March 12 2009 12:00 AM

Dance show explores bloodline of economic turmoil


If you’re planning to ask Mark Ruhala about his new dance show, “Z,” be prepared for a pop quiz.

During a visit to Ruhala’s Ruhala Center for the Performing Arts last week, I politely removed my shoes (as the sign at the 2 The door Dead instructed) Feb 18 and & met 25 up with the artistic director and choreographer to talk about his new show, which is featured in the center’s upcoming Winter Showcase.

With the initial pleasantries exchanged, Ruhala got down to business, asking if I’d taken an economics course in college (I had), and what I knew about the state of the economy.

After offering a longwinded explanation that didn’t really say anything, I began to panic, sensing this interview had gone terribly wrong (why was he asking me the questions?) Soon Ruhala explained his motives for schooling me on the economy, credit and the way U.S. banks operate.

He explained that “Z,” short for “Zeitgeist,” is about humanity and the way our nation got into the economic despair it faces today. The production depicts corrupt systems, including the government and banks, therefore, Ruhala said it was crucial I knew how the system worked.

“The government keeps you ignorant to what’s really going on,” he said.

The show begins at the creation of the Earth with the Big Bang. Through dialogue, movement and dance, the four women in the production — Kelly Bevez, Carmen Zavala, Lisa Buch and Yana Levovna (a City Pulse contributor) — summarize the evolution of man, bringing attention to the pivotal discovery of agriculture and subsequent land ownership and continuing through the ages to the present. The show ends in what Ruhala calls a “totally idealistic, impractical, not typical of human nature way.”

Ruhala said the country would be much better off if we all adopted the Golden Rule of “Treat others as you want to be treated.”

While the show covers serious material, such as the isolation and alienation of the technological age, Ruhala said it is presented in a very “tongue-in-cheek way.” “We’re not trying to create more isolation or hurt anyone’s feelings,” he said.

Other shows in the Winter Showcase include, “Old Friends,” an all-female cast performing Broadway classics; “Once on this Island,” a “Romeo and Juliet”-influenced retelling of “The Little Mermaid” by the middle school ensemble; and “Tomorrow Belongs to Me,” where the youngest performers at the center perform poems by Shel Silverstein and songs from Broadway plays.

Psychological thriller

MSU Theatre will stage Henrick Ibsen’s “Hedda Gabler” this week. The classic play tells the story of a woman trapped in marriage and her own jealousy. Williamston Theatre’s Tony Caselli directs this complex tragedy, which is also partnered with MSU’s Psychology Department.

A pre-show talk with the director is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 22, and a talk back with the cast follows the Feb. 26 show. Feb. 20-Feb. 28. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday & Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. & 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Pasant Theatre, Wharton Center. $12.50. 1 (800) WHARTON. www.theatre.msu.edu.


A musical adaptation of James Joyce’s short story of the same name, “The Dead” opens this week at Lansing’s Riverwalk Theatre under the direction of Mary Job. The story takes place in early 20th Century Dublin, where friends and families gather to sing and dance in celebration of Dublin’s beloved music teachers. Central character Gabriel Conroy, who has unexpected revelations, delves into the haunting exploration of love and loss. Feb. 19 through March 1. 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday & Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday. Riverwalk Theatre, 228 Museum Dr., Lansing. $18-$20. (517) 482-5700, www.riverwalktheatre.com.

Get a room

The Lansing Community College Theatre Department will transport viewers to a Lansing motel room this weekend when it opens a black box production of Stephen Belber’s “Tape.” The suspenseful play follows three friends who meet to go over their unresolved past, examining themes of motive, truth and perception. For adults only. Feb. 20-28. 8 .m. Friday & Saturday. LCC’s Black Box Theatre, Room 168, Gannon Building, 411 N. Grand Ave., Lansing. $5/$10. (517) 483- 1488. www.lcc.edu/hpa/events.

Winter Showcase

“Old Friends” 8 p.m. Feb. 21 “Once on this Island” 3 p.m. & 6 p.m.
Feb. 22, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24. “Z” 8 p.m. Feb. 23 “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”
5:30 p.m. Feb. 24 Ruhala Performing Arts Center, 1845 Haslett Road,
East Lansing. $8/$12.(517) 337-0464 www.ruhalacenter.com