Sept. 7, 2010
Hancher presents free, outdoor ballet performances in Iowa communities
The University of Iowa’s Hancher will build on its decades-long tradition as a dance presenter with an extended residency featuring Ballet West II. The young, talented dancers of Ballet West II will appear in four free, outdoor performances in Fairfield (Sept. 17), Iowa City (September 18), Kalona (Sept. 19), and Muscatine (Sept. 22). All four performances will begin at 6 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and picnics to enjoy during the evening.
The program will feature dances in a range of styles by a variety of choreographers, including a world premiere by choreographer Avichai Scher. Each performance will also feature a world premiere danced by students from the UI Department of Dance and choreographed by Deanna Carter, assistant professor of dance in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
In Fairfield, the performance will take place in Central Park Square (Main Street and Burlington Avenue); in Iowa City, the performance will be held on the Hancher Green (off Park Road between Riverside Drive and Dubuque Street); in Kalona, the event will take place in the Shiloh Amphitheater (100 Shiloh Rd.); in Muscatine, the event is set for Riverfront Park (W. Mississippi Drive and Iowa Avenue). In the event of high water in Riverfront Park, the Muscatine performance will be held in Weed Park.
In addition to the public performances, the members of Ballet West II will perform in elementary schools in each community they visit, introducing the next generation of dance fans to the art form.
On Saturday, Sept. 18, the members of the company will offer two workshops for dancers — one designed for experienced dancers and the other for all interested members of the community. At 10 a.m. in Halsey Hall on the UI campus, Ballet West II will present a master class for advanced students. Then at 12:30 p.m., there will be a movement workshop on the Hancher Green to which everyone is invited.
The company is made up of 11 dancers -- six women and five men -- and includes one dancer with ties to UI. Kathleen Martin’s parents are both UI alumni; the Grayslake, Ill., native’s sisters currently attend the university.
The ambitious project harkens back to summer residencies Hancher developed in the 1980s featuring the dancers of Joffrey II. Adam Sklute, artistic director of Ballet West, was a member of Joffrey II at the time, and he has fond memories of dancing in Iowa. As a result, he said he is thrilled to partner with Hancher to take Ballet West II on its first tour outside of its home state of Utah.
Mark Goldweber, director of Ballet West II, was also a Joffrey dancer, participating in a number of memorable performances on the Hancher stage, including the world premiere of Robert Joffrey’s “Nutcracker.” This tour combines his affection for Iowa with his ambition to provide additional touring opportunities for the dancers of Ballet West II.
Rehearsals for the tour are underway in St. Lake City. The company has developed a Facebook group dedicated to the performances, allowing members of the social network to keep up with developments as the dancers get ready to come to Iowa.
Financial support for the tour has been provided by Herbert A. and Janice A. Wilson, Mary K. Calkin, Martin and Ruth Carver, Dave Jackson, Riverside Casino and Golf Resort, the Hancher Partners, the Iowa Arts Council, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine and the Washington County Riverboat Foundation.
More information is available at both the Hancher (http://www.hancher.uiowa.edu) and Ballet West (http://www.balletwest.org) websites. A link to the Facebook group can be found at both sites, as well.
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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500