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Loa Clawson, artistic director of the Performing Danscompany at the University of Utah, believes the company's recent trip to Hong Kong and other points in the Orient was perhaps its biggest artistic highlight since she founded PDC back in 1978.

PDC represented the United States at the 1988 International Festival of Dance Academies, sponsored by the Hong Kong Academy for the Performing Arts July 18-22. The company also danced in the Guangdong International Festival of Dance Academies in Guang Zhou (formerly Canton) July 13-16, and in the Taipei National Dance Festival in late July.Eight other companies participated, including the host academy and those from Tokyo, Shanghai, Tibet and Taipei; Vancouver, British Columbia; Melbourne, Australia; and London.

In commending PDC's performance in Hong Kong, the critic from the South China Morning Post noted that "as representatives of America's oldest and most prestigious dance department, they attracted . . . a capacity audience - and they didn't disappoint." The company's Oriental repertory included "Physalia" by Chase-Pendleton, "Overlay" by Clawson, "I Want - I Can't Remember" by Ford Evans, and Phyllis Haskell's "Ibis."

For Haskell the Hong Kong appearance was a homecoming, since she taught at the academy there for a year before coming to Utah in 1987 as head of modern dance at the University of Utah. "Students she had taught there were excited to see her again and welcome her back. Phyllis did so much of the organizing for this tour, and she made a wonderful guide for us, showing us the significant sights of Hong Kong," said Clawson.

She expressed appreciation to the university for the support given PDC in making the trip, noting funds received from the University Development Office, the Associated Students of the University and Dean Robert Olpin of the College of Fine Arts.

"We paid our own air fare, but after we got there the Chinese were most warm and cordial in extending hospitality to us," she said. "We were housed in nice hotels, taken sightseeing and given a number of receptions, and we did enjoy the chance to see the other companies dance, to sit and eat together, and to exchange gifts at the end of the festival.

"Our company welcomed the opportunity to show the sort of modern dance that is now current in America. We were very positively received, and I think were given more applause than any other company. For our students that was exhilarating, and it was a great experience to watch companies from different cultures and share our own culture with them."

Clawson hopes a crack in the door to the Far East will widen into another invitation. "Dame Margaret Scott of the Australian Ballet School of Melbourne was most complimentary," she said. "She told us, `Your students have an exciting quality that our country should see. We have a festival every year, and it would be wonderful if you could be there.' "