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October 29, 2013

Dance Faculty Women Recognized For Leadership in Diversity

Minneapolis/St. Paul -- University of Minnesota Dance Theatre (UDT) faculty member Rachmi Diyah Larasati teams up with Dag Yngvesson of the Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature Department to present "Poetics of Labor: Citizenship and Invisibility," this Thursday, October 31st at 4:00pm for a film screening and discussion. Lasarati who authored, The Dance That Makes You Vanish, published by the University of Minnesota Press published earlier this year, has just been nominated for the Erving Goffman Award for Outstanding Scholarship in the Ecology of Social Interaction, presented by the Media Ecology Association. Her book describes the intricate irony between the tranquil style of dance and the violent government of mid-1960s Indonesia. Her background as an Indonesian national troupe dancer informs her work as both an author and UDT instructor.

On October 12, another UDT faculty member, Toni Pierce-Sands, was recognized for
her "lifetime of service to the community" through the arts at the Emerald Service
Awards, Inc., founded by The Links, a group of African American female leaders supporting culture in communities around the country. Pierce-Sands is a fitting recipient of such an award, as co-founder of TU Dance Company and School and as a UDT instructor. TU Dance performs a fusion of dance styles to celebrate and promote diversity, and teaches classes for all ages to encourage public involvement in the arts. She is an involved UDT faculty member, contributing most recently as the director of "Dance Revolutions."

A TU Dance colleague, UDT instructor Kenna Cottman was also recently awarded for her contribution to the local arts scene. She won Outstanding Performer at the SAGE Awards on October 15th for Pramila Vasudevan's "F6" and Angharad Davies' "Pretend." Cottman, like Pierce -Sands, explores and communicates her identity as an African American woman through dance. In addition to her work at TU Dance, she studies traditional and contemporary drumming, and the oral tradition of storytelling. Her company, Voice of Culture Drum and Dance, strives towards social change by performing and hosting workshops in schools.

The SAGE awards, first presented in 2005 to provide recognition amongst the Minnesota dance community, are named for Sage Cowles, who performed on Broadway and TV and founded the Minnesota Independent Choreographers' Alliance. Amirah Sackett (U of M '98) was also honored at the SAGE Awards for Outstanding Ensemble in "We're Muslim Don't Panic."

Warm congratulations to these dedicated UDT instructors whose passion influences the community every day!


October 22, 2013

Actor/Writer Ricardo Vazquez ( U of M '07) wins Ivey Award

At the recent Ivey Awards hosted by Minneapolis' historic State Theatre, U of M alum Ricardo Vazquez ('07) earned the title of "Emerging Artist of the Year". The actor-writer claims that it could have been anyone, but most would agree that his outstanding work ethic and performance energy have something to do
with it.

After his portrayal of Gabriel Goodman in Next To Normal at the Mixed Blood Theatre last year, critics called him "a heartthrob-in-the-making... a vivacious spirit [with] affecting emotionality" (Star Tribune). In The Seven at Ten Thousand Things, he brought "palpable sensuality" to the stage as Tydeus the poet (Pioneer Press).

Vazquez recalls his time at the University of Minnesota Theatre Arts and Dance Department as a time of growing. "Everything is about practice and discipline," he says, "I owe this mentality to the program." Performing as Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest on the University of Minnesota Centennial Showboat proved a turning point for him. "I remember wanting to make each of those shows different, exciting, and alive," he says of what then seemed like a "marathon" of 89 shows.

"Work. Work. Work. And after that, find more work." This mantra has taken Vazquez far since graduation, resulting in numerous roles on stages across the Twin Cities including a fellowship at The Playwrights' Center. "[I] want to always be doing something."

Coming up, he stars as Rene in the film Death To Prom, premiering next month at The Minneapolis Sound Unseen Festival. Look for him on stage next at Park Square Theatre in Of Mice and Men, also this November.

October 14, 2013

Opening Oct. 18 UDT/ Dance Revolutions premieres New Work by Chatterjea, and selected innovative work by Chipaumire, Flink, Rink, & Sands

Minneapolis, MN -- UDT / Dance Revolutions presents the premiere of "Neel, a blutopia of interrupted dreams" and a collection of innovative work by choreographers Ananya Chatterjea, Director of Dance, founder of the Ananya Dance Theatre, Carl Flink, Department Theatre Arts & Dance Chair, founder of Black Label Movement, Uri Sands, co-artistic director of TU Dance, and Nora Chipaumire and Scott Rink, both world renowned choreographers and visiting Cowles Artists. UDT/ Dance Revolutions takes center stage October 18 through 20 under the direction of Toni Pierce-Sands, faculty member and co-artistic director of TU Dance. This season's concert unfolds in the intimate setting of Studio 100 in the Barbara Barker Center for Dance.

Ananya Chatterjea premieres a new work titled "Neel, a blutopia for interrupted dreams" exploring dreams and their effect on our lives. According to Chatterjea, "the dreams we weave sustain us with hope while facing the harshness of life, sometimes that harshness interrupts the dream with the reality of life's troubling march." Shaped by the blues, dreams can swing to the indigo depths of pain or be tinged with the azure of hope, explained the artist.

Ms. Chatterjea is dancer, choreographer, dance scholar, and dance educator, who envisions herwork in the field of dance as a "call to action" with a particular focus on women artists of color. She is the Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre, a company of women artists of color committed to the intersection of artistic excellence and social justice (www.ananyadancetheatre.org). She is also Director of the Dance Program and Professor in the Department of Theater Arts & Dance in the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She is the proud recipient of a 2011 Guggenheim Artist Fellowship for Choreography. She was named "Best Choreographer" by City Pages in 2007 and has received awards from the BIHA (Black Indian Hispanic Asian) Women In Action organization, the MN Women's Political Caucus, and the 21 leaders for the 21st Century Award from Women's E-News (http://www.womensenews.org/21leaders2007.cfm), for her work weaving together artistic excellence, social justice, and community-building. She was honored by the Josie Johnson Social Justice and Human Rights Award at the University of Minnesota (2008).

Nora Chipaumire, who restaged her signature solo "Dark Swan" with nine male U of M students in 2010 for the "Continuously Rich" symposium and performances, now has re-cast this controversial work for with 21 women for UDT/Dance Revolutions. Born in Mutare, Zimbabwe, Nora Chipaumire has been challenging stereotypes of Africa and the black performing body, art, and aesthetic for the past decade. "Dark Swan" takes expectations of African dance performance (specifically, drums and fierce movements, according to the artist), and turns them on their heads. The choreographer started with a classic European ballet, Black Swan, "And I sort of had my way with it," Chipaumire said. "Being fed up with labels being put on who I am and the expectations of what my work should be, I wanted to use this very classic dance and classic music to sort of try and put cold water on people's assumptions."

Ms. Chipaumire is a 2012 Alpert Award in the Arts recipient and 2011 United States Artist Ford Fellow. She is also a two-time New York Dance and Performance (aka "Bessie") Awardee: in 2008 for her dance-theater work, Chimurenga, and in 2007 for her body of work with Urban Bush Women, where she was a featured performer for six years (2003-2008) and served as Associate Artistic Director (2007-2008). She has studied dance in many parts of the world including Africa (Senegal, Burkina Faso, Kenya, and South Africa), Cuba, Jamaica and the U.S. A graduate of the University of Zimbabwe's School of Law, Chipaumire holds an M.A. in Dance and M.F.A. in Choreography and Performance from Mills College (CA). She is the recipient of the 2009 AFROPOP Real Life Award for her choreography in the film, Nora. She has also been awarded the 2007 Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University Center for the Arts, and a MANCC Choreographic Fellowship in 2007-2008.

Her recent works include The Last Heifer (2012), commissioned by Danspace Project for Platform 2012, Parallels; Visible (2011), commissioned by Harlem Stage and created in collaboration with Jawole Willa Jo Zollar; Kimya (2011), a work for Jokajok!, a female ensemble based in Kenya; I Ka Nye (You Look Good) (2010), created and performed with choreographer Souleymane Badolo and musician Obo Addy; Silence/Dreams (2010), created and performed with Fred Bendongue and named one of the ten best dances of 2010 by the New York Times dance critics. She is featured in several films, including "Dark Swan" (dir. Laurie Coyle, 2011); the award-winning, "Nora" (dir. Alla Kovgan & David Hinton, 2008); and the documentary "Movement (R)evolution Africa --a story of an art form in four acts" (dir. Joan Frosch & Alla Kovgan, 2006).

Carl Flink, contributes to the evening's program "A Modest Proposal." This work, originally created with his Black Label Movement company and John Bohannon for the 2011 TEDx Brussels, has subsequently become an Internet hit. Flink, the choreographer and artistic director of Black Label Movement based in the Twin Cities (www.blacklabelmovement.com), is also the Nadine Jette Sween Professor of Dance and Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

From 1992 - 1998, he was member of the New York City based Limón Dance Company, performing the works of Jose Limón, Donald McKayle, Ralph Lemon, and Daniel Nagrin among others. A short list of other dance companies and choreographers he has performed for includes Creach/Koester Men Dancing, Paul Taylor, Joanna Mendl Shaw, Paul Taylor, Janis Brenner and Shapiro & Smith Dance. His choreography is recognized and embraced for its intense athleticism, daring risk taking and humanistic themes that often address diverse social, scientific, political and working class subjects in addition to more abstract dance approaches.

Dance programs and arts institutions across the United States have presented or commissioned his choreography including the Bates Dance Festival, Minnesota Orchestra, University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, Stanford University, University of Iowa, Mount Holyoke College, Brigham Young University, Carleton College and Roger Williams University. His new commission "HIT" premiered at The Dance Center of Columbia College of Chicago March 10, 2011. He is currently in the third year of a creative collaboration called The Moving Cell Project with biomedical engineer David Odde which resulted in "Science + Dance = Body Storming" published in Trends in Cell Biology (November 2012) and was first presented in its dance form at Washington, D.C.'s TEDMED conference earlier this year.

Scott Rink created "Here We Are" based on a short story by Dorothy Parker, in which he links a duet and quartet with dancers and speakers. Premiered in 2003 at the University of Minnesota, the work performed by University students was selected to be presented the following spring at the 2004 American College Dance Festival national performances at Washington, D.C.'s Kennedy Center. Mr. Rink is a returning Cowles Visiting Artist who first was in residence re-staging a work by Lar Lubovitch in 1996.
As a director/choreographer, Scott Rink's work has been praised as "an unusual hybrid genre in which dance is part of a larger theatrical whole" (Village Voice) using the dramatic text as a musical score where "patches of pure dance heighten dramas like light shining from beneath colored glass" (New York Times).

His Off-Broadway choreography credits include, Queen of The Mist (Transport Group, Dir. Jack Cumming III), Hello Again (Transport Group, Dir. Jack Cummings III), Being Audrey (Transport Group, Dir. Jack Cummings III), Crossing Brooklyn (Transport Group,Dir. Jack Cummings III) Songs For a New World (George St. Playhouse, Dir. Jack Cummings III), Nor'mal (Transport Group, Dir. Jack Cummings III), Minimum Wage (45 Bleeker, Dir. Guy Stroman). Commissioned works include dances for Ailey II, American Ballet Theatre II, Oakland Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Repertory Dance Theatre, The Ailey School, Harvard University, UNCSA.

Mr. Rink has created a number of works for danceRINK performed in New York City most notably at Joyce Soho, Symphony Space, American Theatre of Actors, HERE, The Kitchen and Tribeca Performing Arts Center as well as other national and international dates. He has adapted, directed and choreographed three dance films from the works of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut.

Uri Sands presents one of his own TU Dance's signature pieces, "Earth" (2009) and explores the connection between the senses and the elements according to the Hindu Ayurveda philosophy. The belief contends everything in the universe is made up of five elements - air, fire, water, earth and ether. These elements are said to be represented in the mind, body and souls of humans, expressed through the five senses. Radiating with energy, "Earth" is a journey into the earth's very core, a primal ritualistic dance that fervently honors an ancient wisdom. The dance is "...awe-inspiringly athletic and simply amazing to behold," praised St. Paul's Pioneer Press and described Sand's piece as "a primal, tribal tone, conveying a daunting danger that left (one ) breathless and the audience on its feet." Uri Sands has also been a visiting artist and instructor three times prior to the licensing of this signature work. His work this fall will be re-staged by two TU dance artists.

A native of Miami, Sands performed as a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco, Minnesota Dance Theatre, James Sewell Ballet as a guest artist Complexions under the direction of Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson, and as principal dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre. His recent choreographic commissions include, among others, VocalEssence, Zenon Dance, Penumbra Theatre, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. In addition to several film and television credits, he has taught extensively throughout America and Europe. He was awarded the McKnight Artist Fellowship (2004) and earned the Princess Grace Award in Choreography (2005). TU Dance founders Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands were named "2005 Artists of the Year" by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

For tickets and information
Call U of M Arts / Events Ticket Office at 612 624-2345 or
visit theatre.umn.edu
Customer parking is available in a surface lot across from the Barker Center on 21st Ave. and on the 21st Ave. Parking Ramp, located across from the Rarig Center, on the University of Minnesota West Bank Campus.

Quick Facts
What: UTD/ Dance Revolutions directed by Toni Pierce -Sands
Who: University of Minnesota Theatre Arts & Dance
When: October 18-20, 2013
Where: Barbara Barker Center for Dance, West Bank Arts Quarter.
500 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55454
Tickets: $6 Students; $11 U of M faculty and staff; $16 General Public.
U of M Ticket Office (612) 624-2345 or online at dance.umn.edu
Subject to availability, tickets will be sold at the door ONE hour before each the performance.
October 18 8:00 pm Opening night Performance
October 19 2:00pm Matinee, 8:00 pm Performance
October 20 2:00 Matinee 8:00pm Performance

University Theatre Arts & Dance is a laboratory for performance and practice of content taught in the Department's academic programs. In keeping with the University of Minnesota's three public purposes - research, and discovery; teaching and learning; outreach and public service - the mission of the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance is to educate students and audiences about the performing arts, and about the social issues and human emotions the arts speak to so powerfully. We are committed to realizing this mission by creating, producing, and studying works of theatre and dance, and performing them publicly for diverse audiences drawn both from the University and the community at large. Patrons should expect to see performances that challenge the mind and are produced with the highest possible quality.

October 1, 2013

Eurydice opens Theatre Arts & Dance season this week, plays Oct. 3-13 Nolte Xperimental Theatre, Rarig Center


With contemporary characters, ingenious plot twists and breathtaking visual effects, Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl presents a fresh look at a timeless story of love, loss and family. Directed by faculty member Lisa Channer, (co-founder of Theatre Novi Most), this modern retelling of the classic myth of Orpheus is reimagined through the eyes of his bride Eurydice. When she dies too young on her wedding day, Eurydice is required to travel to the underworld, where she reunites with her father and struggles to remember her lost love. Presented in the Rarig Center's Nolte Xperimental Theatre on the West Bank Campus, Eurydice opens October 3, and plays through October 13, 2013. Seating is limited.

"The language of Eurydice has been incredible to work with for me and my talented team," director Channer commented. "Ruhl conjures a truly unique world of mourning, loving and remembering as she takes us on a journey to both the underworld and our own soft hearts. She manages to juxtapose the mundane with the epic in remarkable ways." Indeed, The New York Times praised Ruhl's play as "rhapsodically beautiful...weird and wonderful ...a moving theatrical fable about love, loss and the pleasures and pains of memory." In the decade since writing Eurydice, Ms. Ruhl was named a 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Clean House, and received the 2006 MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as the "genius grant " for her playwriting.

In addition to co-founding Theatre Novi Most with Valdimir Rovinsky, Lisa Channer is an associate professor at the University's Department of Theatre Arts & Dance and holds an MFA in directing from Yale School of Drama, with additional training at the St. Petersburg Academy of Theatre Arts in Russia. Her directing and performance work has been seen in New York at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre, Chicago's Organic Lab Theatre, Amsterdam's IT's Festival, Belfast's Old Museum Arts Centre, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, Russia's Bodyword Festival and many Minneapolis venues. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award for her work in Russia in spring of 2011 and is a current fellow with the Shannon Leadership Institute. She was co-founder of Sleeveless Theatre in Massachusetts from 1989-1997. Together with Mr. Rovinsky in 1998, she co-founded Theatre Novi Most, "to adapt or create new works for the stage through a rigorous process of exploration and improvisation that mixes Russian theatre techniques and traditions with physical theatre methods from the U.S. and Europe." See http://www.theatrenovimost.org/about.html

The Eurydice cast includes the following performers: Edward Euclide (Orpheus), Kiara Jackson (Eurydice), Rick Miller (Loud Stone), Evan O'Brien ( Little Stone), Nico Swenson (Nasty Interesting Man /Lord of the Underworld), Gaosong Vang (Big Stone) and Nathan Tylutki (Father).

The production's creative team creative team includes: Eric Norton (Assistant Director), Michael Mellas (Dramaturg), Katie Wicker (Costume Designer), Annie Henly (Set Designer), Kevin Springer (Sound Designer), Kathy Maxwell (Lighting Designer), Audrey Rice (Stage Manager), Sylvia Bay (Assistant Stage Manager), Andrew Buckholtz (Assistant Stage Manager). Musicians for the production are Aviva Gellman (Cello), Glenn Geppert (Guitar), and Bree Schmidt (Cello).

For tickets and information call: U of M Arts / Events Ticket Office at 612 624-2345 or visit theatre.umn.edu Customer parking is available the 21st Ave. Parking Ramp, located across from the Rarig Center, University of Minnesota West Bank Campus.

Quick Facts
What: Eurydice by Sarah Ruhl
Who: University of Minnesota Theatre Arts and Dance
When: October 3-10, 2013
Where: Rarig Center's Nolte Xperimental Theatre, West Bank Arts Quarter.
330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis
Tickets: $6 Students; $11 U of M faculty and staff; $16 General
U of M Ticket Office (612) 624-2345 or online at theatre.umn.edu
Tickets are also available at the door two hours prior to performance.