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Nov. 1, 2011
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SRU hosts cultural exchange with top Chinese dancers

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – A comprehensive cultural interaction and exchange with China will occur Nov. 14 at Slippery Rock University. The Beijing Dance Company’s American World Tour is making a stop to offer two master classes, a lecture and question-and-answer, offering students valuable exposure to the magic and mystery of China’s top dancers.
      “We chose SRU for an educational exchange because, for a school of its size, it has an extraordinary dance program with a lot of interest and a great faculty,” said Robert Russo, a producer and spokesman for the Beijing Dance Co. “The training at SRU is quite extraordinary, and we wanted to reach out.”
     The 50-dancer company, housed at the famed Beijing Dance Academy, begins its U.S. tour Nov. 12 in Boston and will perform Nov. 15 in Pittsburgh. The company is offering two private sessions, at SRU and the Boston Conservancy.
       Ten Chinese dancers will lead intermediate and advanced master classes for more than 80 dance majors and minors in SRU’s Pearl K. Stoner Instructional Complex. Chinese dancers will give a general demonstration of their traditional and cutting-edge works from 1:40-1:55 p.m., with a question and answer at 3:30 p.m.
        SRU’s College of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts is sponsoring 30 students to attend the company’s Pittsburgh concert.
       “The main goal of this exchange is bringing Chinese and American dancers together in one room and providing them with the space to interact with each other through movement and conversation,” said Melissa Teodoro, SRU assistant professor of dance. “It will be challenging for them to communicate through words, but we are certain they will have no problem conversing in the language that they both have in common – dance.”
     SRU understands the importance of China to the world economy, as well as educational and employment opportunities. The University sponsors a Modern China Center on campus and has approved exchange agreements with highs schools in China looking to send students to SRU for their undergraduate college education.
      Zach Bergfelt, an SRU dance major from Cranberry, said he is excited about seeing the versatility of the Chinese dancers.
     “I enjoy learning different styles and techniques from different cultures,” he said. “It broadens peoples’ horizons and lets a person see dance steps but the culture within them. It lets people know that there are other types of dance throughout the world.”
         Bergfelt said he plans to move to California after graduating from SRU in May to pursue a career in modern dance.
        “Our dance department is a very good department,” he said. “It is diverse in the ways of the teaching styles and techniques of our professors, in which they allow us to grow individually as dancers. Our department is not only based on technique but also dance education, the classes that we have to take really lets us develop ourselves into artists.  We receive multiple master classes which helps broaden and perfect our technique so we can have at least the basic knowledge of all dance forms when going out to pursue dance careers.”
      Amber Adams, a dance major from Aston, said interaction with outside dancers is beneficial for her education in the field.
      It is important to value all art and take in as much information as we can, especially during our education. An international dance company can open our eyes to the whole world and dance as a global art form. I also think that, as students, we need to take advantage of Slippery Rock's wonderful program because we will not have these opportunities after graduation. When viewing dance companies, dancers must stay open-minded because all choreography can help educate and inspire.
     Adams said she hopes to perform with a modern company and dance all around the world after graduation. “The dance program is very strong here,” she said. “Slippery Rock University educates dancers in more ways than one; mentally, physically and emotionally. The program prepares you for performance, choreography and teaching. This wide variety of classes allows students to grow and become versatile dancers all around.”
   Founded in 1987, the Beijing Dance Co. presents a program of traditional Chinese dance with bold, new choreography. All of its dancers were trained at the Beijing Dance Academy, China’s preeminent school of dance.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.