Performing Arts Series at Shepherd begins 20th year

September 13, 2007|By BETHANY TREMBLAY

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Rachael Meads has an eye and ear for the arts, which helps her choose performers for Shepherd University's Performing Arts Series at Shepherd every year.

For 20 years, the Performing Arts Series at Shepherd (PASS) has provided performing arts and cultural opportunities in Shepherd's Frank Center Theater throughout the academic year.

Meads, adjunct English professor and Shepherd's director of student development, previews the artists considered for the series at a booking and networking conference called the Performing Arts Exchange, which took place in Baltimore last September. Then, she and a committee of students and faculty set the final calendar.

Since starting with the program 13 years ago, Meads said she works hard to focus on culturally diverse programs that the community might not otherwise have a chance to experience.


Meads said the Frank Center stage is larger than other stages in the area, giving the community a chance to see bigger performing groups without having to travel to Washington, D.C., or Baltimore.

None of the performers with the series comes to Shepherdstown just to perform.

Each artist or group working with PASS also has an educational focus, working with the university or local schools in workshops and master classes.

This year's PASS lineup has a heavy black influence, starting with Illstyle & Peace Productions Hip-Hop Dance Company. Meads said she chose the group for the message it brings through its program "Same Spirit Different Movement." The hip-hop group will appear in area schools, spreading a message that promotes unity and respect for all people.

Modern dance company Philadanco and vocalists Sweet Honey in the Rock will follow. Philadanco will hold an advanced dance master class. Sweet Honey in the Rock will perform a civil rights movement-themed program shortly after Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

PASS's season ends with Tuvan throat singers Huun-Huur-Tu. The performers, who hail from an area between Mongolia and Siberia, are trained to sing three notes at one time. The singers bring with them nature-inspired art and music similar to Native American and aboriginal culture.

Meads has one goal for each PASS season: "I hope that after seeing these performances, people will break down cultural boundaries and barriers, and learn more about other cultures through their art."

If you go ...

WHAT: Performing Arts Series at Shepherd (PASS) concerts

WHEN: Illstyle & Peace Productions at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 14

· Philadanco at 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8

· Sweet Honey in the Rock at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 17, 2008

· Huun-Huur-Tu at 8 p.m. Friday, March 7, 2008

WHERE: Shepherd University's Frank Center Theater, Shepherds-town, W.Va.

MORE: General seating for each performance starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by calling Rachael Meads at 304-876-5113; through the Shepherd University Student Center information desk at 304-876-5497; and at the Frank Center box office one hour before performance time.

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