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Commentary: St. Louis Boasts First-rate Dance By Local, National Companies

Nancy Kranzberg

When I think of Dance St. Louis, I think of the 50 year-old organization which has brought the finest dance in the world to St. Louis. The organization evolved into having excellent dance education programs and started concentrating on helping to grow the competency of local dance companies.

Now there are outstanding local dance companies some of which are respected on a national level. These companies present not only classical ballet and modern dance, but hip-hop and movement of all sorts.

Dance had become so popular that national troupes perform all over the bi-state region at places such as Lindenwood in St. Charles and the Hettenhausen in Lebanon, Illinois.

I recently heard Erin Prange of Big Muddy Dance Company speak at the Monday Noon Series at UMSL. She talked about Dance having new ways of bringing people together and almost speaking through movement. Dance artists use their discipline to communicate and she had dancers there to prove it. The troupe works with seniors in a program called "Senior Embrace" and has other programs for those less served.

Big Muddy has also collaborated with Opera Theatre and The Bach Society. All this and the company still produces a full season

Dawn Karlovsy is the founder and artistic director of Karlovsky and Company Dance, a contemporary modern dance company dedicated to exploring and nurturing the art of dance with innovative choreography that illuminates the human experience. Her approach to choreography is exploratory and inventive, tapping into the complexities of the human spirit. Karlovsy's work regularly includes collaboration with other artists from a variety of disciplines including music, visual art, poetry, theater and dance, and developing dance for the camera. She has been commissioned to create and perform dances all over the country and even abroad.

MADCO, UMSL's professional dance troupe in residence, performs at the Touhill and has a strong commitment to dance education. Washington University's Performing Arts Department brings in wonderful dance troupes from all over the world.

Gen Horiuchi, formerly a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet is the artistic director of St. Louis Ballet which continues to present classical ballet at its finest with many modern twists.

And of course COCA Dance has been the pride and joy of COCA, the Center for Creative Arts, for many years. According to Alison Ferring, patron of the arts, "Alvin Ailey's loss is St .Louis's gain. "Antonio Douthit-Boyd and Kirvin Douthit-Boyd who were married in 2013 are the co-directors of COCA Dance. Antonio actually trained at COCA before becoming a principal dancer with Alvin Ailey.

The Ashleyliane Dance Company is a breath of fresh air. The company incorporates hip hop, modern, contemporary and jazz dance in compelling works. Ashley Tate, artistic director of the company, says, "ADC is a fusion of formal training in these different genres with urban street dance. We believe through blending and experimentation, dance reaches new audiences and the individual's appreciation for other forms of dance grows."

But back to Dance St. Louis, the organization still brings in tried and true blockbusters such as Pilobolus, but this year featured such groups as "WEWOLF" who push boundaries in their work yet at the same time inspire people worldwide with their creativity. Coming this spring is Dance St. Louis '"Spring to Dance" which features 30 companies from across the country at the Touhill.

This is just a taste of what's going on in the dance world in our town. St Louis can hold its head high in what it produces and presents to our fair citizens.


Nancy Kranzberg has been involved in the arts community for more than thirty years on numerous arts related boards.