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February 26, 2014

UDT's New Dance/New Space opens newly Renovated Kilburn Theatre and Larry Liu Stage

University Dance Theatre presents New Dance/New Space, in an evening of innovative pieces on the new Larry Liu stage in the Rarig Center's freshly renovated Kilburn Theatre, February 27 through March 9. Directed by Erin Thompson, the program offers a range of contemporary work from Larry Keigwin's Runaway restaged by Kile Hotchkiss of Keigwin and Company, to Joanna Rosenthal's Grey Noise, created for Same Planet Different World Company. Both Mr. Hotchkiss and Ms. Rosenthal are Visiting Artists through the Sage Cowles Land Grant Chair. In a special preview, audiences will see the UMTAD faculty/student works by Ananya Chatterjea, Elander Rosser and Darrius Strong which will represent the University of Minnesota at the regional American College Dance Festival conference later this spring at the University of Wisconsin.

Director Erin Thompson, honored with the Sage Award for Outstanding Dance Educator in 2008, began her dance career with the Minnesota Dance Theatre. She continued her career in New York City during the 1980s with the companies of Nina Wiener and Bebe Miller earning the New York Dance and Performance Award "BESSIE" in 1986. Thompson joined the faculty of the University of Minnesota's Department of Theatre Arts & Dance in 1990 as well as at Zenon Dance Company and TU Dance, where she continues to provide advanced professional modern dance training for the Twin Cities' dance community. She is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique.

Ananya Chatterjea, Director of Dance and founder of the Ananya Dance Theatre, presents Neel, a Blutopia for Interrupted Dreams, which explores 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." Ms. Chatterjea is dancer, choreographer, dance scholar, and dance educator, who envisions her work in the field of dance as a "call to action"(Dance Magazine) 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) and serves as Director of the Dance Program and Professor in the Department of Theatre Arts & Dance at the University of Minnesota. 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 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).

Joanna Rosenthal, choreographer, dancer, teacher and Artistic Director for Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre, has been performing professionally and teaching dance since 1996. Grey Noise focuses on "various relationships, aggressive behavior, sustaining control and an anxiety of isolation by way of hyper physicality," according to Rosenthal. Inspired by film noir, she shows "a picture of individuals living in constant isolation because of a fear and the inability to commit, communicate and relinquish oneself to another. The piece depicts the dancers craving to make connections by way of sexual manipulation, aggressive behavior, formation of liaisons, and cautious observation."

Rosenthal received her BFA in dance from the University of Iowa and was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa where she earned her MFA in Choreography. Rosenthal has been on faculty at the Dance Center of Columbia College since 2004 and has taught at Lou Conte Dance Studio and Visceral Dance Center. Rosenthal has also taught at Roosevelt University, Joffrey Ballet Academy, Chicago's Academy for the Arts, Illinois State University, The University of Iowa, St. Paul's School and other local schools. She has performed extensively in Chicago, dancing for seven seasons with Mordine & Company Dance Theater, where she also served as director of the Mordine & Company Youth Dance Company, and as Associate Artistic Director. She performed for five years with Lucky Plush Productions.

Chicago Sun Times described Rosenthal's dancing as technically outstanding. Her choreography has been widely praised by critics in Chicago as well as Minneapolis. Lucia Maura of the Chicago Tribune describes her choreographic work as bold and exacting. Her work Grey Noise, which won an award from the Joyce Soho Foundation's A.W.A.R.D Show, has been described by Minneapolis critic Camille Lefevre as "a gripping work of astute intelligence and raw tension filtered through an economical movement vocabulary of barely controlled violence." Rosenthal's work has been presented in Chicago, Minneapolis, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, New York and St. Louis, Missouri.

Larry Keigwin, Artistic Director of KEIGWIN + COMPANY with his Associate Director Nicole Wolcott have created and presented an electrifying brand of contemporary dance since 2003 when Keigwin founded this unique company. K+C reaches national and international audiences invigorating diverse communities with a refreshing vision of dance that embodies a theatrical sensibility of wit, style, and heart.

In Runaway (2008), a fashion-inspired choreographic ride, Keigwin explores the dynamics behind the predatory world of runway modeling. Using a mathematical base and geometric structure, he creates a world within the lines and lanes of a runway show. To contrast this restrictive environment, the physical movement ranges from a modeled strut to propelling ravenously through space with a sense of abandon. Personal interactions and partnering follow a similar path- predator vs. prey relationships, stalking mentalities, and more. Runaway was proclaimed by Vanity Fair, "a thrilling coup d'theater."

Since K+C's premiere performance at Joyce Soho in 2003, Keigwin has created 24 dances, including the acclaimed large-scale community project, Bolero, which has been commissioned in seven communities across the country, and Runaway (2008). Over the decade, K+C has presented performances throughout NYC and nationwide at venues including the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Summerdance Santa Barbara, New York City Center, The Joyce Theater, the American Dance Festival, and Bates Dance Festival.

In 2010, Keigwin was named the Vail International Dance Festival's first artist-in-residence, during which time he created and premiered a new work with four of ballet's most prominent stars. Also he staged the opening event of Fashion Week: "Fashion's Night Out: The Show," which was produced by Vogue and featured over 150 of the industry's top models. In 2011, Keigwin choreographed the new musical Tales of the City, at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, as well as the new off-Broadway production of RENT, now running at New World Stages. Keigwin received the Joe A. Callaway Award for his choreography in RENT in 2011. Keigwin most recently created a new ballet with the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

U of M undergraduate Darrius Strong created in his piece "Is There Only One Way..." as a very visually stimulating perfect picture, then transforms it. "This piece is meant to let the audience think and interpret the movements and a story line on their own. I have my own thoughts about the piece; however, I want to leave lots of room for thoughts when it comes to interpreting the piece." Everything is not as it seems.

Elander Rosser, student choreographer of Earth Song, drew inspiration from composer Frank Ticheli's choral work of the same name. Rosser's dance strives to convey the composer's "bid to find inner peace in a world that seems eternally bent on war and hate" (Source). Beginning with three seemingly violent duets in which the oppressed triumph over the oppressors, only to become oppressors themselves, the work depicts the never ending circle of power.

Quick Facts
What: University Dance Theatre's New Dance/New Space directed by Erin Thompson
Who: University of Minnesota Department of Theatre Arts & Dance
When: February 27-March 9, 2014
Where: Larry Liu Stage of Kilburn Theatre Rarig Center
330 21st Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55454
Tickets: $6 Students; $11 UMN faculty and staff; $16 General Admission.
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.

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.

February 4, 2014

TU Dance & Penumbra Theatre, both founded by TAD faculty, each awarded $500,000 by Knight Foundation

Two of St. Paul's vibrant arts groups shared Twin Cities headlines when TU Dance Company and the Penumbra Theatre each received a $500,000 award from the Knight Foundation last week. Each was founded and blossomed under visionary artistic leaders, Toni Pierce-Sands and Lou Bellamy; both are faculty members in the department of Theatre Arts & Dance. In announcing these gifts to the St. Paul arts scene, Knight Foundation officials recognized the exciting work of both organizations and their ability to attract and engage audiences.

TU co-founder Toni Pierce-Sands commented, "We are delighted, so very happy for the Knight Foundation's support of our dream. As TU continues to grow its dance company and dance school we believe will have enormous impact on the city of St. Paul and the Minnesota dance scene." Launched in 2004 by Toni Pierce-Sands and her partner Uri Sands, TU Dance has garnered audience and critical acclaim for its diverse repertory and versatile artists, and for performances that are engaging, dynamic and generous. Modern dance, classical ballet, African-based, and urban vernacular movements are combined in inventive and unpredictable ways.

The StarTribune reported that Pierce-Sands, who grew up in St. Paul remembers taking the 16A bus with her sister to Minneapolis for dance classes. Now, TU will use its grant to fund dance classes for low-income St. Paul youths. "This is going to help us change the perception that St. Paul is Minnesota's political capital and Minneapolis is the arts capital," Toni commented. Visit http://www.tudance.org/ to learn more

Penumbra Theatre, which successfully overcame financial setbacks a year ago, will receive $500,000 to create two positions -- a marketing director and development director. Both were cut from the theater in 2012, according to the Pioneer Press. "This request was the first test of our recovery, of our business plan, of my vision," said Sarah Bellamy, recently named Penumbra's co-artistic director to Lou Bellamy. "Knight asked challenging and thoughtful questions. This award is testimony to their faith in our work, our mission, and our future. It is inspiring, not only for Penumbra but for the larger community. We are very grateful for their leadership, for taking such a bold and public position with Penumbra. It is a strong incentive to succeed."

Penumbra Theatre Company was started in 1976 by Lou Bellamy to create a forum for African-American voices in the Twin Cities' well-respected theatre community. Through its commitment to provide realistic, inspirational works that redefine the consciousness of its audience, the company flourished. As Minnesota's only professional African American theatre, (one of only three African American professional theatre companies in the nation presenting a full season), Penumbra has stayed on the cutting edge of the national theatre scene and continues to present groundbreaking work. It has achieved national recognition for its quality productions and leadership role in launching the career of many respected playwrights, including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson. Visit http://penumbratheatre.org/ to learn more.