Jun. 27, 2012 - Issue #871: Edmonton 2012
Feats Festival of Dance
Schedule at abdancealliance.ab.ca
Perhaps we have television to thank for bringing dance into the mainstream.
"There was a genuine fear and terror when you'd see a dance artist walk into the public," states Bobbi Westman, director of the Feats Festival of Dance, as she reflects on the early years of the now nine-year-old festival. "But I have found that there's a greater willingness to talk, a greater willingness to experience dance. I'm not sure why, maybe people have evolved in that way, or people are more comfortable with it because they see it on television—they see Dancing with the Stars, they see it's an OK thing to do. As a festival we've tried to find ways to continue sharing that and continue inviting people; inviting them into that world and letting them have a place for a week in their lives, a place to enjoy and celebrate dance."
Now in its ninth year, the Feats Festival continues to employ hundreds of artists from across Alberta in staging dance shows and workshops in an extensive variety of styles—everything from swing and jazz to folk, ballet, hip hop, ballroom, contemporary and belly dancing. The presentations range from more formal presentations by professional dancers to casual folk dances into which anyone can join.
"I think some of that hierarchy, that dance is just for an elite, even from a recreational point of view, is kind of broken down a little bit. Certainly that doesn't take away at all from the professional community, and it takes an elite athlete and an elite artist to be able to create and to perform in dance," states Westman.
Feats is unusual in that unlike the vast majority of festivals in the city, it doesn't operate from a single site; rather, shows and workshops are held across the entire city in a number of different venues, including the TransAlta Arts Barns, Fort Edmonton Park and the downtown City Centre Farmer's Market.
Westman notes that while this decentralization presents a challenge in spreading the word and keeping the public informed, this format has nonetheless worked well in the past.
"We wanted it to be more site-specific: the ability to be able to use the city and use the venue to support different dance cultures," says Westman. "It made more sense that we try to program the work in places where the work actually fit better."
Ultimately, Westman hopes that the festival will provide multiple entry points for the engagement and promotion of dance in the most holistic sense.
"My goal for people is that they find what excites them, and take one time out of the two weeks that it's running to join in the dance." vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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