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Dance festival features work of renowned choreographers

Friday through Sunday, Feb. 22-24, 2008, various times Berlind Theatre

The annual Spring Dance Festival on Feb. 22-24 will feature student performances of works by world-renowned choreographers Mark Morris and Susan Marshall, alongside pieces by Princeton's head of dance, Ze'eva Cohen, faculty member Edisa Weeks and guest choreographer Marianela Boan.

The performances will be held at the Berlind Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22; at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23; and at 1 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 24.

The Spring Dance Festival is produced by the Program in Theater and Dance in the Lewis Center for the Arts and is directed by program founder Cohen. It provides students the opportunity to work with professional artists to further their artistic experience and be mentored in their own choreography.

For this year's program, the students have been engaged with the works of Marshall and Morris, whose companies have performed internationally for more than 25 years. "This extraordinary opportunity further challenges our tradition of presenting the best of student choreography alongside the work of faculty and guest choreographers with national and international reputations. Our students meet this challenge in creative and imaginative ways," Cohen said.

The program includes premieres and classics of modern and contemporary dance. Marshall's new work "Name by Name," commissioned by the Juilliard School, will be performed for the first time since its premiere in June 2007. Inspired by Marshall's mother, the noted feminist Beverly Jones, the dance evokes the driving and forceful strength of women toppling tradition and creating their own new identity. It will be performed by a cast of 18 women.

Morris' "Canonic 3/4 Studies," which premiered in 1982, is a collection of short dances set to popular ballet class music and performed by nine students. Each vignette explores, illustrates and illuminates the music in a fashion that has been called daring and brilliantly simple.

Cohen is restaging "Shifting Ground," which was originally created for her company Ze'eva Cohen and Dancers and premiered in 1983. The work is choreographed for six women and was taught during the fall repertory classes to two casts of students. It is set to tambourine music by Glen Velez, a breath chant by Charlie Morrow and an a cappella chant by Natalie Gilbert. The work is an expression of sensations of losing ground to forces, caused by either nature or humans, beyond one's control.

"Play," choreographed by Weeks, a lecturer in theater and dance, is about the rambunctious energy of kids playing in a schoolyard. Ten dancers revel in boundless freedom as they run, slide, twist, flail and project themselves through space.

Boan, an avant-garde artist from Cuba, choreographed "Office" in collaboration with Princeton dancers. The cast of eight dancers executes mechanical, fast-paced movements, carry out imaginary office tasks, wheel office chairs around and perform popular dances derived from different cultural genres.

Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for students and seniors, and $5 for children. They are available by calling the McCarter Theatre Center box office at (609) 258-2787 or visiting the McCarter website.

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