A Malibu-based dance company headed by an adjunct Santa Monica College (SMC) professor — LA Dances — will perform at a UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) gathering Wednesday through Sunday, November 9th to 13th, on Cyprus.

“We will be the only Americans performing artistic work there,” said Rebecca Yewell-Witjas, adjunct SMC dance professor and artistic director of LA Dances. “We are very excited.”

The U.S. withdrew from UNESCO in 1984, and had only limited participation in the organization, she says. The United States rejoined UNESCO in 2003.

LA Dances is a partnership between SMC and Pepperdine University in Malibu that Yewell-Witjas, who teaches at both institutions, started last year.

LA Dances is a member of the International Dance Council, founded in 1973.

A member of the council’s advisory board, Yewell-Witjas wanted to start a dance troupe that would reflect UNESCO’s mission.

With the help of some friends and colleagues, she was able to gather a group of talented dancers that includes SMC and Pepperdine students.

The World Congress is the largest gathering of dance specialists worldwide and participation is by invitation only. Last year’s congress was attended by 450 specialists from 40 countries.

The troupe itself is as diverse as its mission.

Consisting of dancers ranging in age from their early 20s to 40s, LA Dancers includes students and seasoned professionals.

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