General Info > News Releases > Archived Releases 2008-09 > 2009-04-21: MC 8th Annual Spring Dance Festival


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

Contact:     Lisa Lunde, Public Information & Marketing Assistant
                 T: 707-468-3063, Fax: 707-468-3008, Email:

File:   NR-MC 8th Annual Spring Dance Festival
Photo:  NR-Dancer Xiao Hui Lau performs Middle Eastern dance

Mendocino College’s 8th  Annual Spring Dance Festival
celebrating National Dance Week

Mendocino College’s Spring Dance Festival will be a true celebration of the diversity of dance this year.  Contemporary dance, jazz, hip hop, ballet, tap, Mexican Folkloric, Capoeira, Afro-Cuban, Middle Eastern, Indian Bhangra, Flamenco, and more – just a handful of dance forms that will delight those who attend this event on Friday and Saturday, May 1 & 2 at 7:30 PM and Sunday, May 3 at 2:00 PM in the Mendocino College Center Theatre.

“The Mendocino College Spring Dance Festival has grown and has become a celebrated tradition in our community,” reports Leslie Saxon West, Director of Dance at Mendocino College.  “This dance event celebrates a form of art that goes beyond boundaries, uniting people from every walk of life all over the world.”
The dances that will be presented at the festival represent the variety of dance classes that are offered at Mendocino College.  “We are proud to present several forms of world dance that have never been performed in the festival,” says Saxon West. One of these forms is Bhangra, a fast paced, wild and festive dance of the Punjabi in Northern India, performed as a community event to celebrate life, nature and personal identity.  Bhangra has become particularly popular in the U.S. recently; those who saw the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” will recognize the dance, which was performed at the end of this Oscar winning movie.  College Bhangra instructor Michelle Berger, who will be performing “The Bhangra Chai High” with her students, will also be performing a solo dance, “Opa Cupa” a Kheliben dance of the Romani or gypsy people, who trace their lineage all the way back to ancient India, Egypt and Europe.
Also new to the stage this year is a dance of Brazilian and African origin, Capoeira.  Capoeira Instructor Amunka Davila explains that “the piece traces the roots of Capoeira through the African slave trade, the great crossing of the ocean in the floating coffins of death, the struggle against slavery in the new world, and the final celebration of freedom in what Capoeira is today.”  Capoeira combines music, dance and martial arts.
College dance students and flamenco dancers Hinda Darner and Susan Byers will be performing a Sevillana, a traditional folk dance performed by couples at fiestas or ferias, in Spain.   Additionally, Darner will perform a flamenco solo choreographed by world renowned choreographer and dancer, La Tania, who was a resident of Willits for many years.
Afro-Cuban dance has become very popular at the college recently, with Erika Smallen at the helm as instructor and choreographer.  Erika has choreographed a dance that begins with Ogun, the Afro-Cuban Orisha of war, iron and metal.  Oshun, Orisha of love and sensuality, comes to entice Ogun, and then rebuffs him.  The piece ends with Comparsa, also known as Conga, a Cuban carnival dance. The class has incorporated some Orisha and Comparsa songs into the dance, as well as live drumming so the audience can get a more authentic sense of the music and dance of Cuba.

Mexican Folkloric Dance Instructor Juvenal Vasquez and his students will be performing three dances this year; El Revolcadero, a festive cowboy dance that consists of many turns and light footwork, Las Calabasas, a flirtatious dance that is upbeat and energetic, and El Tranchete, which begins with traditional Mexican mariachi music and is danced by men only.
Many traditional Western theatrical and social dances will also be presented.  Bernadette Alverio, popular jazz and hip hop instructor, has choreographed two large group hip hop dances and three jazz and lyrical pieces for the performance.  Bernadette has danced in the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre summer and certificate programs and the acclaimed Bates Dance Festival.  Bernadette’s love for dance and movement inspired her to open the nonprofit dance school, Expressive Motion, in Lake County and direct the Expressive Motion Dance Company, headquartered in Sonoma County.
Audience members will also be treated to an upbeat tap dance choreographed by instructor Maria Monti, a modern ballet choreographed by Kirsten Turner, two Middle Eastern dances choreographed by Janice Re, a contemporary Modern dance inspired by recent travel to China by Leslie Saxon West,  an upbeat Latin dance choreographed by Eddie Vedolla, Jr., and student works by Miriam McNamara, Joni Wellington, Kristy Tucker, Christine Boyd and Callie Dailey.  Also, SPACE’s Feat of Freedom Dance Company, under the direction of Sandy Metzler, will be performing.
All tickets for the dance festival 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 21, 2009 @ 01:18 PM
Last Modified: May 08, 2009 @ 08:26 AM


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