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Bruce Wood Dance Company To Perform for Artists Series

RELEASED: April 20, 2005

Bruce Wood Dance CompanyEAU CLAIRE — The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire will present the Bruce Wood Dance Company on Tuesday, May 3. The special Artists Series performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. at The State: Regional Arts Center in downtown Eau Claire.

The young Texas-based dance company was established in 1996 as a showcase for the acclaimed choreography of Bruce Wood, the company's artistic director. In 1997 the company presented its first complete season in one of the country's finest venues, Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. Now in its eighth season, the company of eight dancers has been chosen to be on the Texas Commission on the Arts Texas Touring Roster since 2000, and since 2002 has enjoyed national touring recognition. Wood has become a prolific choreographer, creating over 50 ballets for BWDC as well as for other dance companies, including Orlando Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater and Dallas Black Dance Theatre.

"Mr. Wood has a golden touch," wrote the Dallas Morning News. "He creates dances that have the power to delight and surprise. They pull you into a world of movement that seems as organic as the wind whipping a flag on the flagpole, birds swooping and diving, children turning cartwheels. He captures the ebb and flow, the snap and rebound, the surge of energy that characterizes the movement of all things, animate and inanimate. You never sense the effort."

The Artists Series program opens with Woods' "Echoes of Enchantment" (1999). The Dallas Morning News described the work as "a Cirque Du Soleil-ish drama of images performed to a composition by Randy Newman, Ennio Morricone and Benoit Justras. … Three couples swoon through the air, with the women tossed, lifted and carried as though they're bolts of silk. Two eerie figures in black homburgs and raincoats stroll on and off, one bearing an umbrella, the other a clutch of flowers. Yet for all the mystery and lush romanticism, the dance is spare, almost wispy, like a barely remembered dream."

"Follow Me" (2004), the second work on the program, was commissioned from Wood as a tribute to the United States Army Infantry. "Simply put, it's about the nobility of brotherhood," Wood says.

"Looking beyond the obvious, as usual, Wood did not create a military ballet but a ballet about the individuals in the military, transcending the controversy and divisiveness of current foreign policy and creating a moving exploration of sacrifice, honor and interdependence," wrote the Fort Worth Star-Telegram last November. "The vision was realized onstage by four male and two female dancers framed by five motionless, fatigue-clad soldiers, backed by emotional music by Michael Kamen from the television series 'Band of Brothers.' There wasn't a dry eye in Bass Hall at the end of this one, folks."

The program concludes with "Lovett!" (2000), a work Wood set to the music of fellow Texan Lyle Lovett.

"It's not a send-up of Texas swagger so much as a good-natured poke," wrote the Dallas Morning News. "Whether it's couples doing the two-step, or a line dance, or men groveling on their knees as the women prance off, the playful spirit has an edge that makes it hilarious and authentic."

Bruce Wood began his career at the age of 16 when he left his native Fort Worth on a full scholarship to New York's School of American Ballet under the legendary George Balanchine. After a brief engagement with the New York City Ballet, Wood refined his Balanchine training by dancing four years as a soloist with the San Francisco Ballet. At the age of 21, Wood joined Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal as a principal dancer, and for the next four years performed and taught all over the world. Returning to New York, he danced with the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and the Twyla Tharp Dance Company. In 1990, at the age of 30, he retired from dancing and moved home to Fort Worth.

In 1995 Wood was approached by a small dance company in Austin, Texas, to create a ballet for them. Having never choreographed before, he was apprehensive, but the resulting work amazed Austin's vibrant dance community. Wood began to assemble a corps of dancers that has come to be described as "outrageously haughty and downright sexy" (Los Angeles Times).

Tickets are $20 for reserved seating, $10 for general admission seating. Tickets are available at the Service Center counter in the east lobby of Davies Center. The Service Center is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Patrons may also charge their tickets to MasterCard or Visa when they order by phone. Call (715) 836-3727 — or, outside the immediate Eau Claire area, call toll-free (800) 949-UWEC. A $3 handling fee will be added to all telephone charge orders.

General admission tickets will be sold at the door.

Limited seating is available for an intimate dinner ($20 per person) with the company members at 7:30 p.m., Monday, May 2, in the Dulany Inn of Davies Center. Advance tickets are required and can be purchased at the Service Center.

The Artists Series is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin. Wisconsin Public Radio and Community Television have contributed generous promotional support. Best Western Trail Lodge & Suites Eau Claire (715-838-9989) at 3340 Mondovi Road is the exclusive accommodations partner for the Artists Series.

Funded by the students of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the Artists Series is administered by the Activities and Programs office.

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JS/NW

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