Walla Walla Dance Festival to take stage at Cordiner Hall

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The newest arts festival to be introduced to Walla Walla will take the stage Friday at Whitman College's Cordiner Hall.

The Walla Walla Dance Festival will feature a host of top professional performers who will explore the full range of dance from classical ballet to hip hop to American theater and beyond. Performers will include principal dancers from the Oregon Ballet Theater, the Eugene Ballet Company and Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater.

Two other stars taking the the stage Friday will be Walla Walla native Peter De Grasse, a soloist with Staatstheater Darmstadt, Germany, and wife Allie Keppel, a professional dancer who is also a summer Dance Lab faculty instructor.

Along with the dancers, the event's artistic directors, John Passafiume and Lydia Tetzlaff, have driven cross-country with their 2-month-old, August, to direct the festival, said Jackie Wood, president of the festival's board of directors. Passafiume is recognized as one of the leading choreographers working in New York City, and Tetzlaff, who has an extensive background in professional dance, teaches ballet, contemporary and modern dance to students in New York City, as well as nationally and internationally.

As a run-up to Friday's performance, Passafiume, Tetzlaff, De Grasse and Keppel hosted a rehearsal last weekend at the Power House Theatre in Walla Walla. The free event drew a crowd of about 150 people who were treated to demonstrations by the dancers plus a performance by a group of apprentice students with the Summer Dance Lab.

Passafiume and Tetzlaff also talked about how the Summer Dance Festival is rooted in the 41-year-old Summer Dance Lab at Whitman College, which provides intensive training for young dancers from across the nation who aspire to become professionals. But while the dance lab is aimed at teaching, the Summer Dance Festival aims to become an annual event bringing a wide array of performances by professional artists to Walla Walla.

"So we're making July the dance month," Tetzlaff said.

When and where

7 p.m. Friday at Cordiner Hall, Whitman College. Tickets are available at Whitman College bookstore, Earthlight Books and at the door. Prices are $20 adult, $10 senior and students and $40 for families (includes two adults and up to three children.)

Program of events

• Almost Mozart - Choreographed by Kudelka, music by Mozart, performed by Brett Joseph Bauer and Alison Lynn Roper, principal dancers with the Oregon Ballet Theater.

• World Premiere - Choreographed by Anne Mueller, preformed by two principal dancers with the Oregon Ballet Theater and apprentice students with the Whitman College Summer Dance Lab.

• Giselle, Act 2 Pas De Deux - Choreographed by Petipa, music by Aldophe Adam, performed by Suzanne Haag and Juan Carlos Amy-Cordero, principal dancers with the Eugene Ballet Company.

• Duet - Choreographed by Donald Byrd, to be performed by two principal dancers with Seattle's Spectrum Dance Theater.

• On the Edge - Choreographed by Igor Kirov with music by Vivaldi and performed by Peter DeGrasse, soloist with Staatstheater, Darmstadt, Germany, and Summer Dance Lab faculty member Allie Keppel.

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