Alas, those days are gone, and attending a performance by a top-name dance company in New York City is now beyond the means of penniless youngsters. So we really ought to have more appreciation for the fact that the mid-Hudson Valley boasts quite a range of high-quality dance schools and ensembles – some of them even run by expatriates from major national companies. And topnotch performances are affordably accessible year-round at a variety of local venues. Consider yourself unusually lucky, therefore, to have the chance to catch not one or two but ten of the region’s best dance ensembles this Saturday, February 5 at SUNY-New Paltz’s McKenna Theater, as DanceFest! makes its 19th annual visitation.
As usual, DanceFest! is organized under the auspices of the Vanaver Caravan – a world-class company with a mission to unite humanity in the enjoyment of world music and dance forms, with a special emphasis on teaching. The youth contingent of the Caravan will be spotlighted in Saturday’s concert, including the premiere of a new Appalachian clog dance. This traditional American genre has long been a virtuosic specialty associated with the company, but this time the Caravan Kids will have their own signature clog piece to unveil. Expect enough high-energy stomping and leaping to leave you feeling as cheerfully exhausted as the dancers themselves.
Other dance schools participating in DanceFest! 2011 will include the Ballet Arts Studio/Dance Beacon, the Barefoot Dance Center, Madeline’s Dance Center, the New Paltz School of Ballet, the New York Academy of Ballet, the Rhinebeck Dance Centre/Showbiz Studios, the Saugerties Ballet Center, Solas An Lae School of Irish Dance and Susan Slotnick’s Figures in Flight. The highly acclaimed New Paltz Ballet Theatre, under the direction of former New York City Ballet dancers Lisa and Peter Naumann, can be relied upon to provide one of the evening’s highlights. The Saugerties Ballet Center, directed by Scarlett Fiero, will present Mountain Laurel, a short, three-movement ballet reflecting the beauty and resilience of this native flowering shrub beloved by the early mountaineers – a symbol of the rugged people who settled the mountains of eastern America. The Rhinebeck Dance Centre and Showbiz Dance Studios will collaborate on a boisterous number from Oliver! and Solas An Lae will showcase traditional Irish step dance.
These represent just a taste of the spectrum of beautiful movement of the human form that this Saturday’s audience will get to enjoy for the very reasonable prices of $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and children age 12 and under. And proceeds from DanceFest! will go to a great cause, benefiting the Vanaver Caravan’s Arts-in-Education programs in Ulster County and the surrounding areas. Tickets are available through presale orders through the individual dance schools as well as sold at the door. There will be two separate performances: a matinée at 4 p.m. and an evening performance at 7:30. The snow date is Sunday, February 6 at the same times. For more information contact Livia Vanaver at (845) 256-9300 – or the dance company nearest you.