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Release: Oct. 23, 2001

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Dance Gala Director Alan Sener is reachable at 319-335-2184 or Lar Lubovitch will arrive on Nov. 5. If you wish to interview him, make your request to Winston Barclay at Arts Center Relations (; (319) 384-0073) as soon as possible. Dress rehearsals on Nov. 6, 7 and 8 will be available for photography and video -- more info will follow.)

UI Dance Gala celebrates 20th anniversary in Hancher performances Nov. 9-10

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa Dance Company will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its annual Dance Gala with Dance Gala 2001, featuring a classic work by UI alumnus Lar Lubovitch, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 9 and 10 in Hancher Auditorium. The UI Symphony Orchestra under the direction of William LaRue Jones, the Kantorei under the direction of Timothy Stalter, UI School of Music faculty pianist Ksenia Nosikova and dance department staff pianist Jyle Juracek will be featured musical performers.

A benefit reception, featuring Lubovitch and other Dance Gala 2001 choreographers, will celebrate the 20th anniversary -- and provide much-needed, tax-deductible financial support for the dance department -- before the Friday night performance 6-7:30 p.m. in the Hancher Cafe.

Lubovitch returned to the UI in 1999 after an absence of nearly 40 years for the American Ballet Theatre performances of his Hancher-commissioned "Meadow" -- part of the auditorium's Millennium Festival. The reconnection was so mutually satisfying that Lubovitch, one of America's most acclaimed modern-dance choreographers, was invited back by the dance department.

Lubovitch is contributing his 1976 classic "Marimba" set to Steve Reich's pulsing "Music for Mallet Instruments, Voices and Organ" to Dance Gala 2001.

The program will also feature works by UI Dance Company Director Alan Sener and dance department faculty choreographers Charlotte Adams, David Berkey, Jeffery Bullock, Basil Thompson and Armando Duarte -- who have been major contributors to Dance Gala programs in recent years.

Adams, who presented a concert of her work in New York City last season, will premiere her "Dichotomy of Desire," featuring Kantorei, the premiere vocal ensemble of the School of Music.

Dance department chair David Berkey will also present a premiere -- "On Parnassus," featuring piano soloist Lyle Juracek performing music of Wagner and Liszt.

Bullock's "Meditation (Beautiful Death)" will continue his exploration of provocative subject matter, set to music by Bessie Smith, Grace Jones and Teddy Pendergrass. This piece will be performed just before intermission, following a pause to allow audience members uncomfortable with the mature subject matter to extend their intermission.

Thompson, who was artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet before joining the dance department faculty last year, will premiere his "Chopiniana," an adaptation of Fokine's "Les Sylphide." The music by Glazunov will be performed by the UI Symphony under the direction of William LaRue Jones.

Sener's new "Who Shall Not Die" premiered at Ball State University in April. Set to Music by Bach, this performance will feature both the UI Symphony and the Kantorei, under the direction of Timothy Stalter. The production will feature cameo appearances by familiar Iowa City public servants.

The production will close with the premiere of Duarte's "Noir," featuring Nosikova as piano soloist with the UI Symphony, performing Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.

Other artistic contributors to Dance Gala 2001 will include costume and scenic designer Margaret Wenk, lighting designer Laurel Shoemaker and sound designer Ron Mickle.

Lubovitch did not actually graduate from the UI, which in those days did not even offer a dance degree, but the long absence has not dimmed his appreciation of the life transformation that occurred in Iowa City under the tutelage of faculty member Marcia Thayer, who was a key figure in dance education at the UI. That transformation was much more important to him than any diploma: "If there is any value to an educational institution, it's to help people discover themselves," he says. "That happened to me here."

A 30-year retrospective tribute to Lubovitch's career in New York featured a film of his first work of choreography -- created in 1961 at Thayer's invitation -- discovered in the archives of the UI dance department. The screening of that film reaffirmed and renewed the inspiration he received from Thayer at the UI. "I re-met myself -- the person I was when I began -- and I was very happy to find that I had changed very little, as far as the essence of what I was doing," Lubovitch says. "It really was a blessing, as a messenger of belief in myself."

For two decades the Dance Gala has been the major annual production that has helped launch the careers of other UI dance students. A survey conducted a few years ago found that the UI dance department had more alumni in professional ballet companies than any other college dance department. And the Dance Gala has also been the educational showcase for seasoned professional dancers who have come to the UI at the end of their performing careers to complete graduate degrees, preparing them to take the next step in dance.

The Dance Gala has produced numerous dances that have received national recognition in the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) and has featured student performers who have won ACDFA top national awards. Dance Gala alumni have joined the rosters of professional companies including the Joffrey Ballet, the Mark Morris Dance Company, the Boston Ballet, the Milwaukee Ballet, Rachel Lampert and Dancers, Corning Dances & Company and the Dayton Ballet. Faculty choreography premiered in the Dance Gala has been taken into the repertories of dance companies in the United States and abroad.

An element of the educational experience for the UI students -- and part of the joy of Dance Gala audiences -- has been the involvement of distinguished guest performers and choreographers.

The long list of guest artists who have enriched the Dance Gala includes Edward Villella, Heather Watts, Darci Kistler and Jock Soto of the New York City Ballet; Madame Xu Shu-ying of the Beijing Dance Academy; Elena Carter, Endalyn Taylor-Shellman and Eddie Shellman of the Dance Theatre of Harlem; Ross Parkes of the Martha Graham Dance Company; Magali Messac and Patrick Bissell of American Ballet Theatre; UI alumnus actor Greg Morris of "Mission Impossible" fame; Grammy-nominated Iowa singer/songwriter Greg Brown; David Parsons and his Parsons Dance Company; Victor Kanevsky and Dee Quinones of American Ballroom Theater; clown Bob Berky; and Luis Fuente of the Joffrey Ballet.

Dance Gala 2001 tickets are $20/18; UI student and senior citizen $12/10; youth $10/9. Patron tickets, including a contribution to the Dance Department, are $40.

Hancher Auditorium box office business 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. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology. Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher's website:<>.

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: <>.

Tickets to the benefit reception are $50. For details and reservations, call 319-335-2184.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit <>. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.

Sponsors of Dance Gala 2001 include the Elizabeth M. Stanley Performance Fund; Target Stores, Marshall Field and Mervyn's with support from the Target Foundation; the National College Choreography Initiative, Hancher Auditorium, WSUI/KSUI, UI Student Services, University Life Centers and the Stepping Up Project.

The UI dance department is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.