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WMU announces finalists in national choreography competition

by Tonya Durlach

April 18, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--The public is invited to determine the winner of Western Michigan University's inaugural Great Works Dance Project Choreography Competition Thursday, April 21.

A presentation highlighting the three finalists in the national competition will be held at 7:30 p.m. in Studio B of the WMU Dalton Center. The evening will include a review of the finalists' biographies and choreographic proposals, as well as videotapes featuring the choreographers' work. Attendees will be asked to vote for the individual they feel will bring the most quality and innovation to the WMU Department of Dance. Seating for the event is limited and donations will be collected at the door.

The winner of the Great Works Dance Project Choreography Competition will be invited to campus this fall to teach master classes and develop a dance for WMU dance majors, which will premiere in the 2012 Winter Gala Dance Concert. The winning choreographer also will receive a $4,000 prize.

Great Works Dance Project Choreography Competition

Kara Davis, a native of Hutchinson, Kan., danced for BalletMet, Atlanta Ballet, Ohio Ballet, the San Francisco Opera Ballet and Ballet Jorgen in Toronto. She is a founding member of KUNST-STOFF and Janice Garrett and Dancers. During the 14 years she has lived in San Francisco, she has danced for the Foundry, Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Robert Moses, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Pearl Ubungen Dancers and Musicians and Mary Carbonara. She won an Izzie award in 2003 for Outstanding Achievement in Individual Performance and was San Francisco Chronicle dance critic Rachel Howard's pick for the 2005 MVP. She has taught throughout the United States, including the Alonzo King LINES Pre-Professional and BFA program. Her work has been shown in California, Arizona and at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. She is co-director of Project Agora, and since its inception, has received two Isadora Duncan nominations for her choreography. Davis was a 2009 Artist in Residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts in California.

Lauren Edson, originally from Boise, Idaho, began her training at Ballet Idaho Academy and Westside Dance Academy. She continued her formal studies at North Carolina School of the Arts and the Julliard School, under the direction of the late Benjamin Harkarvy. She is currently in her second season dancing with the Trey Mclntyre Project and has been featured in several of McIntyre's most recent works. Her past professional dance experiences include Bodyvox, Ballet Idaho, Idaho Dance Theatre and Hubbard Street 2. For the last several years, she has been working as a freelance choreographer. While based in Portland, Ore., she established herself as one of the most sought-after local choreographers. Her work was described by critics as "fresh and user-friendly and something that had been missing from the dance community." She was one of the 12 Northwest choreographers selected both this year and last to participate in the AWARD Show Seattle, affiliated with the Joyce Theatre, one of New York City's major dance presenters. In 2009, she won the Northwest Dance Project's first annual Pretty Creative's International choreographic competition. Her choreography has been featured at the American Dance Guild Festival in New York, Idaho Dance Theatre, Regional Dance America, Northwest Dance Project and NW Fusion Dance Company, among others. As a celebrated dancer with the Trey Mclntyre Project, the Idaho Statesman states: "Lauren has luminous eyes, a pixie-like smile and a flair for choreography that stretches her already supple body to the limit."

Kate Skarpetowska is a native of Warsaw, Poland. She is an alumna of the NYC High School of Performing Arts and received a BFA from the Juilliard School in May 1999 under Artistic Director Benjamin Harkarvy. In 1992, at age 15, she was the youngest cast member of the Broadway show, "Metro," directed and choreographed by Janusz Jozefowicz. She was a member of the Parsons Dance Company from 1999 to 2006, the Battleworks Dance Company from 2006 to 2008 and, since 2007, she has been working for the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Since 2009, Skarpetowska has appeared as a guest artist with the Buglisi Dance Theater. She has had the privilege of setting the works of Lar Lubovitch, David Parsons and Robert Battle in the United States and abroad. In addition, various universities, Houston Metropolitan Dance Company, Hubbard Street 2 and the Parsons Dance Company, have performed her choreography. In 2007, she was one of two featured dancers during the Glimmerglass Opera Festival and in 2008 she toured Italy with "Why be Extraordinary When You Can be Yourself," a show by Daniel Ezralow. In 2009, she co-designed and co-directed "Romeo and Juliet" for the Gunter Theater in Greenville, S.C. Skarpetowska is also a freelance teacher holding workshops throughout the world. She resides in New York City.

WMU's Great Works Dance Project Choreography Competition was designed to identify and recognize emerging choreographers who would bring something new to the campus of WMU and audiences from southwest Michigan. Seventy-three choreographers from 24 states entered the competition. A selection committee consisting of WMU Department of Dance faculty members narrowed the field to three finalists based on innovation in movement, dance structure and subject matter.

For more information, contact the WMU Department of Dance at (269) 387-5830.