A collection of modern visual art

Picture a professional dancer, traveling around the world and working with some great dancers. Touring extensively with dance companies in the United States, as well as France, Italy and Korea ñ this is Michael Foleyís life.
Foley, who is currently a visiting assistant professor of dance at USF, has been dancing professionally and teaching dance for 17 years.
Foley said in 1985 he took his first modern dance class at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine.
ìAlthough I was supposed to be studying liberal arts, I was spending all of my time in the dance studio,î Foley said. ìI made my professional debut with a local dance company in Portland, Maine in 1987 in the midst of earning my undergraduate degrees in English and Spanish,î he said.
Foley moved to New York City in 1989 to pursue a career in dancing. By 1994, he was earning a living solely from dancing, choreographing and teaching.
ìIn the 10 years that I lived and worked in New York City, I danced and taught internationally with over two dozen choreographers,î Foley said. ìWhen I wasnít dancing with a particular choreographer, I was making my own work.î
In 1994, Foley formed his own dance company, Michael Foley Dance and by 1999 they were doing a good amount of touring and had gained good reviews from the media.
Foley decided to continue his education, and in June of this year, he received a masterís degree in dance from the University of Washington in Seattle. A few weeks after graduation, Foley took a job at USF.
ìThe dance program here at USF is fantastic, and the faculty is tremendous,î Foley said. ìThe fact that Moving Current has sort of become a repository for some of USFís finest dance graduates is a testament to how strong USFís program is and how the dance scene in Tampa is continually moving forward as a place where dancers can do good work ñ I think the performances this weekend will certainly be a realization of that fact,î Foley said.
Moving Current Dance Co., will perform in an annual modern dance concert called NewGrounds will be hosted by USF this weekend. The production will showcase new and emerging dancers and choreographers, as well as established artists.
The show can be seen Friday and Saturday in Theater 2, and will mark the companyís 50th performance in Tampa.
Foley said he has been choreographing with USF alumni and other performers for this weekendís shows and will also be performing.
ìI think itís important for audiences that donít usually go to see a modern dance concert to take a look at this one,î Foley said. ìThis concert will satisfy on many different levels: visually, musically, and aesthetically.î
Foley said while he was teaching at the Florida Dance Festival in Miami this June he saw Moving Current perform for the first time.
ìThe night they performed, I was offered the job at USF, so it was all kind of serendipitous that we would somehow work together,î Foley said. ìItís actually been an incredible experience to come from way across the country and jump into the Tampa dance scene ñ a privilege really.î
Erin Cardinal, a USF alumna, and one of the founders of Moving Current, said the dance company is made up of a variety of people, including several of USF alumni.
ìWeíre somewhat of a pick-up group ñ picking up dancers on a project based contract, with the addition of the artist that each guest choreographer may bring with him or her,î Cardinal said. ìGuest choreographers are either invited or can submit their work to be reviewed by the collective. Dancers are chosen by the choreographer, mostly by invitation.î
A main goal for Moving Current, which was founded in 1997, is to help promote and showcase emerging dance artists, as well as the many existing dance professionals and choreographers in the Tampa area, Cardinal said.
ìWe found that the local schools of higher education, such as USF, are constantly producing excellent dance artists that, if given the opportunity, would stay here in Tampa to hone their art form and make the area their home,î Cardinal said.
Cardinal added that in order to have a well-rounded fine arts community here in Tampa, it needs to have a well-rounded foundation, including all fine arts mediums. Dance is one crucial element in forming this strong foundation, Cardinal said.
ìOur many goals include providing a focus to promote better recognition for contemporary dance supporting performing artists in the community by producing more events, as well as building and developing local audiences,î Cardinal said.
This yearís NewGrounds concerts will consist of an eclectic collection of modern dance and multi-media works. Pieces range from a performance including contemporary dance with video accompaniment, original music and aerial dance using ropes to a quintet dancing to a rock íní roll/Celtic fiddle player from Nova Scotia, said Foley.
Aside from dance, this weekendís NewGrounds concerts offer original scores by Gregory Hicks and Tampa artist Henry Hsiao, who will also exhibit video. Visual work by Scott Wheeler and G.B. Stephens will also be shown.
ìThere will be such a variety of works that there will be something for everyone, including people who have never been to a dance concert,î Cardinal said.
Lisa Tobias is a director, choreographer and tour manager for Moving Current. Tobias graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in dance from USF in 1998. Tobias said she got involved with Moving Current after graduation.
ìWhen I was in college, Moving Current had just started, and I went to see the show they put on, and I was really impressed,î Tobias said. ìI knew right then that I wanted to get involved with the company ñ the choreographers and dancers participating in this concert are some of the most talented dance professionals in the state.î
Tobias said modern dance is a unique form, and the trip to see the show will be well worth it.
ìModern dance is a visual art form, but itís hard to describe ñ I always just say Ãgo see it, you wonít be disappointed,íî Tobias said.
Moving Current can be seen in its annual NewGrounds concert Friday at 8 p.m., or Saturday, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. The cost is $12 for general admission and $6 for students and seniors 65 and over with I.D.

Contact Annie Curnowat oraclefeatures@yahoo.com