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West Virginia Dance Festival to be held at the Cultural Center this weekend

Ken Alan, Ashley Blair Fitzgerald and Darren Gibson will perform as guest artists at the 7 p.m. programs on Friday, April 29, and Saturday, April 30, in the Cultural Center’s Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater when the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History presents the 2005 West Virginia Dance Festival. This year marks the 24th year of the event.

Alan has appeared in the Broadway and national touring companies’ Tony Award-winning musical Fosse, as well as the Dance in America television presentation of From Broadway: Fosse with Ben Vereen and Ann Reinking for A&E-TV. He also has appeared in the touring shows of Chicago and Grease. He has been a guest teacher at Steps on Broadway and The Broadway Dance Center in New York City. Through his apprenticeship at the Broadway Theatre Project of Tampa, where he is now a resident faculty member, Alan has worked with Gwen Verdon, Gregory Hines, Tommy Tune, John Kander, John Parks, Jeff Calhoun, Chet Walker and Ronnie De Marco. In 2003 he made his directorial and choreographic debut with the Show Palace Dinner Theatre’s production of Chicago, breaking all previous ticket sale records, enjoying an extended run, and earning outstanding reviews.

Fitzgerald has studied dance at the Joffrey Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensives, the Ballet Royale Academy and Company, the Broadway Theatre Project with Ann Reinking and at the Boston Conservatory. She also has taken classes in acting from Ben Vereen, Neil Stewart, James Naughton, Ron Perreti and Juliet Dyle and voice lessons with Joan Lader, Dave Clemmons, Mary Walkley, Adrian Angel and Carol Yunkunis. Fitzgerald was the featured dancer and singer in The Look of Love, the featured dancer on Good Morning Tampa and featured singer in New York One. In addition, she has been a featured dancer and singer in regional, national and international tours of Fosse, played Kim MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie, and portrayed Chastity in Anything Goes.

Gibson began his ballet training at age 10 with The New Ballet School, an associate school of Feld Ballets in New York. He was the first student from the school to join the company, now known as Ballet Tech, serving as ballet master for seven years and dancing more than 12 ballets created for him. As a featured performer in both the New York Shakespeare Festival production and the Broadway revival of On the Town, he danced the “Lonely Town” pas de deux and acted as dance captain. He again played the dual role of featured performer/dance captain in the National and European Tours of the musical Fosse, where he had the opportunity of working directly with Ann Reinking, Debra McWaters and Gwen Verdon. He has staged ballets for Richmond Ballet and Boston Ballet and assisted Reinking on an original ballet for American Ballet Theater as well as the Broadway production of The Look of Love. He was last seen on Broadway in Twyla Tharp’s Movin’ Out.

The festival runs April 29-May 1. Two nights of performances, beginning on Friday, April 29, at 7 p.m., will showcase the talent of West Virginia dancers who come to perform and take classes from the nationally acclaimed festival faculty. The Friday and Saturday night performances will feature 13 West Virginia dance groups as well as two dances by the guest artists.

Both evening performances are free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis; seating is limited. A schedule of both concerts is attached.

The West Virginia Dance Festival presents dance professionals leading workshops and classes, performance situations and a focus on dance as an art form. Thirty dance groups consisting of more than 275 dancers will participate in this year’s festival. Classes begin on Friday, April 29, and continue throughout the three-day festival.

For more information about the 2005 West Virginia Dance Festival or other programs of the Department of Arts, Culture and History, call (304) 558-0162.

The West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Department of Arts, Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

2005 West Virginia Dance Festival Performers

Friday, April 29, 2005 Performing Groups
(in order of appearance)

JADCO Contemporary Dance Company
January Johnson Wolfe, director, Charleston

The Art Center School of Dance
Ella Hay, director, Huntington

Capital High School
A. Michelle Legg, director, Charleston

Jazzfest Ensemble
Ginny Walls, director, Lewisburg

Oglebay Institute School of Dance
Cheryl Pompeo, director, Wheeling

Trillium Performing Arts Collective
Carli Mareneck, director, Lewisburg

Huntington Dance Theatre
Laura Finlay, director, Huntington

Guest Artists
Ken Alan, Ashley B. Fitzgerald and Darren Gibson

Friends of Culture and History Scholarship Winner
Whitley Saffron

Princeton Dance Studio
Janis Gunnoe, director, Princeton

Augusta Youth Ballet Company
Nina Scattaregia, director, Buckhannon

Momentum Center for the Arts
Jamie J. Kinney, director, Clarksburg

Guest Artists
Ken Alan, Ashley B. Fitzgerald and Darren Gibson

Pineville Dance Theater
Toneta Akers-Toler, director, Beckley

Dance Theatre School
Jerry Rose, director, Beckley

Saturday, April 30, 2005 Performing Groups
(in order of appearance)

Mid Ohio Valley Ballet Company
Suzy Gunter, director, Parkersburg

Morgantown Dance Studio
Desiree Witt/Liz Finklea, directors, Morgantown

Trillium Performing Youth
Carli Mareneck, director, Lewisburg

Concord Dance Ensemble
Sara Markum, director, Athens

Charleston Ballet
Kim R. Pauley, director, Charleston

feMo Dance Theatre
Bess Park Reynolds, director, Buckhannon

River City Youth Ballet
Michelle Raider, director, Elkview

Guest Artists
Ken Alan, Ashley B. Fitzgerald and Darren Gibson

Beckley Dance Theatre
Jerry Rose, director, Beckley

Greenbrier Dance Theatre Company
Virginia Walls, director, Lewisburg

West Virginia Wesleyan Dance Company
Bess Park Reynolds, director, Buckhannon

Alchemy Dance Project
Angela Dennis, director, Morgantown

Guest Artists
Ken Alan, Ashley B. Fitzgerald and Darren Gibson

Schrader Youth Ballet
Velma Schrader, director, Parkersburg

West Virginia Dance Company
Toneta Akers-Toler/Donald Laney, directors, Beckley