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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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World Dance Guest Artists for Spring 2010

The following master classes featuring Andreas Guests Artists will take place in PAC 126. They are open to the public and you are encouraged to participate. If someone from the community decides to attend, they should plan on arriving about 10-15 minutes before the start of the class and parking in the PayLot adjacent to the Centennial Student Union.

For details, you may contact Dr. Julie Kerr-Berry, Director of Dance.

Larry Yazzie in traditional garb
1. Native American: Thursday, Feb. 11, Larry Yazzie (9:30-11:00)
Born on the Meskwaki Indian Settlement in central Iowa, Larry Yazzie began dancing at age 7. He was taught the traditions of the Meskwaki people, including the flamboyant and energetic fancy dance and the Northern Plains style of singing. A renowned fancy dancer who consistently takes top honors at American Indian powwows through the U.S. and Canada, he won the World Championship for the Northern Style Fancy Dance in 1995 and 2007. He also serves as an Arena Director, Singing Judge and Head Man Dancer.

Ranee Ramaswamy
2. East Indian: Tuesday, March 16, Ranee Ramaswamy (9:30-11:00)
Ranee has been teaching and performing Bharatanatyam in the Twin Cities since 1978. She has had the good fortune to train under Alarmel Valli, a leading exponent of the Pandanallur style of Bharatanatyam, which requires grace and subtlety of expression. Ranee has received many grants and fellowships in recognition of her choreography, performance and tireless work with Bharatanatyam in the Minnesota area, including numerous McKnight Artist Fellowships and a Bush Fellowship for Choreography.

Francis Kofi
3. Ghanaian: Tuesday, April 6, Francis Kofi (9:30-11:00)
Renowned drummer and dancer Francis Kofi descended from a long line of West African drum and dance heritage. He has performed and taught in North America, Europe, Asia and throughout Africa. Initially trained by his grandfather, master drummer and composer of Gbenordu Habrbor Troupe, Francis began his career as a performer at the age of six. He has been touring professionally since age fifteen as a master drummer, dancer and choreographer.

Kofi is an Ewe, of the Wotsi ("Waachi") sub-division in Togo. He has studied and performed extensively in various parts in Ghana, as well as in Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe. His is accomplished in a vast repertoire of traditional drumming pieces and accompanying dances. Kofi has taught in the United States at several universities and in 1996-97 was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship/Artist-In-Residence at the State University of New York College at Fredonia.

Karla Nweje
4. Gullah: Tuesday, April 13, Karla Nweje (9:30-11:00)
Karla Nweje began studying dance because of her experiences as a young child on the streets of New York City, where she says African American culture, dance and music were integral parts of her life. She has learned and worked with innovative modern dance choreographers and African griots, including Doris Chaverra, Ladji Camara, Ronald K. Brown, Djoniba Mouflet, Jean-Leon Destine, Daniel Maloney and Wavery Lucas. She writes: "Dance has always been a major form of communication, and exploring the historical and cultural significance of dance forms gives us treasured insight into the many facets of the human experience."

Christopher Yaeger
5. North American/US.: Tuesday, April 27, Christopher Yaeger (9:30-11:00)
Christopher Yaeger is an artist who has played a variety of roles in dance and theater since the 1970s. As an independent teaching artist, he works in schools and performs on stages across the globe including the Twin Cities, Budapest, Prague, Las Vegas and Seoul. He is a performing member of Dance Revels Moving History, the Ethnic Dance Theatre, and the Klompendansers of Minnesota. Christopher is for hire as an artist in education through COMPAS, The Minnesota State Arts Board, and Young Audiences of Minnesota. Christopher is thrilled to be offering audiences a hearty sample of the rich heritage found in American dance and music, and celebrates the technologies that allow us to view, hear and experience these timeless treasures again and again.

Spring Dance Concert April 30-May 1

Spring Dance Collection concert

Contingent participates in American College Dance Festival

Thirteen students and three faculty members from the Minnesota State Mankato Department of Theatre & Dance attended the North Central region of the American College Dance Festival (ACDF), March 18-22. It was hosted by the University of Minnesota's Dance Program in the Twin Cities. Twenty-three schools attended from as far away as California and 34 dances were adjudicated.

Dance faculty member Dan Stark taught a well-attended Afro-Cuban class, which reflected his research from a recent trip to Cuba. Fellow colleague Paul Finocchiaro taught an advanced tap class to an enthusiastic crowd of over 40 students. Julie Kerr-Berry, Dance Program Director, taught an Intermediate Modern class to students from all over the region. As Regional Director for the NC Region of ACDF, Dr. Kerr-Berry facilitated several meetings for the region's membership.

The Minnesota State Mankato Dance Program brought two works to be adjudicated by three nationally known dance artists, Sara Hook, Tommy DeFrantz and Diane McIntyre. The two works were "Historically Speaking," choreographed by dance major Nicole Curry, and "Porcelain Portraits," choreographed by Julie Kerr-Berry. "Historically Speaking" was selected to be performed for the Gala Concert. Stephanie Narlock choreographed and performed a work for the Informal Concert, along with three fellow dance students, called "Common Martyrs." Dance major Sara Jump performed a solo in another venue called an "Unshowing."

Students participated in several master classes that ran the full length of the conference. The conference culminated with a master class taught by the three adjudicators, followed by the Gala Concert. Students and faculty attend the Limón Company performance at Northrup Auditorium as part of the conference. ACDF afforded students the opportunity to network with other students, as well as with artistic directors of several companies that are based in the Twin Cities. Collectively, ACDF offers students a tremendous opportunity to perform, take classes and see several concerts that represent the region's college and university dance scene.

Photo from 'Historically Speaking' Photo from 'Porcelain Portraits'
"Historically Speaking" (left) and "Porcelain Portraits"