Last Dance

A St. Louis dance legend brings down the curtain -- sort of

Retrospective: Celebrating an Era of Gash/Voigt Dance Theatre

St. Louis Community College-Forest Park�s Bastian Center for Performing Arts, 5600 Oakland Avenue

8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, December 8. Call 314-721-0052 or visit www.gvdt.com for tickets, priced from $12-$20.

After months of soul-searching, it's officially transition time for Gash/Voigt Dance Theatre. This weekend's performance marks the final time artistic directors Susan Gash and Beckah Voigt will unite to create a self-produced work. "This is truly a celebration," says Gash. "We hope everyone will come celebrate with us."

Known both locally and internationally for their evening-length dance-theater pieces, Gash and Voigt have touched people's lives for sixteen years with a process-oriented approach to exploring their favored themes: spirituality, womanhood and native communities.

Their administrative staff has been let go, but as sad as that might sound, there is brightness yet. Gash says she and Voigt will not be disbanding their partnership altogether. They will now operate as a touring group choreographing on a "commission-only" basis.

Gash insists that after so many years, "The time is right." Citing both Voigt's escalating physical problems and the relentless grind of applying for grants, Gash says this decision will free both women for other work -- in particular, mentoring young talents coming out of Webster University and Washington University's dance programs.

For this weekend's performances, the company is flying in two of its former dancers, Nancy Ellis and Lynn Kissel, to join local dancer Gui Par and company members Mary Ann Rund and Dawn Karlovsky. The production will consist mainly of excerpts from such pieces as Changing Woman (2002), Sacred Ground (2001) and Unheard Voices (1994). Rund will perform solo while wearing a veil in Mystics, and Voigt will present her signature work, Fabrication.

To make the production a true Gash/Voigt "theater" experience, Professor Jim Hegarty of sponsoring venue St. Louis Community College-Forest Park will provide live music, and local poet Michael Castro will read his and others' works. This will also serve as a bittersweet reminder of GVDT's successful Art, Music, Poetry and Dance Collective events.

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