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University of Montana Dance Program Presents DANCE UP CLOSE, Now thru 12/8

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The University of Montana School of Theatre & Dance's internationally and nationally acclaimed Dance Program has announced the premiere of its most intimate dance concert of the year, Dance Up Close. This concert invites the audience into the Masquer Theatre. Here, the audience is seated in close proximity to the dancers so that each detail can be seen, each breath can be heard, and the movement of the dancers can be felt as they rush past The Edge blurred between performer and viewer.

Dance Up Close offers the audience two alternating concerts that feature twenty original dance works that vary greatly in genre and include ballet, lyrical and contemporary dance forms. Choreography will be presented by UM faculty, alumni, theatre and law graduate students, and undergraduate theatre and dance students as well as guest artist Anya Cloud.

The Dance Program is honored to present a new work conceived by guest artist Anya Cloud. Influenced by her studies in improvisation and performance studies, Cloud's piece explores the idea of being present, seeing and being seen in performance. Through an intensive residency in October with eight prominent dance majors, Cloud created a structure in which the students will perform an improvised score. The dancers all know the order of events that shall take place in the dance; however, they will not know who is performing which roles until right before they enter the stage. This is the first time many of the performers will experience performing "chance dance", a structure made famous by postmodern choreographer Merce Cunningham.

Other highlights of this year's Dance Up Close include choreography by dance faculty members Michele Antonioli, Heidi Jones Eggert, and Nicole Bradley Browning. Antonioli's newest ballet, a quartet inspired by the mythology of tree nymphs, uses the virtuosic performance of ballet, rich classical music, and dreamlike imagery to transport the audience to an ideal world. Contemporary dance specialists Eggert and Bradley Browning celebrate new works that are intricately choreographed, detailed with sophisticated dance partnering, and lush and badass respectively. Eggert's work is inspired by the powerful forces of the ocean and its rhythm, while Bradley Browning's work is inspired by the strong and often fierce women of roller derby.

Additionally, the performance features wonderful interdisciplinary collaboration. Undergraduate student Hanna Minsky uses spoken word, live guitar and violin, with dance to make a strong socio-economic and political statement regarding class in America. DesignTechnology student Al Parker collaborates with dance and art major Claire Christensen to premiere improvised live-feed video simultaneously with improvised dance.

Dance, a fleeting art form that is never performed the same way twice, has the power to inform, transform, and impact the viewer. The choreographers and dancers at The University of Montana have been working for the past three months to generate art that has this very power, and look forward to sharing their achievements with you.

The UM School of Theatre & Dance presents Dance Up Close, tonight, December 4 through the 8th at 7:30 pm; December 8 at 2:00 pm at the Masquer Theatre, PARTV Center on UM Campus. Tickets: $9 General. Call the UMArts Box Office, 243-4581, or visit tickets.umtheatredance.org.


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by Barnett Serchuk