When the internationally acclaimed Cleo Parker Robinson dance company performs in the area this weekend, it will mark the end of a partnership between the Festival Dance and Performing Arts Association in Moscow and Washington State University Performing Arts.WSU announced last fall it is terminating its Performing Arts program in its latest round of budget cuts. Since 2013, Festival Dance has partnered with the program to help bring world-famous, multicultural dance ensembles to regional audiences, including thousands of school children from Potlatch to Lapwai. According to both groups, their collaborative shows have sold out or nearly sold out every year since.
Festival Dance’s mission to expose rural audiences to renowned dance companies aligned with WSU Performing Arts’ mission to bring professional theater, music and performance art to campus, said Gail Siegel, director of the WSU program slated to end this spring.
“Pooling our resources, we could bring in groups neither of us could have afforded to bring in on our own. We benefited by being able to present dance programs on campus every year. We couldn’t have done that by ourselves,” Siegel said
Festival Dance arranged the logistics, the two groups combined marketing efforts, and WSU Performing Arts provided a stage at no cost: Jones Theatre, which is able to accommodate large dance companies, seats nearly 400, and is equipped for the elaborate technical needs professional groups often require. WSU Performing Arts has a facilities coordinator on staff to work with the companies and with WSU students who are part of WSU’s STAGE and Nuthouse theater clubs. That position is being eliminated. WSU’s plans for its stages and their assets are unknown.
“I don’t think it’s been decided anywhere at WSU at any level what’s going to happen to Jones Theatre and how that space might be used,” said Siegel.
Earlier in the school year, frustrated students created a YouTube video titled “We are performing arts” in response to the university’s decision to cut the program.
For Festival Dance, the loss of the stage means a search for new locations to rent. The visiting dance companies they bring in usually stay for several days, appearing at area schools in free performances for children leading up to ticketed full-scale shows.
“Since we’re in residence at the University of Idaho, we don’t have as much pull as an actual department,” says Festival Dance Executive Director Abby Glanville. “It’s more challenging for us to get on the schedule for the Hartung (Theater) or the Administration Auditorium. Naturally, they have to put their own programs first.”
Festival Dance has secured Gladish Community and Cultural Center in Pullman for an Irish dance company scheduled to visit next year.
“They’re not used to putting on programs with as many technical needs. We’re really working with them to sort out those challenges,” said Glanville.
Another option is Pullman High School, but it doesn’t have a staff member who can spend three days working with a dance company, and high school programs take precedence, Glanville said. Regardless of where it ends up, costs for the nonprofit group will be going up as WSU withdraws its support, she said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “MictlanRx” by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10
WHERE: Jones Theatre, Washington State University, Pullman
COST: $16 to $22, available at TicketsWest outlets including Beasley Coliseum and Rosauers in Lewiston, TicketsWest.com and (800) 325-
SEAT. Service charges may apply. The Daggy Hall box office will open two hours before the performance for will call and ticket sales, subject to availability.