new dimension to the productions and increasing the aesthetic appeal for audiences while enhancing the breadth and depth of performing arts experience for the cast members, many of whom had little to no prior experience.  A number of students, having had their first exposure to dance during these musicals, have chosen to continue their study with Mrs. Graziano through formal enrollment in her dance classes.