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Release: Dec. 29, 2000

Hancher hosts residency by Philadanco Jan. 16-19

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Philadanco, the Philadelphia-based dance company that has won international acclaim for its performances and educational activities in African-American dance, will be in residence at the University of Iowa Jan. 16-19 as part of the annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Week. The residency, organized by Hancher Auditorium, will climax with a performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 19, in Hancher.

Philadanco founder and Artistic Director Joan Meyers Brown will be the special guest in a pre-performance discussion at 7 p.m. in the Hancher Greenroom, free to performance ticketholders.

The program will feature "Echoes: A Celebration of Alvin Ailey," choreographed by Milton Myers to music by John Adams; Gene Hill Sagan’s "La Valse," set to the familiar music by Ravel; "Labess II," set by David Brown to the music of recent Hancher vocal artists Zap Mama; and "Pretty is Skin Deep, Ugly to the Bone," choreographed by Talley Beatty to popular music by Natalie Cole, Quincy Jones, and Earth, Wind and Fire.

Brown will lead a free discussion at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 16 at West Branch High School, organized by the West Branch Religious Council.

The public is also invited to a free open rehearsal by Philadanco, 3:30-5 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18 in Hancher.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 16 and 17, Philadanco will present movement workshops, discussions in social studies classes and a "press conference" at City High School in Iowa City. And on Thursday, Jan. 18, the company will present a matinee performance for area school groups as part of Hancher’s Stage Door educational series.

Hailed by critics as "exuberant" (The New York Times), Philadanco in its three decades of existence has established itself as one of America’s foremost dance ensembles.

The company has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Louis Bellson Orchestra, the Duke Ellington Orchestra and with world-renowned pop celebrities. Philadanco has also made several national television appearances.

They have performed at top venues including New York’s Madison Square Garden, Lincoln Center, Jacob’s Pillow and the Joyce Theatre, the Kennedy Center, as well as appearances throughout Europe and Asia.

The company has collaborated with a long list of acclaimed choreographers including Milton Myers, Talley Beatty, Donald Byrd, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Blondell Cummings, David Brown, Elisa Monte and Ron K. Brown.

A Los Angeles Times critic described the company as "high speed wonders," and a Philadelphia Inquirer review observed, "This is a daring approach to dance . . . extraordinary stamina as well as a real flair for sensuous, rippling movement."

A Dance Magazine article stated, "Philadanco’s dancers are a miracle of skill and energy. They work in a range of idioms most companies don’t even try to possess. . . A company that can do more than just anything. It can represent the possibilities of human spirit through dance."

In 1981, the Philadanco was one of the 15 national organizations selected to receive the first Institutionalization Advancement Grants awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 1985, the company was selected as one of nine companies to receive a prestigious National Choreographic Planning Grant.

Brown recently received the Dance Women/Living Legends award from 651, An Arts Center, Aaron Davis Hall and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center. She is the honorary chair of the International Association of Blacks in Dance.

In addition to founding Philadanco, Brown founded the Philadelphia School of Dance Arts and was a founder of the International Conference of Black Dance Companies. She is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which bestowed upon her an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, and she is a member of the dance faculty at Howard University in Washington, DC.

Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Week, founded in 1993, is coordinated by the UI Office of Student Life, and it is sponsored by numerous UI departments, which organize events to promote awareness of issues ranging from diversity to social change. Hancher’s observance will also feature a concert by the Mingus Big Band on Saturday, Jan. 20.

The Philadanco residency and performance are made possible by UI Men’s Intercollegiate Athletics through the University of Iowa Foundation, and by the F. Wendell Miller Trust Funds and the Iowa Arts Council.

For additional information about Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Week activities at the UI, contact the Office of Student Life at 319-335-3059.

Tickets for the Jan. 19 performance are $28, $25 and $22. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 2 and 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for audience members 17 and younger are half price.

Box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance 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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail at <>.

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.

For UI arts information, visit this new address -- -- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>. Learn about Philadanco at <>.