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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 11, 2007

Dance Theater founder Medcalf is leaving in the fall

Cleveland--Michael Medcalf, the founder and artistic director of Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater, is leaving Cleveland after a decade at the helm of his troupe.

Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater was founded by Medcalf in 1998, and is now the dance troupe in residence at the Karamu House theater complex. Under his leadership, the troupe also established a dance school that provides classes for underprivileged youth as well as the general community.

He will spend the summer choreographing two pieces for Opera Cleveland, the organization formed out of the merger of the Cleveland Opera and Lyric Opera Cleveland.

Medcalf will then head to the nation’s capital for the fall, returning home for the holidays.

The final phase of his current tenure in Cleveland will officially end with what he describes as a leisurely road trip out to California, where he will continue his studies in dance and hopes to become a faculty instructor at a university.

In addition to his dedication to the African American community, Medcalf has always been open about his sexual orientation and involved with Cleveland’s LGBT community, winning Male Entertainer of the Year at last year’s Black Gay and Proud Celebration awards night.

“At this point, Michael Medcalf has left us with a tremendous gift in CCDT,” said Aseelah Shareef, the troupe’s executive director. “The company will continue to move forward upon the founding ideals that Medcalf set for the organization: commitment to diversity and celebration of African-American dance traditions.”

Shareef said that next season, CCDT will focus primarily on education and outreach.

“Our education programs get stronger and stronger with each year,” she noted. “Moving into our next season, it’s time to reevaluate this programming so that we move forward in subsequent years with a clearly recognizable arts education curriculum.”

“Dancers will play a significant role in the arts education programming while maintaining a minimal performance presence throughout greater Cleveland,” she continued.

Finding Medcalf’s successor, however, will not be a top priority.

“At this time, CCDT will not move aggressively to fill the artistic director position just for the sake of having it filled,” Shareef insisted. “We will use next season to fully explore the artistic future of the company, taking careful time to plan for the 2008-2009 season when we will reinstate a full performing company with a full performance schedule.”



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