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‘Gary would be so excited to see all of these amazing dancers’

Tribute concert to salute late dance legend Gary Geis.

Article by Brett Turner, Springfield News-Sun

The late Gary Geis’ life was all about dance. So there’s really only one way to pay him tribute.

To mark a year after his passing, a host of dancers, guest soloists, musicians and choreographers influenced by Geis and his more than 40 years of service to the local arts community will return the favor in a style he’d have appreciated.

The Gary Geis Tribute Concert will capture his signature choreography in several forms when it takes to the Kuss Auditorium stage at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22.

“This concert is our opportunity to share how much we admired and loved Gary,” said Lori Common, the Gary Geis Dance Company’s co-artistic director along with Mark Cummings. “Gary would be so excited to see all of these amazing dancers and musicians coming together to celebrate.”

Geis began his lifelong love for dancing in Springfield at age 6 and later went to New York City to train with the legendary June Taylor and some of most respected ballet teachers of the era.

After a stint co-directing the Ballet Theatre of the Virgin Islands in the early 1970s, returned home to form the Gary Geis School of Dance and in 1998

founded the Gary Geis Dance Company.

The Gary Geis Dance Company Ensemble of more than 30 dancers will include current and former students who will perform his signature repertory works in jazz, modern and tap.

Cindy Griffin, a longtime student and current tap instructor, is putting the tap pieces together, while Tiffany Lobertini is resetting the jazz and modern works.

While many of the dancers are current students, more than 15 have returned to be part of this special event according to Common.

Guests will include modern dance instructor Jordan Davis and Leighann Kowalsky of Erick Hawkins Dance Company, who are choreographing new pieces, and Kanako Shimasaki, a former student, will be perform a violin and piano duet with Josh Kline.

Former students now performing professionally serving as guest solists will include Claire Fisher, Bethany Logan, Emily Larger, Victoria Broshes and Kristin O’Neal.

“Gary’s gift of instilling individual uniqueness while relating to and communicating with a diverse group of humans through dance is what I aspire to create in my classroom every day,” said O’Neal, a rehearsal director for CORE Performance Company in Georgia.

Tickets are available online through, at or at the Clark State Performing Arts Center box office.

Common said this will be a time to reflect on Geis and look forward to the future.

“Dance was Gary’s life and he built a strong foundation and appreciation for dance in our community,” Common said. “We’re here to remind our friends, students, fans and families that Gary’s legacy of dance, his dance school and dance company, will continue. We hope everyone will come see this show and celebrate with us.”

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