New Orleans Dance Students Train With National Dance Professionals As NORD/NOBA Center for Dance Summer Intensive Begins

The NORD/NOBA Center for Dance, a cultural community partnership of the New Orleans Recreation Department and the New Orleans Ballet Association, began its annual Summer Intensive dance program on July 6 at Tulane University's McWilliams Hall.

An extension of the Center for Dance's pre-professional program, the Summer Intensive allows sixty dance students ages 9-18 to train alongside local and guest artists for four weeks. To qualify for the program, students must have at least two years of ballet training and are selected by audition in the spring. "The camp provides high quality training for youth comparable to national festivals. The artists teaching have been on faculty at universities and dance festivals nationwide. We want to offer the students with a demonstrated talent an accessible opportunity to intensively train with some of the best teachers possible," says Suzanne Hirsch, Education Director.

This year's guest artist faculty includes Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, co-founders of the Wideman/Davis Dance Company; Maria Bauman and Bennalldra ‘Benny' Williams from Urban Bush Women; Pascal Rioult, founder of Rioult Dance Company and former principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company; and Ian and Elanor Carney of Corbian. The diversity in style and training of the guest artists in this year's Summer Intensive represents a unique opportunity for artists, students, and audiences in the New Orleans area to celebrate the excellence and outstanding repertoire of both classic and new works.

For more than a decade, the summer intensive has trained students throughout the community. This year the program increased to four levels to support the demand. "Students come back year after year to participate in our summer program. They remember the dances they learned in the previous years and build upon that in the 3-6 hour days. We see the greatest increase in students' physical ability every summer," says Hirsch. Past guest artists have included Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Luna Negra Dance Theatre, PerksDanceMusicTheatre, and Urban Ballet Theatre. All of the current and past guest and local artists have a deeply rooted commitment to working with youth that is core to their company's and personal mission.

This year's program is offering many distinct voices that will culminate in a performance of work generated by the guest artists on Thursday, July 29 at 7:30pm in Tulane University, McWilliams Hall, Room 300. The performance will feature students and artists in a work created during the summer session. Tickets for the performance are $8 and $15, and are available by calling NOBA at 504.522.0996.

The NORD/NOBA Center For Dance is a cultural community partnership between the New Orleans Recreation Department (NORD) and the New Orleans Ballet Association (NOBA). Founded in 1992 with seed money from the Freeport-McMoran Foundation, The Center was born out of a need to make dance accessible to all school-age children. A program that began with just 30 students now has an annual gross enrollment of more than 250 children at 6 NORD centers citywide. With a core curriculum of ballet, classes are open to any child in Orleans Parish with a demonstrated interest in dance. Through a professional faculty, master classes by NOBA Main Stage artists and other visiting artists, a mentor program and field trips, the Center works with each child to cultivate dreams and strengthen futures. The NOBA programs are a recipient of the 2005 Louisiana Governor's Arts Award, 2005 Big Easy Classical Arts Award, and 2002 Coming Up Taller Award.

Tanya Wideman-Davis has received International acclaim and was given the honor of "Best Female Dancer of 2001-2002" by Dance Europe magazine. Ms. Wideman-Davis has trained with some of the premiere schools in the country. She has danced with The Dance Theatre of Harlem, The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Alonzo King's Lines Contemporary Ballet and Donald Byrd at Spectrum Dance Theatre. As Co-Artistic Director of Wideman/Davis Dance, she has assisted in creating new works and setting existing works for Ballet Memphis, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, The Julliard School and many others. She is currently a guest faculty with the University of South Carolina.
Thaddeus Davis was featured in Dance Magazine's January 2002 issue as one of "25 To Watch In The World." The premier of his first choreographic work, "Once Before Twice After," was named one of the top ten moments in dance for 2002 by The New York Times, calling it "reassuring evidence of New York dance's promising future." Mr. Davis danced with Donald Byrd/The Group for four years, where he also served as Mr. Byrd's creative assistant. In addition, he has danced with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, Fukuoka City Ballet, Atlanta Dance Theatre, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Fugate/Bahiri Ballet NY (Dance Galaxy). As a teacher and choreographer, he has done residencies at The Juilliard School, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Butler University, Arizona State University, Ballet Austin Academy, and has served as guest faculty at The Alabama School of Fine Arts. Mr. Davis is currently a guest faculty at University of South Carolina.

Urban Bush Women (UBW) seeks to bring the untold and under-told histories and stories of disenfranchised people to light through dance. Founded in 1984 by Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, UBW is a performance ensemble dedicated to exploring the use of cultural expression as a catalyst for social change. UBW has been presented extensively in New York City and has toured throughout the United States and in Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America. The company has been commissioned by presenters nationwide, and includes among its honors a 1992 New York Dance and Performance Award ("Bessie"); the 1994 Capezio Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance; and 1998 and 2004 Doris Duke Awards for New Work from the American Dance Festival. Maria Bauman and Bennalldra "Benny" Williams, Urban Bush Women dancers, will be teaching at the Summer Dance Intensive.

Pascal Rioult (Artistic Director/Choreographer) A native of France and former principal dancer in the Martha Graham Dance Company, Mr. Rioult started his own company in 1994. He has dedicated his energies to forging and perfecting a choreographic style of his own, nurturing a robust ensemble of dancers, and growing his company. Mr. Rioult's works have been commissioned by the American Dance Festival, Cal Arts and many others. He is a two-time recipient of the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography.

This project is supported in part by a Community Arts Grant made possible by the City of New Orleans as administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans; a Decentralized Arts grant from the Louisiana State Arts Council through the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts as administered by the Arts Council of New Orleans; by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Southern Arts Federation and the Louisiana Division of the Arts; by a grant from National Endowment for the Arts' American Masterpieces: Dance initiative, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts; and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.

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