News & Notables from the Division of Performing Arts

DeSales Dance Ensemble Concert to Feature Work of Modern Dance Pioneer Michio Ito

by Roseann Damico Schatkowski | Feb 19, 2014

The Division of Performing Arts at DeSales University is pleased to announce the capstone event in its 2014 dance season, the Dance Ensemble Concert, running Friday March 14 to Sunday, March 16 on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, Center Valley, PA.

The annual Dance Ensemble Concert showcases choreography by DeSales dance faculty members and guest choreographers set on the department’s talented dance majors. Continuing its commitment to present historically significant masterworks, this year’s concert will feature restagings of the works by Japanese modern dance pioneer Michio Ito.

Michio Ito (1893-1961) was an early advocate in the development of modern dance in America. A charismatic dancer, choreographer, and teacher—who had been inspired by the works of Isadora Duncan, Anna Pavlova, and Vaslav Nijinsky—Ito’s long career brought him into association with a long line of great artists both within and outside the world of dance, including: William Butler Yeats, Ezra Pound, Isamu Noguchi, Ted Shawn, Martha Graham, and Lester Horton.

One of Ito’s lasting contributions to dance were a series of short dance poems that he created which captured the essence of his artistic philosophy: that art is intended to inspire and uplift, to bridge cultural boundaries and to foster the brotherhood of man. 

The DeSales Dance Department hosted a two-week residency with the Repertory Dance Theatre of Utah, the only professional dance company committed to the Ito repertory, as well as with Kyoko Imura and Kumiko Komine of the Doomonkai (Michio Ito Association in Tokyo), trustees of the Ito legacy. During the residency, a number of Ito’s most iconic dances were set on DeSales dance majors and those works will serve as the centerpiece of the concert.

“The DeSales Dance Department is known for its commitment to exposing our dance students to the great choreographers and masterworks through history,” says John Bell, head of the Division of Performing Arts. “The restaging of the Ito dance poems in this year’s concert continues that long line of artistic heritage. I have always believed that performing arts programs should look back and mine the great lessons of beauty and grace of the pioneering geniuses that came before us. Therefore, I take great pride in our Dance Department and look forward to this year’s concert.”

The Dance Ensemble Concert will also feature works choreographed by full-time dance faculty member Angela Sigley and adjunct instructors Janet Peck and Lynn Wiener, as well as guest choreographers Natalie Desch and Jeff Slade. Beyond the Ito works, the overall program will feature a fascinating range of dance style including ballet, contemporary, jazz, and modern dance. Inspiration for the various works is taken from such topics as an individual’s place within community, the flocking patterns of birds in flight, and a piece set to modern blues music that is “Leave it to Beaver” meets “The Good Wife.”

The Labuda Center is fully accessible and equipped with a listening enhancement system. Special seating is available for our patrons using wheelchairs or requiring other assistance. Please inform the box office of your needs when ordering tickets.

The Dance Ensemble Concert runs Friday, March 14 at 11 AM and 8:00 PM; Saturday, March 15 at 8:00 PM; and Sunday, March 16 at 3:00 PM. Performances are on the Main Stage of the Labuda Center for the Performing Arts. The Ticket price for the 11 AM Friday matinee is $5 for all patrons. Ticket prices for the Friday, 8 PM, Saturday 8 PM, and Sunday 3 PM performances are $15 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Group discounts are available. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Labuda box office at 610.282.3192 or online at

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