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Break, belly, and more
‘Dance Across the City’ returns

"Take a chance on dance," reads the motto on the "Dance Across the City" Web site, but those who attended last year’s inaugural version can attest that there’s little risk you won’t enjoy yourself at this Saturday’s "Dance Across the City 2005." The brainchild of the education departments of the Wang Center for the Performing Arts and the Bank of America Celebrity Series, and taking place at the Wang Theatre — on its stage and in its studios and lobby spaces — and across Tremont Street at the Shubert Theatre, this event offers classes, performances, and lecture demonstrations free to all comers. Participants from ages five to 80-plus will be hoppin’ and poppin’ in a breakdancing class with the Rainbow Tribe or flexing their belly muscles under the direction of the Goddess Dancing. Sign-up for the hour-long classes, which are scheduled from 9 a.m. through 6:30 p.m., begins at 8 a.m. at the Wang Theatre, but be advised that last year, lines formed early at the registration table. Many classes are suitable for beginners; others are aimed at more experienced dance students. The lecture demonstrations by members of the Seán Curran Company, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and several local companies are open to everyone, with no registration required.

The teachers and performers are a mix of out-of-towners and locals. Seán Curran, the New York–based Energizer bunny, is bringing six members of his company for a lecture demonstration at the Shubert (10 a.m.) and also leading a class in Body Percussion that’s based on his years in the Stomp troupe. "Since I knew there were so many classes, I thought I’d do something different," he explains, citing among his influences drummer Tigger Benford and Meredith Monk. "I’ve done classes like this with nearly a hundred students. I wear a mike on my head à la Madonna. The Tigger stuff is non-Western rhythms, fives and sevens. We’ll learn set rhythms and compose one of our own. We’ll also sing. As a dancer, you have to learn to think like a composer."

"Dance Across the City" grew out of conversations between Anne Norton, who heads the education department for the Wang Center, and her counterpart at the Celebrity Series, Suzanne Wilson. "We wanted to be involved with the [Celebrity Series’s] Dance Series — the companies that come to Boston to perform each year — beyond school residencies," Norton says. "We wanted to access the entire community. We decided to put all our energies into one big day. Last year was the first and a huge success, attracting more than 2000 participants. We even had several families come Friday night and stay at nearby hotels."

The out-of-town artists for the event include Kirvin Boyd, a graduate of the Boston Arts Academy and currently a member of the Alvin Ailey troupe, plus performers and teachers from the Paul Taylor, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, and Mark Morris companies. The locals include representatives from Boston Ballet, Chu Ling Dance Academy, Dance Collective, Impulse, O’Shea Chaplin Academy of Irish Dance, and the Tango Society of Boston.

"Dance Across the City" takes place this Saturday, January 8, from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Wang Theatre, 270 Tremont Street, and the Shubert Theatre, 265 Tremont Street, in the Theater District. Registration for classes begins at 8 a.m.; classes begin at 9, lecture demonstrations at 10. For information and complete schedules, call (617) 532-1263, or visit www.danceacrossthecity.org

Issue Date: January 7 - 13, 2005
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