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Two students dance in the fall 2017 Richland College production of "Thriller" Richland College Dance Program Presents ‘Utopia’ Spring Dance Concert

The Richland College dance program will transport audiences into a fantastical world of myth and wonder when it presents its spring dance concert, “Utopia,” with performances at 12:30 and 7:30 p.m. April 13.

Directed by Richland College dance director Gina Sawyer, “Utopia” will feature students, faculty members and guest performers in choreography and performance roles, with dance genres including contemporary modern, jazz, tap and hip-hop.

“We hope to make imaginations bubble with excitement in the unexpected land of ‘Utopia,’ where our audience will experience hope, joy and fantasy right along with the performers,” said Sawyer. “This dance performance seeks to take viewers to a place of innovative art-making where dreams come true.”

Part of the performance will be the short film “In Memoriam,” dedicated to celebrating the creative life of the late Darrell Cleveland, a professional dancer, choreographer and instructor who left a lasting influence on the Dallas-Fort Worth dance community, particularly at Richland College, where he was a regular guest performer in dance productions. With performance and choreography clips interposed with commentary about Cleveland from current and former Richland College students, the film remembers an outstanding member of the local community and hopes to inspire others to make a positive impact within their own spheres of influence.

Dance choreography and film work will include original pieces by Sawyer, Christie Bondade, Cheryl Callon, Cooper Delgado, Lauren Schieffer Holley and Terrance M. Johnson. Featured guest performers include 8&1 Dance Company, directed by Jill S. Rucci, and Choreo Records Tap Company, directed by Keira Leverton.

Jill S. Rucci, founder and artistic director of 8&1 Dance Company, moved to Texas from New York City after being a principal dancer and guest choreographer for Vissi Dance Theater for more than 10 years. Her professional experience has taken her to places including Boston, Los Angeles and Olbia, Italy. For six seasons now, Rucci has grown 8&1 DALLAS into a successful dance company, creating innovative and refreshing works, and in January 2018 she announced the expansion of the 8&1 Dance Company to include 8&1 EAST, to be based in Providence, RI.

Kiera Leverton comes from a dance background—her grandfather was Buster Cooper, an influential tap dancer who founded the dance program at the Hockaday School. Much of her exposure to the tap community was through tap festivals such as the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and the Third Coast Rhythm Project, and she trained with a variety of professionals, including Gregory Hines and Yuji Uragami. Leverton has performed worldwide at venues such as Radio City Music Hall and Wembley Stadium in London.

The Richland College dance program provides a challenging teaching and learning environment for students that values diversity and develops artistic excellence, fosters creative and collaborative practices and encourages personal agency and social responsibility in appreciating dance.

“Utopia” is free and open to the public in the Fannin Performance Hall on the east side of the Richland College campus. Richland College is located at 12800 Abrams Road. Additional information is available at richlandcollege.edu/dance.