LEWISTON – Dance is taking a big step up in the Twin Cities.

Androscoggin Dance Company – a new venture drawing on a strong base of area dancers – has just been named resident dance company at the Franco-American Heritage Center.

“This is really a community-based organization with broad support throughout the area,” said Langston Snodgrass, president of the board of directors, who with Artistic Director Elizabeth Hansen announced the group’s formation.

The group’s efforts began last October, with the association with the Franco center falling into place very quickly, according to Snodgrass, who is host and producer of Dance Today in Maine on public access television and teaches humanities courses at Central Maine Community College and the Lewiston campus of the University of Southern Maine.

“This brings a great asset to the center and brings the arts to a new level for Lewiston-Auburn and the surrounding area,” enthused Rita Dube, executive director of the Franco center.

Richard Martin, FAHC program director and a member of the Androscoggin Dance Company board, said the residency helps establish dance as an integral and desired aspect of the center’s program.

Hansen is founder and director of The Dance Center, which began in Auburn in 1990. It has many students at its teaching and rehearsal location at Great Falls Performing Arts Center, and the new Androscoggin School of Dance will build on that base when classes start in September.

The talents of dozens of Hansen’s students will be showcased in recitals at Lewiston Middle School this weekend. Those performances at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday are open to the public. Tickets will be sold at the door.

Dancers range from very young to high-school age. All told, there will be close to 25 numbers in the production.

The new Androscoggin School of Dance is intended to provide classical and modern training for high-school level dance students who wish to go on to professional dance training and to perform in national dance companies.

Students will be able to train pre-professionally in Lewiston-Auburn instead of having to travel elsewhere. The school will also serve students who may not wish to go on professionally but do wish to reach their full potential as dancers.

Snodgrass said Androscoggin Dance Company will offer performances at least twice a year and smaller productions throughout the year. The company plans to work with area musical groups as much as possible.

“We believe that audiences in Androscoggin County and the surrounding area will welcome quality performances by our students and other dancers,” he said. Performances will include a broad range of styles, including contemporary and classical ballet, modern dance, jazz, and hip-hop. The variety of genres should attract family audiences and people with diverse interests in dance, Snodgrass said.

Hansen added that qualified students in area high schools need opportunities for pre-professional training.

“They train hard and deserve a place to perform, which also motivates them to achieve,” she said. “We want to give them these opportunities.”

Snodgrass pointed out that the local dance effort builds on existing foundations, and they will cooperate closely with other arts organizations in the greater Androscoggin community.

Advisory panel:

Rachel Ganteaume-Richards of Germany, chair; dance faculty at Bates Collegeand The Dance Center, Lewiston-Auburn

Rene’ Damen of Casco, creative director of Damen Digital

Carol Dilley of Lewiston, director of dance at Bates College

Rita Dube of Lewiston, executive director of the Franco-American Heritage Center

Jill Eng of Portland, director of the Center for Movement Education

Laura Faure of Portland, director of the Bates Dance Festival

Don Hebertof Lewiston, CEO of Hebert Enterprises

Philip Larlee of Lisbon, manager of Great Falls TV

Dr. Dervilla M. McCann of Winthrop, cardiologist, Androscoggin Cardiology Associates of Auburn

Lacey Moyse of Lewiston, teacher, dance faculty, The Dance Center, Lewiston-Auburn

Tina Plumber of Auburn, dance faculty and parent, The Dance Center, Lewiston-Auburn

Robin Vermilion of Waldoboro, dance faculty, The Dance Center, Lewiston-Auburn

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