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Events featuring groundbreaking performing arts ensembles will come to Madison in February

Posted: 01/26/23

Events featuring groundbreaking performing arts ensembles will come to Madison in February

The Wisconsin Union Theater's 2022-23 season continues to bring audiences opportunities to experience the avant-garde vibrancy of the performing arts with veteran dance phenomenon Pilobolus on Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. CST in Shannon Hall at Memorial Union and Imani Winds on Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. CST in Collins Recital Hall at the Hamel Music Center.

What began as a class assignment by three university students is now Pilobolus, a renowned modern dance company with more than 50 years of history of traveling the globe performing more than 120 original routines.

Pilobolus’s newest program “Big Five-OH!” celebrates the rebellious dance company's 50th anniversary with reimagined and revitalized takes on many of the pieces that made Pilobolus an international pillar in dance and performing arts communities. The company has graced stages from Broadway to the Academy Awards to the Olympic Games, and, on Feb.1, the dance troupe will perform in Shannon Hall.

“Pilobolus has been an iconic part of American performance artistry since the 1970s for so many reasons, from its groundbreaking, thought-provoking choreography to its demonstration of incredible athleticism in its storytelling,” Wisconsin Union Theater Director Elizabeth Snodgrass said.

In collaboration with the UW–Madison Dance Department, the Wisconsin Union Theater invites guests to observe a free studio class by Pilobolus on Feb. 2 from 12:30-2:10 p.m. in Studio 349 at Lathrop Hall. During the workshop, guests are welcome to observe as company performers Paul Liu and Marlon Feliz guide student dancers through an improvisational warmup, movement-based problem-solving, weight-sharing techniques, and group dance-making. Guests and students will learn about the group’s creative process, signature techniques of improvisation, and collaborative choreography. Seating for guests is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Known for its creative programs and exploration of genres, Imani Winds brings more groundbreaking artistry to Madison with a Feb. 5 performance of its program “Black and Brown” at Collins Recital Hall.

Noted for revolutionizing the wind ensemble repertoire, the group works to live its vision of steering the national conversation on instrumental music by commissioning composers of new music, training and mentoring the next generations of musicians, and implementing projects that highlight and strengthen the diversity of chamber music.

Its Feb. 5 program celebrates composers of color, including works by founding members Valerie Coleman and Jeff Scott and compositions created through the ensemble’s Legacy Commissioning Project (LCP). LCP began more than 10 years ago with a mission to commission 10 composers of color to create works for Imani Winds. The artists pursued this effort with the goal of LCP works expanding the definition of classical music while incorporating many cultures and non-traditional chamber music voices. Now, more than 20 years later, LCP continues to facilitate the creation of new works.

The Feb. 5 program will include:

  • “Titilayo” by Jeff Scott
  • “The Light is the Same” by Reena Esmail
  • “Aires Tropicales” by Paquito D’Rivera
  • Rubispheres No. 1 For Flute, Clarinet and Bassoon by Valerie Coleman
  • “Terra Incognita” by Wayne Shorter
  • “Belle Époque en Sud-America” by Júlio Medaglia

In addition to being skilled musicians, Imani Winds’s artists are educators and community leaders. Members of the group will host a free studio class that is open to the public from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Collins Recital Hall on Feb. 5. The artists will share the story of their more than 20-year journey of creative leadership as a primarily Black wind quintet. The story of their emergence as role models will dovetail into a conversation, titled “Today’s Conversations - Timely Discussions on Race, Diversity and Equity in Classical Music.” Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Patrons can purchase virtual and in-person tickets to Wisconsin Union Theater performances online, by phone at (608) 265-2787 or in person at the Memorial Union Box Office. Guests with Wisconsin Union annual or lifetime membership, patrons under the age of 18, and University of Wisconsin–Madison students, staff and faculty are eligible for discounted tickets to Wisconsin Union Theater performances.

For information about these and other Wisconsin Union Theater-hosted performances, patrons can visit

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