posted October 8, 2003

Dawn McIlhargey-Wigert Wins Award

Dawn McIlhargey-Wigert of the Hope College dance faculty has won the statewide Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award, presented on Saturday, Oct. 4, during this year's Michigan Dance Council Dance Day, held at Hope.

It is the second time in four years that a member of the Hope faculty has won the award.

McIlhargey-Wigert is co-founder and co-director of InSync Dance Theatre, a professional tap and jazz company affiliated with the department of dance at Hope. She won from among eight nominees from across Michigan for "States of Dysfunction," a semi-autobiographical piece portraying a struggling group of pedestrians.

"This piece has been evolving over two years," she said. "I started it in September of 2001."

She noted that she started developing the piece as a response to her experiences with an accident in July of 2001, with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 further influencing the work's focus as an exploration of grief and loss.

The award on Oct. 4 was the second honor in recent months for the work. "States of Dysfunction" had also been a finalist at the international level at the Jazz Dance World Congress, held in Buffalo, N.Y., in early August.

McIlhargey-Wigert is a part-time lecturer in dance at Hope. Also currently a faculty member at the Grand Rapids Ballet, she has been trained in the Giordano technique and performed with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago in addition to operating her own school "DanceWorks" in Grand Rapids.

She co-founded InSync Dance Theatre, which presented its first full concert in 1998, with Terri Filips, a 1991 Hope graduate who was at the time also a member of the Hope dance faculty. Filips now teaches at Niagara University in New York, but remains actively involved with InSync as a choreographer. Rosanne Barton-DeVries of the Hope dance faculty serves as co-director with McIlhargey-Wigert.

InSync presented a seven-minute edited version of "States of Dysfunction" during the Dance Day's culminating Showcase Concert Saturday afternoon. Several Hope College students performed the piece, including: junior Lindsay Brown of Boise, Idaho; junior Dawn Flandermeyer of St. Charles, Mo.; junior Sarah Gardner of New Castle, Pa.; junior Dolores Sanchez of Whiting, Ind.; junior Mari Stuppy of Dowagiac; and junior Jessica Yokas of Oelwein, Iowa. The dance captain was senior Katherine Budris of Libertyville, Ill.

InSync Dance Theatre has included the piece in a variety of appearances in West Michigan. The company presented a 10-minute version of "States of Dysfunction" at Hope this past winter.

The company presents a concert at Hope each January. This year's annual concert is scheduled for Friday-Saturday, Jan. 23-24, at 8 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre.

Several members of the Hope dance community made presentations during the Dance Day events.

Aerial Dance Theater, also an affiliate of the department of dance, performed in the concert as a special guest, presenting a developed version of "Bolero" by Hope faculty member Steven Iannacone, who is Aerial's co-artistic director. Linda Graham of the dance faculty, also co-artistic director of Aerial, won the Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award in 2000.

Members of the Hope faculty among the day's master class instructors included Barton-DeVries, Graham, Iannacone and Ray Tadio. In addition, Hope senior Erin Rupert of Traverse City also taught a master class.

The other nominees for this year's Maggie Allesee New Choreography Award included 1996 Hope graduate Sandra Federico of South Lyon. Now a teacher at Pinckney High School, Federico was one of InSync's original members and had choreographed a piece performed during the company's first concert in 1998.