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Vassar to host two dance giants, New York Times critic Anna Kisselgoff, Wednesday, November 8, and Broadway star Bill Irwin, Saturday, November 11, 2006

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — November will bring to Vassar a talk by the longtime New York Times chief dance critic Anna Kisselgoff, and a residency of master classes and discussion with the Tony Award-winning performer/writer/director/choreographer Bill Irwin. All events are free and open to the public, with advance registration required for Bill Irwin's November 11 master classes at Kenyon Hall (845-437-7471, roczula@vassar.edu).

Kisselgoff, who was the Times' chief dance critic from 1977-2005, will discuss "A Lifetime of Appreciating Dance," with a question and answer session to follow, on Wednesday, November 8, at 7:30 p.m. in the new Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater in Kenyon Hall. The event is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the Faculty and the Department of Dance.

Kisselgoff studied ballet with Jean Yazvinsky, a dancer from Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College, she studied Russian at the School of Oriental Languages in Paris, and then earned master's degrees in journalism and modern European history from Columbia University. Ms. Kisselgoff began her writing career in Paris at Agence France-Presse, and became a freelancer for the international edition of the New York Time in 1965. Among her honors, the French government named her a Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters, Queen Margrethe of Denmark made her a Knight of the Dannebrog, and Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Science conferred to her the Dean's Award for Distinguished Achievement.

In 1984, Bill Irwin was the first currently performing artist to be awarded a five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, commonly known as a "genius grant," and he was also named a Guggenheim Fellow that year. His residency, on Saturday, November 11, will include:

  • 1:30-3:00 p.m.: Master Class in Movement for the Stage (Kenyon Hall, Dance Studio I) (Advance registration required)
  • 3:30-5:00 p.m.: Master Class in Improvisation, (Kenyon Hall, Dance Studio I) (Advance registration required)
  • 7:00 p.m.: A lecture-discussion "Bill Irwin from the Pickle Family Circus to Tony Award Winner" (Kenyon Hall, Frances Daly Fergusson Dance Theater)

Irwin recently starred on Broadway and London's West End as George in the revival of the Edward Albee play "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," opposite Kathleen Turner, for which he won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play. In 2002 he starred opposite Sally Field in the Tony Award-winning Albee play "The Goat or Who Is Sylvia."

Also on Broadway, Irwin's original work "Largely New York" received five Tony Award nominations, and won Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and New York Dance and Performance awards. Along with David Shiner, he starred in and choreographed the hit "Full Moon", and with Steve Martin, Robin Williams and F. Murray Abraham he was seen in "Waiting for Godot" at Lincoln Center. Off-Broadway, the Signature Theatre dedicated their entire 2003/2004 season entirely to Irwin's original work for which he acted as writer, director and star.

He was an original member of Kraken, a theatre company directed by Herbert Blau, as well as an original member of the Pickle Family Circus of San Francisco, where he worked with Larry Pisoni and Geoff Hoyle. Irwin appeared as a guest with the ODC Dance Company of San Francisco, which first produced his original work. His own pieces, often developed with Doug Skinner and Michael O'Conner, include Not Quite/New York, The Courtroom, and Regard of Flight.

PBS recently aired the special "Bill Irwin, Clown Prince" as part of the longstanding "Great Performances" series. His numerous TV credits also include the closing ceremony of the summer Olympic games in Atlanta, in which he starred, directed and choreographed. Irwin's most recent movie role was in Lady in the Water, and he has also appeared in such as films as Igby Goes Down, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (with Jim Carrey), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (with Michelle Pfeiffer, Kevin Kline, and Rupert Everett).

The Bill Irwin residency is co-sponsored by the Department of Physical Education & Athletics, the Department of Dance, the Department of Drama, the Office of the President, the Office of the Dean of the Faculty, the Multidisciplinary Faculty Seminar on Creativity and Contemplation, and by a gift from Anthony H. Mannara '80.

Individuals with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential, liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Tuesday, October 31, 2006