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Arroyo Grande woman overcomes MS to dance in D.C.

  • April 3, 2009

By Adobe Staff

An Arroyo Grande High School and Hancock College graduate challenged by multiple sclerosis will perform Thursday, April 16, at the Nationals of Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival in Washington, D.C.

Janet Lowman, an Arroyo Grande native, will dance as a guest artist in “Tongues,” a California State University, East Bay, production.
Lowman has overcome many obstacles in her life, mostly relating to her early onset of multiple sclerosis, said Diane Daniel, spokeswoman for the CSUEB College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences.

But she has continued dancing and has used disability to experiment with different movement styles, Daniel said.
Outside of dance, Lowman attends a local support group of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to stay informed of new medical advances.
She also hopes to help others by raising money for the Walk MS most springs. That is unusually challenging this year because she must also raise money for her trip to Washington, D.C.

“Tongues” has been under development by Eric Kupers, director/choreographer and assistant professor of theater and dance, and a cast of 20 CSUEB students, staff and faculty.

Also involved are five people — including Lowman — who are CSUEB alumni or members of Kupers’ private Dandelion Dancetheater.

Written by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin, the CSUEB interpretation is created and performed with a multiracial, intergenerational, physically integrated cast of dancers, actors and musicians — with and without disabilities.
The script is a collage of views, memories and interpretations of dying, all told through stories flashing through the mind of one dying man.

“We intend it as a vehicle toward greater acceptance of the birth (and) death cycle for all who see (and) hear it, as it has been for us making it,” Kupers said.

Lowman hopes to enroll in Cal State East Bay’s Theatre and Dance Department to continue working with Kupers on such physically integrated and interdisciplinary work.

“Tongues” was previewed last spring, performed on campus in the fall and selected to be among 56 productions in eight Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival regional festivals in February.

This is only the second time a CSUEB production has reached the national stage.

Tickets to the Washington, D.C., performances are available at

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