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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 17, 2008

June floods make Dance Gala 2008 a 'Special Issue'

The June flood closed Hancher Auditorium, but that did not stop the University of Iowa Department of Dance from proceeding with its major annual performance event, the Dance Gala. It merely made Dance Gala 2008 a two-week "Special Edition," presented on the fully equipped dance stage in the Space Place Theatre of North Hall.

The performances, featuring guest stars Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, will be at 8 p.m. Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, and Nov. 6-8. North Hall, which is accessible on foot from the Anne Cleary Walkway, is across the pedestrian bridge from free parking in the Hancher lot, and parking is also available right next door in the North Campus ramp at the north end of Madison St. Space Place holds an audience of 220.

The "Special Issue" of Dance Gala will feature classic works by legendary choreographers George Balanchine and Louis Falco, as well as choreography by UI Department of Dance faculty members Deanna Carter, Armando Duarte and Jennifer Kayle:
--"Valse-Fantasie," which was choreographed in 1967 by Balanchine for his New York City Ballet, staged for the UI Dance Gala Company by guest artist Leslie Peck;
--"Estória Cega," by Duarte, featuring Brazilian folk songs and music by Pulitzer Prize-winning UI School of Music alumnus David Lang;
--"Borders," a large-ensemble contemporary ballet by Carter, inspired by personal accounts by people from East Germany and Mexico, set to music by Philip Glass;
--the premiere of Kayle's "Solar Ghost," which features an original score by Carlos Cuellar Brown; and
--"Black and Blue" by Falco, set to music by Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, staged by Department of Dance Chair Alan Sener, who performed in the original 1982 production and is the artistic director of the Falco Repertory;
Wideman-Davis and Davis, who met as stars of Dance Theatre of Harlem and now are co-directors of their Wideman-Davis Dance Company, will be the central couple in Balanchine's 1967 "Valse-Fantasie," for which Wideman-Davis is also the rehearsal director.

She was honored as "Best Female Dance 2001-02" by Dance Europe magazine, and her resume includes not only the Dance Theatre of Harlem but also the Joffrey Ballet and the companies of Alonzo King and Donald Byrd.

Davis was featured as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch in the World" in 2002, and in 2003 he won the Choo San Goh award for choreography. He was creative assistant to Donald Byrd while a member of that company, and has performed with prominent dance companies throughout the world.

Leslie Peck, who set "Valse-Fantasie" here on behalf of the Balanchine Trust - she is one of the few dancers certified to teach the Balanchine repertory -- danced for Balanchine in the New York City Ballet, and she is now a faculty member at Southern Methodist University.

The UI Dance Company was the first college ensemble ever granted permission to perform a Balanchine work, and this year representatives of the Balanchine Trust visited the UI in the spring to observe classes and conduct auditions before again granting performance permission.

"Estória Cega" is based on the Brazilian documentary, "A Pessoa é para o que nasce" (Born to be Blind), about the lives of three blind sisters who earn their living by singing in the streets of northeastern Brazil. Their songs express stories full of drama, heartache and hope. "I was captivated by their story and their music," Duarte says. "This work is a result of my reflections about their lives and artistry. "

Kayle's dance/theater work "is the final installment in a triptych of dances. It started with the award-winning American College Dance Festival-winning octet on the plastic squares of grass in Dance Gala 2007, "at the receding edges," and continued with "heel," shown at Joyce SoHo in New York City this July. This third meditation regarding on our physical, political, and spiritual relationship to the environment looks at our contemporary condition of being engulfed in artificial light, referencing various no-window spaces such as the 'cubicle,' and other obstacles to our place in the sun."

Sener traveled the world as a principal dancer in the Louis Falco Dance Company, and was Falco's choreographic assistant for 15 years. Before his death in 1993, Falco - best known as the choreographer for the hit movie "Fame" -- arranged for Sener to become the artistic director of his repertory, with the result that Sener has continued to travel the world, keeping the Falco repertory alive.

"Black and Blue," which observes human relationships through a boxing metaphor," was one of Falco's international hits, and Sener has restaged the work in Australia and France.

Dance Gala "Special Issue" features scenic and costume design by Margaret Wenk- Kuchlbauer, costume design by Juliana Waechter and lighting by long-time Dance Gala guest artist Laurel Shoemaker.

Tickets for the "Special Issue" of Dance Gala are $20 ($15 for seniors, $10 for UI students and youth) from the University Box office in the Old Capitol Center. The box office is scheduled to move back into the Iowa Memorial Union around Nov. 1.

The University Box Office may be reached by phone at 319-335-3041 or toll-free 800-346-4401. The fax number is 319-335-3407. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. In addition to cash and checks, the University Box Office accepts MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Discover cards.

Any remaining tickets will be on sale at the door.

The Department of Dance is a unit in the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Alan Sener, Department of Dance, 319-335-2228,; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073 (office), 319-430-1013 (cell),