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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 22, 2003

The 'Beat' Goes On In UI Dance Gala 2003

The University of Iowa Dance Company will present its major performance event of the season -- "Beat," Dance Gala 2003 -- at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 7 and 8 in Hancher Auditorium on the UI campus.

The variety of "beats" brought together by Artistic Director Armando Duarte will include brides clogging in combat boots, the powerful taiko drumming of Japan's Kodo, live music by members of the UI Percussion Ensemble, the intoxicating lilt of Brazilian music and even a bit of disco.

"Keeping up with a tradition of a diverse program, 'Beat' brings to the audience a colorful and percussive performance," Duarte says. "For each piece there is a different beat, a different rhythm, all coming together in a passionate, pulsating path celebrating the high artistry level of the UI faculty choreographers, internationally known guest artists and high caliber dancers."

The evening will feature choreography and stagings by guest artist Lucas Crandall from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; UI dance department faculty members Duarte, Charlotte Adams, Basil Thompson and Jeffery Bullock; and alumnus/graduate student Daniel Stark.

The production's closer will be the fulfillment of a long-held dream for new UI dance department chair Alan Sener. Sener, who is the artistic director of the Louis Falco repertory, will remember his mentor -- best known as the choreographer of "Fame" -- with a 25th anniversary re-staging of "Escargot," which was the first work that Falco created after Sener joined his company in 1978.

The production, which features the "beat" of Grammy Award-winning percussionist Ralph Macdonald, will also mark the 10th anniversary of Falco's death. Anna Falco-Lane, Roger Lane and Jeffrey Lane -- the sister, brother-in-law and nephew of Louis Falco -- will attend the performances.

Lucas Crandall, a former star dancer who is now an artistic associate with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, is responsible for the brides in combat boots, dancing to the rhythms of Norwegian traditional music. He created "Pulse" for the Dance Gala during an intensive two-week residency at the beginning of the semester.

Duarte has revised his "Infancia," a dance inspired by childhood play that was premiered during the summer by his Duarte Dance Works professional company. The performance features music by Brazilian multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Egberto Gismonti.

Basil Thompson, former artistic director of the Milwaukee Ballet, has reconstructed "Pas de Quatre," which was first performed in London in 1845. "It was expressly choreographed for the leading ballerinas of the period, Taglioni, Grahn, Grisi and Cerito." Thompson explains. "It was a huge success and remains one of the few ballets of the romantic period still performed today."

Faculty member Jeffery Bullock has created provocative dance/theatre pieces for recent Dance Galas, and again this fall, with his new "Q," he is collaborating with composer Rob Mickle, who is creating a sound score featuring the music of disco queen Donna Summer.

Dance alumnus Daniel Stark has returned to the UI following his performing career, and for "Diplomacy," his first Dance Gala creation, he has chosen the explosive drumming of Kodo, the indefatigable Japanese taiko drummers who have been a sensation in several Hancher concerts.

The literal "beat" of percussion will also come to the fore in "Deception" by faculty member Charlotte Adams, whose choreography will be propelled by members of the UI Percussion Ensemble under the direction of Dan Moore, performing live.

The whole world knows Louis Falco's explosively athletic movement style through the hit movie "Fame," but although Sener has toured the world setting the Falco repertory on professional companies, none of Falco's widely traveled theatrical works has been staged in Iowa City. In "Escargot" Sener, who danced in the 1978 premiere, will reprise his role in an ensemble of student dancers from the UI Dance Company.

Through Sener, UI dancers are heirs to the Falco legacy, not only because his teaching is based on his experience in the Louis Falco Dance Company, but because nearly a hundred UI dance students have assisted in the cataloging of the Falco archives through independent study projects. As a result, Sener says they are better prepared to take on the Falco challenge than most professional companies.

At a time when American modern dance was exploring minimalism and "post-modernism," Falco was pursuing his own, uncategorizable vision, which Sener describes as "controlled abandon," plus more than a little bit of attitude.

Drawing on the pace and eclectic energy he experienced growing up in an immigrant family on New York's Lower East Side, Falco blurred dance boundaries in a playful style where pedestrian casualness melded with technical virtuosity, elements of classical ballet collided with a pop theatrical flair, and glamor co-existed with provocative sensuality.

Anna Kisselgoff of the New York Times once called the company "the epitome of disheveled chic," and veteran critic Clive Barnes noted Falco's unique ability to alienate both modern-dance traditionalists and the iconoclastic avant-garde.

One of the key elements of his success was that he celebrated individuality and personality, and that characteristic will make "Escargot" an opportunity for the UI student dancers to shine, and contribute their own talents and personality to the Falco legacy.

"Even though he was charismatic, and sometimes dominating, he had that ability to nurture your own individuality," Sener says of Falco. "He enjoyed being surrounded by people who had a strong sense of themselves, so that everybody had something to bring to the table. 'Escargot' is six dancers, and they are all soloists. There is a great deal of individuality in each role. And because the piece is so demanding, you must bring 100 percent of yourself to the role."

As always, Dance Gala will take advantage of the technical capabilities of Hancher Auditorium, one of the nation's more prominent dance stages. The production will feature lighting by guest designer Laurel Shoemaker and Bryon Winn of the Department of Theatre Arts Faculty, with costumes and scenic design by Margaret Wenk of the Opera and Dance Production Unit.

Dance Gala is supported by the Elizabeth M. Stanley Performance Fund, and the corporate sponsor is the Sheraton Iowa City Hotel.

Tickets to "Beat," Dance Gala 2003, are $20 and $18 (UI student tickets are $12 and $10; and senior citizen and youth tickets are $10 and $9). Patron tickets for $40 are available for audience members who wish to provide additional, much needed financial support to the UI Dance Department.

Tickets are available in advance from the Hancher box office. Any remaining tickets will be on sale at the box office before each performance.

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: http://www.uiowa.edu/hancher

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: hancherboxoffice@uiowa.edu.

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

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, ur-acr@uiowa.edu.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073, winston-barclay@uiowa.edu.

PHOTOS are available at http://www.uiowa.edu/artsiowa/photos.html.

OTHER INFORMATION: The general phone number of the Dance Department is 319-335-2228. Individual faculty members may be reached through e-mail: armando-duarte@uiowa.edu, alan-sener@uiowa.edu, basil-thompson@uiowa.edu, charlotte-adams@uiowa.edu and jeffery-bullock@uiowa.edu.