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WIU Theatre and Dance Presents Winter Danceworks Performance Dec. 7-10

December 1, 2017

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MACOMB, IL - The College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Department of Theatre and Dance will present its annual Winter DanceWorks performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 7-9 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 in Hainline Theatre.

WIU alumnus Karla Beltchenko will return to Western as a guest choreographer for the performances. Beltchenko holds an MFA (dance, choreography focus) from the Trinity Laban Conservatory, London, UK, and a bachelor's degree in social work (2007) from WIU.

Beltchenko is a contributor and teacher in the dance and fitness community. She has directed, choreographed and performed with some of the most renowned Chicago-based dance companies including, The Chicago Moving Company, The Humans, Mordine and Company and Hedwig Dances. She also had the opportunity to perform on the international stage throughout Europe and Japan. 

Her most recent artistic work, "The Collectors," an investigation combining movement and film, premiered in London in 2015, and had its Chicago premiere at Dance Shelter in 2016. Her choreography has also been presented in Chicago venues and abroad in the United Kingdom and Italy. Beltchenko was a recent presenter on the topic "The Narrative Body: Movement Explorations in the Cinematic Medium,"at the national Intersection Symposium Chicago, in May 2016, held at Columbia College Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art, presented by NET (Network of Ensemble Theatres) in partnership with CCC and the League of Chicago Theaters.  Beltchenko has also led classes throughout London and Chicago, and she continues to explore new ways to move, research, collaborate and create.

Beltchenko choreographed a piece titled "Reflections" for the WIU performance. It is an investigation into expectations of time, place and relationships. It explores the ideas of how expectations shape the way we see ourselves, how others see us and also how we are shaped based on societal expectations.

"This piece was adapted from three separate solos and reworked into a cohesive piece based on the strengths of each individual performer," said Beltchenko. "As a choreographer, I like to focus my efforts on bringing out each performer's authentic self and movement vocabulary."

Beltchenko added it was an "absolute pleasure" to work with the UDT and students in the WIU Deparment of Theatre and Dance.

"I was thrilled to be able to share my expertise on Laban moment analysis, modern dance technique and improvisational practices," she said. "In keeping with my theme on 'reflections,' being back at WIU gave me an opportunity to reflect on my experience as a student. Being a part of the University Dance Theatre was my most fond memory; UDT gave me a sense of community and family that I don't think I would have felt at a bigger state school."

Beltchenko said the artistic guidance and technical skills she gained at Western helped shape her into the performer and choreographer she is today.

"I was so pleased to see that the same community and artistic support is still in place for the dance and theatre students," she said. "I have no doubt this is due to the tireless efforts and dedication of the faculty of the Theatre and Dance department, especially Heidi Clemmens. I look forward to seeing this department thrive and grow in the future."

Other pieces which will be performed during the DanceWorks event include:

• "Defining Miracles," choreographed by WIU junior musical theatre major Matthew Henry, of McLean, IL, is about an abstract telling of a girl with cancer.

• "Papillion," (French for butterfly) choreographed by junior music major Marissha Devereueawax-Coates, of Rockford, IL, is loosely inspired by the opera "Madama Butterfly" and the play "M.Butterfly," by Asian American playwright David Henry Hwang.

• "Cut Off Your Nose..What?," choreographed by Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Heidi Clemmens, is about a quick and quirky look at stubbornness with a soaring soundtrack by Mendelssohn.

• "What Are You Looking At," choreographed by Theatre and Dance Instructor Lara Petrin, is about challenging the audience to think about what they are looking at during a performance, what they are focused on.

• "From the Ashes," choreographed by senior exercise science major, dance minor Andrea Abarca, of Moline, IL, is an athletic modern piece.

• "Grace," choreographed by junior musical theatre major Nissi Smith, of South Holland, IL, explores how being a Christian sometimes things get really hard, and we feel trapped in our struggles, but the grace of God is powerful and can get us through anything.

Tickets for Winter DanceWorks, $15 for the public and $13 for senior citizens, are on sale now through Hainline Box Office, online at, or by calling (309) 298-2900. Tickets are also available at the door and WIU students will be admitted free with valid student identification.

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