Monday, March 21, 2011

Lula Washington Dance Theatre To Appear In Pullman

Sandwiched between tours of Russia and China, the Lula Washington Dance Theatre will visit the Palouse for a two day residency, which will include a public performance at Beasley Coliseum on Sunday, April 3rd at 3pm and two educational programs for area students on Monday, April 4th at Beasley and at Troy High School. The residency is sponsored by Festival Dance & Performing Arts with support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Western States Arts Federation, and local assistance from the Latah County Community Foundation and the Moscow Hotel.

In addition to its recent successful tour of Russia, the Los Angeles based company has danced in over 150 cities in the United States, as well as abroad in Germany, Spain, Kosovo, Mexico, and Canada. The Russian tour follows Lula Washington Dance Theatre’s 2009 performance at the International Book Fair in Guadalajara, Mexico, where some 1,500 viewers stood for an entire two-hour concert without an intermission, and then screamed for more when the dancing ended.

Company founder and director, Lula Washington is a much honored national dance treasure, who is fulfilling her vision of creating a dance company that performs the works of leading African American choreographers as well as her own pieces reflecting Black culture and history. Recently she received notice for her assistance in the movie “Avatar,” for which she created cultural/ritual movements including war scenes, hunting and large dance sequences for the motion capture technology.

Lula is admired as a teacher, leader, dancer, and choreographer with a very unique style and approach to dance. Stylistically, Lula fuses African and Afro-Haitian dance. She also incorporates the dance styles of gospel church, classical ballet, modern, street, theatrical, hip hop, while drawing from various ideas and issues. Her works have been praised by critics for their strong political and social commentary, as well as their avant-garde composition and their roots in African-American culture.

Prior to “Avatar”, Lula choreographed Disney’s The Little Mermaid movie. One of the songs that she choreographed, “Under The Sea”, won an Academy Award. Lula has been the subject of several nationally broadcast news stories including a PBS special that focused on her choreography for “Gospel Kwanzaa” – a blending of gospel and African dance in salute of the Christmas and Kwanzaa holidays.

In 1983, Lula established her own dance school that provides low cost and free dance classes to neighborhood children through an after school program called “I Do Dance, Not Drugs!” Remembering her own impoverished childhood, she wanted to make dance classes affordable for and accessible to children from low income neighborhoods, where her studio is based. Since then, the School has taught dance to over 45,000 inner-city students.

The April 3rd performance will present a wide spectrum of dance styles and themes, including the social commentary piece, “We Wore the Mask;” a jazz piece, “Thanks and Praises;” a high-spirited “Ode to the 60’s;” a tongue in cheek comment on contemporary culture, “WWW.Connections.2010;” and a breathtaking solo, “Angelitos Negros,” by legendary African American pioneer choreographer, Donald McKayle.

“We are thrilled by the opportunity to finally present this internationally acclaimed dance company for both public and educational programs,” said Festival Dance executive director, Cindy Barnhart. “We have been trying to bring them here for several years, and finally a northwest tour has come together.”

Tickets for the April 3rd matinee performance of Lula Washington Dance Theatre are available from Festival Dance office, Beasley Coliseum and TicketsWest outlets. Prices are $14 to $28, with discount for groups of 10 or more. WSU students will be admitted free.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lula Washington Dance Theatre

Lula Washington, award winning artistic director, who helped create the choreography for the Na’vi in James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar,” is bringing her internationally renowned dance company for its premier Great Performances appearance. Lula Washington Dance Theatre has performed from the Kennedy Center to the Olympics, and is popular for its dynamic, energetic dance that ranges from humor and fun to strong emotional themes of Black history. These terrific dancers are sure to delight area audiences with their signature blend of African, jazz, contemporary dance, ballet and hip-hop.

Call 1.800.325.7328 or 208.883.3267 for tickets! Visit for video.

WSU Students FREE!

 Tickets are $28-$14. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

58 Students Cast in The Princess and the Pea!

58 Students were cast at auditions at the Moscow High School Auditorium Monday, Feb. 28th at 4:00.

96 students participated in the audition. The audition was set up as a free theatre workshop, so even the students that weren’t cast in the show learned stage craft from the Missoula Children’s Theatre directors, Alea Figueroa and Rob Yoho.  It was a wonderful time!

Jack Frost: Jennifer Harrington, Prince Iceman: Hunter Gould, Storm King: Abe Foster, Snow Queen: Jamie Newsome, Glacierdom Phony Princesses: Amelia Steele, Adrianna Kauffman,

Leprechauns: Aidan Barnhart, Angela Paparazzo, Wesley Kirkland, Ariane Peterson

Princess Full Size: Victoria Gregory

Pea: Tara Petersen

King Size: Caleb Stucki

Queen Size: Helena Kirkland

Riverdom Phony Princesses: Kasancra Carston, Reese Miller

Glacierdom Citizens: Yvette Bonney, Nadine Abdel-Rahim, Susanna Fender, Megan Brown, Maggie Daqwkins, Lydia Williams, Brynlee Pupunu Laura Kirkland, Katherine Allen, Cary Jeffrey, Elijah Altman

Riverdom Citizens: Hayley Knott, Samantha Allen, Colin Walker, Alli McIlroy, Hannah Heaton, Marissa Weir, Patrick Robichaud, Isaac Falen, Simone Wulfhorst, Mariah Suquet, Kaylee Mordhorst

Dust Bunnies: McKae Sorenson, Madison Bellknap, Madeline Withrich, Mya Tyson, Amelia Black, Corey Mordhorst, Kenna Pupunu, Emmett Brooks, Rebecca Kirkland, Maddei Lester, Shafer Dickus, Michael Bellmore, Ashlyn Walker, Dillon terry, Ali Terry, Geneva Gregory, Kalena Suquet.

The pianist is Natalie Williams. Helen Smith is the Special Festival Dance Assistant.

Festival Dance and Performing Arts brings Missoula Children’s Theatre to Moscow every year as part of their Youthreach programs that promote the performing arts and touch the lives of 5,000 students annually. Festival Dance’s Youthreach programs focus on cultural diversity, accessibility to the arts, nurturing local talent, community involvement and artistic excellence.

Alea and Rob arrived in Moscow Sunday evening with a set, lights, costumes, props and make-up, everything it takes to put on a play. They will be staying at the home of Patricia Nelson, who is a retired 2nd grade Moscow school teacher.

“As a retired teacher, I think it’s great that Festival Dance brings in the Missoula Children’s Theatre to provide a free theatre experience to local children, so I help out any way I can. Opening my home to the directors is a way for me to do my part,” says Patricia Nelson.

Alea and Rob rehearse the 58 students throughout the week for the 2 performances on Saturday, March 5th at 3:00 and 7:00. Ticket prices for the Saturday show are: adults $6, children & students $4 and can be purchased at the door or at Bookpeople in Moscow. All MCT shows are original adaptations of classic children’s stories and fairytales.

Also included in the residency are three enrichment workshops presented by the Tour Actor/Directors. These will take place in classrooms in Troy, and Moscow. Creativity, social skills, goal achievement, communication skills and self-esteem are all characteristics that are attained through the participation in this unique, educational project.

The Missoula Children's Theatre (MCT), the nation’s largest touring children’s theatre, has been touring extensively for 35 years now from Montana to Japan, and will visit nearly 1,300 communities this year with 47 teams of Tour Actor/Directors.