UI Dancers in Company gives students a taste of professional life


Intense routines that give you blisters. Ten-hour days, every day. A life of continually perfecting your every move. These can be the reality of a professional dancer’s life.

The UI’s Dancers in Company, a pre-professional dance troupe, aims to show select college dancers what it would be like to dedicate their lives to dance post-graduation. This weekend, the Dancers in Company will kick off its 2009 tour with a home performance today through Saturday at 8 p.m. in North Hall’s Space/Place. Tickets for the performances sell out quickly; they can be purchased through the University Box Office, located on the IMU first floor.

Dancers in Company exists “to give students a closer taste of what is it like to be on tour in a more professional setting,” said Eloy Barragán, a UI associate professor and codirector of Dancers in Company. Barragán and UI Associate Professor of dance Deanna Carter teamed up this year to direct the company.

Both have extensive backgrounds in dance. Carter spent many years working as a professional choreographer in Europe, and Barragán has danced with numerous professional companies, including the Royal Academy of Dance in London.

Dancers in Company comprises 11 undergraduate students and one graduate student, who were all chosen through auditions earlier this year.

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Not every UI dancer wants to be in the company because of its demanding hours, but many join because they see it as a great opportunity to help build their careers.

“It’s pretty remarkable how much work we have to do over the spring,” Carter said. “Most of our dancers are also double majors, so they’re really pretty admirable students.”

Most of the students in the group are taking 15 to 18 credit hours this semester, she said, and dancers are enrolled in courses in dance and other subjects.

This year, Dancers in Company will take its performances abroad for the first time. The group will travel to the Universidad de las Américas in Puebla, Mexico, for a weeklong visit. While there, the dancers will take classes with the Mexican university’s dance department and perform two concerts.

The directors hope the tour to Mexico will help turn the company’s tour into an international program.

“That’s our goal, to become an international company and create exchanges with other countries,” Barragán said.

Aside from the trip to Mexico during spring break, the dancers will tour Iowa during the spring. The UI students will teach kids about the art of dance and perform concerts for audiences of all ages.

The dance department has faculty members who are still connected to the professional dance community, UI dancers can gain experiences they otherwise might have missed, Carter said.

This year, professional choreographers created dance pieces specifically for those in Dancers in Company. Two of the professionals, Thaddeus Davis and Gina Patterson, were featured in Dance Magazine’s “25 To Watch in the World.” Carter and Barragán will also have original work featured in the tour.

“The caliber of guests that we’re bringing in rivals what most companies have,” Carter said.

Because of the guests’ varying backgrounds, Barragán said, the tour is a great opportunity for the audience and dancers to learn new genres of dance.

“It’s one of our strongest programs of the season,” Carter said.

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