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NT's Schlemmer helps bring program to the stage at Baldwin Wallace University


BEREA, Ohio -- James Schlemmer of North Tonawanda was among a talented group of student choreographers and dancers who produced Baldwin Wallace University's "fyoo zh en '17: Liars in Fur Coats" this spring.

Directed by dance professor Sara Whale, this year's "fyoo zh en" dance concert paired choreographers from BW's dance program with composer and BW alumnus Sean Ellis Hussey. Together they created new works inspired by assistant professor of biology Dr. Karen Munroe's research on the social and mating behaviors of squirrels. Schlemmer, a graduate of Sweet Home High School majoring in interdepartmental major, performed the role of Dr. Wallaby for the production.
Each year, aspiring choreographers from the dance program are chosen to participate in a collaborative, creative process that results in their work being presented in "fyoo zh en," the BW Department of Theatre and Dance's annual dance concert. The developing artists are paired with composers and asked to collectively create a full-length work that takes inspiration from a student or faculty member's academic research.

This year's "fyoo zh en" featured a structured narrative inspired by Dr. Munroe's work studying the social and mating behaviors of squirrels. When students initially met with her, she shared entertaining anecdotes of her adventures in the field. The students responded by bringing some of them to life through movement, accompanied by a fabulously imaginative score.

Each of the five choreographers included a balance of material that was light hearted and entertaining, but also addressed the importance of Dr. Munroe's work. The goal was to educate the audience about the importance of maintaining a healthy squirrel population, which in turn ensures the survival of our forests. The result was a humorous romp following a group of student biologists and their trusty mentor as they hit the wilds to observe gray and fox squirrels.

The "fyoo zh en" dance concert is one of many performance opportunities offered through the BW Department of Theatre and Dance. Designed for students interested the performing arts, dance therapy, exercise science, dance education or arts management, the dance program offers an analytical, imaginative and physical study of movement with an emphasis on technical, compositional and performance skills. Ultimately, the program strives to produce well-rounded dancers with a sound technical foundation, while nurturing their creativity and appreciation of the art form.

Baldwin Wallace University, founded in 1845, was one of the first colleges to admit students without regard to race or gender. An independent, coeducational university of 4,000 students, BW offers coursework in the liberal arts tradition in 75 academic areas. Located in Berea, 12 miles from downtown Cleveland, BW offers students the cultural, educational and business advantages of a major metropolitan area.