Dancers will grace stage with style, stamina and a state star from Hutch

1:18:57 PM CDT - Thursday, October 06, 2005

By Shannon Littlejohn

Janice Garrett & Dancers perform these days to rave reviews, even being honored in January 2004 as one of Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Local audiences will get to watch the professional dance troupe on Saturday, Oct. 8. It's the second performance in this year's College of Fine Arts Connoisseur Series.

For any audience, the six dancers in Garrett's company are well worth watching. Known as one of the San Francisco Bay area's most lively new dance companies, Janice Garrett & Dancers create a welcoming world for both dancers and audiences.

Formed in 2002, they are an intimate company whose work, Garrett's vision, is about kinship and connection through the communicative power of dance.

"It crosses barriers as far as language and even culture to be able to communicate through movement," said Jill Landrith, artistic director of Ballet Wichita and a WSU adjunct lecturer. 

All the dancers with Janice Garrett are incredibly unique, Landrith said. Garrett alone has built an excellent reputation during 20 years of dancing and choreographing across the United States and in Europe. The rest are seasoned dancers, too, with brilliant resumes of their own.

"The amount of stamina and energy they have is just incredible," said Landrith.

For Kansas audiences, there is one dancer in particular to watch: Kansas native Kara Davis who is from Hutchinson.

Davis began studying dance with Betsie Andrews, and continued her ballet training at the Metropolitan Ballet of Wichita, now Ballet Wichita, and with William Martin-Viscount at the Southwest Ballet Center in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Kara took dance with my mother (June Landrith) and also Nancy Hervey," said Landrith. "She performed with us growing up, and we've had the pleasure of bringing her back for dancing and choreography. She came back last January to set a piece of choreography for us and performed 'La Sylphide' with us (in 2000)."

Landrith noted that Davis was awarded an Isadora Duncan Award for outstanding achievement in individual performance for her entire 2002-03 season dancing with Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, Janice Garrett & Dancers, and Kunst-Stoff.

"She is just an inspiration to all dancing life because she's the most wonderful person," she said. "There is an incredible caring energy around her at all times."

Landrith definitely plans to go see her old friend on stage but, referring to the entire company, said, "I wouldn't miss a chance to see them in performance."

Janice Garrett & Dancers will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, in Miller Concert Hall as part of WSU's Connoisseur Series. Tickets are $16 with discounts available. Call the College of Fine Arts Box Office at 978-3233.

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