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Two honored with dance advocacy award

Jan. 21, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Ballet accompanist and dance advocate Dorothy Giovannini and teacher and choreographer Lindsey Canfield Thomas have been chosen to receive this year's Community Dance Advocacy Award, sponsored by Western Michigan University's Partners in Dance.

The awards will be presented at a special dinner at the Cityscape Event Center in downtown Kalamazoo Friday, Feb. 5, prior to that evening's Winter Gala Dance Concert at WMU.

Partners in Dance created the Community Dance Advocacy Award to highlight and recognize the extent of dance activity and leadership in the greater Kalamazoo area. It is given annually to honor a leader or volunteer who has demonstrated significant accomplishments in advancing and supporting dance in the Greater Kalamazoo area. Nominations are accepted each fall.

For more information about the Community Dance Advocacy Awards Dinner, contact the Department of Dance at (269) 387-5830. Details of this year's Winter Gala Dance Concert can be found online in WMU News.

Dorothy Giovannini is an advocate, mentor and collaborator recognized in the Kalamazoo community as a premier accompanist for dance. She has accompanied ballet classes at WMU and Ballet Arts, where she supplied music for such distinguished guest artists as Willy Shives (Joffrey Ballet) and Igal Perry (Peridance). She has been a member of the board of directors of Ballet Arts Ensemble for 11 years, serving as the board's president for nine. Nominators cited Giovannini's strong organizational skills, attention to detail, and her ability to follow through as traits that have marked her years of service to the profession. They also noted that her compassionate, genuine nature make her a highly regarded and well-loved leader.

Giovannini has worked to make dance a more visible and vital part of Kalamazoo's artistic community. Through her work on the Ballet Arts Ensemble board of directors, she created a complementary ticket program for underserved families. She has also been committed to creating and sustaining collaborative relationships with other arts organizations, including the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and Kalamazoo Institute of Arts.

Lindsey Canfield Thomas will be honored with the Community Dance Advocacy Award posthumously. Thomas served as a Department of Dance faculty member at WMU from 1979 to 2003. There, she developed the jazz dance program to a level of international recognition. She created community programs in greater Kalamazoo, including the Children's Repertory Dance Theatre, which provided programs for local schools and statewide dance organizations, and the community 'Boy's Dance Program' in cooperation with local dance schools and public schools. She also taught master classes in dance and music theatre for Portage and Kalamazoo Public Schools, YMCAs, local high school sports teams and the Starr Commonwealth School for Boys. Thomas served as a liaison between WMU and numerous local community arts organizations, matching WMU dance majors with the artistic, teaching and choreographic needs of the organizations.

Thomas' talent as an artist, educator and teacher was recognized by several organizations. She was elected to serve on the board of directors for the Jazz Dance World Congress. She was the recipient of the 1997 Jazz Dance World Congress Gold Leo Award, and she won the third-place award in jazz and hip-hop category at the 2000 Prague Dance Festival. In 1998, she was the recipient of Michigan Dance Association's 'Teacher of the Year' award, and while at WMU, she was selected as a recipient of the College of Fine Arts Outstanding Service Award in recognition of her extensive and energetic service to the Department of Dance, College of Fine Arts and community.

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Media contact: Nina Nelson, (269) 387-5833, nina.nelson@wmich.edu

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Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
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