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Dance+ Festival celebrates 20th year

Posted: 03/29/2010

A rainy day didnít put a dent in the energy level of Dance+20, the all-day festival of movement and dance whose 20th anniversary event took place on the wet and gloomy Sunday, March 28. Sponsored by Skidmore, the Dance Alliance, and the National Museum of Dance, the festival moved this year from Skidmoreís Dance Center to the dance museum, where more than 150 dancers (and would-be dancers) of all ages, from beginner to advanced levels, took lively part in nearly two dozen classes offered from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m.

Housed in the museumís three dance studios and spilling over into its elegant foyer and galleries, the choices ranged from Latin-craze Zumba to traditional yoga, from ballet to belly dancing. In one session, titled ďFamous Dances from the Movies,Ē noted regional choreographer Maud Baum taught easy-to-learn versions of popular numbers from West Side Story, A Chorus Line, and Chicago. Floor barre, salsa, creative awareness for children, Pilates, Chinese ribbon dancing, and rhythm tap were also among those offered.†

The festivalís flexible registration policy allowed dancers to sign up for a full day of classes or take just one or two favorites; a midday lunch break offered participants and accompanying family a chance to relax and socialize over homemade sandwiches, chili, cookies, and coffee. (The food sales benefitted the Pat and Sven Peterson Scholarship Fund organized by the Dance Alliance, one of the festivalís sponsors.)†After the lunch break, an audience of 200 gathered in the museum foyer to applaud two dances presented by student members of Saratoga High Schoolís MOVE performance troupe, under the direction of Nicole Kadar í11.†(Theyíre the ones shown in the photo wearing black hats). Kadar trains and directs the MOVE students and choreographs their performances.†

New this year on the Dance+ Festival program were lectures of special interest to dancers such as injury prevention, issues facing the female ballet dancer, avoiding burnout in dance class, and the New York City Balletís wellness program. Two of the talks were presented by psychologist and Dance Magazine columnist Linda Hamilton, a former New York City Ballet dancer and author of Advice for Dancers: Emotional Counsel and Practical Strategie, among others. Hamilton also took part in a book-signing session.

The Dance+ Festival got its start 20 years ago when Judith Atchinson, then a Skidmore pianist and dance accompanist, organized a day of dance at Hudson Valley Community College.†In the years following, Dance+ moved to Skidmore, where it is coordinated by Mary DiSanto-Rose of the collegeís dance department. By inviting people of all ages and training levels to enjoy new kinds of dances, the Dance+ Festival no doubt helps build new audiences.†Butóbottom line?†Itís great fun, says DiSanto-Rose, ďand you donít have to be a star to have a good time.Ē

Photos by: Carolyn Raider'10 and Sam Brook'12