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Allison South has been named new director of the Salt Lake Art Center, replacing former director Dan Burke, who left the job last year.

South has been with the art center more than four years, during which time she has served as curator of exhibitions, assistant director and, for the past six months, interim director. Before then she was assistant to the director of the Bountiful/Davis Art Center. She is married to artist and art historian Will South.Concurrent with South's appointment, the art center board has also announced a strengthened focus on contemporary art. That is defined, South says, as art "which responds to the conditions and concerns of modern life and which discovers and defines new forms which will eventually become part of our tradition. We wish to be an institution which encourages artists to experiment and to take chances with their creativity - in a variety of ways."

Citing a high level of preliminary support, she added, "Obviously there will be controversy connected with this focus, and we certainly have respect for our community and its traditions. At the same time we want to create an arena to foster the respect and understanding of current artistic phenomena."

Upcoming exhibits include Contemporary Paintings and Works on Paper from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Intermountain Weavers Guild regional competition, the Handweavers Guild of America biennial exhibition, a "Celebration of Photography," the Utah '89 Crafts Statewide Competition and a Francis Zimbeaux retrospective. In addition, a grant from the R. Harold Burton Foundation will assist the center's education program.

(BU) STILL RAKING IN awards, Willam F. Christensen will be honored by the magazine Dance Teacher Now with its Circle of Dance award, to be presented by Jacques d'Amboise at the Dance Educators of America convention in Las Vegas on July 2.

The biennial award honors someone who has not only given pleasure through performing dance but has altered and enriched the course of the art. The magazine, published monthly at Sacramento, will be celebrating its 10th anniversary in Las Vegas.

Christensen, founder and first artistic director of Ballet West, has many firsts to his credit. He was founder of the San Francisco Ballet and was its artistic director before coming to Salt Lake City. He also staged the first full-length "Coppelia," "Swan Lake" and "Nutcracker" in America. Now 87 and long retired from Ballet West, Christensen still teaches in his own Christensen Center.