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University of Iowa News Release


March 24, 2008

UI Dance Department presents 'Sinners and Saints' thesis concert April 3-5

The University of Iowa Department of Dance will present "Sinners and Saints," a thesis concert by Rain Ross and M. Suzanne Ryan, at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, April 3-5, in the Space Place Theatre of UI North Hall.

Ross choreographed "Evokation," a work for nine women based on the archetypal qualities of Joan of Ark, and "Fresh Hell," a piece for five dancers, informed by the life of Dorothy Parker.

"What is it to be a successful woman in a male-dominated field and to not fit in within the norms of society, yet to want some of the trappings of these norms?" Ross asks. "What does one need to give up? How does someone balance these compromises?"

Ross has danced with companies including the Playhouse Dance Company in Durban, South Africa; Coleman/Freedman in Massachusetts; and ARC Dance in Seattle. She received the 2004 Amy Award for Emerging Artists in recognition for her work as a dancer, choreographer and actor.

Ryan based her large-ensemble piece "Rodillas Gastadas" (Worn-away knees) on research about El Sanctuario de Chimayo, a remote church in New Mexico where more than 300,000 people each year make walking pilgrimages.

"I first went to this church as a child," she explains. "The thing that made a lasting impression was a room where people left things behind such as crutches, pictures, baby shoes, rosaries and written notes as silent witnesses of their personal journey and the changes they experienced.

"The dance combines pedestrian movements of the pilgrims with expressions of personal stories through modern dance movement. The dancers enter in a pilgrimage procession, which continues throughout the piece. The dancers have their own stories, which they bring into the performance."

Ryan will perform UI alumna Sabrina Madison-Cannon's solo "The Road," based on Mary Magdalene. A former soloist for Philadanco, Madison-Cannon now teaches at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Her choreography has been presented for the International Choreographers Showcase in Barcelona and Madrid, the New York International Fringe Festival, the American College Dance Festival and twice for the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference.

Ryan trained at the Kansas City Ballet and began dancing professionally under Neil Hess, director of the Lone Star Ballet. Her choreography has been performed in six U.S. states and internationally. In 2003 she was awarded a mini-fellowship in choreography from the Kansas Arts Commission. She founded Ryanstrati & Co., an integrated company using dancers in wheelchairs, which has performed at Kansas City theatres including Yardley Hall and the Folly Theater.

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

Admission will be $12 (UI student $6; free admission for children under 12).

Tickets may be purchased in advance from the University Box Office in the Iowa Memorial Union. In addition to window sales at the Iowa Memorial Union, 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.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to, click the link "Join or leave the list (or change settings)" and follow the instructions.

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; cell: 310-430-1013;

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