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Release: Immediate

Baryshnikov and White Oak Dance Project perform at UI March 18-19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Mikhail Baryshnikov and his White Oak Dance Project will perform a classic of modern choreography by Merce Cunningham and new works by modern-dance legend Erick Hawkins and young American experimental choreographer Meg Stuart at 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, March 18-19, in the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium.

Baryshnikov and his eight dancers will perform Cunningham's 1953 "Septet" with music for piano four-hands by Erik Satie, Hawkins' "Journey of A Poet," and Stuart's "Remote," commissioned especially for the White Oak tour. "Journey of A Poet," which Hawkins created for White Oak shortly before his death, and "Remote" are receiving their world premieres on this tour.

Live music will be performed by musicians of the White Oak Dance Project.

The 1974 defection of Baryshnikov from the Kirov Ballet, where he was a star soloist, made world-wide headlines. After coming to the West, he solidified his stature as the greatest and most popular male classical dancer of his generation. He was a principal dancer in the New York City Ballet for two years before becoming artistic director of American Ballet Theatre.

His popularity was enhanced by his performances in the feature films "The Turning Point" with Shirley MacLaine and "White Nights" with Gregory Hines.

The end of Baryshnikov's ballet career was the beginning of his career in modern and contemporary dance. He performed in Hancher four seasons ago with Twyla Tharp, in two sold-out performances of Tharp's choreography.

When Baryshnikov left American Ballet Theatre in 1989 after nine years as artistic director, he teamed with American choreographer Mark Morris in 1990 to create the White Oak Dance Project, a highly select group of dancers gathered to both present landmarks of modern dance and to commission new works. The company was named for the White Oak Plantation on the Florida-Georgia border, which serves as a retreat for the company as it rehearses new projects.

In more than 20 tours, the White Oak Dance Project has revived works by dance legends including Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, Meredith Monk and Jose Limon, and has commissioned works from leading choreographers including Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch and Jerome Robbins.

In the second half of the 20th century, Cunningham has been one of the towering figures of American contemporary dance. He described the "Septet" as a "conventional dance done to the music," one of the last pieces in which Cunningham used "a wholly intuitive process" to create dance in response to music. A short time later he broke radically from the traditional ways of making dance and began using chance processes that disconnected movement, music and design.

"Septet" was premiered by the Merce Cunningham Company in 1953, with an original cast that included Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Carolyn Brown.

Hawkins, who died two years ago, gained fame both as a choreographer/dancer and as the husband of Martha Graham. A month before his death he received the National Medal of Arts from President Clinton, and the Erick Hawkins Dance Company is now celebrating its 45th anniversary. His "Journey of A Poet" was set to music by his long-time collaborator, Lucia Dlugoszewsky.

Stuart founded her own company, Damaged Goods, in 1994, and the company has already performed throughout Europe, Canada and Australia. The recipient of a choreographer fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stuart has also been honored with two Arts International Grants and the Mobil Pegasus Award at the Hamburg Sommertheaterfestival. Her choreography includes works for the Deutsche Oper Berlin and Ottawa's Le Groupe.

Tickets for the Baryshnikov and White Oak Dance Project performances are $49. $45 and $40. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, and tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.

Further information about this event is available on Hancher's World Wide Web homepage, at <>.

Sponsors of the White Oak Dance Project performances are Dahl Ford; Group 5 Hospitality Management Division of Highlander, Inc; Parsons Technology; andRoberta McCoid of Mt. Pleasant, through the University of Iowa Foundation.