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Philadanco in Area Debut

KEENE, NH, 2/26/02 - Philadanco will make its Monadnock region debut in a concert of four contemporary dances at Keene State Colleges Redfern Arts Center on Brickyard Pond, Tuesday, March 12, at 7:00 p.m. The troupe is best known for its virtuosity, its sense of the dramatic, and the intense energy it infuses into each dance it performs. The concert will feature two dances from the full-length work Messages from the Heart, which showcases works by two of Americas foremost female choreographers, the founder of Urban Bush Women dance ensemble, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, and Bebe Miller.

Tickets available through the Brickyard Pond box office, 603-358-2168, are $22 and $20 for the general public, $19 and $17 for seniors and KSC faculty and staff, $12 for youth 17 and younger, and $5 for KSC students with ID. Tickets may also be purchased online at

Philadancos artistic and executive director Joan Myers Brown founded the company 33 years ago. Predominantly African-American, the ensemble is also known as the Philadelphia Dance Company. It has a long-standing reputation as a developer of talent for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

The concert at Keene State College is made possible through funding by the National Dance Project of the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional funding has been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Philip Morris Companies, Inc., the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and the British Council.

In keeping with Philadancos mission to search out Americas leading choreographers to commission new works and recreate classics, the Brickyard Pond concert will feature four dances by four different choreographers. The evening will open with David Browns Labess II. Premiered by the company in 2000, Labess is described as a dance charged with freedom and joy. Built in four sections with an ensemble of seven dancers, the piece is a celebration of self-acceptance. One woman carries a thread throughout the dance leading, following and opening the space. The dance is set to music by Zap Mama, an Afro-Euro a cappella womens vocal ensemble.

Ron K. Browns Exotica will follow Labess. Full of African-based movements, Exotica begins with a judgment parade, followed by a testimony of compassion and concludes with the contemporary song Woman Child by the Nigerian singer and dancer Wunmi Olaiya.

After intermission Philadanco will return to dance My Science. Choreographed by Miller, it was inspired by the ways that imagination and science act as catalysts for each other. Set to the music of the Bulgarian womans a cappella choir La Voix Bulgare and Led Zeppelin, the piece plays with the image of heavy water, the collision of matter, and the mechanics of relationship. Miller has said that she was also inspired by the passion and energy of Philadanco to use their kinetic style to shape the work.

The evening will conclude with Zollars Hand Singing Song. The work explores the use and idea of hand gestures, specifically the dap, in a symbolic manner expressing the political and cultural aspects of a people, specifically the African-American. The dap is a name given to the fist greeting during the Black Power Movement to affirm African-American identity and solidarity. Music is by composer Michael Wimberly, whose compositions have been performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the Joffrey II Ballet.

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