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Innovative Dance Company Sets UW-RF Residency

March 26, 1999

An innovative performance dance company that uses masks, puppets, stilts and stylized movement to create original pieces on themes of universal importance will take up residency at UW-River Falls April 26-30.

Hawaii's Monkey and the Waterfall Dance Theatre is the first professional company to be invited to work with students. Their work fuses Eastern and Western performance styles into an original and highly theatrical mix which combines exuberant humor with moments of powerful emotional gravity.

While in residence in River Falls, the members of the "Monkey and the Waterfall" will do presentations in classes, work with students on an original production titled "Exchanging Faces," and perform their signature piece, "The Monkey and the Waterfall."

The Monkey and the Waterfall residency will conclude with two performances on April 30 and May 1. They will take place at 8 p.m. in the Blanche Davis Theatre at the University of Wisconsin- River Falls. Tickets are $3 for the April 30 performance and $2 for the May 1 performance.

To order tickets or for more information, call 800/228-5423 or 715/425-3114.

A free preview of the company's work will take place on the front lawn outside the Hagestad Student Center on April 28.

According to Robin Murray, director of the University Theatre, "This is a very exciting opportunity for everyone-both students and the members of the River Falls community." She points out that the "work that the Monkey and the Waterfall does is very different in style and content from what we usually do. Everyone involved will have a unique opportunity to learn both about theatre and about cultural diversity through an artistic medium."

Many of the company's puppets will be available for display and manipulation. Meg Swanson, chair of the speech and theatre department, says "We are so delighted to welcome these interesting performers to campus. They have a great deal to give to all of us, and I know that it will be an excellent adventure for all involved."

At the heart of this innovative company are performers Ben Moffat and Yukie Shiroma. Shiroma was born in Hawaii but was introduced to modern dance as a student in San Francisco. She has studied Okinawan dance in the United States and Japan.

A Honolulu critic applauds her "amazingly fertile imagination..." A San Francisco reviewer described her as a "powerful artist with a great deal to communicate and a vast repertoire of techniques at her disposal."

Moffat became interested in masks and puppets while working with the Shoestring Theatre of Portland, Maine. He has studied Asian Theatre at the University of Hawaii where he performed in English language productions of Japanese kabuki and noh theatre, and in Chinese opera.

Moffat is the first foreign performer ever invited by the Chinese government to perform a traditional Chinese art form in the People's Republic of China. Critics have said he directs with a "respectful fusion of Eastern and Western theatrical styles."

The company has recently performed at the Theatre Artaud in San Francisco, the Universal Expo in Spain, the Indonesian Dance Festival and the Contemporary Museum of Honolulu. They received the Hawaii State Dance Council Choreographic Award in 1992.

The Monkey and the Waterfall residency is sponsored by the University Theatre, the Blanche Davis Guest Artist Fund and the River Falls Community Theatre.

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