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October 17, 2013

National Blue Ribbon Panel to convene Oct. 29 to explore potential of new national center for choreography in Akron

CLEVELAND (Oct. 14, 2013) DANCECleveland and The University of Akron (UA) will host a blue ribbon panel of nationally recognized dance leaders on October 29, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Guzzetta Recital Hall, 139 E. Buchtel Ave., Akron. The event is free and open to the public.

The panelists and audience will explore the potential of establishing a national center for choreography at The University of Akron where professional choreographers could create new work. Among the topics to be explored are the potential impact of a new center, the role of UA and its state-of-the-art dance facilities, and views of choreographers from around the country regarding the value of choreographic residencies to their work.

Currently there is only one such center in the United States: the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) at Florida State University School of Dance in Tallahassee. By comparison, France has 12 centers.

The Oct. 29 panel is part of a two-day initiative funded by The John D. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is a first step in a potential feasibility study and process to be conducted by DANCECleveland and The University of Akron.

Selected for their ability to provide a national view of dance in the United States, the panelists include Douglas Sonntag, director for dance at the National Endowment for the Arts; Jennifer Calienes, former director of MANCC; Neil Sapienza, associate dean of Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences at The University of Akron; Jodee Nimerichter, executive director of The American Dance Festival (Durham, NC); Camille A. Brown, founder and artistic director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers (NYC); Alex Ketley, artistic director of The Foundry (San Francisco) and an independent choreographer; and Julia Rhoads, founder and artistic director of Lucky Plush Productions (Chicago).

"DANCECleveland is proud to have received funding from the Knight Foundation to lead this initiative," says Pam Young, executive director of DANCECleveland. "We believe there is a recognized need nationally for additional choreographic centers where artists can create new works, and northeast Ohio has abundant resources to take on such a project."

Young points to the vibrant dance scene in the region, the superb dance facilities at The University of Akron, and the collaboration history of dance presenting and residency activities between UA and DANCECleveland as assets to develop a national center in northeast Ohio.

"If this process we are undertaking confirms our vision, a new national choreographic center could change the dance profession nationally by giving choreographers around the country space and time to create work."

Following the panel meeting on October 29, DANCECleveland, with the assistance of Janus Small Associates, will launch a listening project to hear from a selected group of stakeholders about this new initiative in Akron.

DANCECleveland, a Cleveland, Ohio based non-profit, is one of a handful of presenters nationally that is dedicated solely to the presentation of modern and contemporary dance. The centerpiece of the organization's programming is its annual performance series. The performances are surrounded by an array of educational outreach events including artist-run master classes, residency programs, student matinees, pre-performance lectures and post-performance Q&A sessions, designed both to break artistic boundaries and provide community access to the dance aesthetic and dance luminaries that DANCECleveland brings to Northeast Ohio.

The Dance Program at The University of Akron, hailed by Dance Spirit magazine as one of the "most sought-after dance programs in the country," offers exceptional technical training in ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, and tap - plus studies in choreography, dance history, teaching techniques, nutrition, and physical analysis. In addition to talented and caring faculty and an array of performance opportunities, other assets of the UA Dance Program are world-class facilities and frequent opportunities to work with stellar guest artists.


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