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Posted: 04/15/2011

In a community where dance holds year-round appeal, Skidmore and its dance programs are major contributors. The annual “Dance+ Festival,” which just celebrated its 21st anniversary, demonstrates how the College’s alignment with community partners has sustained and enhanced a longstanding tradition.

Nearly 200 people (ranging in age from 7 to 88 years old) participated in the April 3 “Dance+21 Festival,” stronger than ever in its third decade. The “Dance+ Festival” started in 1990 when Judith Atchinson, then a Skidmore pianist and dance accompanist, organized a day of dance at Hudson Valley Community College. The event then moved to Skidmore, where Mary DiSanto-Rose, associate professor, and Mary Harney of the College’s Dance Department organized and staged the event with the help the region's Dance Alliance, an organization of choreographers, dancers, dance teachers, and advocates.

In 2010 the “Dance+ Festival” moved to the National Museum of Dance. Said DiSanto-Rose, “The facilities are ideal and it helps to bring more people to the museum to see the fine exhibits and what it has to offer.” Festival sponsors are the Dance Alliance, the Skidmore Dance Department, and now the National Museum of Dance.

This year’s festival featured 23 different classes in ballet, modern, ethnic, jazz, tap, social dance, yoga, and body workshops, ranging from introductory through advanced level. A segment on nutrition for dancers also was offered and new this year was an injury prevention screening by Sarah DiPasquale of Saratoga Hospital, who also teaches at Skidmore.

According to DiSanto-Rose, several classes were very popular: “Hip Hop,” taught by Nicole Kadar ’11, a dance major, had 43 participants. Reviews called it "a well-developed class, good warm-up, and helped us learn the combinations that were such fun!";  “Bollywood Dance,” taught by area artist Gina Mammone Deibel, drew 44 participants. “Modern Technique,” taught by Skidmore’s own Ruben Graciani, had 33 participants, and “Jazz and Tap,” taught by Marcus Rogers of Union College, drew 30 participants.

One of the day’s high points was a lunchtime performance by “Move Dance,” a performing club for handicapped and at-risk teens from Saratoga Springs High School. Kadar has directed the club since September 2009. Said DiSanto-Rose, “She is the embodiment of the troupe’s mission, accepting and celebrating diversity through dance. She has shown the teens what it means to be the best they can be, to turn limitations into achievable goals. She has donated time to prepare them for gigs in the community where they have become local celebrities because of their enthusiasm and the love of dance that Nicole has fostered.”

Photos by Christopher Weigl '11