News - March 2007 Volume 4 Issue 1


Anna Sokolow Archival Dance Company

Sokolow Now!  kicked off the fall season in its own back yard with a series of performances, September 15, 16, 22 and 23, 2006, in Lowell, MA.  The company was part of the “Mill City Minutes” Festival, which is under the direction of Jerry Bisantz and dedicated to presenting new one acts by local playwrights.  The dramatic impact of Sokolow’s work paired perfectly with this roster of short innovative plays. Kirsten McKinney, Courtney Peix, and Celsa Cutillo beautifully performed three excerpts from Rooms to large enthusiastic audiences.

"These dances were about bodies in motion and what emotions can be involved.  The bodies in every case were trained and controlled, extending a vocabulary of moves to artistic extremes where the merest details are important.”
Larry Stark ,The Theater Monitor, MA

The company traveled to Naugatuck Valley Community College, CT to perform Dreams with the students as part of the Performance Initiative Residency Program (see education section).

Sokolow Now! in Dreams
Photo:  Joseph Arthur

We would like to thank Dr. William McKinney, Dean of the College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts, for bringing Sokolow Now! to Slippery Rock University for a concert on January 20, 2007.  Amid a tight technical schedule, the Sokolow Now! dancers made time to speak about performing Sokolow’s repertory at a special luncheon with Nora Ambrosio and her students. This question and answer session was informative, enlightening and fun. The company presented two of Sokolow’s most legendary and influential works, Rooms and Dreams. The house was full!  The audience loved it!  What else could you ask for on a snowy January evening?

“As you could tell from the audience response, they greatly enjoyed the program and I believe that it was an excellent learning experience for all of the viewers, particularly the dance majors.”
Nora Ambrosio, Dance Department, Slippery Rock University, PA


On July 10 through August 4, 2006 members of the Sokolow Now! company conducted daily classes in technique and Sokolow repertory as part of a four-week workshop at the American Academy of Dance, which is under the directorship of Stephanie Moy. Mansfield, MA was the site for this summer intensive which culminated in a studio performance that highlighted the talents of these aspiring young dancers.

Ms May concluded her second year as a faculty member of Quantum Leap, an advanced musical theater intensive, which is under the direction of Leslie Woodies.  Enthusiastic pre-professional students from the Boston area took daily classes in ballet, modern, acting, and voice.  This highly successful two-week workshop will be repeated August 6 - 17, 2007, at the Boston Center for the Arts, Boston, MA.

U of Minnesota student in Rooms
Photo: V. Paul Virtrucio

Carl Flink, Director of Dance, choose Lorry May as the Cowles Guest Artist-In-Residence at the University of Minnesota for the month of October 2006 to reconstruct Rooms on the dance students.   Ms May conducted open public rehearsals and lectures, taught daily technique classes and presented a community outreach workshop for local high school students. At the Southern Theater in downtown Minneapolis on October 27-29, 2006, the University of Minnesota Dance Department presented a unique performance dedicated to Sokolow’s masterpiece Rooms.   Following each of these outstanding performances, the dancers returned to the stage for a lively and informative question and answer session with the audience. Ms. May returned January 21-28, 2007 to coach the Rooms  cast for their annual spring concert, “2007 Dance Revolutions”, which took place on February 2-4, 2007, at the Rarig Center on the university campus.

“What a wonderful achievement by the University of Minnesota Dance Department and the students dancing there, and what a wonderful achievement by Lorry May, the long time company member of Sokolow’s company who set Rooms on the students. They delivered the work with commitment, understanding and ownership.”
John Munger. View Findings, MN

Suellen Haag, Managing Director of the Sokolow Dance Foundation, presented a workshop on the Rooms Etude at the National Dance Education Organization’s 2006 conference, “Celebrating the Whole Person”, which was held October 18-21, 2006.  California State University at Long Beach was the site of this four-day educational event.  The teachers and students who participated found the workshop enriching and creative.

Ohio State University dance major, Sara Wiseman, chose Escape (from Rooms) as the subject for her senior graduate project. After reconstructing Escape from Labanotation, Ms Wiseman traveled to Attleboro, MA, January 3 & 4, 2007, to be coached by Lorry May. Ms Wiseman’s coaching sessions and final performance for the University's 2007 spring concert were filmed and made into a DVD for the dance archives at Ohio State University.

St. Olaf College students in Dreams
Photo: Erik Saulitis

Janice Roberts, Department Chair, was instrumental in bringing Sokolow's repertory to St Olaf College, MN. From November 3 - 12, 2006, Ms May taught Dreams, which was the first Sokolow Legacy experience for the students. She also gave lectures to both history and dance history classes, conducted an open public rehearsal of Dreams followed by a spirited discussion, and taught a community outreach dance class for children.  Ms May will return April 26 to May 1, 2007, to coach the cast of Dreams for their annual spring concert.

Sokolow Now! & NVCC Ensemble Dancers in Dreams
Photo: Joseph Arthur

Thanks to Elena Rusnak, Dance Director at Naugatuck Valley Community College, for engaging the services of the Sokolow Dance Foundation for the fifth consecutive year.  On November 20 & 27, 2006, the students of the NVCC Dance Ensemble learned sections of Dreams as part of the Performance Initiative Residency Program.  Sokolow Now! arrived November 29th for extensive joint rehearsals of this Sokolow classic.  The audience was in awe of the special performance of Dreams on December 1, 2006, which was beautifully lit and brilliantly performed together by the NVCC Dance Ensemble and Sokolow Now!

“The experience you have given my students is priceless.  Thank you for gracing our stage with such powerful work.”
Elena Rusnak, Dance Director ~ Naugatuck Valley Community College, CT


American Spirit Dance Ensemble in Poem
Photo: unknown

Two new Sokolow etudes were created for the American Spirit Ensemble Dancers, a youth company based at the American Academy of Dance, Mansfield, MA, which is under the artistic leadership of Stephanie Moy. The etudes were presented in Franklin, MA and Providence, RI at regional performances that showcased local youth companies.  Audiences were impressed by these young dancers’ mature and sensitive performances.

Sokolow Now! company member Amy Taravella presented a solo concert in her hometown of Buffalo, NY on July 26, 2006.  Anna Sokolow’s Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, was the highlight of this evening titled “Passion and Purpose”.

Kathy Hassinger Dance Company presented an evening of original choreography by Artistic Director Ms Hassinger and works by master choreographers Jose Limon, Donald McKayle and Anna Sokolow at the Cambridge Multi-Cultural Arts Center, Boston, MA on December 8 & 9, 2006.  Company member Carol Cheug performed The Pond and The Cage, an excerpt from Sokolow’s Scenes From the Music of Charles Ives.  Kudos to Ms Cheug for her powerful and dynamic performance of this Sokolow gem.

Sokolow Now! in A Short Lecture and Demonstration on the Evolution of Ragtime
Photo: Ron Williams

Artistic Director Gwendolyn Bye and her company Dancefusion celebrated their 20th anniversary with a series of concerts at the Annenberg Center, Philadelphia, PA on February 9 & 10, 2007.  Sokolow Now! company members Suellen Haag and Joseph Cicala returned to their hometown as guest artists to perform Sokolow’s whimsical A Short Lecture and Demonstration on the Evolution of Ragtime.  The audience appreciated and enjoyed this humorous satire on the development of social dancing from the 1900’s to the 1930’s.

“The dancing was of high caliber; the choreography came from trusted sources.”
Ellen Dunkel ~ Philadelphia Inquirer. PA