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Posts Tagged ‘festival’

Fire Island Dance Festival Nets More Than Half a Million for AIDS

Sara Mearns at Fire Island Dance Festival 2014; photo by Whitney Browne

Sara Mearns at Fire Island Dance Festival 2014;
photo by Whitney Browne

Performances by top dancers from the ballet, contemporary, Broadway, and ethnic dance worlds helped the Fire Island Dance Festival to raise a record-shattering $533,860 for Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Broadway World said the festival celebrated its 20th anniversary edition July 18 to 20, outdoors on the shores of the Great South Bay in Fire Island Pines, New York. This year’s total eclipsed last year’s record-setting $393,647.

The festival lineup included the world premieres of works choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, Marcelo Gomes, and others, plus performances by 48 professional dancers including New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, Broadway veteran Nick Kenkel, MOMIX soloist Jon Eden, members of Ailey II, Jon Bond of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and members of the Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu all-male hula company.

In its 20 editions, Fire Island Dance Festival has raised more than $3.8 million to help ensure that those who need it most can receive lifesaving medications and health care, nutritious meals, counseling, and emergency financial assistance. To see the original story, visit




Ambitious Schedule of Classes, Performances, Mark Vancouver Tap Fest

Dorrance Dance will appear at the Vancouver International Tap Festival; photo courtesy Broadway World

Dorrance Dance will appear at the Vancouver International Tap Festival; photo courtesy Broadway World

In-demand tap artist Michelle Dorrance and her Dorrance Dance company will headline the 15th edition of the Vancouver International Tap Festival set for August 28 to 31 in Vancouver, Canada.

The four-day festival features dance workshop for youth and adults with more than 60 classes led by Brenda Bufalino, Sam Weber, Dianne Walker, Tony Waag, and others.

Open-to-the-public evening performances include:

• The inaugural Tap Grace Awards Gala, recognizing artist, volunteers, and sponsors who have contributed to the evolution of the festival and of the Vancouver Tap Dance society Academy, is set for August 28 at 8pm at the Holiday Inn Downtown Vancouver.

• New works by two of Canada’s finest tappers— Love.Be.Best.Free by Danny Nielsen and Hold On by Lisa La Touche—will be featured August 29 at 8pm, at the Norman Rothstein Theatre, 950 West 41st Avenue.

• Dorrance and her company will appear in performance August 30 at 8pm, also at the Norman Rothstein Theatre.

• More than 100 dancers will take to the 700 block of Granville Street in the festival’s finale, Tap It Out, on August 31 from 5 to 6pm, followed by performances by students and others at the Festival Showcase & Tap Visions at 8pm at the Norman Rothstein Theatre.

For more details and tickets, visit




Second Annual Cape Dance Festival Brings World-Class Dance to Cape Cod

Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by Sarah Sterner Photography

Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by
Sarah Sterner Photography

The Cape Dance Festival, scheduled for July 26 at 6pm at the Province Lands Amphitheatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has been a labor of love for co-founders Stacey-Jo Marine and Liz Wolff. And that affection for increasing the amount of dance performance on the Cape has been embraced throughout the region.

“The summer program this year will have a different feel with a lot of new work,” says Marine in Provincetown Magazine. “Newer work and a fresh vibe.”

Scheduled performers include Boston Ballet soloist John Lam, along with dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, CorbinDances, Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Take Dance, Mazzini Dance Collective, Pedro Ruiz, and Project Moves Dance Company.

Marine and Wolff formed Cape Dance Festival in 2013 to bring world-class dance to the residents and visitors of Cape Cod through education, altruism, and performance. Marine, who teaches dance production at Marymount Manhattan College, is currently touring with the Martha Graham Dance Company as production supervisor. Wolff is a life-long summer resident of the Cape who danced professionally in New York and Cleveland for 15 years, and is the co-curator for Dance On Camera, a film festival held annually at Lincoln Center, NYC.

The Province Lands Amphitheater is located at 171 Race Point Road, next to the Province Lands Visitor Center. For more information, visit



Tune In Next Week to Catch Final Round of Varna International Ballet Competition

IBC Varna 2014; photo courtesy Facebook

IBC Varna 2014; photo courtesy Facebook

Some 130 representatives of 30 countries are taking part in the 26th edition of the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, which aims at finding young talents in classical and contemporary ballet.

2014 marks 50 years since the inaugural Varna festival, founded in 1964 as the world’s first professional international competition. Vladimir Vasiliev from Russia will serve as jury chair for this year’s panel, which includes judges from Cuba, Bulgaria, USA, Japan, Germany, Romania, Monaco, Argentina, France, Korea, China, and Kazakhstan.

Ballet fans around the world can tune in next week as some of the competition and special events are broadcast live on BNT World July 26, 27, 29, and 30 at 8pm Central European Summer Time. (To access the broadcast, visit

Competition began Tuesday. The third round will take place July 26 and 27. Prizes will be awarded at the official closing ceremony July 29, followed by a Super Gala, “Meeting of Generations,” on July 30.

To learn more about Varna, visit



Entire San Francisco Ballet Company In Paris For Festival Performances

San Francisco Ballet in Caprice;  photo by Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Caprice;
photo by Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet is in Paris for an unprecedented 17-day engagement at the Théâtre du Châtelet, beginning on July 10, and is featured in the Les Etés de la Danse Festival, reported San Francisco Classical Voice.

The company program is varied and extensive, compressing virtually the entire home season into the festival days. The entire company—principals, soloists, corps de ballet—is participating. A notable homecoming is that of Mathilde Froustey, on extended leave from the Paris Opera Ballet; she will stay with SF Ballet at least through 2015.

Opening night is an exceptionally generous gala. The program: Renato Zanella’s Alles Walzer, Val Caniparoli’s No Other, the pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, Helgi Tomasson’s Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers, Yuri Possokhov’s Classical Symphony, the pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Agon, Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins, Frederick Ashton’s Voices of Spring, the second movement pas de deux from Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, and the fourth movement and finale from Balanchine’s Symphony in C.

From the opening until the July 26 closing concert, SF Ballet will present some three dozen works.

Interesting tidbit: Théâtre du Châtelet was originally used for drama performances. Beginning in April 1876, the stage version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, adapted by Verne and Adolphe d’Ennery, began a run spanning 64 years and 2,195 performances (not continuously), until the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940 closed the production permanently.

To see the original story, visit



Dance All Day—For Free!—on July 26, Philadelphia Dance Day

Philly Dance Fitness; photo courtesy Facebook

Philly Dance Fitness; photo courtesy Facebook

Philadelphia Dance Day, a nonprofit festival featuring free workshops, live performances, and a huge evening dance party, will be held July 26.

Philly Dance Fitness, an independent company based in Center City, first organized this event three years ago to celebrate National Dance Day. Organizers seek to unite the Philly community as they celebrate dance both as a platform for creative expression and as a joyful, physical activity.

More than 300 people participated in the 2013 celebration, and with the addition of more participating organizations and more volunteers, an even bigger turnout is expected this year.

There is no pre-registration, and no limit to the number of workshops participants can attend. Workshops are filled on a first come, first served basis. All daytime workshops are free. (There is a $5 entrance fee for the evening dance party and other events at the historical Ethical Society Building on Rittenhouse Square.)

Locations and offerings include:
• Headlong Studios: power jam stretch, impact jazz, Indonesian dance, hip-hop, striptease, dance party boot camp
• Major Movement Studio: Tap Tonic, Piloxing (Pilates and boxing), modern fitness, JazzTech, BalletEXTREME, Bhangra Blast, tango
• Philadelphia Dance Academy: adult beginner ballet and advanced beginner adult tap
• Studio 1831: belly dance
• Christian Street YMCA: Zumba Sentao, Body Jam, Sh’Bam, hip-hop master class
• Art in Motion Dance Academy: Bachata
• The Ethical Society of Philadelphia; cardio bellydance, Zumba party, lindy hop, rumba, salsa

To see the full schedule, visit



Lyons, Kelly, Latest Inductees Into International Tap Dance Hall of Fame

Carnell Lyons; photo courtesy American Tap Dance Foundation

Carnell Lyons; photo courtesy American Tap Dance Foundation

Hollywood icon Gene Kelly and Carnell Lyons (“Mr. Magic Feet”) will be inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts tonight as part of the American Tap Dance Foundation’s annual Tap City festival, announced

Lyons (1917–1992), along with the acrobatic duo of Jesse Franklin and James Hawthorne, climbed to the heights of show business in the ‘50s, appearing with Kate Smith, Jackie Gleason, and Milton Berle on TV, and as one of the few black acts that played Las Vegas (El Rancho) and Radio City Music Hall (May 23, 1953) in that era. Lyons later performed extensively in Europe and the Far East, and, according to his American Tap Dance Foundation bio, was responsible for bringing rhythm tap to Europe through his late-in-life teaching career.

Tony Waag, Tap City’s director, says that Kelly (1912–96) continues to inspire male dancers who identify with his athleticism. “He represented—similar to Gregory Hines—a very masculine, positive image for tap dance,” Waag says.

The festival also features two evening tap-centered events this week at NYC’s Symphony Space: on Wednesday, Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, will offer up insight and film clips during “Gene Kelly: The Legacy.” On Thursday, an international cast of hoofers will perform in “Tap and Song.” For more information on both shows, visit

Tap City concludes on July 12 with a free public celebration featuring 150 dancers in historic Foley Square.

For more information on the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame, visit

To see the original story, visit



Annual Week of Free Dance Classes Now Underway in New York City

NYC Dance Week; photo courtesy Broadway World

NYC Dance Week; photo courtesy Broadway World

NYC Dance Week, the 10-day festival of free and discounted dance, fitness, and wellness classes, is taking place at dance studios across New York’s five boroughs now through June 28, reported Broadway World.

In addition to Dance Week’s 2014 Studio Partner, Mark Morris Dance Center, this year the festival will also offer classes in collaboration with The Ailey Extension, Power Pilates, Ballet Academy East, Dancewave, Z Club NY, and others.

NYC Dance Week invites New York studios, dance students, businesses, volunteers, and other organizations to participate in an array of dance and fitness classes, from classical ballet to West African dance to Pilates to Zumba, with the goal of demonstrating how all movement benefits the mind, body, and spirit.

Participants are invited to watch performances of new dance works at a special showcase by its sister project, NYC10, at Dixon Place on June 25.

A complete schedule of free classes is now available at, and a schedule of discounted classes is available at Required registration for NYC Dance Week Passes is now open online at



Turkey Aims to Raise Profile of Ballet in Country by Hosting International Festival

4th International Istanbul Ballet and Competition Festival; photo by AA

4th International Istanbul Ballet and Competition Festival; photo by AA

The 4th International Istanbul Ballet Competition and Festival, organized to highlight Turkey’s artistic identity, kicks off June 21 at the Zorlu Center PSM with the ballet Count Dracula.

State Opera and Ballet general director Professor Rengim Gökmen, speaking to Anadolu Agency, said he gave great importance to the competition, adding, “I believe this competition makes great contributions to Turkish ballet in terms of opening it to the world. As of June 21, Istanbul will be the place where the heart of world ballet will beat.” The festival ends June 26 with a gala and award ceremony, according to The Hurriyet Daily News.

Gökmen noted that the competition gained the status of being a festival this year and important ballet pieces would be staged. “We want to draw the ballet world’s attention and promote the art of Turkish ballet because this is what we can boast about. Our wish is to use the techniques the world uses,” he said.

Ballet in Turkey began with Russian instructor Lydia Krassa Arzumanova, who opened a ballet studio in Istanbul in 1921. Dame Ninette de Valois, the founder of The Royal Ballet, was invited to Turkey in 1947 for the foundation of Turkish ballet, and in 1948, enrolled 11 male and 18 female students in an Istanbul ballet school.

Later, de Valois sent her assistant Alaine Phillips to Turkey. Phillips reorganized the choreography of Lev Ivanov and Enrico Cecchetti and staged Léo Delibes’ ballet Coppélia in 1961. This was the first ballet performed by Turkish ballet dancers.

To see the original story, visit



DancerPalooza Offers Up a Week of Classes and Performances from Celebrity Teachers

Mandy Moore; photo courtesy DancerPalooza

Mandy Moore; photo courtesy DancerPalooza

Top professional choreographers, master teachers, professional dancers, dance students of all ages, and dance fans will meet at the Long Beach [CA] Convention Center July 22 to 27 for DancerPalooza, reported Broadway World.

More than 5,000 dancers and enthusiasts covering the wide spectrum of the field are expected to participate in this six-day festival.

A highlight of the festival is Beat Street, an expo hall and performance stage that features “Crash Course” open classes for all ages and all styles taught by Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Mia Michaels, tWitch, Kenny Wormald, Misha Gabriel, Nick Lazzarini, Stacey Tookey, Ivan Koumaev, Teddy Forance, Andy Blankenbuehler, Al Blackstone, Mike Minery, Bobby Newberry, and Anthony Morigerato.

The festival also includes nightly ticketed performances by Shaping Sound and others in the 825-seat Center Theater, and week-long intensives in contemporary, tap, hip-hop, jazz funk, and Broadway, under the direction of Moore, Wall, Michaels, tWitch, Wormald, Tookey, and Blankenbuehler. Visit for information and ticketing.

To see the original story, visit




Jason Samuels Smith’s 12 Years A Slave Collaboration Presented Free in NYC

Jason Samuels Smith; photo courtesy SummerStage

Jason Samuels Smith; photo courtesy SummerStage

Award-winning tap dancer Jason Samuels Smith and renowned musician/singer/composer Owen “Fiidla” Brown will present an original musical response to the critically acclaimed film 12 Years A Slave in a free performance June 20 at 7pm in Brooklyn’s Herbert Von King Park as part of the 2014 SummerStage festival.

SummerStage is New York City’s largest free performing arts festival, featuring more than 100 free performances in 14 parks throughout the five boroughs now through August 24. With performances ranging from American pop, Latin, and world music, to dance, comedy, and theater, SummerStage fills a vital niche in New York City’s summer arts festival landscape. Since its inception 29 years ago, more than six million people from New York City and around the world have enjoyed SummerStage.

Another dance offering this month is ChoreoQuest on June 21 at 7pm at Herbert Von King Park. ChoreoQuest is the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza—Center for Arts and Culture dance residency program. Established in 2001, CQ provides a home for a diverse array of Brooklyn-based emerging and accomplished choreographers, plus the opportunity to create, develop, and present new works while providing master-level instruction and mentorship to Youth Arts Academy dance students and studio showcases for the general public.

July dance performances include Urban Bush Women, Ballet Hispanico, Harambee Dance Company, National Dance Institute, Hybrid Movement Company, Shaun Parker Dance Company, HaHuDance Crew, Sidra Bell Dance NY, Spectrum Dance Theater, The Harlem Dance Caravan, and others.

For a full schedule, visit



Jersey Tap Fest Celebrates Five Years By Founding Scholarship Program

Jersey Tap Fest founder Hillary-Marie Michael; photo courtesy Facebook

Jersey Tap Fest founder Hillary-Marie Michael; photo courtesy Facebook

Jersey Tap Fest, New Jersey’s annual tap dance festival, celebrates its fifth-year anniversary August 14 to 17 in Bloomfield with more than 30 tap dance classes and a main stage celebration event, “TAP ‘N TIME.”

The public is welcome to participate, as well, by attending various events such as a history lesson, jam session, student showcase, and faculty meet and greet.

For its fifth anniversary, the festival has launched a scholarship initiative and has awarded deserving participants with full and partial scholarships, totaling more than $5,000. Of the recipients, five are international students.

“I wanted to help educate the world of the tap masters that have come from Jersey,” said festival founder and director Hillary-Marie Michael. “We’ve been able to not only celebrate local masters each year, but also provide an unprecedented opportunity for tap enthusiasts to find a home for exploration and intuitive performance through this intensive training.”

“TAP ‘N TIME” is set for August 16 at 7:30pm at Bloomfield College’s Westminster Arts Center, and will feature performers such as Jason Samuels Smith, Jason Janas, Karen Callaway Williams, Jeff Foote, Kyle Wilder, Evan Ruggiero, Hillary-Marie Michael, Boston Tap Company, and others.

“TAP ‘N TIME” tickets go on sale July 1 at or by calling 973.932.0561. Additional information on the festival can be found at



Legendary Dance Artist Carmen de Lavallade Celebrates 61 Years at Jacob’s Pillow

Carmen de Lavallade; photo courtesy Playbill

Carmen de Lavallade; photo courtesy Playbill

Carmen de Lavallade holds the distinction of having the longest Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival performing career on record, having made her Pillow debut with Lester Horton Dance Theatre in 1953.

She returns to the Pillow’s stage with the world premiere of her new solo show, As I Remember It, reports Broadway World. The piece opens the festival and runs June 20 to 22, combining dance, film, and spoken word to weave a theatrical memoir about de Lavallade’s venerable life on stage.

De Lavallade says, “Jacob’s Pillow has played such an important role in my career. It is hard to believe that my first performance at the Pillow was 61 years ago, which makes this upcoming presentation incredibly special for me.”

In addition to her early Pillow appearances with the companies of Lester Horton and Alvin Ailey, de Lavallade has also performed at the festival with her husband, Geoffrey Holder; in the companies of Glen Tetley and Donald McKayle; and with John Butler in his iconic Portrait of Billie.

To see the full story, visit:



Life Stories of Retired Residents Serve as Choreographic Inspiration in Cincinnati

Area Choreographers Festival dancers Della Lehane and Sergey Pakharev; photo by Jonathan Gibson

Area Choreographers Festival dancers Della Lehane and Sergey Pakharev; photo by Jonathan Gibson

The lives and experiences of residents of Cincinnati’s Llanfair Retirement Community served as thematic elements for four pieces to be shown during this weekend’s Area Choreographers Festival, run by Contemporary Dance Theater. said the annual festival, formerly known as Choreographers Without Companies, is a showcase for the work of independent choreographers in Greater Cincinnati. This year’s edition will run June 13 and 14 in the Jarson-Kaplan Theater at the Aronoff Center.

“We thought it would be interesting if we collected various life stories from the residents and interpreted them in modern dance movement,” says Jefferson James, CDT founding artistic director.

Many residents were hesitant to participate. “I had to convince a lot of our residents that their lives were interesting,” says Peg Ashbrock, Llanfair community relations coordinator. “They kept telling me things like ‘All I ever did was raise a family’ or ‘I went to war and then came back.’ But I assured them that was plenty important.”

Choreographer Judith Mikita said the stories that attracted her were those from people who faced great personal trials, but didn’t dwell on them. “All of us have stories to tell. We go along and we laugh and we work and associate with people, but nobody knows what our worries or our fears are. I didn’t want to sensationalize their pain, but I was so impressed with their humbleness and their tenacity. In the end, I felt honored that I was entrusted to share their stories.”

For more information, visit To see the original story, visit



San Souci Festival of Dance Cinema Calls for Entries

The Bridge, 2010, created by Ana Baer and Caren McCaleb; photo courtesy San Souci Festival of Dance Cinema

The Bridge, 2010, created by Ana Baer and Caren McCaleb; photo courtesy San Souci Festival of Dance Cinema

The San Souci Festival of Dance Cinema in Boulder, Colorado, has a deadline of May 23, to submit film and video works that integrate dance and cinematography.

In selecting pieces for the festival, judges will consider thoughtful forms and themes; investigative, innovative, and experimental approaches; production values; audience appeal; and how the piece fits with or complements other films being considered. Art-oriented shorts under 16 minutes are strongly preferred.

Accepted works will be screened in Boulder at one or more of the following venues:
• Atlas Institute’s Center for the Arts, Media and Performance at the University of Colorado—Boulder (September 5 and 6)
• Boedecker Theater at the Dairy Center for the Arts (September 21 and October 19)
• Boulder Public Library Cinema Program in the Canyon Theater (October 6)

Sans Souci means “without worry” in French, and was conceived in 2003 when Michelle Ellsworth and Brandi Mathis sat on the porch of a mobile home in the Sans Souci Trailer Park in Boulder. What was first imagined as an informal gathering of local dance video artists, screening their works on a white wall in a trailer, is now an international festival with submissions from all over the world.

For entry forms, submission requirements, and more information visit



Tap Festivals

Montreal Tap Dance Festival offers classes in English and French. Photo by E.S. Cheah Photography

Montreal Tap Dance Festival offers classes in English and French. Photo by E.S. Cheah Photography

A guide to 2014 tap events in the U.S. and abroad

Intensive tap festivals abound, and most include workshop classes, performances, and more. Whether you’re on the hunt for a great tap experience for your students or yourself, you’ll find the right fit in our listings.

Festivals are listed alphabetically by state, province, or country.

National Festivals

Chloe & Maud Productions’ DC Tap Festival
Washington, DC
When: April 10-13
Fees/costs: Unlimited classes $300; single class $25
Registration deadline: Ongoing (March 1 for early-bird discount); walk-ups welcome
Faculty includes: Chloe and Maud Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, DeWitt Fleming, Jason Janas, Sarah Reich, Jason Samuels Smith, Dianne Walker, Joseph Webb, and Bakaari Wilder

Expand the language of tap dance through master classes with world-renowned tap dance artists. Includes competition, panel discussions, jam sessions, student showcases, cutting contests, and an all-star concert featuring tap masters, critically acclaimed musicians, and accomplished young dancers from around the world.

Contact: 202.421.0235;


Rhythm World
American Rhythm Center, Chicago, IL
When: July 7-August 3
Fees/costs: Two weeks $1,500; single class $25
Registration deadline: May 25
Faculty includes: Lane Alexander, John Angeles, Bril Barrett, Martin Bronson, Zada Cheeks, Starinah Dixon, Martin “Tre” Dumas, Jay Fagan, Doug Feig, Derick K. Grant, Jason Janas, Nico Rubio, Sarah Savelli, Jumaane Taylor, Dianne Walker, Sam Weber and Nicholas Young; plus guests from Europe and South America: Guillem Alonso, Daniel Borak, Victor Cuno, Roser Font, and Charles Renato.

Rhythm World, Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s 24th annual summer festival of American tap and percussive dance, features courses, master classes, workshops, and conferences taught by the world’s leading tap masters. “JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance” concerts showcase extraordinary foot drummers and percussive arts masters.

Contact: 312.542.CHRP (2477);;


Motor City Tap Fest
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
When: August 13-16
Fees/costs: Unlimited classes $395; single class $30
Registration deadline: June 15 for a 15 percent discount; July 15 for a 10 percent discount
Faculty includes: Guillem Alonso, Bril Barrett, Denise Caston, Suzy Guarino, Ray Hesselink, Shelby Kaufman, Avi Miller and Ofer Ben, Jenefer Miller, Claudia Rahardjanoto, and Gregg Russell

In its seventh year of bringing tap dance to the heart of Detroit, Motor City Tap Fest offers three days of master classes for all levels and ages with leading artists, a participants’ showcase, a “faculty chat,” a tap jam, and the “Masters of Tap” concert at Detroit’s historic Orchestra Hall.

Contact: 917.687.4811;;


Jersey Tap Fest
Bloomfield, NJ
When: August 14-17
Fees/costs: Unlimited classes $365; day passes and single classes available
Registration deadline: Ongoing as of April 1
Faculty includes: Maurice Chestnut, Jason Janas, Hillary-Marie Michael, Deborah Mitchell, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Kyle Wilder, Karen Callaway Williams, and Nicholas Young

Founded in 2010, Jersey Tap Fest offers master classes, a student showcase, a panel discussion, and the mainstage event, “Tap ’N Time.”

Contact: 973.932.0561;;


North Carolina Rhythm Tap Festival
The Ballet School of Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
When: June 13-15
Fees/costs: $30 per class
Registration deadline: Ongoing
Faculty includes: Michelle Dorrance and Derick K. Grant

A rhythm-tap festival for all levels, including a showcase for students and a performance for instructors.

Contact: Gene Medler, 919.260.7585;;


Point Tap Festival 2014
Noel Fine Arts Center, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI
When: August 7-9
Fees/costs: Full festival $400 (early bird $350), 1/2 festival and individual class options
Registration deadline: June 6 for early-bird discount
Faculty includes: Past teachers have included Robert Audy, Brandi Coleman, Thelma Goldberg, Mark Goodman, Josh Hilberman, Jeannie Hill, Ryan Korb, Lynn Schwab, and Mark Yonally.

National and international tap dancers from beginner to professional are invited to Wisconsin for three days of intensive tap dancing. Eight classes daily in two beautiful studios with sprung floors. Additional events include faculty rap session, cookout, downtown jam session, and festival concert.

Contact: Jeannie Hill,; 715.346.3980;


International Festivals

Vancouver International Tap Festival
Dance Centre, Vancouver, BC, Canada
When: August 28-31
Fees/costs: Varies
Registration deadline: August 28
Faculty includes: Terry Brock, Mika Komatsu, Gene Medler, Danny Nielsen, and Dianne Walker

Fifty master classes, four performances, and special youth programming.

Contact: 604.253.0293;;


Montreal Tap Dance Festival
Montreal, QC, Canada
When: August 15-17
Fees/costs: All-access passes TBA (early bird $250)
Registration deadline: May 30 for early-bird discount
Faculty includes: International tap dancers and teachers offering classes in English and French

North America’s premier bilingual tap dance festival. Workshops, master classes, and three tap shows, a tap jam and cutting contest, panel discussion, footage viewing, and a Tap Dance Museum, all held in the historic Rialto Theatre. Performance opportunity for participants.

Contact: 514.779.6506;;


Stockholm Tap Festival
Stockholm, Sweden
When: April 16-22
Fees/costs: Festival package: 2600 SEK ($399 at press time; includes 14 classes in the main schedule and evening events). Master classes: 250 SEK ($38). Faculty Showcase Gala: 170-270 SEK ($26-$41)
Registration deadline: Ongoing until filled
Faculty includes: Guillem Alonso, Chloe Arnold, Michelle Dorrance, Derick K. Grant, Josh Hilberman, Michela Marino Lerman, Jason Samuels Smith, Sam Weber, Joseph Wiggan, and Nicholas Young

Celebrate the fifth anniversary of Stockholm Tap Festival with seven days of classes, a student showcase, live music jam sessions, a cutting contest, a teachers’ gala, an all-style battle, and parties.

Contact: Jonas Nermyr, +46 704 385871;;


Zurich Tap Festival 2014
Backstage Studio Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
When: April 17-20
Fees/costs: Single class $50; complete program (16 classes) $30/class
Registration deadline: April 10
Faculty includes: Lane Alexander, Derick K. Grant, Jason Janas, Danny Nielsen, Demi Remick, Cartier Williams, and Karen Callaway Williams

Four intensive days with 52 master classes for all levels, including kids and teens, and specialty-themed classes (technique, slides, improvisation, funk, etc.). Student showcase and tap jam with live music; parties. European premiere of Rhythm Refix, the percussive extravaganza directed by Cartier Williams; Festival Concert 2014.

Contact: +41 (43) 311 6868;;






Salsa It Up Every Saturday Night in June and July, Thanks to DCNT

Latin Fire; photo courtesy DCNT

Latin Fire; photo courtesy DCNT

Top salsa dance teachers from the Dallas area will lead free 30-minute dance lessons every Saturday night in June and July as part of the Dance Council of North Texas’ Vitruvian Salsa Festival.

The festivals feature lessons at 6:30pm followed by dancing until 10pm to live salsa bands such as Latin Fire, Havana NRG, Latin Katz, Carabali, and Chichos. Gourmet food trucks will be on site beginning at 6pm. The evening’s activities are suitable for the entire family, and all dance levels are welcome. All activities take place at the Vitruvian Park Amphitheater, Vitruvian Way and Ponte Avenue, Addison, Texas.

The summer schedule includes: June 7 and July 5, Cuban Night; June 14 and July 12, Puerto Rican Night; June 21 and July 19, Dominican Night; June 28 and July 26, Colombian and Brazilian Night.

For more information, visit,, or



Southern Vermont Dance Festival Offers Four Days of Classes, Performances

Billbob Brown; image courtesy SVDF/FB

Billbob Brown; image courtesy SVDF/FB

The Southern Vermont Dance Festival returns to Brattleboro July 17 to 20 for its second year with a wide range of dance classes, workshops, lectures, performances, site-specific concerts, and free community events such as outdoor performances and live music.

The festival focuses on promoting dance educators, choreographers, and performers from New England and New York and will incorporate some of the top masters of this art form from across the country and beyond. This event has been designed to be accessible to anyone who is interested in participating in a weekend of dance and movement.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company members will lead technique classes, repertory workshops, and talks throughout the festival. Other faculty members include Navarra Novy-Williams of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, former Martha Graham dancer Donlin Foreman, Alvin Ailey veteran Mucuy Bolles, Impulse Dance Company artistic director Adrienne Hawkins, Marshall Jarreau of So You Think You Can Dance and Cirque De Soleil, Boston Conservatory faculty member Lorraine Chapman, and Billbob Brown, director of dance at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

All ticketed festivalgoers will be allowed to choose one or more workshops or lectures each day of the festival, as well as up to two performances throughout the weekend. Attendees may purchase additional tickets for performances as well as add classes and workshops to their own schedules. For more information, visit




Cast of Top Companies, Dancers, Continue Support for AIDS with Fire Island Festival

Paul Taylor Dance Company at the 2011 Fire Island Dance Festival; photo courtesy Facebook

Paul Taylor Dance Company at the 2011 Fire Island Dance Festival; photo courtesy Facebook

Some of the top dancers and dance companies in the country will offer a diverse array of artistry and genres during the 20th anniversary Fire Island Dance Festival, set for July 18 to 20, outdoors on the beautiful Great South Bay in New York.

The festival is produced by and benefits Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. Since its founding in 1995, the festival has grown to become the cultural and charitable event of the summer in Fire Island Pines, raising more than $3.3 million.

The 20th anniversary Fire Island Dance Festival will include performances by Ailey II, BalletCollective, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Marcelo Gomes, Nick Kenkel, Sara Mearns, Kristine Bendul, Waldemar Quiñones-Villanueva, Ryan Worsing, and Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu.

Three Fire Island Dance Festival performances are set: July 19 at 5pm; a sunset performance on July 19 at 7pm; and July 20 at 5pm. Tickets for Fire Island Dance Festival are on sale now at or by phone at 212.840.0770, ext. 268.




Dancer Lil Buck To Bring Arts to Schoolchildren through Aspen Institute

Charles “Lil Buck” Riley with schoolchildren during an Aspen Institute program; photo courtesy The Aspen Institute

Charles “Lil Buck” Riley with schoolchildren during an Aspen Institute program; photo courtesy The Aspen Institute

As 2014 Harman-Eisner artists in residence for the Aspen Institute Arts Program, actor Alfre Woodard and dancer Charles “Lil Buck” Riley will participate at the Aspen Ideas Festival set for June 27 to July 3, and also engage in institute activities throughout the year in New York, Washington, DC, and elsewhere.

“Alfre Woodard and Lil Buck are artists whose work is a shining example of how the arts can benefit society. Beyond being artistically excellent, they put that excellence to use, helping us make progress in issues from education to equality,” said program director and former ballet dancer Damian Woetzel.

Charles “Lil Buck” Riley is a dancer and leader of a style known as “Memphis jookin’.” In 2011, Woetzel paired Lil Buck with cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a collaboration that went viral on YouTube, and has to date been viewed more than two million times. Riley is an artist in residence at the Vail International Dance Festival, and is an active participant in arts education initiatives around the country.

“I graduated from a school where I learned how vital having the arts in our education really is, to our youth and the world. I am truly passionate about inspiring youth through the art of dance,” Riley said.

The Aspen Institute Arts Program was established to support and invigorate the arts in America. For more information, visit



World Dance Takes to the Streets During May 17 Annual Dance Parade

Dance Parade in 2011; photo by Senen Cito

Dance Parade in 2011; photo by Senen Cito

Tap legend Savion Glover and Bessie-winning founder and artistic director Jawole Willa Jo Zollar of Urban Bush Women will serve as grand marshals of the 8th Annual Dance Parade and Festival, which will kick off at 1pm May 17 in New York City.

The more than 10,000 participating dancers hail from countries around the globe, including Ukraine, Bolivia, India, Brazil, Korea, Algeria, Tahiti, Mexico, Japan, Estonia, Jamaica, China, Armenia, Spain, and Indonesia.

More than 150 dance groups will showcase 75 dance styles and cultures as they dance down Broadway in a multi-cultural, rhythm-infused, magical display of movement, art, and color. The parade unfolds as a vibrant procession of pageantry and movement embodying the cultural richness that New York reflects as a global dance city. Ancient dance styles from Africa, South America, Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Far East Asia are performed side by side with modern styles like tap, swing, contemporary, urban, and hip-hop.

Parade registration is open to everyone; $50 for groups, and free to individuals of all ages. All styles of dance are welcome. The last day to register for groups is May 7. Individuals can register up until the day of the parade.

“Dance feels good and you can see that in all the smiling faces of parade dancers from one culture to the next,” said Greg Miller, executive director of Dance Parade, Inc., the nonprofit organization that produces the day’s events, in a press release. “This year’s theme, Be The Momentum, is a call to action to celebrate a shared love of dance. We want to inspire folks to take on this fun and healthy activity.”

For more information, visit



Relationship Between Choreographers and Dancers Explored in New Film

Ballet 422; photo by Jody Lee Lipes

Ballet 422; photo by Jody Lee Lipes

A new movie at the Tribeca Film Festival takes an intimate look at young dancer Justin Peck’s road to opening night as he choreographs the 422nd ballet for New York City Ballet.

The Daily Beast reported that Ballet 422 director Jody Lee Lipes captures the two-month conception, preparation, and execution of the NYCB’s 422nd new ballet under the helm of 25-year-old Peck, an up-and-coming choreographer who was dubbed “the third important choreographer to have emerged in classical ballet this century” by the New York Times dance critic Alastair Macaulay.

Peck is the only current NYCB dancer (he’s in the corps de ballet) who choreographs for the company. Set to a musical composition from 1935, Ballet #422—later titled Paz de la Jolla—was the only new ballet commissioned for the 2013 winter season. The film is quiet, and is less an introspective look into Peck’s world than a retrospective examination of the relationship between dancers and choreographers, the intricate process of formulating and producing a new ballet, and—most important—an understanding of the grace and beauty of dance behind the curtain at one of the most coveted and respected companies in the world.

The ending of Ballet 422 “is really important,” Lipes told IndieWire. “That’s my favorite part of the film. I think it took me a little while to understand this idea that you can do really great work in whatever artistic pursuit you’re going after, and you can be recognized, but you have to keep doing it. You can never stop. You go back to zero and start all over again. You can’t rest on your laurels. It may get easier in some ways and harder in other ways. The fact that Justin went back to dancing after all of this was really something.”

To see the original story, visit



Promising Young Tappers Win Scholarships to This Summer’s Rhythm World Festival

Former CHRP Tap Scholar Jumaane Taylor; photo by Kristie Kahns

Former CHRP Tap Scholar Jumaane Taylor; photo by Kristie Kahns

The Chicago Human Rhythm Project (CHRP) has announced its 2014 Tap Scholars—deserving, talented youth who receive scholarship assistance to attend CHRP’s annual Rhythm World summer festival of American tap and contemporary percussive arts.

2014 Tap Scholars include: Giuliano Antônio, 20, Brazil; Anthony Clampit, 14, Villa Park, Illinois; Lilly Clampit, 17, Villa Park, Illinois; Abby Crawford, 14, Ontario, Canada; Haley Grier, 15, St. Joseph, Michigan; Moa Imai, 13, Tokyo; Donyella Kittrell-Jackson, 16, Chicago; Madison Martin, 17, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Emiko Nakagawa, 16, Tokyo; Lauren O’Neil, 18, Oak Forest, Illinois; Alexandra Stephens, 17, St. Louis, Missouri; Emerson Stephens, 15, St. Louis, Missouri; Molly Sute, 16, Brownstown, Michigan; and Sydney-Symone Tate, 16, Birmingham, Alabama.

CHRP conducts Tap Scholar auditions every February as a part of its Winter Tap JAMboree and holds auditions in Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro, Zurich, Toronto, and various American cities. Founded in 1995 to honor the life of CHRP co-founder Kelly Michaels, the Tap Scholar Award program has provided more than $275,000 in financial aid to more than 200 talented, deserving young dancers.

During the last 19 years, many Tap Scholar Award winners have gone on to successful careers in teaching, choreographing, and performing, including Jumaane Taylor, Ian Berg, Starinah Dixon, Nico Rubio, Sean Kaminski, and Donetta Jackson. The 2014 Rhythm World takes place July 7 to August 3. For more information, visit



DC Tap Festival Gala: A Night of Rhythm and Honors

Debbie Allen; photo courtesy Kids from Fame Media

Debbie Allen; photo courtesy Kids from Fame Media

Entertainment star and dance educator Debbie Allen was brought to tears when she collected an award before an audience of mostly kids and young adults at Duke Ellington School of the Arts this past weekend, reported the Washington Post.

“This is the most moving tribute I have ever received,” Allen said, accepting the Entertainment Icon Award at the sixth annual DC Tap Festival gala. Weeping a bit with her were Maud and Chloe Arnold, the dancing DC natives whom Allen has mentored since 1998, when an adolescent Chloe auditioned for Allen’s Kennedy Center musical Brothers of the Knight.

More than 200 dancers—pros, prodigious kids and adult amateurs—presented a swath of styles, from Latin and jazz to hip-hop and Americana. Highlights included the sequined student troupe from Ashburn’s Studio Bleu Dance Center, an ad hoc tribute to the late Harold Cromer, and a visiting group from Brazil. Stand-out soloists included Sarah Reich, who tapped out a rumba with the eight-piece jazz band; Herb Spice and the Cinnamonstix; and Michelle Dorrance, a frequent collaborator with Savion Glover.

But the tapper who brought the house down was Luke Spring, a 10-year-old from Ashburn whose technical flash and flexible feet have landed him on Broadway. Spring doubled as the evening’s emcee, and he beamed as he told the crowd, “Tap’s future looks bright.”

To see the original story, visit




LA’s Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival Gives Fifth Graders First Experience with Dance

Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival; image courtesy Balita Filipino News

Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival; image courtesy Balita Filipino News

More than 3,100 fifth-grade students from throughout Los Angeles County will simultaneously perform a choreographed dance on The Music Center Plaza in Los Angeles this weekend as part of The 44th Annual Blue Ribbon Children’s Festival, reports the Balita Filipino News.

About 18,000 students will participate over the three days of the admission-free festival (April 9 to 11). For many, this festival marks their first experience with the performing arts.

Students prepare in advance with curriculum provided to their teachers by The Blue Ribbon in partnership with The Music Center. Students learn what to watch for during the performance, history and terminology, themes, and the choreography for their dance.

During the festival, students attend a performance by a professional company—this year, the Paul Taylor Dance Company—then gather on The Music Center Plaza to perform a special dance that incorporates music and movements from the live performance in a dance choreographed just for them.

The festival began in 1970 as part of The Music Center’s commitment to engage young people in the arts, and is one of California’s longest-running ongoing free arts education programs. For more information, visit

To see the original story, visit




Theater, Dance, Music, and Fun Featured in 5th Annual Move Me Festival

Move Me Festival; photo by David Moss

Move Me Festival; photo by David Moss

Bowen McCauley Dance (BMD) will present the 5th Annual Move Me Festival, a free family-friendly celebration of the arts and culture that promotes healthy lifestyles through movement and the arts, on April 26 from 1 to 5pm at Kenmore Middle School in Arlington, Virginia.

Nearly 1,000 attendees are expected at the festival, which features performances and interactive activities in dance, music, theater, and arts and crafts presented by Metro DC arts organizations. With the theme “Get Active, Get Creative, Get Involved,” the festival hopes to build a deeper sense of community by providing opportunities for the public to participate in arts activities.

Activities/performances will feature Zumba, Hawaiian hula dance, Bolivian dance, Bollywood, folk dances, “Ballet Party,” theater and improv games, “Singing and Strings,” arts and crafts, and “Costume Museum.”

The festival will culminate with performances by Bowen McCauley Dance, including students in BMD’s Dance for PD program for people with Parkinson’s, BMD’s Kenmore Junior Company, and students from Marshall Road Elementary School.

For more information, visit the festival website


NYC Puerto Rican–Based Performance Group Invited to Perform at New Orleans Festival

Bombazo Dance Company; photo courtesy GoFundMe

Bombazo Dance Company; photo courtesy GoFundMe

Rhythmic drum beats and vibrant movements characterize the Bombazo Dance Company, the only New York dance group invited to perform at New Orleans’ Congo Square Rhythms Festival.

The festival, produced by The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, celebrates the music and culture of the African diaspora ( and will run March 22 to 23.

Time Warner Cable News NY 1 reported that Bombazo is a Bronx-based group started by professionally trained dancer Milteri Tucker, who wanted to blend her Puerto Rican culture with a passion for dance. Her goal was to introduce bomba—the traditional music of Puerto Rico that blends Spanish, African, and Caribbean cultures as it focuses on the relationship between dancers, percussionists, and singers—to New Yorkers in an environment where people of all ages could grow and learn together. Six years later, she has a diverse group of about two dozen who range in age from early 20s to their 70s.

Bombazo conducts classes and workshops and performs all over the NYC area. An appearance at the New Orleans festival would be its first performance opportunity outside the city. The group has launched a fundraising campaign on GoFundMe to help defray the cost of the 22 members’ travel expenses. For more information, visit

To see the full story, visit




Seldom-Seen Indian Classical Dance, Kathakali, Featured at SF Ethnic Dance Fest

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; image courtesy Facebook

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; image courtesy Facebook

The 36th annual San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival will feature 31 dance companies and more than 300 dancers and musicians at this year’s event, set for June 5 to 29.

Kathakali dance, last presented at the festival in 1978, will be highlighted. Of all of the classical Indian dance forms, kathakali is the most stylized and is often compared to the kabuki tradition of Japan, especially in regards to the elaborate make-up worn by the performers.

Noted teachers of classical Indian dance, Katherine and K.P. Kunhiraman, will be presented with the festival’s annual Malonga Casquelourd Lifetime Achievement Award at the June 14 evening performance.

“Kathakali dance is at risk of being lost forever,” said Julie Mushet, the festival’s executive director, noting that this year’s festival will mark K.P.’s final U.S. appearance before retirement. “K.P. Kunhiraman’s departure raises many questions about the future of dance and how, and even if, cultural traditions will be passed to the next generation, as they have been for millennia.”

Tickets to the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival are $18 to $58 and will be available for purchase April 11 at




French Choreographer, Angelin Preljocaj, To Receive ADF’s Lifetime Achievement Award

Angelin Preljocaj; photo by Lucas Marquand-Perrier

Angelin Preljocaj; photo by Lucas Marquand-Perrier

The American Dance Festival (ADF) will present the 2014 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement to choreographer and director Angelin Preljocaj.

Preljocaj is one of France’s preeminent choreographers, known for work that is daring, intensely physical, and complex. Established in 1981 by Samuel H. Scripps, the annual award honors choreographers who have dedicated their lives and talent to the creation of modern dance.

The Scripps/ADF Award presentation will take place on July 11 at 8pm, prior to Ballet Preljocaj’s performance at the Durham [NC] Performing Arts Center.

“Mr. Preljocaj creates visually arresting, beautifully physical work that never fails to amaze. We are pleased to honor his significant contributions to the dance world this summer at ADF,” said ADF director Jodee Nimerichter.

Preljocaj began his career in classical ballet before turning to contemporary dance. In 1980 he studied in New York with Zena Rommett and Merce Cunningham, after which he returned to France, joining the Quentin Rouillier Company in Caen. Preljocaj formed his own company in December 1984 in Champigny-sur-Marne and since that time has produced 47 choreographic works.

His productions have been restaged by numerous repertory companies, many of which also commission works, including the Saatsoper of Berlin, The New York City Ballet, and the Paris Opera Ballet. For more information, visit



St. Louis Dance Community Mourns Loss of Dancing in the Streets Festival

Ballet Eclectica in the 6th annual Dancing in the Street festival; photo by Christian Gooden

Ballet Eclectica in the 6th annual Dancing in the Street festival; photo by Christian Gooden

For seven years, the Dancing in the Street festival in Grand Center, St. Louis, not only opened the entertainment district’s fall season, but also served as a showcase for local companies. The family-friendly outdoor setting was invaluable in introducing dance to new audiences while raising the profiles of the companies onstage.

But Grand Center recently announced that the festival will not be returning for an eighth edition a decision that the dance community views as a step backward, reported the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

“Dancing in the Street was a great opportunity for a variety of dance groups of all levels to come together and bring awareness of dance to the people of St. Louis,” said Stacy West, executive and artistic director of MADCO, the resident dance company at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “I think it will be missed by many people.”

Last year’s festival featured more than 60 local and regional dance companies on three stages.

In a recent interview with the Post-Dispatch, Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr., president and chief executive of Grand Center Inc., cited inadequate funding and difficulties in booking big-name headliners as reasons for bringing Dancing in the Street to an end.

But Grand Center said in a statement released in January that the district was “willing to provide logistical support to a dance organization interested in assuming sponsorship of the event and would love to see the event continue in the district.”

To see the full story, visit



New Jersey Festival Showcases Best in Garden State Dance over Two Nights

Jersey Moves! Festival of Dance performer 10 Hairy Legs; photo courtesy NJPAC

Jersey Moves! Festival of Dance performer 10 Hairy Legs; photo courtesy NJPAC

Jersey Moves! Festival of Dance will feature New Jersey’s top dance companies, as well as emerging dance troupes from around the state, during two nights of dance at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark.

This will mark the third year for the festival, reported Broadway World. Nine dance companies featuring styles from Irish to modern, ballet to tap, will be presented in two installments.

The opening night’s program, March 8, will feature world premieres and other pieces from Randy James’ all-male dance company, 10 Hairy Legs, as well as from The Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company. Prior to the 8pm curtain, ticket holders are welcome to attend a free workshop where 10 Hairy Legs company members and guest musicians will demonstrate the nuances of the relationship of live music to dance.

The second part, May 3, will feature performances by American Repertory Ballet, Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company, Cleo Mack Dance Project, tap dancer Maurice Chestnut, dancer Timothy Kochka, and dance artist Claire Porter.

Tickets are $24 to $39. For more information, visit

To see the original story, visit



Houston’s Space City Tap Festival Seeks to Encourage Dancers of All Ages

Space City Tap Festival faculty member Sarah Reich; photo by Kylie LeWallen, courtesy SILLAR Management

Space City Tap Festival faculty member Sarah Reich; photo by Kylie LeWallen, courtesy SILLAR Management

The fifth annual Space City Tap Festival, planned for February 28 to March 2, will bring together tap dancers from 4-year-olds to professionals as it continues to build the ties between tap dancers of all ages throughout Texas, according to the Citizen.

Hosted by New Tap Productions (TNT), festival faculty will include Acia Gray, Matthew Shields, Tony Merriwether, and Sarah Reich.

The festival includes opportunities for young dancers from the Houston area and beyond to participate in numerous cultural traditions of tap dance (such as a cutting contest and tap jam), to grow with fellow dancers, and to increase their historical knowledge of this uniquely American art form. Classes will include classic and musical theater tap, tap history, choreography, and hip-hop.

All classes will be held at 15210 Hwy 3, Suite 109, Webster, Texas. For registration and information call 281.480.8441, or visit

To see the original story, visit



Vancouver International Dance Festival Draws Innovative Artists From Around the Globe

Vancouver International Dance Festival collaboration between the Guangdong Modern Dance Company and Goh Ballet; photo courtesy Facebook

Vancouver International Dance Festival collaboration between the Guangdong Modern Dance Company and Goh Ballet; photo courtesy Facebook

The Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) will feature a globe-spanning roster of artists and creators who will take to the city’s stages from March 7 to 29.

This vibrant festival features a diverse array of international icons, including China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company and Spain’s flamenco innovator Israel Galván, coupled with local favorites Dancers Dancing, the 605 Collective, among many others.

“VIDF exists to celebrate and explore dance in its enriching and endlessly fascinating incarnations,” says artistic director Barbara Bourget. “This season’s programming realizes this purpose in the most brilliant manner—perhaps more so than any other season—by drawing master practitioners who represent a vast range of geographic place and distinguished artistic form.”

A standout early event features Guangdong Modern Dance Company, China’s first professional modern dance company, appearing with Vancouver’s award-winning Goh Ballet in “Select Works/Mustard Seed” at the Vancouver Playhouse on March 7 and 8 at 8pm.

For a full schedule and more information, visit For tickets, visit



2014 Vail International Dance Festival to be a Study in Contrasts

2014 Vail International Dance Festival featured artists Lil’ Buck and Tiler Peck; photo by Erin Baiano/special to the Vail Daily

2014 Vail International Dance Festival featured artists Lil’ Buck and Tiler Peck; photo by Erin Baiano/special to the Vail Daily

The Vail International Dance Festival’s 2014 edition will be held July 27 through August 9, marking its 26th season with world premieres, debuts, and collaborations, according to the Vail Daily.

Under the direction of former New York City Ballet standout Damian Woetzel, the festival has established itself as one of the premiere dance events in the world. This year, the festival announces Argentina’s Herman Cornejo as artist in residence and Pennsylvania Ballet and BalletX as companies in residence.

The festival also welcomes back ballerina Wendy Whelan in the Vail debut of her new project, Restless Creature, along with New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, Carla Körbes from Pacific Northwest Ballet, the Martha Graham Dance Company, tango artists Gabriel Missé and Analia Centurión, and the Memphis dancer Lil’ Buck.

“The Vail International Dance Festival is more and more about collaboration—combining contrasting styles of dance or dancers who have never worked together before,” Woetzel said. “These explorations are what make the festival a unique experience for the dancers and the audience. Pushing the limits and experimenting with what is possible has really become the goal.”

Performances take place at Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail and the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek. Fan Club presale tickets are available March 19 to 21; public sale begins March 25 and “Dance for $20.14” tickets go on sale in June. A full schedule of performances and other festival events are available at

To see the original story, visit




Words from our readers

Thank you for the wonderful article about NBS’ Assemblée Internationale festival [“Assemblée Internationale 2013: Canada’s international festival proves there are no borders, nationally or technologically, in ballet,” by Joseph Carman] in the September issue of DSL. It looked great! Hopefully you’ll be able to join us for the next AI!

Danielle Paroyan
Senior Communications Officer
Canada’s National Ballet School
Toronto, Canada


Thank you for including us in your October issue [“Showtime Styles: A look at who does what for recitals across the U.S.,” by Maureen Janson]!

Andrea Wachholtz
Andrea In Motion/AIM Studio
Staten Island, NY



New England Dance Festival Seeks Competitors for 18th Annual Event


The 18th annual New England Dance Festival will be held June 14 and 15 at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston, New Hampshire.

Run by Paula Callahan, a 25-year member of the Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston, the festival is a local competition that uses many DTCB/AS members as judges. Dancers may compete as soloists, duo/trio, small and large groups, or classes in a wide variety of dance styles, including ballet, pointe, tap, lyrical, modern, hip-hop, contemporary, character, jazz, musical theater, and Irish.

Divisions include:
• Pre-competitive; first year competitors only
• Novice; small and large groups and classes only; for groups that dance two hours total or less per week
• Amateur; dancers who dance strictly for recreation and/or competitions
• Pro-Am; a combination of amateur and professional dancers
• Professional; dancers who are rewarded in either a monetary or material way for performances

Entry forms must be postmarked no later than May 16. For information, email



Traditions of Story, Song, and Dance Featured in Coastal First Nations Dance Festival

Dancers of Damelahamid; photo by Ana Pedrero, Fotographica Studios

Dancers of Damelahamid; photo by Ana Pedrero, Fotographica Studios

Dancers of Damelahamid presents the diverse stories, songs, and dances of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast and beyond at the seventh annual Coastal First Nations Dance Festival set for March 4 to 9.

Held in partnership with UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA), Vancouver, B.C., the festival will feature traditional performances and contemporary expression through school workshops, signature evening presentations, and afternoon festival stage shows.

In addition to diverse performances by internationally renowned artists from throughout British Columbia, Alaska, Yukon, and Washington, this year’s festival also welcomes South American dancer Adriana Arrunátegui, from Lima, Peru, in her Canadian debut. Arrunátegui—who has trained extensively in traditional, classical, and contemporary dance—will share community dances connected to agriculture and the time of harvest from the Cusco region of Peru.

“The Prophesy of the Eagle and the Condor—the people of the north and south—speaks of a coming together to remember each other and our shared cultures and histories that are deeply connected by the mountain range that spans our two continents,” says Margaret Grenier, executive and artistic director of Dancers of Damelahamid. “We present the 2014 festival with this spirit of sharing in mind. This year will be a particularly exciting one, as we are thrilled to include incredible international performance in the celebration.”

Dancers of Damelahamid is a professional aboriginal dance company from the Northwest Coast of British Columbia that makes use of dramatic dance, captivating narrative, intricately carved masks, and elaborate regalia.

For performance tickets, visit For more information, visit



Dallas Native and Broadway Dancer Dylis Croman is Guest Artist for Dance Planet 18

Dance Planet 18; image courtesy DCNT

Dance Planet 18; image courtesy DCNT

Dallas native Dylis Croman, currently appearing in the Broadway production of Chicago, will be teaching free musical theater, ballet, and contemporary classes as guest artist for Dance Planet 18, a community-wide, weekend dance festival set for April 12 and 13 in Dallas, Texas.

Croman danced with FeldBallets/NY (now Ballet Tech Company), served as assistant to Ann Reinking, and performed in Broadway shows such as Sweet Charity, Fosse, and Oklahoma!

Croman trained in the Dallas/Fort Worth area with Dana Davis Bailey, Dian Clough West, and TuzerBallet. She is a graduate of Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing & Visual Arts.

In addition to Croman’s classes, Dance Planet 18 will feature 30 free classes in many styles from samba to swing to circus silks, African to Middle Eastern. Two Performance Showcases will feature more than 80 dance troupes and 1,000 performers from the greater North Texas region.

Presented by the Dance Council of North Texas, Dance Planet is America’s largest free dance festival and is appropriate for all ages. Schedules will be posted online at




American Dance Festival Audition Tour Seeks Candidates for Annual School

American Dance Festival school; photo courtesy Facebook

American Dance Festival school; photo courtesy Facebook

The American Dance Festival audition tour will visit 14 cities between February 1 and March 30, seeking talented candidates for the festival’s 2014 ADF Six Week School.

The ADF school provides professional training programs for students, choreographers, and teachers, and is held in conjunction with the festival (running June 12 to July 26 in Durham, North Carolina).

The faculty will include Brenda Daniels, Mark Haim, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Pamela Pietro, James Sutton, Andrea Weber, and Jesse Zaritt, among others.

Tuition scholarships are offered to promising students who demonstrate a high level of technical and creative ability or potential, as well as financial need. In 2013, more than $200,000 was given in scholarships to more than 50 percent of the students who attended the festival.

Scholarship amounts range from $200 to full tuition.

Notable scholarship alumni include Hope Boykin, Trisha Brown, Steve Paxton, Paul Taylor, and Shen Wei, and many former scholarship students have gone on to have successful careers with renowned companies such as Paul Taylor Dance Company, Pilobolus, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, and Shen Wei Dance Arts, among others.

Applications for the school and audition details are available at





Sundance Documentary Living Stars Says Something About Dancers—And Us



Living Stars; photo courtesy The Sundance Institute

Living Stars; photo courtesy The Sundance Institute

The most delightful flick of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival is an unconventional documentary with no plot, no dialogue, and nothing but party. Living Stars, a fleet 63-minute film by Argentinean directors Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat, is a lark, a YouTube-influenced trifle that travels to different people’s homes, plops a camera on a tripod, and asks them to pick a song and dance.

That’s literally all Living Stars is: 30-plus strangers shaking their stuff to Britney Spears and the Black Eyed Peas, says a review by Amy Nicholson in The Village Voice. Instead of plopping their performers in front of a backdrop or on a stage, Cohn and Duprat elbow into their homes and ask their friends and family to stick around and act natural. There are no re-dos. If someone stumbles or a baby brother toddles into the frame, the show goes on. We soak it all in—the clutter, the “characters,” the dogs nipping excitedly at their feet—and quickly shape it into a scene we can understand.

Living Stars is both dozens of mini-movies and no movie at all. We build a whole life for each person without them saying a word. A tough, talented girl dancing while her mechanic dad solders a car is like a 60-second version of Flashdance; an older woman bopping though “Hound Dog” while her two friends beam in her crowded bedroom is a short story about friendship after 50.

And then it hits you that the audience is the story, too. The entire time, you’ve been absorbing everyone else’s reactions. Who do people like? Who do people not? Along with these instant character portraits come instant, often unfair judgments. Chubby kids with skills get cheers, older ladies who love Technotronic are heroes. But the reaction to good-looking, semi-skilled girls is cold, and a teacher who twerks got shamed with tsk-tsks.

It’s not a film about actors and scripts. It’s a film about us, the strangers in our world, and our reaction to them. This is the only film at Sundance that you can duplicate by clicking around YouTube. And it’s fitting that we’re free to make our own version. Go ahead, give it a whirl.

To read the full review, visit



Young Choreographer’s Festival Seeks Out Talented Up-and-Comers

A dance by Bryn Cohn in the Young Choreographer’s Festival; photo by Jaqi Medlock, courtesy Facebook

A dance by Bryn Cohn in the Young Choreographer’s Festival; photo by Jaqi Medlock, courtesy Facebook

Applications are still being accepted for the 2014 Young Choreographer’s Festival, an annual showcase in New York City that features the work of up-and-coming artists. This year’s event is set for June 14 at 8pm at Peter Norton Symphony Space, New York City.

The festival’s mission is to “aim to educate, foster . . . and support the cultivation of young artists” by putting young choreographers in contact with established professionals. Choreographers selected for the festival will work with a mentor, attend private workshop classes, participate in the Talk Back panel, and receive rehearsal space prior to the performance.

Choreographers must be between the ages of 18 and 25 on the application deadline date of January 31. Applicants must provide a three to five minute work sample (via YouTube) of the proposed work, in any genre, of either rehearsal or performance.

For more information, visit




What’s up in the dance community
Dance Through an Unconventional Eye

Dancers wedged in stairwells against peeling concrete, skipping over a bone-dry lakebed, or crouching spiderlike on a deserted city street. In photographer Weiferd Watts’ world, drama was a dancer in an untraditional setting—no costume or stage lights, just body and movement, shape and air.

Some of the superb shots Watts took during his 25-year career can be seen in “Weiferd Watts—A Dancers Form,” an exhibition of the late photographer’s work on display through January 2 at the San Francisco Public Library, 100 Larkin Street. Not a dancer himself, Watts would “contort his body in an attempt to demonstrate his visions for movement” as he and his subjects—numerous professionals from the Bay Area and from other top companies—collaborated to create the “magical, elusive moments” caught by his lens, said a SFPL release. Watts, who also specialized in shots of female body builders, died suddenly in October 2010. Visit for hours and info.


Ambassadors to Africa

Dance’s ability to leap across borders and unite people from different countries and cultures was proven again when Deeply Rooted Dance Theater traveled to Chicago’s sister city of Durban, South Africa, as official U.S. cultural ambassadors this fall.

Representing the State Department’s Arts Envoy Program, Deeply Rooted was the first U.S. company to perform in the JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience festival, which ran August 28 to September 8 at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Centre for Creative Arts. Collaborating with Durban’s Flatfoot Dance Company, Deeply Rooted artistic director/co-founder Kevin Iega Jeff and his dancers ran workshops for almost 700 young people in Durban’s rural and urban townships.

His dancers and the Flatfoot performers share a commitment “to using dance as a medium to engage in constructive social change,” Jeff said in a press release. As part of a three-year program, Deeply Rooted has invited Flatfoot dancers to join them in Chicago next year to prepare a collaborative work for the JOMBA! festival in 2015.


Securing the Future of Story Ballets

A Joffrey Ballet endowment will fund the creation of new story ballets for company dancers such as Christine Rocas, Dylan Gutierrez, and Victoria Jaiani (pictured in Lar Lubovitch’s Othello). Photo by Cheryl Mann

The beauty and purity of movement that is classical ballet has the ability to inspire, enflame, enrage, enchant. In other words: ballet can, and often does, tell a rip-roaring good story.

To make sure story ballets continue to be made and to matter, the Rudolf Nureyev Dance Foundation has awarded Joffrey Ballet a $500,000 challenge grant. The Joffrey has agreed to supplement that with $1 million and launch an endowment “for the creation, production, and performance of full-length story ballets.”

While the foundation—created in honor of Nureyev, who had a “passion” for story ballets, according to Joffrey artistic director Ashley Wheater—supports many of the top U.S. companies, the Joffrey grant is one of its largest single awards ever. “Story ballets serve as a great entry point for new audiences to discover dance and for dancers to discover their art,” Wheater said in the official announcement. “With this grant and the support of matching donors, we have the opportunity to explore what it means to tell a story through dance in the 21st century.”



ABT’s Project Plié Tackles Diversity

It’s 2013—why are there still so few black ballerinas? Newspapers in the U.S. and U.K have been pondering that question seriously for the last few years, with longstanding discrimination, lack of opportunity, and financial obstacles discussed as major stumbling blocks.

The discussion is over and the work has begun at American Ballet Theatre, where a new national, multi-pronged program is designed to trample those barriers. Announced in September, Project Plié will seek, train, and support ballet teachers who work with poor and minority populations, and a series of 40 full scholarships will help bring some of the most talented students into ABT’s classrooms and intensives. Partnerships have been forged with professional companies across the nation dedicated to diversity, and the Boys & Girls Club of America has agreed to place a new emphasis on ballet and help ABT seek out children with professional potential, regardless of race or income.

Heading this commitment to change is an advisory committee that includes Dance Theatre of Harlem artistic director Virginia Johnson, So You Think You Can Dance’s Nigel Lythgoe, Apollo’s Angels author Jennifer Homans, and of course, ABT’s sole black soloist, Misty Copeland, who was living with five siblings and her mother in a hotel room when she stumbled on ballet at a Boys & Girls Club.


Bessies Applaud Luigi’s Lifetime in Dance

Living legend Luigi received The Bessies’ 2013 Lifetime Achievement in Dance award. Photo courtesy Luigi

Luigi! That name stands for so much in the dance world—tragedy and triumph, determination and inspiration, innovation and education. Beloved by his students—who, after six decades of Luigi’s teaching in New York City, number in the thousands—and revered for his creation of an entirely new method of jazz dancing, Luigi (born Eugene Louis Faccuito) stands at the pinnacle of the professional dance-education world.

And so it was with great joy that the New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies) awarded the 88-year-old dance master its Lifetime Achievement in Dance award at the 29th Annual Bessie Award ceremony October 7 at the Apollo Theater in New York City.




Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival Hopes to Increase Respect for Art Form

Flip FabriQue; photo courtesy Chicago Contemporary Circus Fest

Flip FabriQue; photo courtesy Chicago Contemporary Circus Fest

To hear Shayna Swanson tell it, circus arts in this country are like the Wild West, complete with warring factions. Traditionalists—think Barnum & Bailey—despise contemporary circus folks, and vice versa. Cirque du Soleil, perhaps the most popular of current circuses, occupies a middle ground reviled by both sides.

Located in the no man’s land between dance, theater, and comedy, the circus has no real home in the arts world. But Swanson, head of Aloft Circus Arts, is aiming to change that with the Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival, running Thursday through Sunday at the Athenaeum Theatre and Links Hall.

The first U.S. festival devoted to the art form, the festival focuses on shows from this country but includes two acts from Quebec and one from Finland. “Circus arts here have traditionally lagged behind other countries,” Swanson says in the Chicago Tribune. “What we’re trying to do with the festival is highlight the American artists working on a level comparable to international artists and companies. On the other hand, we also want artists here to push the art form further by showing them what others are doing—and motivate them.”

The Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival’s nine scheduled acts give a strong sense of the wide world of contemporary circus. Swanson’s fear now is “not having people in the audience,” she says. “Then it’s gonna feel like: ‘Sorry, guys. I guess America isn’t ready for this.’ Until we can prove that this is an art form comparable to dance and theater, we’re not going to be taken seriously.”

Tickets are $20-$135 (festival passes) and are available at 773.935.6875 or To see the original story, visit,0,3154884.story.




Film about First Tap Festival Presented in Steps on Broadway’s Artist Talk Series

By Word of Foot; image courtesy Steps on Broadway

By Word of Foot; image courtesy Steps on Broadway

By Word of Foot: Tap Masters Pass on Their Tradition, a film by tapper Jane Goldberg, will be the focus of the next Steps Beyond, an artist talk series presented by Steps on Broadway, January 11 at 8pm at Steps on Broadway, 2121 Broadway, 4th floor, New York City.

The film showing will be followed by a panel discussion on passing on the tradition of rhythm tap and the importance of the creation of tap festivals. Panelists include Jane Goldberg, director, Changing Times Tap Dancing Co., Inc.; David Parker of The Bang Group and a Juilliard faculty member; Melinda Mousouris; Barbara Duffy, a Steps faculty member, winner of the 2013 Tap City Hoofer Award, and artistic director of Barbara Duffy & Co.; and Heather Cornell, Broadway choreographer and artistic director of Manhattan Tap Company.

By Word of Foot is a film that documents the creation of the first tap festival. Produced by Goldberg’s company, the festival was held in New York City’s famed Village Gate in 1980, and allowed a new generation of young tappers to study with some of the tap greats.

Tickets are $10 and can be reserved at



Another Summer of International and Extraordinary Dance Planned for Jacob’s Pillow

Jessica Tong of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; photo by Todd Rosenberg

Jessica Tong of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago; photo by Todd Rosenberg

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s upcoming 82nd Festival season, June 14 to August 24, will feature more than 52 companies performing on three stages, as well as more than 350 free and ticketed dance performances, talks, tours, exhibits, films, classes, and community events.

The 2014 Festival companies hail from Australia, Brazil, China, Italy, and across the U.S. Festival 2014 world premieres include As I Remember It by legendary performer Carmen de Lavallade; a new show by tap artist and 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award–winner Michelle Dorrance; and Chalk and Soot, a collaboration between choreographer John Heginbotham and composer Colin Jacobsen, with live music performed by Brooklyn Rider.

Exclusive presentations include “Unreal Hip-Hop,” a mixed bill of some of today’s most innovative hip-hop artists including Storyboard P, Decadancetheatre, Ephrat Asherie, and The Wondertwins; “Ballet 2014,” featuring principal dancers and soloists of New York City Ballet, directed by Daniel Ulbricht; and a weeklong “festival within the Festival” honoring choreographer Mark Morris and his company.

Other special engagements include Compagnia T.P.O., from Italy, with the family-friendly interactive production Bleu!; Trey McIntyre Project performing Mercury Half-Life, set entirely to the music of rock band Queen and a new work inspired by the work of writer and illustrator Edward Gorey; and the Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Additional Festival 2014 artist information and preview videos can be found at



Commercial Hip-Hop Choreographer Sean Bankhead to Teach, Judge, at Charleston Dance Festival

Sean Bankhead; photo courtesy the Low Country Current

Sean Bankhead; photo courtesy the Low Country Current

Sean Bankhead, the 24-year-old self-taught dancer who was discovered in 2005 on YouTube and now makes a living teaching others the ins and outs of breaking, popping, and locking, will teach two classes and judge a hip-hop battle during this week’s Charleston [South Carolina] Dance Festival.

After his first dance video received more than a million views, Bankhead worked as a dancer and choreographer for artists including Beyoncé, Drake, and Britney Spears. He is also the choreographer on Dance Kids ATL, a reality show about talented young hip-hop dancers from Dance 411 studio in Atlanta that debuted this summer on TLC.

Created by the 6-year-old studio Dancefx Charleston and the Charleston Dance Alliance, the festival boasts a week of performances, lectures, master classes, and competitions from December 9 to 15.

Bankhead will teach an intermediate class December 13 from 6 to 7:15pm, an advanced class from 7:15 to 8:30 pm, and serve as a judge for the 9pm hip-hop battle. All three will be held at the Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain Street.

Also leading master classes during the festival will be Caroline Lewis Jones, artistic director of UNBOUND Dance Company; African dance performer Queen Atterberry; and Dale Lam, founder of Columbia City Jazz Dance School and Company. Internationally-recognized contemporary company Shen Wei Dance Arts will hold a multi-day workshop series. Also offered will be a nutrition and wellness class for dancers; yoga for dancers; “Find the Moment, an interactive/multimedia/improvisational dance installation; and two dance showcases. To see a full schedule, visit

To read the full story, visit



Bates Dance Festival Offers Summertime Training for Professionals and Young Dancers

Shani Collins-Achille; photo by Adam Campos

Shani Collins-Achille; photo by Adam Campos

The Bates Dance Festival, a contemporary dance training and presenting program held each summer in Lewiston, Maine, announces its 32nd season will run June 27 to August 10, 2014.

The festival includes the Professional Training Program for dancers 18 years and older (July 19 to August 10), offering 30 classes a day in a wide range of dance disciplines; and the Young Dancers Workshop, a three-week, non-competitive intensive training program for pre-professional dancers ages 14 to 18 (June 27 to July 19).

During the festival, workshops, residencies, and performances will be offered by the New York–based troupes Camille A. Brown & Dancers and David Dorfman Dance; Boston contemporary company Prometheus Dance; South Africa’s Vincent Mantsoe; and Chinese-born choreographer Yin Mei, as well as members of Delfos Danza, among others.

The Professional Training Program offers classes in modern, jazz, ballet, Afro-fusion, contact improvisation, repertory, choreo lab, creative process, yoga, Pilates, teacher’s toolkit, the business of dance, and others, from teachers David Dorfman, Lisa Race, Jennifer Nugent, Rachel List, Mark Dendy, Chris Aiken, Angie Hauser, and Cathy Young.

The faculty for the Young Dancers Workshop includes Charlotte Griffin and Karl Rogers (modern); Shonach Mirk-Robles and Martha Tornay (ballet); Courtney B. Jones (jazz); Shani Collins-Achille (West African specialist); Pamela Vail (improvisation); and Tommy Neblett (repertory).

For more information, visit



Assemblée Internationale 2013

Left: Houston Ballet II students rehearse Stanton Welch’s Fingerprints in preparation for a festival performance. Photo by Joseph Hammond  Right: Juilliard student Corey John Snide (far left) said he discovered at the AI13 that dance is an international language. Photo by Bruce Zinger

Left: Houston Ballet II students rehearse Stanton Welch’s Fingerprints in preparation for a festival performance. Photo by Joseph Hammond
Right: Juilliard student Corey John Snide (far left) said he discovered at the AI13 that dance is an international language.
Photo by Bruce Zinger

Canada’s international festival proves there are no borders, nationally or technologically, in ballet
By Joseph Carman

“Think globally, dance locally” might have served as the motto for the Assemblée Internationale 2013.

Canada’s National Ballet School held the first AI ballet festival in 2009; in this second edition—held April 28 to May 4 in Toronto, Canada—17 schools from various countries joined the NBS. One hundred ninety students gathered with faculty from each school to participate in daily ballet technique classes, rehearse and perform blended casts of student choreography, dance ballets representative of each school, and perform in a high-tech, collaboratively choreographed experimental work.

NBS artistic director Mavis Staines conceived the festival in 2009 as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of NBS by giving back to the professional dance community and by offering an exploration of the range of dance experiences within the professional dance education community.

“Competitions have a very valid place in the panoply of the dance community dynamic, but I noticed that nowhere was there anything to celebrate artistic collaboration, or to promote the emerging generation of dancers in experiencing ballet as an international language,” says Staines. “Nothing is more bonding than the experience of taking a creative project from studio to stage. In that way boundaries fall, borders fall, and it really brings out the best in human nature.”

Nothing is more bonding than the experience of taking a creative project from studio to stage. In that way boundaries fall, borders fall, and it really brings out the best in human nature. —NBS artistic director Mavis Staines

Four years ago, NBS already had a summer student-exchange program in place with 20 international schools, to allow its own students to broaden their education by studying with other institutions. Building on that foundation, the AI hosted 12 schools in 2009.

This year, the 17 schools that joined with NBS were The Australian Ballet School, Codarts (Rotterdam), Dutch National Ballet Academy, L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec (Montréal), EESA/CPD de l’Institut del Teatre (Barcelona), Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy, John Cranko School (Stuttgart), The Juilliard School (New York City), National Ballet School (Havana), New Zealand School of Dance, Palucca School (Dresden), Paris Opera Ballet School, The Royal Ballet School, Royal Danish Ballet School, Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, and The School of The Hamburg Ballet.


Live-streaming allowed simultaneous performances of students in Amsterdam and on the festival stage in Toronto to be blended into one cohesive dance production. Photo by Bruce Zinger

Staines wanted to expand the scope of the festival to reflect the accelerated global changes that have happened in the last four years. “I have worked closely with students of the school because I always want them to be part of the planning of concepts,” says Staines. “It was clear that increasing ballet’s accessibility and using technology in a more current and creative way were connected. I am convinced this is a sharing which should definitely remain a part of the ballet community.”

Staines also wanted to make sure AI13 was designed to allow time for the international assembly of artistic staffs and dancers to gather informally over coffee and exchange ideas about ballet’s future.

Each day of the festival, students took ballet class with teachers from other schools, alongside peers from various schools. Students from Barcelona, for example, could study with students from The Royal Ballet School in a class taught by a teacher from San Francisco. Each technique class accommodated up to 30 students. Daily, there were three women’s classes, three men’s classes, and two mixed classes. Each student got a chance to attend two men’s or women’s classes and at least one mixed class. Students rarely had class with the exact same group and never had the same teacher twice.

Corey John Snide, one of six male Juilliard students who attended the festival, says he discovered that dance is truly a universal language. “I took a ballet class one day with a ballet mistress from Cuba who knew no English and had a translator,” says Snide, who has performed the title role in Billy Elliot in London’s West End and in Australia. “The translator didn’t need to do much. We all knew what [the teacher] wanted from her body language.” (Many of the events were translated into French.)

In the afternoon, participants rehearsed for performances. Two programs titled “Traditionally Timeless” featured choreography from the existing repertoire of company schools, such as the Royal Danish Ballet School’s rendition of the pas de sept from August Bournonville’s A Folk Tale and The Royal Ballet School’s performance of Frederick Ashton’s pas de deux from Rhapsody.

For Snide, the contrasts of traditions were striking. Juilliard brought a piece titled Phases of Strobe, choreographed by Juilliard alumnus Julia Eichten. “I spend 50 seconds in the upstage left corner booty-popping in jazz shoes,” he says. “We followed Canada’s NBS in Giselle on the program.”

Two performances of “Choreography: Fast Forward” with the same casts included works by student choreographers from each school, performed by mixed casts of students from the various schools. The ballets had been taped in advance with dancers wearing different colored shirts or numbers. The DVDs were then sent to NBS artistic faculty member and choreographer Shaun Amyot, who cast each dance based on the international students’ abilities. Videos were then sent to the dancers of various schools to learn the choreography, which was rehearsed live in Toronto during the festival.


Canada’s National Ballet School Junior students make notes of important lessons learned during an A113 ballet class. Photo by Joseph Hammond

Funding for AI13 was culled from private donations to NBS, so that participants were not required to pay anything. “Sixty-five corporate and individual donors stepped up to make cash gifts or donate airplane reward miles,” says John Dalrymple, NBS’ associate director of annual giving. “We raised an additional $500,000 from new donors and existing supporters of the school to make it happen.”

The funding provided for six students and two faculty members from each school to attend; some schools opted to pay to send more students, staff, and VIP guests. (Forty-three international faculty members attended, although the number present at one time fluctuated throughout the week.) Aeroplan, Air Canada’s rewards program, donated 6 million of the 7 million reward miles needed to fly all of the participants to Toronto.

“Technology,” “collaboration,” and “accessibility” emerged as the buzzwords from the festival. Although the general public couldn’t attend the classes or hear workshop speakers in person (tickets were sold to the public for the four student performances), they could view rehearsals, classes, and performances via live-stream on the NBS website, which made them available through May 31, 2013.

“People of my generation are immigrants to the land of technology, whereas the students are natives of that land,” says Staines. The necessity of adapting to a constantly changing landscape has become evident, and AI13 embraced the challenge.

The prominence of technology was particularly evident in the festival’s collaborative dance project, Stream, which used a mixed international cast of students live and in virtual reality; it was choreographed by NBS’ Amyot and Amsterdam-based choreographer Michael Schumacher. “Mavis wanted to push forward into technology and social media,” says Amyot. “It had always been seen as a threat to ballet instead of something to enhance [the form] and bring in a bigger audience.”

In 2000, Amyot had participated in a friend’s dance project in Japan in which dancers in Frankfurt and New York were projected onto the stage in Tokyo via online streaming. Using state-of-the art expertise and technology, including projectors, hardware, and software donated by Ryerson University in Toronto, Amyot collaborated for AI13 with Schumacher, who was working in Amsterdam.

Amyot, who teaches the NBS Post-Secondary Program’s improvisation and contemporary repertoire classes, choreographed the classically based choreography on pointe, using some movement phrases contributed by students in the Post-Secondary Program. He studied the movement, dissected it, reassembled it, and then shaped it to the music, Philip Glass’ String Quartet No. 5. While in Amsterdam, Schumacher had worked with 11 Dutch dancers on choreographed and improvised material, particularly a quartet section in the fourth section of the ballet.

Thirty students from the festival, including 14 NBS dancers and 16 from Juilliard, Palucca, Codarts, Royal Danish Ballet School, Barcelona, and New Zealand (who had learned the choreography via DVD beforehand), put the ballet together in three intense days in Toronto.

“It’s crazy to see how fast schools from all over the world can come together and act as one ensemble,” says Snide, who was in the cast.

For the performance, the dancers in Amsterdam were live-streamed (via a Mako box by Haivision with a time delay as low as 70 milliseconds) onto three screens, one on each side of the stage and one upstage center. “Depending on how we lit the stage, sometimes you could only see the projections, while at other times the screens were completely translucent,” says Amyot. “It was hard to tell who was in the space and who wasn’t.”


Students from 11 countries traveled to A1 2013 to take class from internationally known teachers such as Christopher Powney (right). Dutch National Ballet Academy artistic director. Photo by Emily Bartosiewicz

The dancers didn’t know quite what to expect before they got onstage for the dress rehearsal on the morning of the performance. “There were a lot of chances to improvise and feed off the dancers in Amsterdam,” says Snide. “We watched the screen as they improvised and tried to mimic, counter, or react to their movement. I’ve never heard of such a thing in the dance world before—dancers on two different continents making it all happen in one piece. It was a launch pad for something really incredible.”

At the end of the festival, all the dancers were presented with a “Creative Challenge,” originally envisioned by Staines. “We threw the gauntlet down to the students for the next 12 months to commit to creating a new dance work that would be performed in a public context outside of a proscenium theater,” says Dalrymple. Students will create work within their schools and are encouraged to collaborate with other artists, such as composers, musicians, designers, videographers, and computer animators.

“The idea was to get them thinking about how to make ballet more accessible and how as an artist you get your hands dirty in the creative process,” Dalrymple says. NBS has created online tools, like a video channel, to help them incubate their work. The task is to perform the collaborative piece somewhere in their community, where it will be recorded and shared in May 2014.

Choreographer Wayne McGregor was invited to speak about rethinking traditional uses of ballet. “Young artists are always trying to think about what the next generation of the dance world is going to do to further the art form,” says Snide. “After [McGregor] spoke, we broke into groups to discuss how this could happen. We discussed doing something in a staircase or putting classical ballet in a completely non-classical place like a factory, or using a traditional space in a non-traditional way. One friend said he wanted to see a dance where the audience was onstage and the dancers were in the audience.”

The festival activities raised questions and offered ideas for ballet’s future. “There’s that stereotype of ballet being fussy and that only elderly people like it that bugs every ballet student, whether you’re from Holland or Toronto,” says Dalrymple. “These young students love ballet and have dedicated their lives to it. They think there’s so much to the art form that people don’t understand. I think the big revelation was that the students realized they can’t look at us and say, ‘When are you guys going to change that?’ It’s largely up to them. While people like Wayne McGregor have many decades left in their careers, [these students are] the ones with the greatest opportunity to make ballet what it needs to be—more broadly accessible without losing or diminishing all the things that make this a compelling art form.”

Staines’ initial fears that some artistic faculty, especially from traditions 250 years old, would disdain the use of technology turned out to be unfounded. Staines says some faculty came to her hours after arriving at the festival to say they thought the technology could be used regularly to share classes for pedagogical purposes, somewhat comparable to video consultations in the medical world. For example, if Elisabeth Platel of the Paris Opera Ballet School were giving class at a particular time, teachers could watch and learn from it or even broadcast it for their students.

The discussion about the next festival, which could happen in 2016 or 2017, included the possibility of other schools hosting the festival. Some students loved the process so much they want it to occur annually, although that would be difficult to sustain financially. And Staines and Dalrymple both expressed a desire to include schools from Asia, South America, and Africa. (A school in Beijing had been scheduled to attend but canceled due to a change in the school’s leadership and a conflict.)

Moving ballet deeply into the 21st century means utilizing creative thinking.

“Increasing accessibility through the media as a starting point for people 30 and under means we’re going to see ballet as an integral part of society,” says Staines. “That’s going to be tremendously beneficial for audience development and funding and for drawing youth to have [dance] in their lives recreationally or to consider as a profession. I think the creative challenge concept is going to be something that links artists globally and pushes people to take ballet outside of traditional spaces more and more.”

For anyone who loves ballet and frets about its future, Staines has a reply: “We can use the themes of accessibility, relevance, and using technology to highlight ballet as something which is as powerful today as it was 100 years ago.”





A World of Dance

Photo by Chris Callis, courtesy Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Photo by Chris Callis, courtesy Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Dance Planet makes Dallas a hot spot each spring
By Josie G. Sadan

Fun-loving Zumba dancers, teenage hip-hoppers, accomplished flamenco artists, and octogenarian master tappers: these are just a few of the groups likely to be found each spring zipping across the floors of the Dance Planet festival in Dallas, Texas.

Last April, more than 4,000 people watched or participated in classes and performances during the free weekend event, held at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Organizers tout Dance Planet, now in its 17th year, as the oldest and largest free dance festival in the United States. This year roughly 1,200 dancers with 90 groups performed on the festival stage in styles ranging from Polynesian dance to theater improvisation.

The festival welcomes students, professionals, hobbyists, and audiences alike to explore new forms. “The purpose has always stayed the same,” says festival board chair Gayle Halperin. “It’s a celebration of all the dance styles and dancers in our community.”

Organizers tout Dance Planet, now in its 17th year, as the oldest and largest free dance festival in the United States.

Dance Planet is produced by the nonprofit Dance Council of North Texas (DCNT) and sponsored by many organizations, including Heritage Auctions, Booker T. Washington High, Dallas Independent School District, City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, Dallas Arts District Foundation,, Metroplex Pilates, the Town of Addison, Capezio, and Sammons Center for the Arts.

Each year, a committee established by DCNT selects roughly 25 experienced instructors from universities, studios, and companies throughout the North Texas region to teach classes across a wide spectrum of skill levels and interests. “The number-one criterion is to share the joy of dance,” says Halperin.


Photo by Fermaint Photography

The selection committee seeks to vary the lineup from year to year; for 2013, instructors included 89-year-old tap master Buster Cooper, assisted by his granddaughter, Keira Leverton. Both Cooper and Leverton appreciate the variety and welcoming atmosphere of the festival. The event exposes students and instructors to various forms of dance, and “encourages them to branch out,” Cooper says. “Everyone seems to be very excited and wanting to take part.”

Students participating in his classes this year ranged from 7-year-old beginners, Cooper says, to a woman whose mother had taken class with him at one of his first tap conventions in Chicago, in the early 1940s.

Variety and inclusiveness

Too often in dance, Leverton says, “you get into that disjointed world. Tap dancers have their tap world. Ballet dancers have their ballet circles, jazz dancers their jazz.” At Dance Planet, which Leverton first attended as a student in the 1990s, “everyone is coming together, just to celebrate dance.”

In 2013, other instructors (all of whom volunteer their time) included Gino Johnson, a former choreographer for NFL and NBA dance teams, who taught hip-hop; Evelio Flores, founder of Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli (Heart of the Warrior) Aztec Dance Group, who taught Aztec dance; and Booker T. High alum Alora Scavella, who gave lessons in circus silks. Classes included flamenco, Chinese fan dance, yoga, jive, salsa, contemporary, Bollywood, and traditional Korean, Polynesian, and Indian dance.

Every class is designed to allow students to learn new dance phrases and gain knowledge of different dance forms. Through a partnership with a local Pilates studio, the festival also offers free one-on-one Pilates sessions on three Reformers positioned outside one of the studios.

With less than an hour allotted for instruction, classes focus less on technique and more on the joy of movement, taught in short phrases. Although some sessions are targeted specifically to adults, beginners, or more accomplished dancers, most are open to all levels. “It’s multi-level and free, so you can go and just try,” Leverton says.

Participants are expected to identify appropriate levels for themselves. “We hope the teachers of their studios and schools guide [students] into which classes to take,” Halperin says. “But the class is run in such a way that if there are students at a lower level, they are welcome to stay.”


In recent years, Dance Planet has begun promoting local success stories as headliners to provide inspiration, instruction, and knockout performances for festival participants. “They have such a wonderful, innate connection to the community, and [they want] dance to grow in Dallas,” Halperin says.


Photo by Fermaint Photography

Topping the bill this year was Christopher Vo, who graduated from Booker T. Washington High and danced with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. Now based in New York City, Vo has toured nationally as a principal dancer in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away, and he appeared last spring in the second and final season of the NBC musical drama Smash. Past guest artists include Teresa Espinosa, another graduate of Booker T. Washington, who has choreographed for Britney Spears and received an Emmy nomination for choreography contributed to Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour in the late 1990s.

At Dance Planet 17, Vo delivered solo performances each afternoon and taught Zumba, musical theater, and modern classes. At least 150 students turned out for the Zumba class, which Vo taught from atop a platform in a studio with two-story-high ceilings. Says Halperin, “It’s the most dynamic, energetic thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

Onstage interviews with the headlining guest artist give festival attendees a chance to peek behind the scenes of careers in dance. “They talk about where they went to audition and didn’t make it, and when they did, and what it’s like to work in the field,” Halperin says. “They talk about the fierce competition in the dance world, and how if you want to do this, it takes a great deal of perseverance and patience. As an educator, you go, ‘I’ve been telling them that!’ ” Hearing guest artists affirm her advice to students, she says, fills her with pride.

Expanding Planet

Dance Planet has changed over the years. It began as an outdoor festival called Dance for the Planet in the northeast corner of downtown Dallas. “There was a fantastic large, open green,” Halperin recalls. “Everyone could bring their blankets and lawn chairs. It was a relaxed, bohemian-type festival.” Event producers supplied sound and lighting equipment and dancers performed on one large outdoor stage.

“There would be public school dance groups to studio dance groups to professional dancers, a wide range of cultural dance troupes, to senior citizens,” Halperin says. “Its point was to widen exposure for everyone. People would walk around with great smiles and a great sense of community.”

In those early days, before TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance began introducing a variety of dance forms into American living rooms, dance had a different place in popular culture. “The flamenco people didn’t know much about what was happening in other areas, and the same was true for the dance studio kids,” Halperin says. “Their world was their high school and their studio.”

Dance Planet was a place to mix up the routine and mingle with the larger North Texas dance community. Today, Halperin says, “dance has become much more visible. The commitment, the mutual respect among all the styles, seeing the parents value what this opportunity is for their kids—I think it’s a natural progression.”

Organizers worked to expand the festival over time, adding a second stage on the green and setting up portable floors to support a variety of outdoor classes. Tents became necessary to shield both marley and dancers in the brutal Dallas heat. “When the sun is beating down, the marley is heating up,” Halperin says.


Performances by student companies, university groups, professionals and other members of the Dance Council of North Texas, including dancers from Preston Center Dance, were held in Booker T. Washington High School’s 475-seat theatre.
Photo by Fermaint Photography

Eventually, however, after years of “magnificent weather patterns,” the event coincided with a severe storm. It was the last straw for a festival that had outgrown its bohemian roots. Organizers decided they could no longer afford to spend $30,000 on a free outdoor event where bad weather could send staffers racing to shelter sound equipment and ensure participants’ safety.

It was a good time to search for an indoor venue. A 30-year-long effort by city planners to center Dallas’ leading visual and performing arts institutions in a bustling, 68-acre downtown arts district was reaching its culmination. An opera house stood where the open green had once hosted Dance Planet picnickers, and a major $60 million addition had recently been completed at Booker T. Washington High School.

Halperin approached the school and set about reshaping Dance Planet in the model of a college dance festival, with classes offered in three studios throughout the day and afternoon showcases in the school’s state-of-the-art, 475-seat theater. The event has taken place at the high school for four years now.

Many Dance Planet participants come back year after year. “Some teachers and dance patrons and students remember the festival when it was outdoors,” Halperin says. (Vo first attended Dance Planet when he was in elementary school.) “All of us have great memories of the bohemian free spirit,” Halperin adds, but she doesn’t regret the move. “I’m glad we’re indoors now; I think it’s a better festival because of that.”

Online registration for classes now begins two weeks before the festival, with 10 spaces per class left open for walk-ins. Additional spots can open up due to no-shows, Halperin says, “because the whole thing is free.” Dance, Pilates, and fitness classes run for 50 minutes each, starting at 9:30am on Saturday and at noon on Sunday. The event wraps up each day at 5pm.

During the latter half of the day, companies, university groups, studios, and other members of the Dance Council of North Texas present work onstage. The timing of the festival in April makes it an ideal opportunity for studio troupes to present polished dances that are already in the works for competition finals in May. For kids who study dance in public schools, Dance Planet offers a chance they wouldn’t otherwise have: to perform in a fully equipped new theater. Up to three minutes are allotted for soloists and up to six minutes for groups. The guest artist closes out each day with a solo performance.

Volunteers have long been the lifeblood of this free festival. About 100 people, from teenagers to senior citizens, donate their time to help with production, administration, site coordination, concessions, and other services over the course of the weekend. Organizers reach out to local schools that require students to complete community-service hours and to an extensive database of volunteers from past years. New volunteers are generally recruited through word of mouth. First-aid, security, production crews, and other professional staff are paid.

At this point, Dance Planet is approaching maximum capacity. “You want things to get bigger all the time,” Halperin says, “but the expenses are much larger.” And the facility can accommodate only so many moving bodies over the course of one weekend. Says Halperin, “I’ve never had to turn groups away until this year.”



Youth Dance Festival

Competing in the folk dance category, Ballet Folklorico di Colima took home the ensemble gold medal in 2011.  Photo courtesy Leonid Kozlov

Competing in the folk dance category, Ballet Folklorico di Colima took home the ensemble gold medal in 2011.
Photo courtesy Leonid Kozlov

New Jersey competition nurtures young ballet students
By Kay Waters

Roberta Humphrey has been taking her students to the Youth Dance Festival of New Jersey since 2006, the annual festival’s second year. But when the event recently announced it would be moving this year’s competition from October to next February, Humphrey, the director of Dance for Joy in Mohegan Lake, New York, was faced with a dilemma: should she continue to take her students to the festival or to another event they usually attended in February?

“My dancers said, ‘Definitely New Jersey. The dancers are better, so we can learn more, and we get so much more out of that festival,’ ” says Humphrey. “Not one would consider not going to New Jersey.”

Other practices the Kozlovs established to add to the overall experience for festival participants include offering a warm-up class by one of the competing schools’ directors.

That’s good news for Adriana and Leonid Kozlov, directors of Youth Dance Festival. The festival was founded in 2005 by Leonid Kozlov to give ballet students what he calls a “more educational” approach to the competition experience.

YDF’s roots

Photo courtesy Kozlov Dance International

Kozlov, a former star with the Bolshoi Ballet, made international headlines when he and his wife at the time, ballerina Valentina Kozlova, defected from the Soviet Union in 1979. In the West, Kozlov performed as a guest artist and principal dancer for 11 years with New York City Ballet. He has staged productions for several companies and briefly performed on Broadway in preview performances for the revival of On Your Toes. He runs YDF with his current wife, Adriana.

As the owner of Kozlov Dance Academy and director of the Kozlov Dance International performance company, Kozlov “saw a lot of festivals and competitions, and of course parents want me to take their kids to these places. But these competitions were not to make them better. I thought, ‘What if we do something that will be educational for the kids? They will enjoy themselves, and it really doesn’t matter if they get a medal or not; what’s important is that they do their best and see others.’ That’s the kind of event I wanted to have.”

The Youth Dance Festival includes solo and group competitions for students ages 9 to 25 (the maximum age for soloists is 21). Students compete in three age divisions and can choose to compete in ballet, contemporary, jazz, or folk dance. The festival mirrors many regional competitions with only one round of competition per category. Entry fees are $65 for a solo, $100 for a pas de deux, and $45 per person for a group. Students also pay a $50 registration fee, which includes three optional workshop classes in ballet, modern, and jazz, all offered the day after competition.

Several of the judges have been with the festival since its founding, including Carolyn Clark, founder and director of New Jersey Ballet, and Christine Dakin, the noted Martha Graham dancer who is now a Graham company artistic director laureate. Other recent judges have included Luigi, Katherine Healy, and Hector Zaraspe.

Education and inclusiveness

YDF is held at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey. (The Kozlovs have relocated their academy to Aruba; however, Kozlov Dance International, which hosts YDF, will remain based in New Jersey.) In 2012, the two-day event drew more than 120 dancers from 15 schools. In other years the festival has hosted more than 150 dancers from as many as 17 schools.

To teachers like Humphrey, YDF provides a valuable learning experience for serious ballet students, both pre-professional and recreational. “Number one, it’s a chance to perform. I’m always looking for performance opportunities for my students,” she says. “It’s also an opportunity for them to see elite dancers. It gives my students a chance to see what it takes if they really want to dance professionally. My students get better by watching better dancers.”

What’s more, Humphrey says, she and her students never feel like they don’t belong at YDF. “It’s very inclusive and I like that. We’re a recreational school, and some of the schools there are pretty elite.”


The festival welcomes recreational dancers as well as professionally oriented students like 2012 Division III gold medalist Sofia Greenbaum, who performs with Kozlov Dance International.
Photo courtesy Leonid Kozlov

According to Humphrey and several other teachers, some students participate in YDF as practice for the larger Youth America Grand Prix. “The Grand Prix is not something my students are going to consider doing at all. My girls who enter in the solo competition [at YDF] know they’ll be up against some of these girls who are preparing for the Grand Prix,” Humphrey says. “But it’s good for my girls to see that level of dance. They love it.”

The feeling of inclusiveness at YDF, Humphrey says, “is totally due to the way Leonid and Adriana run it.” One of the things Humphrey appreciates is the concluding gala performance. In addition to featuring all of the winners, the gala includes at least one group or soloist from each of the competing studios.

“We don’t want anyone to feel left out,” says Adriana Kozlov. “Of course that means there are varying levels presented. But everyone puts in the same preparations and effort and commitment and we feel it’s nice that everybody be represented in the gala. That’s part of our slogan—uniting young dancers in the art of dance. So we stick to that.”

Other practices the Kozlovs established to add to the overall experience for festival participants include offering a warm-up class by one of the competing schools’ directors. Each year the Kozlovs ask a different director to teach the class, which is offered to all competitors before their competition round begins—a small but critical benefit that’s unheard of at regional competitions. Another unusual feature for a regional competition is that groups get up to four minutes to space routines onstage before they compete.


The Kozlovs try to ensure that students are not competing late at night; adjudications are usually completed by 8pm. “We know these things are important to the teachers and the parents,” says Leonid Kozlov. He shares a story about a recent competition in Paris, France, where his dancers went onstage more than 90 minutes later than their scheduled time. “People who come to us, that’s one of the first things they ask us: ‘How do you do on time?’ ”

“It’s really all about planning,” says Adriana Kozlov. “We stay on time. We know that’s important. And we’re constantly communicating with the teachers, sending them information, getting feedback from them.”

One key to staying on time, she says, is putting together a reasonable schedule. As a result of their own observations and feedback from teachers, the Kozlovs try to give judges adequate time to write comments after they adjudicate each contestant. “We don’t rush the judges; we allow them time to write comments,” says Adriana Kozlov. That means that instead of scheduling entries back to back, the YDF typically builds in a few minutes between entries. The next number is not announced until all judges have finished writing on their score sheets.

And, Adriana Kozlov added, the Festival also tries to get the judges’ written adjudications organized and handed to teachers by the middle of the last day of the festival while students are in classes.

Pressure-free fun

Jaelyn Fellona, director of International Ballet Theater Academy in Frazer, Pennsylvania, praises the Kozlovs for paying attention to what teachers want and providing students of all levels with a good experience.


Last year Berrend Dance Centre won the gold medal for ensembles for ages 13 to 17.
Photo courtesy VAM Productions

“The Youth Dance Festival is well organized and not as stressful as some competitions. We feel it’s a good introductory competition for younger students,” says Fellona, whose students have placed at YDF as well as at the Youth America Grand Prix regionals. “We don’t want our students to have an emphasis on winning as much as we would like them to focus on performing. [The Grand Prix] has more to offer serious students as far as scholarships or possible job placements, but with that comes more pressure. We only take students to [the Grand Prix] that we feel want to pursue dance professionally.”

For students who love to dance but aren’t ready or interested in being professional dancers, Fellona says, attending YDF has proven to be beneficial. “The process of rehearsing makes the students stronger physically, but dancing onstage makes them grow artistically,” she says. “We enjoy both competitions for our students.”

Pat Berrend, director of Berrend Dance Centre in Olney, Maryland, said she likes to take students to YDF every year to show what they can do and see how they compare to other dancers in a context that suits her students better than “regular” competitions. “There are a lot of competitions out there and a lot of schools do the circuit and go to a competition every weekend. They do their hip-hop, and their lyrical, and their jazz, and whatever,” Berrend says. “We’re mostly a classical ballet school. We do those other forms of dance as well, but we focus on ballet. And I like that the Festival’s focus is ballet too. That’s why I only do the Youth Dance Festival, and sometimes the Grand Prix.”

Having both ballet-centric events available to students helps everyone feel they have an opportunity to perform. “I can take some of my other dancers who would like that competition experience but wouldn’t necessarily be strong enough to go to the Grand Prix. They get to do something,” Berrend says.

For 15-year-old Kinsey Novak, a student at the Rafael Grigorian School of Ballet in Elmira, New York, YDF “is a very nurturing environment. It’s a wonderful experience. The whole atmosphere is great. I got really nice feedback from the judges and also from the directors, who are really nice. They all gave me such good advice. It’s very warm and welcoming and the directors really make you feel at ease.”

Novak, who has won awards and scholarships at YDF, says her prizes at YDF included new tutus—a luxury her family would not have been able to afford, she says.

Says Novak’s mom, Michele, about YDF, “It’s a very friendly environment; everybody has a smile on their face. The rules are very practical and clear. It really is a great way for kids who appreciate the art of dance to get better.”


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