CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0073; fax (319) 384-0024
'Departures'/Dance Gala ranges from ballet to modern dance to clowning
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Dance Company will present
"Departures"/Dance Gala, the 1997 edition of its major annual
production, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14 and 15, in Hancher Auditorium.
The "Departures" program ranges from ballet to contemporary dance
to jazz dance to theatrical clowning.
The program features not only a spectrum of new choreography by UI faculty
members and students, but also the work of two guest artists -- ballet
choreographer Luis Fuente, the ballet master of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago;
and internationally renowned theatrical clown Bob Berky.
Fuente was a leading dancer for the Joffrey Ballet, the National Ballet
in Washington, D.C., the National Ballet of Holland and the London Festival
Ballet, and he was the founder/director of Ballet de Luis Fuente in his
native Spain. Fuente's heritage is expressed in "Nacencia," a
ballet ensemble work set to Spanish music. "Nacencia" was created
for the UI Dance Company when Fuente was in residence at the UI dance department
Faculty member Francoise Martinet, also a veteran of the Joffrey Ballet,
has directed rehearsals of "Nacencia" since Fuente's departure.
UI Dance Company Artistic Director Alicia Brown has long contemplated
importing two-time Hancher headliner Berky as a Dance Gala guest artist,
although he is neither a dancer nor a choreographer. "He's a unique
talent and someone who deserves to be seen again by audiences here,"
Brown says "I also wanted to have humor and fun within the Gala repertoire.
He was perfect."
Berky won an OBIE Award for his work with the performance ensemble Foolsfire,
and he received the Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival for his
one-man show. His many television appearances include specials on PBS,
Canal Plus, MTV, Disney and Nickelodeon. In Hancher he performed with juggler
Michael Moschen in the off-Broadway hit "The Alchemedians" and
in his one-man show.
Now Brown's dream is being realized, but not in a way she could have
anticipated. This fall Berky enrolled as a graduate student in the UI Playwrights
Workshop and moved to Iowa City with his wife, Babs Case, an alumna of
the UI dance department. Brown, who was one of Case's teachers, says, "I
literally fell out of my chair when I heard Babs was married to him."
Although Berky never utters a word in his stage appearances, communicating
instead with movement and toots on a duck call, he has developed an increasing
interest in playwriting. His first play, "Cooking the World,"
won the Kennedy Center's 1991 New American Plays Roger L. Stevens Award.
For several years he has been looking for an opportunity to concentrate
on creating scripts.
Case and Berky often conduct comedy and movement workshops together.
When they were traveling back to their home on the East Coast from a workshop
in Wyoming, Case suggested that as long as they were driving I-80, they
should stop in Iowa City to check out the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. Berky
enrolled, and Case has also returned to the UI to work on a master of fine
arts degree in dance.
Faculty member David Berkey created "Along Came A Spider,"
set to Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2, this summer for the debut of
his new David Berkey Dance Company in the UI Space/Place Theatre.
Berkey's inventive contemporary choreography, which has been a regular
part of Dance Gala programs for more than a decade, has also been performed
by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, France's Ballet du Nord, Ballet Arizona and
the Eugene Ballet in Oregon. He was awarded a Yard Choreographer's residency
in 1995 and a Carlisle Project Choreographers Workshop in 1996.
"When I Dream . . ." by faculty member Armando Duarte uses
music of Bobby McFerrin as the sonic atmosphere for an exploration of sleep,
dreams and the rituals of night and morning.
Duarte was a dancer, choreographer and teacher in his native Brazil,
including winning the Best New Choreographer Award from the Sao Paulo Association
of Arts Reviewers, before moving to the United States on a grant from the
Rockefeller Foundation. He came to the UI after working with Rachel Lampert
and Dancers in New York, and as a faculty member of the dance department
he has staged several works for the Dance Gala and has been co-artistic
director of the touring ensemble Dancers in Company.
Country and folk music -- performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer and Mark
O'Connor -- provide the backdrop for faculty member Alan Sener's Dance
Gala contribution, a large ensemble work titled "Under Red Hill by
County Fair Down."
Sener was a principal dancer with the Louis Falco Dance Company and
is now the artistic director of the Falco estate. He has staged Falco works
for companies around the world, and his own choreographic commissions include
works for the University of Utah, Ball State University, West Texas A and
M University and the Cleveland Playhouse.
Completing the "Departures" program is a slice of '60s nostalgia,
"Return to Retro" by Sabrina Madison-Cannon. A former member
of Philadanco, Madison-Cannon is now a UI dance graduate student. This
"feel good" jazz work recalls the rebellious and playful attitudes
of the late '60s and early '70s, using music by artists including David
Bowie, Chaka Khan, Marvin Gaye and Jimi Hendrix.
Madison-Cannon began her dance training in the UI Talented and Gifted
Program and later was schooled at the National Academy of Arts and the
Alvin Ailey American Dance Center before her professional career.
Artistic contributors to the "Departures" production include
costume designer Margaret Wenk, and lighting designers Gary Holmquist and
emeritus theater faculty member David Thayer.
Tickets for "Departures"/Dance Gala '97 are $14 and $12. UI
student and senior citizen prices are $10 and $8, and tickets for audience
members 17 and younger are half price. Audience members who wish to provide
additional. much-needed support to the Dance Department may purchase a
$30 patron tickets, which includes a $16, tax-deductible contribution to
the Dance Department 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.
The Dance Gala is sponsored, in part, by the Iowa City Press Citizen.