Dance festival begins tomorrow

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Sam Houston State University will host the American College Dance Festival for the Southwestern region Jan. 29 through Feb. 1.

The four-day festival is an opportunity for all Southwestern universities to exhibit their talent and works produced, said Dr. Cindy Gratz, associate professor of dance.

Each institution has prepared and choreographed several dances to be critiqued after the concert. These performances are called adjudication concerts. The six adjudication concerts will each contain seven separate dances. From these pieces, seven to 10 will be chosen for the gala concert.

“At our festival, there are 33 universities attending,” said Dana Nicolay, professor and coordinator of the dance program at SHSU.

“We like to think of it more like a festival than a competition,” Nicolay said. “The event gives students and faculty an opportunity to see what they are doing and where they stand.”

Students Nick Nesmith and Katie Eason will be competing in the adjudication concert and will perform material they choreographed themselves, said Gratz.

According to Eason, SHSU faculty members chose her dance last semester at a mini festival held for the purpose of choosing the two pieces that would be eligible for competition at the festival.

“It’s a big honor and privilege to be chosen to have my work judged,” Eason said.

Another student exhibiting his own work is Ian Dodds. Nesmith, Eason and Dodds are the only three student choreographers.

“It is thrilling for me because it is the first time I will bring some of my choreography to the festival,” Dodds said.

His piece will be a part of the informal concert.

Each university brings several adjudication pieces to be judged for the gala concert. Along with these performances, the universities also have informal pieces that are presented only for audience appreciation and not competition, Dodds said.

“The informal pieces are basically to showcase the work with no judging. Everyone comes out winning because you see so much,” Gratz said.

She said undergraduate students, graduates, professors, and choreographers all participate in the festival in one way or another.

Throughout the four-day festival, dance studios will instruct participating dancers during four different classes a day. Types of dance classes available will include ballet, modern, tap and choreography.

All participants in the festival will get a fun break on Friday, Gratz said.

Faculty will retreat to a champagne reception in Austin Hall at 7 p.m., while dancers will be taught to salsa at the Health and Kinesiology Center.

After the dance session, the students will have the opportunity to show off their moves with music from a live band.

An audience is not allowed for the festival but the dance department is welcoming everyone to view “The Dance for One World” concert. That event will take place Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. at Johnson Coliseum.

The free concert will feature ethnic dances from Panama, Mexico, Polynesia, Germany, Spain, Middle East Africa, Native America and Russia.

“Everyone should come to the concert because there is so much to see, and so much to learn about other cultures. These small performances by SHSU students and students from other universities capture the essence of cultural dances,” said freshman Melody Vascik.

For more information on the ACDFA Southwestern Regional Dance Festival or the “Dance for One World” concert contact the dance department at 294-1875.