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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 28, 2005

Russia's Moiseyev Brings Spectacular Folk Dance To Hancher Feb. 16

The Moiseyev Dance Company, the legendary ensemble that celebrates the folk dance traditions of Russia, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16 in Hancher Auditorium on the University of Iowa campus.

During its visit to the UI, the company will also present a special matinee event for area school groups on Hancher's Stage Door education series.

The company was formed in the 1930s by Igor Moiseyev, who was then a principal  dancer and choreographer for the Bolshoi Ballet. He gathered the folk and ethnic dances of the many regions of the Soviet Union and "balleticized" them to create brilliantly theatrical concert performances.

In the midst of the Cold War, famed American impresario Sol Hurok brought the company to New York, where their athletic and virtuosic performances in the Metropolitan Opera House created a sensation.

Now, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the company is Russia's official "State Academic Ensemble of Popular Dance."

The company's history can be traced back to 1936, when Moiseyev was asked by the Soviet government to organize the first Festival of National Dance. As a student, Moiseyev had traversed the country on foot during his free time, immersing himself in the study of Russian folklore, and in the treasury of songs, dances, customs, traditions and festivals belonging to the 180 national cultures that then comprised the Soviet Union. Fascinated by what he found, he embraced this unprecedented task of bringing traditional dances to national attention.

The festival's subsequent success convinced Moiseyev that the formation of a professional company was necessary to preserve and develop the best traditions of folk dancing.

On February 10, 1937, Moiseyev gathered a core of approximately 40 dancers in a studio on Moscow's Leontievsky Street. The company included the very best dancers from amateur companies across the country and a handful of professional ballet dancers from the Bolshoi School and other classical companies.

His intent, as he wrote at the time, was not to reproduce exactly examples from the body of more than 3,000 existing national dances, but to raise the skill of performance to the highest artistic level in order to influence the creation of new national dances.

His strong background in classical ballet provided the basic training for his company, and his keen powers of observation and thorough knowledge of folklore led him to establish a unique style for his company that would be at once dramatic, entertaining in a theatrical sense and larger-than-life.

Six months after that first gathering, the Moiseyev Dance Company gave its first performance at the city's Green Theatre. The inaugural program contained dances from the Ukraine, Armenia, Byelorussia, the Far North and Azerbaijan.

Within a few years of this initial triumph, Moiseyev had molded the first professional ensemble of popular dance into a company of 100 dancers. They toured throughout the Soviet Union, constantly adding dances from other, more remote regions, including Georgia, the Caucasus, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, the Gobi desert and the far reaches of Siberia.

When the Cold War first eased in 1955, the Moiseyev Dance Company began to tour the world. It has since appeared in and returned to more than 60 countries across all the continents. Its ever-growing repertoire now includes dances of Spain, Japan, China, Bulgaria, Argentina, Mexico, Poland, Hungary and even American jazz and rock-and-roll. The company now numbers more than 200, has its own orchestra and school, and possesses a repertoire in excess of 200 dances.

The 25-minute ovation that followed the Moiseyev Dance Company's 1958 U.S. debut expressed an enthusiasm that has continued through 10 return tours.

Hancher Guild, the Hancher volunteer organization, is the local sponsor of the performance, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Tickets for the Feb. 16 performance are $39/37/35; UI student $35.10/15; senior citizen $35.10/27/33.30/31.50; youth $27.30/25.90/24.50.

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.hancher.uiowa.edu.

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: hancher-box-office@uiowa.edu.

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/hancher/media.html.