General Info > News Releases > Archived Releases 2007-08 > 2008-04-22: 7th Annual Spring Dance Festival


MENDOCINO COLLEGE, 1000 Hensley Creek Road, Ukiah, CA 95482

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Mendocino College 7th Annual Spring Dance Festival Celebrates Dance and Diversity

Ukiah, CA  Jazz, hip hop, contemporary, ballet, tap, Mexican Folkloric, Middle Eastern, Afro-Cuban and more – just a handful of dance forms that will delight those who attend Mendocino College’s Spring Dance Festival on Friday and Saturday, May 2 & 3 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, May 4 at 2:00 PM in the Mendocino College Center Theatre.

“The Mendocino College Spring Dance Festival has grown and has become a celebrated traditional community event” reports Leslie Saxon West, Director of Dance at Mendocino College.  “Last years performance featured about 180 dancers and we expect about the same number this year.  This celebration through dance celebrates a form of art that goes beyond boundaries, uniting people from every walk of life all over the world.”

A new addition to this year’s performance is the fusion of circus arts and dance.  One segment of the show will consist of three dances; a solo by Sarah Hardy who will elegantly hang and dance from long pieces of silk which hang from above. “The silks themselves carry such beauty that it is a wonderful and inspiring process to work with them.  I have enjoyed the many challenges they present as an aerial apparatus, and love every step of the process” says Hardy.  Sarah will also present a duet with Gilly Platt performed with glowing poi balls.  Poi consists of manipulations with balls and ropes, held in the hands and swung in various circular patterns.  It originated with the Maori people of New Zealand. The third dance in this fusion triad is a colorful unicycle duet performed by Maria Frei and Arielle Gitlin to music by Cirque du Soleil.  “The vocabulary for dance is infinite, and these days dancers and choreographers are looking for ways to bring different forms of movement together” states Saxon West.

Dances from all over the world will also be highlighted.  Afro-Cuban dancer, Erika Smallen, who will be teaching Afro-Cuban dance at the college in the fall, will be performing a solo called “Chango.”  Smallen explains that Chango was typically danced by men in its traditional form in Cuba, but as a woman she feels connected to the fiery strength this deity projects.  Another female solo will be presented by Michelle Berger who will perform another fusion piece, “Rakshasa” which combines two Indian dance forms;  Bhangra, a warriors dance from Northern India and Kathak temple dance.  Students from Janice Re’s Middle Eastern dance class will perform “Deep Believe” and “Elama.”  Additionally, many Mexican Folkloric Dances will be presented by students of Juvenal Vasquez.  

Many traditional Western theatrical and social dances will also be presented.  Social dancer and dance instructor Eddie Vedolla will be performing a duet with his dance partner Blair Carlson, in “Swayin’ and Swingin” a night club two step and West Coast swing dance.  College dance instructor Bernadette Alverio has choreographed three Jazz dances; one with an African flavor and one to a popular show tune from the musical “Chicago” - “All That Jazz.”  Several contemporary ballets will be presented by students of Kirsten Turner and Lynlee Towne.  Turners’s dances will be accompanied by original music composed by local musician, Gabriel Frey.  Additionally, Maria Monti’s tap dance class will be performing two tap numbers.  Hip Hop dancers will appear in several dances.  Hip hop instructor, Gabriel Francisco, who teaches hip hop dance around the world, has choreographed “Style Is King” with several advanced dancers, many of whom come from Sonoma County to take his classes at Mendocino College.

Other featured choreographers are students who took a dance performance class focusing on how to make dances.  Students Miriam McNamara, Ryan Johnson, Jessica Flynn, Amelia Bernard and Christine Boyd are among these talented students and performers.

All tickets are $5 and may be purchased in advance at the Mendocino College Bookstore and the Mendocino Book Company in Ukiah.  Tickets may also be ordered in advance by calling 707 468-3079.  Tickets may also be purchased at the door if they are available.

A listing of college activities is online at

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Created: April 24, 2008 @ 11:41 AM
Last Modified: April 24, 2008 @ 11:41 AM


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