Donald McKayle
During his career, Donald McKayle has choreographed more than 90 works for dance companies all over the world. His autobiography, "Transcending Boundaries: My Dancing Life," was published by Routledge. Claire Trevor School of the Arts

He has a dancer’s hands with tapered fingers that move gracefully as he talks. Even when he sits in his UC Irvine office, flanked by awards and posters from his career, his hands perform. He is Donald McKayle, dancer, choreographer, director and Claire Trevor Professor of Dance, and he never stops moving.

“I just keep doing it,” he says of his work. “I could retire, but this is so exciting.”

The excitement continues as “Dance Visions 2009” pays tribute to the much-honored McKayle. The event, running Thursday, Feb. 5, through Sunday, Feb. 8, at Irvine Barclay Theatre, will feature the world premiere of his new production, “Noir.” The original music by Kei Akagi, Chancellor’s Professor of music, and Alan Terricciano, interim arts dean, will be performed by Kei Akagi & The Tokyo Trio and the UCI Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Tucker. Set in the film noir aesthetic style, the choreography is steeped in the steamy atmosphere of the genre. In addition, a McKayle modern dance classic titled “Games,” which made its debut in 1951, is on the program. It explores the serious business of childhood by observing young people at play in the city.

“Dance Visions is a wonderful and fitting setting for this year’s celebratory evening devoted to Donald McKayle, one of UCI’s finest artist-teachers and an American institution,” Terricciano said.

Other dances on the program include:

  • “Trio A in 10 Easy Lessons,” a restaging of the signature work by Yvonne Rainer, Distinguished Professor of Studio Art and avant-garde choreographer and filmmaker.
  • “Starry Night,” choreographed by Molly Lynch and based on Vincent Van Gogh’s painting.
  • “Artifact Suite (Excerpts),” choreographed by William Forsythe and presented by Jodie Gates.
  • “Harmonica Breakdown,” choreographed by Jane Dudley and performed by Sheron Wray, new dance assistant professor.

Tickets ($16 – general audiences; $14 – seniors and UCI staff/faculty; and $9 – UCI students and children) are available noon-4 p.m. weekdays at UCI Arts Box Office (949-824-2787) or at

UCI’s dance department is one of the premier programs in the U.S., and Dance Visions has become a cornerstone of the school’s performance calendar.

“The school is well-known for presenting celebrated masterpieces and significant world premieres,” Terricciano said. “We have an opportunity to spotlight our talented students and dance faculty, who are a source of great pride and inspiration for UCI and the greater artistic community.”