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Jeanne Ruddy Dance Presents Final Performance Series

Jeanne Ruddy photographed by Bob Emmott

Jeanne Ruddy Dance Presents Final Performance Series
Twelve Memorable Seasons Come to a Close May 10-12

In celebration of the 12 triumphant years of critically acclaimed world premieres, innovative collaborations and national tours, Jeanne Ruddy is closing out her company’s final season with three of the most captivating works in her own choreographic repertoire: MonTage à Trois; Out of the Mist, Above the Real and the world premiere of Ruddy’s final work for the Company, Game Drive.  The performances will take place May 10 – 12 at the Suzanne Roberts Theater, Broad & Lombard Streets in Philadelphia.

Inspired by Ruddy’s experiences on a Kenyan Safari during a recent trip to Africa, Game Drive is set to a unique and pulsating score by Philadelphia’s own 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, Jennifer Higdon, hailed by the Washington Post as “a savvy, sensitive composer with a keen ear, an innate sense of form and a generous dash of pure esprit.”

Utilizing her vision of the dramatic beauty of the African landscape, Ruddy’s fun, mischievous choreography, paired with Higdon’s score, results in a vibrant feast for the senses, taking audiences on a magical, bumpy ride to a Kenyan wildlife preserve.

Debuted at the Hamilton Galleries of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts last April as part of the inaugural Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, MonTage à Trois—Ruddy’s first full-length work— incorporates the paintings of renowned artist Elizabeth Osborne as it explores the idea of collaboration between dance and other mediums. Set to the music of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy, with extensive video design by composer/videographer Ellen Fishman-Johnson, this site-specific work – now re-staged for the proscenium theatre, spotlights the relationship of costume design to both dance and fashion, featuring the work of longtime JRD costume designer Jeffrey Wirsing (member of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire costume design team), who has collaborated with Ruddy since the company’s inception.

Finally, Out of the Mist…Above the Real – a work which premiered during the 2004 season and not seen since 2005, is Ruddy’s homage to life’s journey, set to composer Daniel Brewbaker’s score about the four stages of life: Childhood, Youth, Middle Age, Old Age. The concept grew out of Ruddy and Brewbaker’s mutual admiration of Irish culture, history and music, which sprang from their individual explorations into family history on the Emerald Isle. Using nine company dancers and one child, the piece is based on poems that express a search for our most ancient origins, taking its title from the poem “The Irish Cliffs of Moher,” by Wallace Stevens. For the choreography, Ruddy used “The Voyage of Life” paintings by famed Hudson River School painter, Thomas Cole, as inspiration, which enables the piece to truly conjure up the poignant images of ancient Irish cliffs and the rolling sea.

For one last time as artistic director of Jeanne Ruddy Dance, and calling upon her former career as a Martha Graham principal dancer, Jeanne will perform a section of this piece with her dancers. Guest artist Renee Robinson-Buzby as the mother and Brigitta Herman, as the mature woman, will reprise the roles they originated, and Zoe Shae Buzby (Robinson-Buzby’s daughter) and Sophia Davis, will be performing the role of the young child. The work has unique meaning for Robinson-Buzby, whose older daughter Noa premiered the role of the young child in 2004, and will now feature her young daughter Zoe in the same role, seven years later.

Following the performance on Friday, May 11, there will be a Post Performance Talk with Jeanne Ruddy, who will discuss the work of the company over the past 12 years, her creative collaborators, amazingly talented dancers and all of her works, past and present.

Established in 1998, Jeanne Ruddy Dance has grown from the performance of one work twelve years ago, to an annual concert season, outreach programs, workshops, lecture demonstrations, touring and more, not to mention the renovation and creation of the Company’s studio headquarters, The Performance Garage.  Creating works that continue to expand the vocabulary and genre as well as the numbers and diversity of its audience, JRD has featured the work of such preeminent choreographers as Robert Battle, Ann Reinking, Mark Dendy, Susanne Linke and Martha Clarke. A mainstay of the region’s dance community, each season’s productions have also included new or re-imagined works by Ruddy herself, who has throughout, continued to explore diverse styles and techniques with her company of 11 professional dancers.

In addition to founder and Artistic Director Jeanne Ruddy, JRD Company members include: Rick Callender, Melissa Chisena, Thayne Alexandra Dibble, Janet Pilla, Gabrielle Revlock, Christine Taylor and Jennifer Yackel.

Jeanne Ruddy Dance’s Spring 2012 Season will be presented May 10 – 12 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad & Lombard Streets, Philadelphia.  Performances include the opening night on Thursday, May 10 at 7:30pm; Friday, May 11 at 8:00pm and the final gala on Saturday, May 12 at 8:00pm.  Ticket prices range from $25 – 35 and can be purchased by visiting www.ruddydance.org.

- Steven Weisz

Founder & Editor
While not a dancer himself, Weisz’s love for the arts and dance started as a child growing up in New York City. With parents, who were strong supporters of the arts and part of a community with an incredible array of notable artists in music, dance, theater and fine arts, Weisz’s access and affinity for the performing arts took root. Upon attending college in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania in the mid 70’s, Weisz started performing as a puppeteer, magician, juggler and fire eater as a means of supplementing his income. This soon grew in to what became Rainbow Promotions Inc., one of the largest entertainment and special events producers in the region. It was here that he began to promote and book dance for major events throughout the city. Many of the dancers he worked with in the early days of his company are now major choreographers in Philadelphia. At the same time, Weisz’s interest in computers and the early developments of what is now known as the Internet, led him to also start another company, Delaware Valley On Line, which became one of the first regional ISPs. It was this combination of event production, internet development and event marketing that led him to examine the use of the internet as a means to promote the arts. Dance continued to be a major interest for Weisz and in 2005 he founded PhiladelphiaDANCE.org as a major online resource to promote dance in the city. It was soon after that the Dance Journal was also founded as a way to provide an outlet for writing on a range of topics that encompass the ever growing and emerging dance community in the region. Weisz continues to run both PhiladelphiaDANCE and The Dance Journal on purely a voluntary basis with no income derived from any of his projects. He is also the Artistic Director of Graffito Works, a unique platform for dancers and performing artists to create site-specific work and to make it readily accessible to the public.

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