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Hamilton leaving Arkansas

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Lawrence Hamilton, the dancer, director and singer who left New York for his home state of Arkansas 10 years ago, is returning to New York, he said Tuesday.

"There's no work here," Hamilton said. He'll leave in September to perform in James Still's one-man show "Looking Over the President's Shoulder" at the University of South Carolina and will go to Washington, D.C., in October to work with Jessye Norman for a January performance of Duke Ellington's "Sacred Works" at the National Cathedral. Hamilton worked with Norman conducting and arranging her 1997 TV special "Jessye Norman Sings for the Healing of AIDS."

Former Philander Smith College director Dr. Trudie Kibbe Reed asked Hamilton, who enjoyed a 20-year career on the New York stage performing in "Timbuktu," "The Wiz," "Jelly's Last Jam," "Ragtime" and other productions, to return too Arkansas to work with Philander Smith College. There he was the director of choral activities and, later, director of cultural affairs. He's appeared in productions to numerous to list since coming home for what was supposed to be a one-year commitment. He's done many charity performances, which he says he's enjoyed, but "I'm going to end up being the charity" if he stays, he said. Dying funding for the arts and a lack of interest — he cited the quarter-full audience at a Robinson performance with Mary Steenburgen, Ted Danson and other celebrities as an example — has forced his move.

"If you write about me," Hamilton, 57, said, "Tell everybody how grateful I am for their love and support and being in my corner." And he added, "Arkansas will always run deep in me," quoting Wayland Holyfield's song.

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