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Universal dance 'Timeless Journey' has moves that will entertain everyone

Just because Saturday night's Folkloric Productions Dance Company performance is called "Women & Dance: A Timeless Journey," don't get the idea that it's only a "chick thing." This annual concert -- they've even used the name before -- is one of the ways that the crew of artistic director/choreographer/dancer Cathy Skora aims to present international dance to a wide audience.

Skora says the dance styles presented -- including Middle Eastern, Chinese, Spanish and South American -- are highly entertaining for anyone to watch.

"The performance is women showcasing their spirits through dance," she said. "But once anyone comes, they love it. It's open to everyone."

A special feature on the bill this year is guest artist Elena Lentini, one of Skora's mentors. Lentini is a highly regarded performer, and an innovator in a number of Oriental dance forms. She has soloed with the Ibrahim Farrah Near East Dance Company and performed in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Kennedy Center. For more than three decades, Lentini has immersed herself in the rituals and character of the traditional Middle Eastern culture.

"My big interest in performing female Oriental dance -- as a female dancer -- is having the ability to express the mythological themes that run through this art," said Lentini, who will also teach two days of workshops while in town for the performance.

Those involved in any form of folk dancing often face the question of "authenticity." Both Lentini and Skora believe in "pure" and undiluted preservation, but also that there is room for expression, improvisation and contemporizing the ancient arts. The repertoire to be presented this weekend reflects this view.

"We are doing five different numbers in the show [Saturday]," said Skora, who is trained in and has performed ballet, modern and Middle Eastern dancing. "There will be pure and authentic South American tango, Spanish flamenco and some Middle Eastern."

Guest artists will be performing the non-Middle Eastern pieces, which are a new direction to Skora's shows.

"In addition," Skora said, "there will also be some experimental work. For example, our veil dance, 'Shades of Purple,' fuses dance forms. By blending more contemporary dance with the Oriental dance, we explore the lines and shapes, extending them."

This year, the concert is being presented in Asbury Hall at The Church. Skora says it's fitting that the building has been used for spiritual expression in the past and is now being used for musical and artistic purposes.

"For me, and I think for many people, there is a direct connection between dance and our natural essence," Skora said. "This dancing, with its rich music and wonderful physical and emotional movements, has the ability to reach many people at a deep emotional level."

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PREVIEW

WHAT: "Women and Dance: A Timeless Journey" presented by Folkloric Productions Dance Co.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Church, 341 Delaware Ave.

TICKETS: $20 advance, $23 door

INFO: 876-6291 or www.folkloric.org

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