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Release: Immediate

UI Dancers in Company prepares for spring Iowa tour with home concerts March 6-7

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Dancers in Company, the University of Iowa dance department's touring ensemble company, will prepare -- artistically and financially -- for its spring tour of Iowa and Wisconsin with home concerts at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 6 and 7, in the Space/Place Theatre of UI North Hall. Under the artistic direction of faculty members Linda Crist and Armando Duarte, the dozen-member student ensemble will perform a program that includes both ballet and various styles of contemporary dance.

The company's March-April tour is now scheduled to include a visit to Hudson, Wis., in addition to Iowa events in Iowa City, Burlington, Storm Lake, Cedar Rapids, Sioux City, Council Bluffs and Estherville.

Featured in this season's repertory are:

-- "A Taste of an Orange," a modern duet by Duarte, who performed and choreographed in his native Brazil before coming to the United States;

-- faculty member David Berkey's contemporary "Along Came a Spider," which was performed in the UI Dance Company's November Dance Gala in Hancher Auditorium and was a UI entry in the 1998 competition of the American College Dance Festival Association;

-- graduate student Kirsten Kaschock's "Hunting Primes," a percussive group piece inspired by the mathematics of prime numbers;

-- "Whatever," a playful duet choreographed to Turtle Island String Quartet music by Singapore native Kuan Hui Chew, a UI dance major who was trained at the Beijing Dance Academy in China;

--"All at Once Well Met," a ballet set to English madrigals by Penny Askew, artistic director of the Western Oklahoma Ballet and winner of the "Choreography Connection," awarded to the outstanding choreographer at the Regional Dance America National Festival;

-- "Number 1, 2 or 3," developed by Crist and her quartet of dancers as a ballet/theater parody of "The Dating Game" TV game show;

-- "Spirituals" by Cecil Slaughter, a dance department graduate student who danced for 14 years with the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC), where he received a Dayton Arts District Fellowship for choreography, twice had works selected for the Ohio Emerging Choreographers Showcase, and choreographed a collaboration between the Grammy Award-winning vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock and DCDC;

-- "Return to Retro," a good-time jazz send-up of the late '60s and early '70s created for the 1997 Dance Gala by graduate student Sabrina Madison-Cannon, who began her dance training in the UI Talented and Gifted Program and, after training at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, became a soloist with Philadanco, the Philadelphia Dance Company; and

-- "Cascade," a modern trio set to Beethoven's "Moonlight" Sonata by guest choreographer Jennifer Plunkett, an Auburn University student who has participated in the UI's summer choreography workshops, has twice won the Dance Magazine Scholarship Award to the National Craft of Choreography Conference, and has received scholarships to choreography training at the Lewitzky Workshops, the Joffrey Ballet School, the American Dance Festival and the Paul Taylor II Company Workshops.

Also in the repertory, for use in the Dancers in Company educational lecture/demonstrations, are undergraduate dance student Amy Brown's "Flies," a playful dance in which the performers accompany themselves with humming; and graduate student Kaye E. Richards' "A 'Bold' Day," a solo that explores the chore of doing laundry.

The Dancers in Company ensemble, which is selected by audition, learns by practical experience about the rigors of performing in a professional touring ensemble -- enduring the strains of travel, adapting to a variety of dance facilities and audiences, and maintaining a repertory at a high artistic standard. The ensemble's activities range from formal public concerts to lecture/demonstrations for elementary and middle-school students.

The Dancers in Company educational activities are supported by a grant from Target Stores through the UI Arts Share outreach program.

Admission to the Dancers in Company home concerts will be $5 ($4 for UI students, senior citizens and children) at the door. Revenue from ticket sales will help offset the costs of touring.

For additional information about the company, or about arranging a Dancers in Company event, contact Diane Kenney-Handler or Babs Case in the Arts Share office, (319) 335-1618.

Arts Share is a UI program that provides artistic expertise from the Iowa Center for the Arts to schools, local arts councils, community arts associations, museums, senior citizen centers and other organizations throughout Iowa and the surrounding region. The Arts Share roster of touring artists includes nearly 100 faculty members, ensembles and graduate students in the performing, visual and literary arts.

During the last 20 years, the dance department has become one of the UI's most impressive success stories. Two decades ago dance was a program in the department of women's physical education with a two-member faculty. A bachelor's degree in phys ed with a dance certification was the only dance-related degree available.

Now dance is an nationally respected department offering bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, and master of fine arts degrees. The dance department has now boomed to more than 140 undergraduate and graduate majors, requiring a cap on enrollment.

The department's high standards in both ballet and contemporary dance have been almost perennially affirmed by success in American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) competitions, including several original dances invited to the ACDFA national showcase in Washington, DC. The dance department's ballet area has achieved what would once have been considered unthinkable in the youth-obsessed culture of ballet -- regularly placing graduates in ballet companies. And a few years ago one of the department's students received the Dance Magazine award, recognizing him as the top student dancer in the country.