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Friday, February 11, 2011

"The Dream of Helen" A Dance Drama about Helen Foster Snow is a Partnership Between SUU and China's Hubei Opera and Drama Dance Theatre in July 2011

Michael French
Public Information Coordinator
College of Performing and Visual Arts
Southern Utah University
Office: 435-865-8667

IN JULY 2011

Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah: On July 23, 2011, the curtain will rise on The Dream of Helen, a dance drama inspired by the life and achievements of Utah native, Helen Foster Snow, at the Wuhan’s Qui Tai Grand Theatre in China’s Hubei Province. A vital part of this epic stage spectacle produced by the Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre will be the participation of Southern Utah University students and faculty members in the production which depicts critical events in the life of Snow, who was born and raised in Cedar City. This unique creative partnership will be a major creative collaboration -- and the first for any Utah university with China.

Fourteen SUU dance students will be part of the production’s company which features nearly one hundred dancers. The students will travel to China in the latter part of May 2011 to begin an extensive eight-week rehearsal process. Travelling with the students will be Interim Dean Shauna Mendini, who is the production’s co-director along with Chang Sheng Mei of the Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre. SUU Dance Department Interim Chair Kay Andersen is contributing original choreography to the dance drama, which is a unique Chinese performing art.

Then in early July, six SUU music students, accompanied by the Department of Music’s Dr. Lynn Vartan, will travel to China. Vartan and the students will begin rehearsals with the Hubei Symphony Orchestra and joining the orchestra’s ninety musicians.

Another of The Dream of Helen’s principal collaborators is SUU Department of Music chair Dr. Keith Bradshaw who is contributing original music to the production’s score. Bradshaw is composing music that reflects the Utah sections of the production and Helen Foster Snow’s life in Cedar City. The production will be music directed and performances conducted by Xun Sun, SUU Associate Professor of Music and Director of Orchestral Activities.

In addition, Bradshaw’s original composition, Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: a Tribute to Helen Foster Snow, is scheduled to be performed in concert by the Hubei Symphony Orchestra, which is part of the Hubei Opera and Dance Drama Theatre, on June 9 and 11 in their concert hall and conducted by Sun as well.

Beginning in April 2010, initial meetings have already taken place here at SUU and at Hubei Opera Dance Drama Theatre. Various members of the Dance Drama Theatre creative team have traveled to Cedar City to do historical research on everything from music to the regional landscape and the clothing worn by Utah residents between 1907 and 1931.

Helen Foster Snow (1907-1997) was a native of Cedar City, Utah, who was an instrumental bridge builder of U.S./China relations. Known as the mother of Chinese Industrial Cooperatives and through her efforts as a writer, she received two Nobel Peace Prize nominations and was the second American to be awarded the title of “Friendship Ambassador,” the highest honor bestowed by the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. She is considered a heroine by the Chinese people. Snow’s mother, Hannah Davis Foster, taught at the Branch Normal School now Southern Utah University.

The Dream of Helen will be performed at Wuhan’s Qui Tai Grand Theatre in China’s Hubei Province for three performances on July 23, 24 and 25, 2011. SUU staff, state and local officials are planning to be in attendance for the production.

The Southern Utah University College of Performing and Visual Arts is comprised of nationally accredited departments of Art and Design, Music, Theatre Arts and Dance, as well as a graduate program in Arts Administration. The College offers 16 different degree areas, including liberal arts Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees; professional Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Fine Arts in art and theatre degrees; and a Master of Fine Arts in Arts Administration degree. More than 60 full- and part-time faculty and staff are engaged in teaching and mentoring over 550 majors in the College. Over 1100 students enroll each year in over 195 arts classes on the SUU campus. The College presents 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year. The College’s affiliate organizations include the Braithwaite Fine Arts Gallery, American Folk Ballet, Utah Shakespearean Festival, the performance group Acclamation, and the SUU Ballroom Dance Company. For more information about the College of Performing and Visual Arts, contact the Office of the Dean at (435) 865-8561, or by e-mail at cpvamktg@suu.edu.

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