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Release: April 26, 2002
Hanchers Millennium Festival commission of Sankai Juku wins Olivier
Award in London
A dance production co-commissioned by the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium
for it 1999-2000 Millennium Festival was recently honored in the Londons
Laurence Olivier Theatre Awards. Sankai Jukus Hibiki, which
had its American premiere in Hancher in October 1999, won the 2002 Olivier
Award for Best New Dance Production, for its performances at Sadlers
Wells in London last spring.
The 26th annual award ceremony at Victoria Palace was broadcast throughout
the U.K. on the BBC.
An Artsworld review of the Sadlers Wells debut last March concluded,
It creates a startling atmosphere of intensity and inwardness which
is highly unusual, sometimes disturbing, and makes it utterly distinct from
anything in Western dance and theatre. A strange and wonderful experience.
With the creation of Hibiki, Hancher became the first U.S. commissioner
of a work by the famed butoh company and its director/choreographer,
Hibiki had its world premiere at the site of its co-commissioner,
Theatre de la Ville in Paris, in December 1998. Hanchers Judy Hurtig,
who is now interim co-director of the auditorium, traveled to France for the
premiere to represent the UI, the state of Iowa and Hanchers supporters,
and she wrote of the experience, As the dancers were taking their bows
-- to tumultuous applause -- I was filled with pride that we, all of us, have
played an important role in bringing this work to the stage.
It is a work of such large ambition, in which the movement, music and
lighting are tightly integrated. Ushio Amagatsu sets his vision on the biggest
issues of creation, life, reconciliation, death and the possibility of rebirth.
Time seems to slip away; at some point you become aware that youve lost
all sense of the passage of time, and youve slowly entered this work
that is filled with powerful images.
Following the Hancher performance, Hibiki was seen at other venues
in the United States and became an often-performed part of the companys
international touring repertory -- including the U.K. premiere at Sadlers
Wells, which has presented Sankai Juku performances for more than 20 years.
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.
Former Hancher Director Wallace Chappell, now executive director of American
Ballet Theater in New York, explained that the Sankai Juku 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 was consistent with the long-standing tradition of the UI 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.
Gary A. and Ladonna K. Wicklund and the National Endowment for the Arts were
Hanchers major commissioning sponsors of Hibiki, through
the University of Iowa Foundation.
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>.