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WMU dancers invited to perform at Kennedy Center

March 20, 2005

KALAMAZOO--For the second time in three years, the Western Michigan University Department of Dance has been invited to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

George Faison, Tony-award winning choreographer of "The Wiz," has invited WMU dancers to perform excerpts of his dance "Suite Otis" April 23 at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts as part of a five-day series of concerts honoring African American choreographers' contributions to the world of modern dance.

WMU dancers will perform with members of Philadanco and be on the same program as Rennie Harris and Company and Tamango Urban Tap, all big names in the dance world. It is believed that WMU dancers will be the only students performing in the series.

"We are honored that Mr. Faison thinks so highly of our students' talent," says Nina Nelson, dance department chair. "Performing at the Kennedy Center with such renowned companies is the chance of a lifetime for our students."

Faison was a guest artist at WMU during the 2004-05 academic year. In October, he staged "Suite Otis" with the help of 36 dance students. The dance was featured in the February Winter Concert of Dance and produced under the auspices of the department's Great Works Dance Project. During his October residency, Faison also taught master classes, presented a rehearsal and lecture for the public.

Faison returned to campus in February to rehearse the dancers and to serve as the honored guest at the Partners in Dance Great Works Dance Project Benefit Dinner.

WMU dance students last performed at the Kennedy Center in May 2002 when they danced Paul Taylor's "3 Epitaphs" on the Millennium Stage. The performance was part of a three-day Celebration of College and University Dance sponsored by Dance/USA and the National College Choreography Initiative. WMU was one of 12 programs out of 21 applicants invited to perform.

The dance department is currently raising funds for the trip. For more information on how to contribute, call the department's main number at (269) 387-5830.

For more information on the Masters of African American Choreography series, visit the Kennedy Center's Web site at <www.kennedy-center.org>.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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