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Spring Dance Festival set for Feb. 20-22

Friday through Sunday, Feb. 20-22, 2009, various times Berlind Theatre

Works by faculty, guest and student choreographers will be performed in Princeton's annual Spring Dance Festival, "Spring Into Dance," Friday through Sunday, Feb. 20-22, at the Berlind Theatre.

This year's concert features students performing works from the company repertory of Zvi Gotheiner and Takehiro Ueyama; premieres by Rebecca Lazier, Cherylyn Lavagnino and Edisa Weeks; and seven student-choreographed dances.

Performances will be held at 8 p.m. Feb. 20, at 2 and 8 p.m. Feb. 21 and at 1 p.m. Feb. 22. The event is sponsored by the Program in Theater and Dance in the Lewis Center for the Arts.

Directed by Lazier, acting head of dance, "Spring Into Dance" features choreography that is politically provocative, emotionally charged and intimately poetic. Music ranges from a Bach cantata to an original score by Vince diMura.

"The goal of our program is to challenge students in curricular and cocurricular contexts to further their performance, choreography and critical understanding of dance," Lazier said. "'Spring Into Dance' celebrates the culmination of a semester's work and provides students with a venue for self-expression and the opportunity to integrate their work alongside the work of renowned faculty and guest choreographers."

Gotheiner, a lecturer in theater and dance who also is artistic director of ZviDance in New York City, has staged his seminal work, "Chairs," for nine advanced students from the University's "Chamber Dance" course. An athletic and lyrical dance with music from movie soundtracks and by Sergei Rachmaninoff, "Chairs" has been called flawless, visually stunning and beautifully shaped. The solos, duets and quartets reveal the full spectrum of human emotion in a fierce and haunting piece that explores the relationship of individuals to each other and their environments.

Guest choreographer Ueyama, artistic director of Take Dance Company in New York City and former member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, will present an excerpt of "One," inspired by photographer Gregory Colbert's acclaimed exhibition "Ashes and Snow." "One" is set to Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings." Showing traces of Ueyama's Japanese heritage, this piece explores the beauty of nature and the nature of humanity by juxtaposing ecstatic, uncontrolled movement with simple gestures. It embodies the universal idea that people come from the past, live in the present and move into the future -- showing the interconnectedness of humanity, nature, life and death. Nine Princeton students will perform the final section, which was commissioned by the International Summer Dance program in Burgos, Spain, in 2005.

Lazier will premiere "Like Shackles Made of Snow" choreographed in collaboration with nine Princeton students. The piece will be performed to "After the Rain" by composer and double bass player Barry Guy. It explores what makes people want to sink into someone's arms yet later push them across the room. At once tender and harsh, and then vulnerable and explosive, it depicts a landscape where people are pulled, dragged and carried, yet simultaneously struggle to break free.

Guest ballet choreographer Lavagnino, chair of the dance department at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, will premiere "Surrender My Soul to Rest," commissioned by Princeton. Inspired by Bach's Cantata BWV 82, this ballet for 12 women explores human spirituality through dance.

Weeks, a lecturer in theater and dance, will present "We Are Slowly But Surely Achieving Our Objective," choreographed with contributions from 11 student dancers. This poignant commentary on the devastation of war blends happy-go-lucky dancing with the words of former President George W. Bush in the accompanying soundscape by Darryl Hell.

The concert also will highlight the choreography of Princeton students Alexis Branagan, Shawn Cruz, Kadeem Gill, Sibley Lovett, Pancho Mulongeni, Julie Rubinger, Claire-Marine Sarner, Sydney Schiff, Elizabeth Schwall, Kia Tavernier, Eva Marie Wash and Katerina Wong.

Tickets for "Spring Into Dance" are $15 for general admission and $10 for faculty, staff, students, senior citizens and children. Tickets are available online through the University Ticketing website or by calling (609) 258-9220 and through the McCarter Theatre box office at (609) 258-2787. Princeton faculty and staff members may obtain two free tickets to any one of the four performances by calling the McCarter box office and mentioning the "Princeton University Special Offer."

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