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The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble in special performance with commentary on November 8, 2009.

*Please note that reservations are required and at this time the event is fully subscribed. To be added to the waiting list, email dancetix@vassar.edu or call (845) 437-7470. Seating is on a first-come, first-serve basis. Tickets should be claimed before 2:45pm, after that time unclaimed reservations will be released to the waiting list.

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY-The Department of Dance at Vassar College will present a matinee performance by The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble on Sunday, November 8, as part of the Ensemble's second national tour "Dance for America," celebrating its 40th anniversary. Free and open to the public, the "Interactive Performance" will begin at 3:00pm in The Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater in Kenyon Hall. Advance reservations are recommended, as seating (on a first-come, first-serve basis) is limited. For reservations, email dancetix@vassar.edu. For additional information about the performance, call The Department of Dance at (845) 437-7470. The performance with commentary will include presentations of audience favorites, including a ballet set to ragtime music with live piano accompaniment.

The Dance Theatre of Harlem Ensemble, directed by Keith Saunders, is a group of 16 young professional dancers who have trained at the internationally acclaimed Dance Theatre of Harlem School, founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook. Only five years ago Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) almost closed due to financial pressures, however through gifts and support this important program has continued to flourish and inspire the new generations of students and audience members.

The Ensemble's "Interactive Performance"-designed to expand audience awareness and interest in classical ballet through and be especially appealing to young adults-is notable for the incorporation of live music; educational and inspirational content; audience interaction; and above all, the quality and dynamic artistry which has "distinguished Dance Theatre of Harlem as an American classic." During the program a narrator will introduce the audience to a glimpse of rigorous the training behind the development of a dancer. Described as "a spirit of entertainment designed to meet changing audience expectations, more in a tradition of ‘reality TV' than traditional ballet," the performance will offer a behind-the-scene view of signature Dance Theatre of Harlem repertoire.

These five favorite works from the repertoire will include three by DTH resident choreographer and former dancer, Robert Garland. His Joplin Dances - Suite will feature live piano accompaniment of familiar American ragtime standards by Scott Joplin, James Scott, Joseph Lamb, Artie Matthews. Joplin Dances has been described by DTHE as "a virtuoso display of ballet technique disguised beneath a façade of whimsy and romance." Mother Popcorn, a selection from Garland's Return set to music by James Brown, will demonstrate a post-modern urban neoclassicism. While Garland's New Bach will make use of the contemporary social and urban physical dance styles in combination with neoclassical and classical techniques, set to Johann Sebastian Bach's Violin Concerto in A Minor.

The two other works that the Ensemble will perform include the last work choreographer Lowell Smith created for DTH before his untimely death in 2007. Smith's Fragments will challenge neoclassical ballet vocabulary and place dancers in unexpected positions. Rounding out the program will be Peter Pucci's Episodes, which is set to original music and was choreographed especially for the Ensemble.

The November 8 performance at Vassar is sponsored by The Department of Dance and the Athletics/Life Fitness Program; the Africana Studies, American Culture, and Women's Studies programs; the Art Department; The Office of The Dean of the Faculty; and support from The Jeanne Periolat Czula Fund made possible by Jeffrey Paley and Valerie Ritter Paley (Vassar class of 1983), and The Jeanne Periolat Czula Endowment established by an anonymous Vassar alumna/us.

About the Dance Theater of Harlem

The Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) was founded in 1969 by the first African American principal dancer of the New York City Ballet, Arthur Mitchell, and Karel Shook. Inspired by the tragic assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  Mitchell's goal was to establish a school that would offer children - especially those in Harlem, the community in which he was born - the opportunity to learn about dance and the allied arts. In a 1971 issue of the New York Times, DTH was applauded as "one of ballet's most exciting undertakings."

Now in its fourth decade, Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown into a multi-cultural dance institution with an extraordinary legacy of providing opportunities for creative expression and artistic excellence that continues to set standards in the performing arts.

About the Department of Dance

The Department of Dance offers a non-major, elective course of study at Vassar. The faculty consists of three full-time professors (Jeanne Periolat Czula, John Meehan, Stephen Rooks), one full-time lecturer of dance and drama (Katherine Wildberger), and one part-time jazz instructor (Abby Saxon). Dance's resident lighting designer, David Ferri, lights all dance department productions. There are three adjunct artists who serve as accompanists and who compose, direct, and sometimes perform with the student company, the Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre, which is directed by John Meehan (http://dance.vassar.edu/).

Fall Dance Events

The Vassar Repertory Dance Theatre's Final Showings '09-'10 will conclude the fall 2009 offerings by the Department of Dance with three performances of Final Showings '09-'10 on November 19, 20, and 21 at 8:00pm. For advance reservations, please email dancetix@vassar.edu.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations or information on accessibility should contact Campus Activities Office at (845) 437-5370. Without sufficient notice, appropriate space and/or assistance may not be available. Directions to the Vassar Campus are available online at www.vassar.edu/directions.

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, October 20, 2009