It’s official. Festival season is in full swing and it’s time to look at one of the area’s most prominent dance gatherings.
Now in its 11th installment, Feats Festival of Dance has earned the distinction of introducing rising dance stars that deliver cutting edge movements and jaw-dropping energy.
Presented by Alberta Dance Alliance, Feats runs from July 1 to July 12 at a variety of Edmonton locations that range from Westbury Theatre, Fort Edmonton Park and Dance Alberta to the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market, Sugar Swing Ballroom and Pleasant View Community League.
Numerous dance-related activities are planned including four high wattage main stage events, master classes, a focus group and drop-in classes. There is also a video contest, pop-ups, a zoo dance for tots, and an outdoor dance and movie night.
“We’re seeing more artists create their own voice in a specific way, especially in times when money is restrictive. As a festival we’ve been able to reap the benefits they offer and instead of presenting a few minutes of work, we now have a whole evening,” says artistic director Bobbi Westman.
The four main stage shows are Kaleidoscope 1, a cross section of urban dance styles; Fresh Feats, a spotlight on youth choreographers; and Kaleidoscope 2, a focus highlighting independent contemporary choreographers.
Last but not least is Pushing Forward, Push Back, a CRIPSiE’s full-length show that offers a different perspective on disabilities. More than 30 dancers, some with disabilities, others without, will perform at this dynamic exploration.
“The Pushing Forward part is that they have something to say, and the Pushing Back explores how society in general looks toward an artistic discipline that looks at perfection.”
St. Albert’s own Brittany Reinbold, 29, founder of Toxic Elegance, brings the nine-woman crew’s sleight of hand to Kaleidoscope 1 on Saturday, July 5 at the Westbury.
The St. Albert Catholic High alumna founded Toxic Elegance seven years creating an image and dance style that juxtaposes opposing elements. The hip-hop crew is edgy, provocative and polished, and has retained a foothold at local nightclubs.
Toxic Elegance dances three numbers during a 15-minute time slot. They perform a mashup from a fierce “BeyoncÄ‚Â© routine of woman empowerment” to a darker burlesque piece with everyone wearing masks painted with sugar skulls said Reinbold.
This is the crew’s first appearance at Feats and they are super excited.
“I love that they (festival) don’t limit styles of dance. We’re not a traditional dance crew. We’re out there. They promote you for being who you are. There’s a nice full creative range to do what we do,” Reinbold added.
So what can we expect from Toxic Elegance?
“Expect the unexpected. That’s the biggest thing. You never know what you’re going to do.”
On the same night, St. Albert dance voice Paige Tirs pairs up with Riley Skworoda of Fort Saskatchewan for a 15-minute tap set dubbed Rhythm and Groove. Partly choreographed, partly improvised it propels tap to an altered level.
“We’re creating a piece with our feet. We’re being musicians with our feet,” said Tirs.
The duo developed this concept after travelling to Greece last summer for a workshop that focused on using feet as musical instruments.
“We’re not only being musicians, but we’re trying to keep the performance aspect alive. We’ve had a full year and now we’re doing our own choreography.”
The festival opens on Canada Day at Fort Edmonton Park with two Aboriginal and French Canadian dance troupes. New this year is a belly-dancing segment.
“It’s in the midway section. Belly dancing was big in the 1920s. Exotic dancers were quite the rage and this fits right in,” Westman noted.
On Saturday, July 5 Gerry Morita of Mile Zero Dance pops up for a site-specific dance at Strathcona Farmers’ Market.
Feats is also hosting a video contest where filmmakers are invited to submit their dance YouTube videos. Submission deadline is July 9. Submit to www.abdancealliance.ab.ca.
“It will go into our video bag. We’ll select the top ones and the public can choose which they like best. You can have dancing dogs, dancing babies. Anyone can participate. It’s almost like taking a selfie.”
With a variety of family oriented events, Westman hopes dance aficionados will take advantage of the numerous opportunities.
“It’s a great way to be open minded to what dance can be. It’s beautiful, but it’s also challenging and it’s really a group effort.”
For a complete schedule visit abdancealliance.ab.ca.
Feats Festival of Dance
July 1 to 12
Westbury Theatre, Fort Edmonton Park, Dance Alberta, Old Strathcona Farmers Market, Sugar Swing Ballroom and Pleasant View Community League
Tickets: $10 to $15 Call 780-420-1757 or online at tixonthesquare.ca