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Massachusetts Dance Festival kicks off its second year of full day weekend education workshops and performances on August 13th and 14th at Boston University’s Dance Studio Theater and August 27th and 28th at UMass Amherst’s Bowker Auditorium and Totman Gymnasium Theater, capturing audiences east to west. (http://www.massdancefestival.org)
A non-profit organization formed in 2008 by dedicated Massachusetts dance professionals and activists, MDF strives to “successfully establish dance artistically, financially and operationally, throughout the state,” while simultaneously “providing a rich education for youth (that) promotes cultural understanding and tolerance.”
MDF stands apart from the wide assortment of other dance festivals by actually paying dance performers and educators, who have professionally studied and performed locally, nationally, and internationally, with heralded persons and institutions such as: Agnes deMille, Alvin Ailey, Anna Sokolow, Boston Ballet, Brenda Bufalino, Chet Walker, Leonide Massine, Jimmy Locust, Josh Hilberman, Jacobs Pillow, Matt Mattox, National Ballet Senegal, and Stuttgart Ballet, among others.
Invigorating the performance art genre called “dance” is no easy task, yet this two-pronged approach that reaches hundreds of dance enthusiasts from all geographic locations, ethnic and cultural diversities, and complementary levels of dance ability – from absolute beginners to full-fledged professional company members – has proved a successful platform. Businesses, educational, cultural, travel, and arts institutions, as well as dance industry vendors, students, and audiences, have joined the cause.
This year’s performance line up for both days evenly distributes outstanding works from Massachusetts-based modern, ballet, jazz, hip-hop and world dance companies, for the widest audience viewing pleasure. Here are some highlights:
* BoSoma Dance, founded by Irada Djelassi and Katherine Hooper in 2003, stretches every boundary of human physicality and musicality, through high intensity, paradoxical twists, turns, leaps, and rapid spatial changes that thrill audiences, consistently. “BoSoma Dance Company was founded upon the belief that dance should be an accessible art form, transcending borders of social background and cultures; it collaborates with local musicians and visual artists with the intent of reaching out to audiences of different artistic mediums.” (http://www.bosoma.org/bosoma)
* Boston Dance Company, a Cambridge-based non-profit organization founded in 1992 by James Reardon and Clyde Nantais, both exemplary dancers and master educators from the Boston Ballet and Boston Conservatory, trains young dancers in “classical balllets, Balanchine ballets, reconstructed historic works, 20th century masterpieces, and new works by emerging local choreographers specifically commissioned for BDC.” BDC also produces full-length annual Nutcracker performances and family-orientedSpring productions (http://www.bostondancecompany.net).
* Chaos Theory Dance, founded by Billbob Brown in 1999, derives its name “from the science of complexity, which finds meaningful patterns in apparently unpredictable systems, such as weather, clouds, traffic, and social groups … finding balance between highly ordered movement, and moments that go as wildly out of control as possible.” Cosmically and personally embracing, CTD “delights audiences with stunning lifts and belly-slapping laughs … warming hearts and inspiring souls … (through) movement that borrows from all genres - modern dance to jazz, tap, ballroom, and boxing!” (http://www.chaostheorydance.com),
* Contrapose Dance, founded by artistic director Courtney Peix, creates exciting and entertaining works that “engage audiences by plumbing deep emotions,” inviting them to “set aside expectations and respond to the thrill of the new.” Contrapose Dance, with roots in classical training, combines traditional with contemporary, bringing a “new energy to the theater scene, attracting a new generation of dance lovers." Contrapose seeks not only to reach existing dance audiences but also to widen the circle by reaching out to communities that may never have attended dance concerts. (www.contraposedance.com)
* Fran & Miriale Dance Fusion is a new performance and education duet with roots in Venezuelan folk, Afro-Cuban, Flamenco, ballroom, jazz, and funk, that provides a refreshing (if not sizzling) fusion style that teens, young adults, and all ages are instantaneously drawn to. High energy hip, rib, and shoulder undulations, contracted torso complemented by precision turns, dips, and fast footwork incites movement in the body and spirit of any onlooker or participant.
* Impact Dance Company, founded by Sarah K Jerome, is one of Boston’s youngest contemporary based dance companies, with all of its performers under the age of 27. IMPACT seeks to “give a voice to our generation and those younger than us who feel like no one has ever understood them or their feelings…to let them know they are not alone.” IMPACT “initiates change by bringing dance to the forefront and raising awareness…by magnifying what is not stereotypically accepted or touched upon as frequently as it should be,” by providing realistic and poignant portrayals through high energy animated and pedestrian movement, music, and the spoken word. (http://www.facebook.com/impactdanceboston?sk=wall&filter=2)
* Lorainne Chapman The Company (LCTC) “challenges dancers and audiences both kinetically and emotionally. Through her dynamic movement and compelling theatricality she is able to blend together even the most incongruous ingredients.” “Providing passionate, engaging, and satisfying theatrical performances LCTC connects the energy and synergy from dancers to audiences in significant, yet unexpected ways.” Her keen sense of musicality and theatrics drives her challenging 2011 production. (http://lorrainechapman.org/index.html)
* Legacy Dance Company, founded by Thelma Goldberg, a well-known and highly regarded tap dancer and master educator, is the youth performance division of Dance Inn, performing tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and musical theater repertoire that delights audiences young and old. Establishing the Dance Inn in Lexington in 1983, Thelma’s mission is “to offer the highest level training and programming for both the recreational and aspiring professional dancer,” always emphasizing good technique and musicality, and “dance as a life-long activity.” (http://www.thedanceinn.com/performance.html)
* Navarassa Dance Theater, founded by Aparna Sindhoor, Ph.D., in 1991, creates “solo and group works in classical and contemporary dance and theater that are Inspired by Indian classical and folk dance forms, theater, world music, martial arts (kalari ppayattu), aerial dance, yoga, live singing and storytelling.” Navarassa is a “dynamic, radical, and original style of dance theater, known for its shows with themes that deal with human issues in a meaningful way that makes audiences enjoy and be touched at the same time.” (http://www.navarasa.org)
* Les Enfants du Soleil, founded by Pape N’Diaye of Dakar Senegal, is a powerful ensemble that provides “authentic African cultural experiences through education and entertainment…to raise the standards and elevate the perceptions of African dance in the minds of mainstream audiences.” Alioune “Pape” N’Diaye choreographs in djembe, kutiro, sabar, modern, and African contemporary dance forms – with high-energy elegance and precision. (http://www.papendiaye.com)
* Triveni Dance Ensemble, founded by Neena Gulati, Master dancer and teacher of classical Bharat Natyam in Massachusetts since 1971, focuses on the “preservation and presentation of ancient temple dances and their educational stories, using a highly formalized choreography which combines hand gestures, facial expressions, rhythmic footwork and sculptured body postures.” Bharat Natyam, considered a ‘fire dance,’ combines “Expression” (BHA), “Raga” or “Music” (RA) and “Tala” or “Rhythm” (TA) in the exquisite elocution of gestures, movements and poses, while wearing brightly colored sarees, ankle bells, and temple or “performance jewelry,” creating a mystic aura for dancers and audiences, alike. (http://www.trivenidance.org)
Also performing are the heralded Audra Carabetta Dancers, Jazz Inc., Quicksilver, SkooJCorE-O, Prometheus, Sokolow Now!, Susan Seidman and Seidman Says Dance, and Upsana – not to be missed performances by master technicians, creators, and performers from all corners of Massachusetts.
To date, MDF is sustainable through performance and dance class ticket sales, and the dedicated hours of our board members and valued volunteers. We thank ALL of our dancers, teachers, and supportive institutions and audiences for helping us to promote dance and healthy communities across the Commonwealth, and invite you to partake in our 2011 festivities.
Please visit: (http://www.massdancefestival.org) for ticketing, dance class schedules, and performance company lineup.