Dance - Dancing the divine

Several Dancers CORE presents Messiah

Prophecies proclaimed and fulfilled, humanity redeemed and readied for the final cosmic confrontations: Handel wasn't one to sweat the small stuff. This Thursday, Several Dancers CORE will interpret his most famous oratorio, Messiah, in the final production of the "I Feel Like Dancin'" dance festival at the Marcus Jewish Community Center.

Choreographed by Sue Schroeder, CORE's Messiah interprets 21 sections of the oratorio (the 57 sections of the complete oratorio take nearly three hours to perform) in CORE's accustomed experimental style. "We created a different process ... for each section, but we tried to honor Handel's process," says Schroeder.

First performed in 1742, Handel's Messiah is best known for its "Hallelujah" chorus, which is omnipresent around the Christmas season. Though undoubtedly one of the finest spiritual celebrations in classical music, the chorus tells little of the epic drama contained in the oratorio. The libretto, written by Charles Jennens, tells the entire story of the Christian cosmography, beginning in the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, recounting the entire story of his time on Earth, and finally vaulting into the Apostle John's acid-trip visions of the final days' brimstone battles. Handel's score transforms the story into restless airs of promised salvation, joyful paeans to the Messiah emergent, penitent requiems to the sacrificed son and bold recitatives of victories to come.

The sheer musical and emotional range of the oratorio makes it an enticing opportunity for choreographed movement. Schroeder describes her creation as an "illuminated manuscript," with movement responding to and enriching the original score. Though Handel left no room for delicate introspections or playful disorder, CORE's interpretation thrills in the distance between the ebullient spins of a child's humble birth and the mighty march of the Armageddon armies.

Several Daners CORE and the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta present Messiah May 23 at 8 p.m. at the Morris & Rae Frank Theatre at Zaban Park. 5342 Tilly Mill Road in Dunwoody. $18. 770-395-2654.??

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