- Patricia Rincon, San Diego's leading apostle of jazz dance, was busy spreading the gospel to dance groups in Europe during a six-month sabbatical from UC San Diego's dance department.

"I just returned from doing workshops and teaching at five universities. I premiered a new work there and choreographed pieces for two dance companies over there," said Rincon on her return to home base.

"They're clamoring at the door to get this kind of knowledge. They don't know the difference between jazz and modern dance (on college campuses in Europe), and the interest is incredible," she said. "I had 80 students in one hall for a seminar.

"I was doing research at the University of Zurich to find out if dance would flourish as an academic program in Europe. Right now they don't have any in European universities. It just doesn't exist, except for a few programs."

The results of Rincon's findings are still being processed, but Rincon is excited about the work she did in raising awareness about jazz dance in Europe.

"The most important thing I came away with was a new perspective on things--how lucky we are to have the opportunities available here for high-level instruction (in jazz jargon). But life is slower there, and they take the time to see more."

San Diego dance enthusiasts will have to wait until March to see some of Rincon's wares, but Jazz Unlimited is preparing two major concerts for the spring season.

"We'll be doing new works in March at San Diego State University," said Rincon, "and then we're planning an April concert in La Jolla. We'll be using a smaller core of dancers in the company, but we'll be inviting people to come in as guest artists, so you'll be seeing some new faces."

Jazz Unlimited received a $5,000 matching grant from the City of San Diego, which should make things a lot jazzier for the troupe this year.

"Yes, we're in good shape," Rincon said.

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