Danceworks 2009 to be Performed at Louis Theater Feb. 27 to March 8

"Danceworks 2009," an annual winter showcase of the choreography of Northwestern University's dance faculty, alumni and guest artists, will feature a myriad of dance styles, as well as a special one-day event featuring the Emmy Award-winning dance company Jump Rhythm Jazz Project.

Seven performances will be held at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27; 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 28; 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1; 8 p.m. Thursday, March 5; 8 p.m. Friday, March 6; 8 p.m. Saturday, March 7; and 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8, in the Josephine Louis Theatre, 20 Arts Circle Drive, on the University's Evanston campus.

In addition, as part of this year's Danceworks, the audience-interactive lecture-demonstration "Jump Rhythm Technique and the Language of Rhythm" will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Louis Theatre by Jump Rhythm Jazz Project. The entertaining and educational show focuses on the subject of rhythm.

The pieces selected for "Danceworks 2009" blend varied forms and styles into an evening that represents what is current and significant in dance.

"This year's production will take you on a journey through radically diverse styles of moving, grounded in enduring, richly diverse dance traditions," said Susan A. Lee, professor of dance, coordinator of the Northwestern University School of Communication's Dance Program and artistic director of "Danceworks 2009." "While dance images are fleeting, the power of their ability to communicate is profound. As a result, we strive each year to craft a program that will appeal to both our loyal Danceworks fans and new audiences."

This year's showcase will feature the works of seven choreographers: Annie Arnoult Besserra, Martin "Tre" Dumas, Viola Elkins, Jeff Hancock, Billy Siegenfeld, Joel Valentin-Martinez and Laura Wade.

"Each choreographer has a unique movement vocabulary and each shares a commitment to a well-crafted dance that truly has something to say," added Lee.

Northwestern alumna Annie Arnoult Beserra conceived and choreographed "Stories to Tell" based on real stories of people living with schizophrenia. "Aunt Jeanette," the newest episode of "The Jenkins Farm Project," is an ongoing investigation of the choreographer's family history that questions the meaning of home, family, memory and mental illness.

For this year's "Danceworks," Chicago-based tap dancer, choreographer and Northwestern adjunct family member Martin "Tre" Dumas will premiere "Timing Machine," a number that combines classical and contemporary tap. A featured dancer in the North American and European tours of "Riverdance" from 1998 through 2000, Dumas recently joined the Chicago Human Rhythm Project as associate artistic director.

Northwestern adjunct dance faculty member and guest choreographer Viola Elkins created a "soulful and funky" urban piece, "groove2me." A representation of life's journey, it is about never knowing or understanding what lies ahead in life and the personal encounters that help to make one strong enough to combat life's obstacles. "It embraces what we feel and releases it through movement," said Elkins. She is former director for Culture Shock Chicago and the creative founder of the dance companies R.A.G.E. Project, RawFunkyStreet Flav and LeT thE fUNk fLOw.

Northwestern University Dance Professor Jeff Hancock and his dancers will explore the interplay of the ideas of "whole" and "hole," in his theatrical and athletic dance titled "W(hole)." Presented in four distinct sections, the work embodies states of knowing and not knowing, familiarity and the lack of it, how they co-exist at all times in the human experience and how they impact personal relationships. Hancock was a founding member and principal dancer for River North Chicago Dance Co. from 1991 to 2001.

Northwestern University Dance Professor Billy Siegenfeld, the founder, artistic director, principal choreographer and performing ensemble member of Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, has choreographed an emotion-infused work called "You do not have to be good." His dance charts life's journey through the emotional states of mad, glad and sad and focuses on how one state or combination of states might affect -- if not transform -- into another.

"Ask me in the morning light" by Northwestern faculty member Joel Valentin-Martinez is a work-in-progress that eventually will be premiered by Luna Negra Dance Theater at the Harris Theater in Chicago as part of the "Mexico in Chicago" yearlong celebration in 2010. This piece focuses primarily on the experience of women with the Bracero Program (also known as the Mexican Emergency Farm Labor Program), in which, from 1942 to 1964, nearly 5 million men were brought into the United States from Mexico as agricultural and railway workers.

"Into the Blue" by dance faculty member Laura Wade is a new work that captures the "idealism, persistence and drive of humans to master flight or any lofty goal." Wade is assistant artistic director of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She also teaches at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, Giordano Dance School and is the ballet mistress for River North Chicago Dance Company.

"'Danceworks 2009' has the vitality of a mini-dance festival. It is vibrant because of the clear artistic voices the choreographers have brought to the creative process," said Lee. Forty-five Northwestern University Dance Program students will perform for "Danceworks 2009."

Single tickets for "Danceworks 2009" are $20 for the general public; $18 for senior citizens and Northwestern faculty and staff; and $10 for students with valid IDs. General admission for the "Jump Rhythm" lecture-demonstration is $5. Tickets for both events may be purchased by phone through the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office at (847) 491-7282 or at the door prior to each performance. Tickets also are on sale at the Theatre and Interpretation Center Box Office or online at

For more information on "Danceworks 2009" or "Jump Rhythm Technique and the Language of Rhythm," visit the Theatre and Interpretation Center Web site at:


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