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Worlds collide: Young Alumnus winner will bring her students to dance, experience Kansas

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – When Katrina Toews comes home to Kansas and Bethel College as this year’s Young Alumnus Award speaker, she’ll be bringing some of her dance students along.

“It’s great to have both of my worlds collide in this way,” she says.

Toews, a Goessel native who graduated from Goessel High School, Bethel College and American University, has been the director of The Washington Ballet@THEARC in Washington, D.C., since 2005. THEARC stands for Town Hall Education, Arts & Recreation Campus. The Washington School of Ballet has a satellite campus there, in the Anacostia neighborhood in southeast D.C.

Toews will accept her award and speak in convocation at Bethel College Monday, March 29, at 11 a.m. But before that, she, two of her fellow dance teachers and five students will have a full weekend of dance, concluding with a performance Sunday evening, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. on Bethel's campus in Krehbiel Auditorium of the Fine Arts Center.

Teachers Paula Brown and Margaret Giragosian (Maggie) Williamson and five middle school-age intermediate students of TWB@THEARC will accompany Toews. The students, she says, “are very excited – especially the one who has never been on a plane before.”

Brown and Williamson will both teach master classes at Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts in downtown Newton – Brown in modern dance Friday, March 26, 5-6 p.m., and Williamson in ballet Saturday, March 27, 10:30 a.m.-noon. The classes are free and open to the public, with more information available from BCAPA at 316-283-4902 or dbielek8@sbcglobal.net.

Toews will teach a master class at the Wichita Ballet’s Nancy Hervey School of Dance, and on Sunday students and teachers are invited to participate in a master class with dancers of the Wichita Ballet, taught by a member of the Houston Ballet.

“[The weekend] is a great opportunity for [the students] to meet other kids who love to dance,” Toews says.

The Sunday evening performance, 7:30 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium, will include four dance numbers and remarks by Paula Brown and student Jared Kelly.

“From the Classroom” is “an academic demonstration,” with choreography by Maggie Williamson. “This will show technique and technical skills – what they’ve been working on this year,” Toews says. Music is “Variations” from Gaite Parisienne by Jacques Offenbach and Paquita by Ludwig Minkus. The dancers are Aliyah Etheridge, Shahnise Evans, Jared Kelly, Azaria Rice and Sydney Wiggins.

Etheridge will dance a solo number, “Never Give Up,” created by Brown to the gospel song recorded by Yolanda Adams.

The five dancers will perform the last two pieces. One is from their spring recital coming up in May, “Mazurka for the Festival,” choreographed by Williamson to the “Mazurka” from Swan Lake, Act III, by Tchaikovsky.

Toews created the final piece, “Maladjusted.” With permission from the Martin Luther King, Jr., estate, she took parts of King’s Jan. 21, 1961, speech at Bethel College and, in four dance sections, “highlighted the struggle, hope and challenge of those times.”

The performance is free and open to the public. There will be a freewill offering taken to help with the group’s travel expenses. Checks should be made out to "The Washington Ballet," with "Kansas Trip" on the memo line.

All are invited to hear Toews speak on “Leaps and Bounds: From Goessel, Kansas, to Washington, D.C.,” at 11 a.m. Monday, March 29, in Krehbiel Auditorium.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2009 and one of only two Kansas colleges profiled in Colleges of Distinction 2009-10. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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