Magazine article Dance Magazine

"Dance IS" Community

Magazine article Dance Magazine

"Dance IS" Community

Article excerpt

Across the Bay Bridge from San Francisco is a broad suburban expanse referred to as the East Bay and anchored by Berkeley and Oakland. In 2001, the folks at the Julia Morgan Center for the Arts decided the widely dispersed East Bay dance community could use a forum to exchange ideas and develop a sense of communal identity. "We don't see enough of what other people are doing," says Jill Randall, director of education, Institute Program, at Julia Morgan. "In order to have a critical dialogue, we need to see more of one another's work."

The first Dance IS Festival, organized by Randall and festival co-chair Bridget Frederick, took place in 2002. A curatorial panel of East Bay dancers and teachers invited not only professionals, but dancers from local high schools, colleges, and independent studios to participate. The idea was to establish connections not only across styles but levels of experience. When the fourth annual Dance IS takes place March 3-4 with 16 performing groups, high school students will rub elbows with professionals backstage; young dancers will perform, some for the first time, in a professional theater; and studio teachers can overcome their isolation by talking with colleagues.

A key ingredient for success is a series of "dance shares" which take place on Saturday mornings several weeks before the Festival. In these sessions, participants show each other excerpts of the work they will perform. A poem by Langston Hughes set the tone for the opening warm-up circle of the first session last year, moderated by Julia Morgan executive director Sabrina Klein. …

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