‘Master Choreographers’ Dance Concert, Feb. 10-12, Displays Talents Of Acclaimed Choreographers, 40+ Dancers

Allentown, Pa. (Jan. 18, 2011) — Muhlenberg College will showcase world premiere dance works created by seven of the region’s most accomplished choreographers, in the College’s annual “Master Choreographers” dance concert, Feb. 10-12.

Featuring a diverse selection of styles and genres, ranging from classical ballet to jazz, tap, and modern dance, “Master Choreographers” also will showcase performances by more than 40 Muhlenberg dancers. The performance will take place on the Empie Theatre stage, in Muhlenberg’s Baker Center for the Arts.

“This concert is a spectacular evening of ballet, tap, jazz, and contemporary dance,” says Karen Dearborn, the director of dance for Muhlenberg’s Department of Theatre & Dance, and the artistic director for “Master Choreographers.” “We are fortunate to be showcasing new works by internationally acclaimed guest artists and faculty.”

This season’s “Master Choreographers” concert will feature works by: Charles O. Anderson, artistic director of the Philadelphia-based dance theatre X; Corrie Franz Cowart, co-artistic director of Co-Art Dance; Heidi Cruz-Austin, alumna of the Pennsylvania Ballet; Nicholas Leichter, director of Nicholas Leichter Dance; Shelley Oliver, director of Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers; Trinette Singleton, protege of ballet icon Robert Joffrey; and New York-based multidisciplinary performance artist Nicole Wolcott.

[Full biographies of the choreographers follow.]

“I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to work with such a talented group of professionals,” says Kelsey Griffith, a senior at Muhlenberg, who will perform in the concert, as well as serving as its production manager. “Working so closely with faculty and guest artists, we get to experience a deeply creative, artistically intense studio process. I’ve learned an incredible amount about the creative process of these choreographers.”

Performances of “Master Choreographers” will take place Feb. 10-12: Thursday, Feb. 10, at 8 p.m.; Friday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m.; and Saturday, Feb. 12, at 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for patrons 17 and under. Performances are in the Empie Theatre, in the Baker Center for the Arts, Muhlenberg College, 2400 Chew St., Allentown. Information and tickets are available at 484-664-3333 or muhlenberg.edu/dance.

Charles O. Anderson is artistic director of the Philadelphia-based dance company dance theatre X. Both as a solo artist and with dance theatre X, Anderson has presented his work nationally and internationally. His choreographic research has led to collaborations with international choreographers working in fusions of traditional dance forms and contemporary movement styles. In the fall of 2010, Anderson premiered his new evening-length work “World Headquarters,” inspired by the writings of late science fiction writer Octavia Butler. Recipient of numerous grants and awards, Anderson was most recently selected as one of 12 “Emerging Scholars” for 2011, by Diverse magazine. He is an associate professor of dance at Muhlenberg College and the director of the African American studies program.

Heidi Cruz-Austin is an alumna of the Pennsylvania Ballet, and she has danced featured roles in works by choreographers ranging from Alvin Ailey to George Balanchine. In addition to dancing with Pennsylvania Ballet, Cruz-Austin has performed with the Philadelphia-based company Ballet X and as a guest artist throughout the United States and Europe. As a choreographer, Cruz-Austin was a winner for the 2003 Ballet Builders showcase in New York City. She has been commissioned to create works for Franklin and Marshall College, Bryn Mawr College, Repertory Dance Theater, and Ballet D’errico, and she was a recipient of the 2004-2005 New Edge Residency at The Community Education Center of Philadelphia.

Corrie Franz Cowart has performed with the Mary Miller Dance Company, LABCO Dance, Minh Tran and Company, the Dance Theatre of Oregon, and the Pittsburgh Opera. She is also the co-artistic director of Co-Art Dance and has performed both nationally and internationally with Impact Productions’ “Dayuma,” and “The Masterpiece.” Cowart continues to perform and choreograph for her own company Co-Art Dance, a contemporary dance company she co-founded in 1997 with her husband Tim Cowart. Corrie is an assistant professor at Muhlenberg College, where she teaches modern, dance composition, and dance on camera.

Nicholas Leichter is the director of Nicholas Leichter Dance, for which he has created more than 25 works. He was a member of Ralph Lemon Company from 1993 to 1995, and has performed with the companies of Jennifer Muller, Ronald K. Brown, and others. Leichter has taught throughout the United States, at festivals in Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and Canada. He has been on faculty at Tisch School of the Arts and the American Dance Festival in Durham, New York, Russia, Korea, and most recently, Shanghai. Leichter and his company presented “The Whiz,” a reimagining of Broadway’s “The Wiz,” at the Zoellner Arts Center in January in conjunction with the Muhlenberg Dancers.

Shelley Oliver has more than 20 years experience as a professional tap dancer. She is a founding member of the noted dance ensemble “Manhattan Tap,” and she has toured extensively throughout Europe, China, the Caribbean, Canada and the United States, performing with such tap notables as Savion Glover, Jimmy Slide, Buster Brown and Chuck Green. She has conducted lecture demonstrations for Lincoln Center, New York City public schools, and universities throughout the United States. She teaches a comprehensive jazz tap program at Muhlenberg College and directs the Muhlenberg Jazztap Ensemble, providing community outreach programs in the Allentown area. Oliver’s piece will feature live musical accompaniment by the David Leonhardt Jazz Group.

Trinette Singleton is a protege of ballet icon Robert Joffrey and was on faculty at The Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, teaching until 2004. Singleton has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe in ballets by such notable choreographers as Joffrey, George Balanchine, John Cranko, Kurt Jooss, and Twyla Tharp. She was the first dancer to ever appear on the cover of a national news magazine — Time, in 1968. Currently, Singleton is co-artistic director of Repertory Dance Theatre in Allentown, and is on the faculty at DeSales University. Her original work “Capriccios” garnered the Outstanding Choreographer award at the semifinals of the Youth America Grand Prix, spring 2010.

Nicole Wolcott is a choreographer, teacher, and performance artist based in New York City. In 2003 Wolcott co-founded Keigwin + Company with Larry Keigwin and was the associate artistic director until 2010. Nicole has performed at the Metropolitan Opera House under the direction of Julie Taymor and Mark Dendy, worked with site-specific choreographer Noemie Lafrance, was a featured dancer in Doug Elkin’s original “Fraulein Maria,” appeared in music videos and concerts with Fischerspooner; and is a featured dancer in “Across the Universe,” an Oscar-nominated film by director Julie Taymor.

Artistic director Karen Dearborn has choreographed more than 70 works in concert, theater, and musical theater, including national tours of the Tony Award-winning National Theatre of the Deaf and several Equity theatres. She has provided choreography for the Muhlenberg theater productions of “Oklahoma!” “Urinetown,” and “West Side Story,” and Muhlenberg Summer Music Theatre productions of “The Sound of Music,” “The Who’s Tommy,” and “Oliver!” to name just a few. Dearborn is the founding director of Muhlenberg’s dance program. Her scholarly research has been published in the Journal of Dance Education, and she contributed an essay to the book “Performing Magic on the Western Stage.” She serves on the executive board of the American College Dance Festival Association.

Muhlenberg College is a liberal arts college of about 2,200 students in Allentown, Pa. The College offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in theater and dance. The Fiske Guide to Colleges lists both the theater and dance programs among the top small college programs in the United States. Muhlenberg is one of only eight colleges to be listed in Fiske for both theater and dance.