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University Dancers

Concerts by University Dancers (UD)

Directed by Paul Dennis, the annual UD concert includes choreography by nationally established and emerging artists, and UMass and Five College faculty members. For the 2012 concert, Paul Dennis will help reconstruct Anna Sokolow's 1955 classic modern dance/jazz-scored piece, Rooms. Also on the program will be dances by Billbob Brown with Marilyn Sylla, guest artist/teacher Adrienne Hawkins, and Tom Vacanti. The concert takes place on Fri., Nov. 30 and Sat., Dec. 1 at 8pm in Bowker Auditorium.
The Dec. 2011 UD concert featured a major work by Merce Cunningham, one of the 20th century's greatest choreographers. A Five-College project, it was performed on the UMass, Smith, Amherst, & Mt. Holyoke campuses, each with its own set of video imagery, costuming & unique live musical score. The UMass performance included collaborations with faculty: composer Salvatore Macchia & artist Patricia Galvis-Assmus. The project coincided with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company's final Legacy Tour.
Camille Brown's New Second Line
The 2011 concert also featured New Second Line by guest artist-in-residence Camille A. Brown, inspired by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 & celebrating the spirit & culture of the people of New Orleans; Tom Vacanti's Sostenuto & Allegro, set to the music of Kurt Weill; Billbob Brown's Rotator, combining dance, video & the music of Anne Gosfield, Ministry & the Talking Heads; and Adrienne Hawkins' Pictures at an Exhibition, set to Mussorgsky's orchestral score.

Mark Morris, Chuck Davis, Doug Varone, Randy James, Kathryn Posin, George Balanchine, and many other choreographers have been featured on recent UD concerts.


Outreach by University Dancers

University Dancers is the only college touring company in New England that offers audiences a full range of dance repertory, including modern dance, ballet and jazz dance. The company is composed mainly of Dance majors who audition in the fall, to be part of the January performing/touring/teaching company. The touring experience and the interactions at elementary, junior and senior high schools; other colleges; and community and retirement centers have often been life changing for students who discover unforeseen passions or hidden skills. During the tour, students learn the life of a roadie, setting up and taking down a full stage of equipment daily. Skills they gain are far-reaching, often leading to professional work.

The tours enable our dancers to make a significant impact on younger students. For example, UD worked at the Kensington Elementary School, an inner-city school in Springfield, MA, where many families are at the poverty level.  Through UD's workshops, activities and performances, the children showed a remarkable brightening of spirit and their standardized test scores rose.

University Dancers has a strong commitment to connecting dance with arts across the UMass campus and with communities unfamiliar with dance. Past collaborations include Pleiades, with the Astronomy and Digital Arts Departments, the Electronic Music and Percussion Programs; e=FAC2, with the History and Math Departments; and Transformations, with the Computer Sciences, Psychology and Music Departments. There also have been collaborations with Lively Arts, drawing and voice classes, as well as numerous collaborations with full music ensembles, including Jazz Ensemble I and Percussion Ensemble. University Dancers is now a regular part of the spring UMass Amherst Pops Gala concert, in which UD performs more popular dances to live orchestra or jazz ensemble.

Dance Department