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Northwestern's Finest Choreography on Display

"Danceworks 2008," an annual showcase of the finest choreography of Northwestern University's Dance Program faculty, including Billy Siegenfeld, Laura Wade and Jeffery Hancock, as well as alumni and guest artists, will feature of variety of dance styles.

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February 26, 2008 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- "Danceworks 2008," an annual showcase of the finest choreography of Northwestern University's Dance Program faculty, including Billy Siegenfeld, Laura Wade and Jeffery Hancock, as well as alumni and guest artists, will feature of variety of dance styles.

This year's production will focus on jazz, contemporary, modern, tap and hip-hop and will be performed by Northwestern dance majors and non-majors. It will directed by Susan A. Lee, a Northwestern dance professor.

Eight performances will take place: 8 p.m. Feb. 29; 8 p.m. March 1, 2 p.m. March 2; 8 p.m. March 5; 8 p.m. March 6; 8 p.m. March 7; 8 p.m. March 8; and 2 p.m. March 9, at the Josephine Louis Theatre, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University's Evanston campus.

"'Danceworks 2008' will feature thought-provoking, fully realized choreography that is beautifully danced," said Lee. "The students have truly mastered the challenges of each choreographer's movement vocabulary and point of view. It is a showcase of styles and forms that come together for a memorable evening."

Billy Siegenfeld is the Emmy Award-winning artistic director, principal choreographer and performing ensemble member of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, a national and international touring company based in Chicago. In Siegenfeld's work, "Songs of Innocence," a tribe of nine alternately sweet-tempered and brash-tongued late-tweens argue, sing and dance two views of "real" at each other -- heartfelt sincerity and contemporary "cool." The dance will be performed to Irving Berlin and George Gershwin songs as well as works by artists Ani DeFranco, Thievery Corporation and John Zorn.

Dance faculty member and choreographer Laura Wade's lyrical modern dance, "The Unusual People," will take the audience on a visual journey. It will be danced by three couples to music by Antonio Scarlatti, Isaac Albeniz and George Gershwin.

Jeffery Hancock was a founding member of River North Dance Chicago, and was a member of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. The original version of his dance "Impolite Society" was first performed at the Harold Washington Library by Same Planet Different World Dance Theater in 2001. "Impolite Society" features six dancers, and is a darkly playful look at social rituals.

Northwestern Dance Program alumnus Leo Lamontagne, a Jump Rhythm Jazz Project company member, has created the rhythm tap work "The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune." It will be performed to a recording of Ben Folds' song "Emaline." It is a representation of an emotional journey an individual goes through after experiencing an unexpected great loss.

Guest choreographer Nora Chipaumire's "Groundswell," a repertory piece reconstructed by choreographer Joel Valentin-Martinez, is a "haiku" about despair and an attempt to understand the times we live in. It will be performed by 16 women dancers to a recording of Mahalia Jackson's rendition of "Amazing Grace." Chipaumire calls herself a "self-exiled artist who investigates the collaborative process within cultural, political, economic and technological identities of African contemporary life." She was born in Mutare, Zimbabwe, and is based in New York, where she is the associate artistic director of the world-renowned dance company, Urban Bush Women.

Kirby Reed's dance, "House of Ascension," is a world premiere piece for Northwestern University dancers that incorporates jazz, ballet, funk and hip-hop. It will be performed to a mix of songs by Kevin Aviance, Janet Jackson and Grace Jones. Reed is founder and artistic director of Ascension/The Kirby Reed Project and House of Ascension, and is a former concert dancer of the Joel Hall Dancers. Reed is an active teacher and dance judge. He is on the faculty of the Joel Hall Dance Center, Columbia College and Francis W. Parker School, and is a master guest teacher for Gus Giordano Jazz Dance.

Dance Program resident artist Jan Bartoszek is founder and artistic director of Chicago-based Hedwig Dances. "Night Blooming Jasmine – excerpt," her modern work for seven dancers, traverses between tension and release in a dream-like setting, alternately evoking grueling endurance and a calm, sensual respite. Hedwig Dances originally performed the piece in 2007 to a live musical score composed by Chicago-based artist Carol Genetti. This is the first time the work will be performed to a recording featuring vocalist and harmonium player Genetti and percussionist Theo Katsaounis.

Single tickets are $20 for the general public; $18 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for full-time students and children.

To order tickets by phone call (847) 491-7282. Online ticket sales for Mainstage productions are available through OvationTix at http://www.tic.northwestern.edu/tickets.php.