Fire science and Native American education for youth merge with the performing arts in the CoMotion Dance Project’s presentation of “Fire Speaks the Land: An Active Audiences Performance.” The performance will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 10 and 11, in the Montana Theatre at the University of Montana's Performing Arts and Radio-Television Center.

Designed for elementary school students and families in Missoula, the 50-minute performance uses original choreography, narration and music to explore fire science, forest ecology and traditional Native perspectives on fire. The beautifully crafted live performance will appeal to all ages and is expected to reach more than 1,500 children and adults in Missoula.

Missoula County Public Schools will bus third- and sixth-grade students to the Montana Theatre to view student-only performances from 9:45 to 10:35 a.m. and 1:30 to 2:20 p.m. Tuesday, and from 1 to 1:50 p.m. Wednesday. There also will be an evening performance for families at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11. Sponsored by the MCPS Title VII Parent Advisory Committee, the evening performance is free and open to the public.

UM dance Professor Karen Kaufmann, 2014 recipient of the Montana Arts Council’s Artist Innovation Award, directs the CoMotion Dance Project, an organization that promotes dance in K-12 education.

Written and produced by Kaufmann and Steve Kalling, the piece features choreography by Kaufmann and Joy French, with live performances by French and four other professional dancers: Allison Herther, Kaitlin Kinsley, Jordan Dehline and Ashley Griffith. The performance will feature original music composed and recorded by Kalling and nine Montana musicians, and Blackfeet musician and storyteller Jack Gladstone will narrate the sound score.

Following the Missoula performances, the CoMotion Dance Project will perform “Fire Speaks the Land” for 800 Flathead Valley students on Monday, March 2, at the Whitefish Performing Arts Center. Participating Flathead Valley schools include Kalispell Middle School, Olney-Bissell School, Edgerton Elementary, Trego School, Somers Middle School and Glacier Gateway Elementary.

For more information about the performances, visit comotiondanceproject.com/schoolperformances/index.html.

For more information, contact Kaufmann at 243-2870 or karen.kaufmann@umontana.edu, or Cathie Chichosz at 728-2400, Ext. 1064, or ccichosz@mcps.k12.mt.us.

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