Hancher Auditorium (Iowa City, IA)

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    Photo of a dancers dressed in balck with caligraphy blow-ups as scenery

Chou Chang-ning, Sung Chao-chiun, and Sheu Fang-yi of the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performs in Cursive , a dance piece co-commissioned by the Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Photo by Liu Chen-hsiang

Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City has been one of the best places in the state to find some of the world's finest performing arts. Since 1986, Hancher has commissioned more than 100 new works, creating a diverse body of performances that have attracted audiences from all over the region.

In FY 2003, Hancher received an NEA Creativity grant of $15,000 to support commissions of new works by the preeminent modern dance companies Paul Taylor Dance Company and Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Hancher has a long history with these companies, both of which were celebrating milestone anniversaries in 2003-2004.

Paul Taylor, recipient of numerous awards and honors in his long career, including a National Medal of Arts in 1993, celebrated his 50th anniversary in 2003-2004. The piece commissioned to celebrate the company's anniversary was Dante Variations , set to Musica Ricercata by noted composer Gyorgy Ligeti and adapted for barrel organ. The dance piece takes a line from Dante's Inferno as a subtitle: "These are the nearly soulless whose lives concluded neither blame nor praise," and addresses the themes of frustration and struggle.

 

Chou Chang-ning of the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performs in Cursive , a dance piece co-commissioned by the Hancher Auditorium at the University of Iowa in Iowa City. Photo by Liu Chen-hsiang

The Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, whose repertoire has its roots in Asian myths, folklore, and aesthetics, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2003-2004. The commissioned piece, Cursive, is inspired by Chinese calligraphy. The work explores the energy of the brush stroke through dance and includes computer-enhanced video projections that allow the calligraphy to move along with the music and movement.

(From the 2003 NEA Annual Report)