Kennedy Center nod for choreographer Winchester

Choreographer Rachel Winchester

Piece wins highest collegiate dance honor

April 11, 2014—For the first time ever, a work by a University of Oregon dancer will be honored with inclusion in the biennial American College Dance Festival, the highest possible honor in adjudicated collegiate dance.

Rachel Winchester, a candidate in the UO’s master of fine arts in dance program, is the choreographer behind “GIRL POOL,” an original work for six dancers, which was selected by the Northwest Regional Conference of the national association. Winchester’s work will be performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., June 4-7.

Oregonians will have the chance to see the new work performed live as part of the UO Repertory Dance Company’s annual concert scheduled for April 18-19 in the Dougherty Dance Theatre on the UO campus. Tickets for the concert are available through the UO Ticket Office.

“The opportunity to perform this work at the Kennedy Center is an enormous honor,” said Winchester. “The cast and I are excited to represent the UO Department of Dance on the national stage.”

“GIRL POOL,” based on an early piece of short fiction by science fiction writer Kurt Vonnegut, references the all-female typing pools common in midcentury America, the era in which the story was written. The original story was published posthumously, after the author’s 2007 death, in the compilation “While Mortals Sleep.”

Winchester developed her work, which she describes as a “dance theatre piece,” through an experimental choreographic process involving dramaturgical research and structured improvisation.

The northwest region of the American College Dance Festival Association held its annual meeting April 2-5, 2014 at the University of Montana in Missoula. The regional conference comprises collegiate dance companies from Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, stiff competition for Winchester and her work.

This year the regional festival also included dance programs from California's Baja Region. Along with “GIRL POOL,” the regional adjudicators selected a work from California State University, Fullerton to represent the Northwest Conference.

The cast of “GIRL POOL” includes Dakota Bouher, Jessica Hoage, Nadya Matiya, Faith Morrison, Cecilia Potter, and Sasha Rawlinson, all dance students at the UO. Travel costs for the cast members will be supported by the Associated Students of the University of Oregon (ASUO), the UO’s student government.

"We're thrilled for Rachel and so proud of the dancers," said Jenifer Craig, chair of the UO Department of Dance. "They won high praise from nationally recognized professionals whose adjudication has rewarded 'GIRL POOL' for exemplary artistic quality. With the help of our UO community, they'll represent the UO by sharing this work at the Kennedy Center."

The American College Dance Festival Association has over 375 member colleges and universities. Regional conferences selected thirty-one dance programs to participate in the national showcase.