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Release: Immediate

Sydney Dance Company explores percussion in 'Free Radicals' Oct. 28 at UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Sydney Dance Company, Australia's leading contemporary dance ensemble, will explore the relationship of dance and percussion in "Free Radicals" at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus. The performance is part of the FREEDOM Group Innovation Afoot Series.

In "Free Radicals," the hurtling dancers are joined on-stage by a percussion band that bangs on drums, bells, gongs, chimes, wood, salad bowls, castanets, terra-cotta pots, iron sheets and even the bodies of the 16 dancers.

"Free Radicals" was choreographed by Sydney Dance Company artistic director Graeme Murphy, who is known for witty, athletic dances that carry both a visceral and a theatrical punch.

The full-evening work was created as a from-scratch collaboration between Murphy, the dancers, composer Michael Askill and his percussionist friends. Most dances begin with a musical score, but with "Free Radicals" the choreography and the music and were created simultaneously, through the spontaneous interaction of the artists.

"I didn't know where it was going to go," Murphy says. "We did start with nothing so the whole thing is fresher than it would have been otherwise."

The Sydney Dance Company, founded in 1969, is considered one of Australia's most vital arts organizations, capturing the sunny, athletic spirit of its homeland. The company stages a three-month season each year in the Sydney Opera House, and it has undertaken at least one international tour each season since 1980.

In addition to a large repertoire of Murphy's choreography, the company also performs a wide variety of contemporary dance from around the world. For example, UI Dance Department faculty member Alan Sener, who is in charge of the artistic legacy of the late American choreographer Louis Falco, traveled to Sydney in 1994 to teach Falco's boxing piece, "Black and Blue," to the company.

Murphy was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1982 for his services to dance, and in 1988 he was voted Australian of the Year by the national newspaper, the Australian. When the company made its New York debut, critic Clive Barnes wrote, "Graeme Murphy is a choreographer you will want to tell your grandchildren about. The man is a major find and so is his company."

Tickets for the Sydney Dance Company's "Free Radicals" are $28.50, $24.50 and $22.50. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20 percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets you audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Tickets are also available at a substantial discount as part of the Innovation Afoot Series. Other events in the series are the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company on Jan. 23 and the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan on Feb. 28. The FREEDOM Group is the corporate sponsor of the Innovation Afoot Series, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

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.