Southeast Missouri State University student publication

"New Dance Horizons" to display choreography from professional dance company

Monday, October 15, 2012
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Southeast Missouri State University dance students have an opportunity to learn about the profession by seeing the touring dance company Dance St. Louis perform at the River Campus.

The quartet of renowned choreographers and professionals are: post-modernist Pam Tanowitz from the region's largest ballet company the St. Louis Ballet; choreographer Victoria Marks from Leverage Dance Theater, formerly a Trek Dance Collective; ballet artist Gina Patterson from Modern American Dance Company; and Choreographer Jessica Lang from Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company.

The dancers will perform "La Tristesse de St. Louis" by the St. Louis Ballet, "Dancing to Music" by Leverage, "Second Line" by MADCO and "Anonymous" by Common Thread, each piece choreographed by one of the four nationally recognized choreographers.

"Each piece is drastically different from the other," Dance St. Louis' Artistic & Executive Director Michael Uthoff said. "It is fun, it is sensual, it is exciting, it marvels."

The tour began in St. Louis, and the dancers will perform in five other venues in Missouri and Illinois. The concept behind the tour's name is discovery, according to Uthoff.

Dance St. Louis is widely recognized as the leading dance presenter in St. Louis, in the Midwest and in the professional dance community and has been in business for 47 years.

The company also provides advice and financial assistance to talented students who wish to continue their education in dance.

Dance students wishing to be considered to join the company should take advantage of Dance St. Louis' intern program that can be approached by Southeast or by themselves directly, according to Uthoff.

Brought to Southeast from New York, Lang has been choreographing for ballet and modern companies in the U.S. and overseas since 1999.

Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company was founded in 2010 by the artistic director Jennifer Medina and is comprised by eight members and five apprentices.

Common Thread not only performs in front of audiences but has the Common Thread Outreach where Medina works with Salvation Army's Gateway Citadel in Affton, providing children who are financially strained with classes and a chance to have a fun and enriching experience once a week. The company also has the Community Arts Collaborative which serves men transitioning from chronic homelessness into their own homes.

Students wishing to join the company should attend their summer intensive, audition and express interest in training with the company.

Marks, who is originally from Los Angeles, creates socially and politically engaged dances for stage, film and community settings.

Patterson, who works with MADCO, the professional dance company at the Touhill Performing Arts Center, is the co-founder and artistic director of VOICE Dance Company in Austin, Texas.

Patterson will work on new productions in Nashville, Atlanta and St. Louis after the tour, according to VOICE's website.

Tanowitz founded successful dance company Pam Tanowitz Dance in 2000, was part of the American Ballet Theater faculty and has taught master classes in technique and composition at Hunter College and American Dance Festival among other colleges. Tanowitz won a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grant in 2010, NYFA BUILD grant and support from The Jerome Robbins Foundation. She has also collaborated with several dancers over the course of her career.

Uthoff said this event, although not originally requested by the Theatre and Dance Department, would indirectly benefit the department if they take advantage of what is shown.

"If you are to be anything in the arts you have to see art," Uthoff said. "How on Earth would you then know what is out there. We did leave the caves many centuries ago, now they need to reach for the stars, and that is done with knowledge of the art they have experienced."

The best advice Uthoff said he could give an aspiring performer is to "dream, look, learn and be open to everything so eventually you can make the best choices for yourself."

The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Donald C. Bedell Performance Hall. Tickets for general members are $32. Tickets for students who present their Student ID are $26. For more information call 573-651-2265.

"Dance reaches people with a universal language that needs no translation, that of the human body," Uthoff said. "[The tour is] like watching the birth of something magical."