CONTACT: WINSTON BARCLAY
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Iowa City IA 52242
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Release: Oct. 2, 2000
(NOTE TO EDITORS: This is one in a series of stories that revisit the commissioned
works that were part of the 1999-2000 Millennium Festival at the University
of Iowa Hancher Auditorium. We will document how the works have developed
or changed, where they have been performed, what the critics have said, and
in some cases how the artists themselves gauge the works.)
ONE YEAR AFTER THE MILLENNIUM (FESTIVAL)
Hancher's Sankai Juku's commission expressed UI's international vision
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The shaved heads, white-powdered bodies and intensely
ritualized movements of Japans Sankai Juku became familiar images of
contemporary dance during the last decades of the 20th century. But despite
the companys world-wide popular and critical acclaim, its work had never
been created through an American commission -- until the University of Iowa
Hancher Auditoriums 1999-2000 Millennium Festival. The results were
presented on the Hancher stage with the American premiere "Hibiki"
on Oct. 1 and 2, 1999
Hancher Director Wallace Chappell explains that the commission was an expression
of the UIs international vision: "Hancher conceives of itself as
a research and development center for the arts, and our commission of Sankai
Juku is consistent with the long-standing tradition of the University of Iowa
in supporting not only the creative arts, but also international understanding.
"Hancher is committed to supporting artistry of the highest possible
caliber on a worldwide basis. As Sankai Juku is one of the finest contemporary
dance ensembles, and Hancher has consistently presented dance, theatre and
music ensembles of the Pacific Rim, it was appropriate to continue this tradition
by commissioning a new work from Sankai Juku. American commissioners often
do not look beyond our shores, but I consider it part of our leadership role
to pursue a more global perspective."
Following the Hancher performance, "Hibiki" was seen at other
venues in the United States and has become an often-performed part of the
companys international touring repertory.
Seattle Times dance critic Mary Murfin Bayley wrote, "In some ways
"Hibiki," given by the Japanese butoh dance company Sankai Juku
last night, did not feel at all like a performance. The six men, their faces
and bodies matted in rice powder, seemed more like practitioners of strange
(though oddly familiar) rites transformed by director and choreographer Ushio
Amagatsu into an evening of eerie beauty."
Reviewer David Schmader commented, "Hibiki should cement
Sankai Jukus stature as one of the worlds most accomplished and
inventive dance companies."
Gary A. and Ladonna K. Wicklund and the National Endowment for the Arts
were the major commissioning sponsors of "Hibiki," through the University
of Iowa Foundation.
The Hancher Millennium Festival was the most extensive and ambitious performing-arts
millennium celebration in the United States. The season-spanning festival
featured more than 20 major commissions in music, theater and dance.
In addition to "Hibiki," new works were presented by theater visionary
Robert Lepage; choreographers Paul Taylor, UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, Susan
Marshall, Bill T. Jones, Twyla Tharp and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; and composers
including Richard Danielpour, Michael Daugherty, Paul Schoenfield and UI alumnus
Performances of the commissioned works were presented by prominent ensembles
including American Ballet Theatre, the Kronos Quartet, the Australian Chamber
Orchestra, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Bill T. Jones/Arnie
Zane Dance Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the Kalichstein-Laredo-Robinson
Trio, the Ahn Trio and the Ethos Percussion Group.
For UI arts information, visit this new address -- www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa
-- on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <email@example.com>.