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Massachusetts Dance Festivals 2011

12249524701?profile=originalMassachusetts Dance Festival kicks off its second year of full day weekend education workshops and performances on August 13th and 14th at Boston University’s Dance Studio Theater and August 27th and 28th at UMass Amherst’s Bowker Auditorium and Totman Gymnasium Theater, capturing audiences east to west. (


A non-profit organization formed in 2008 by dedicated Massachusetts dance professionals and activists, MDF strives to “successfully establish dance artistically, financially and operationally, throughout the state,” while simultaneously “providing a rich education for youth (that) promotes cultural understanding and tolerance.” 


MDF stands apart from the wide assortment of other dance festivals by actually paying dance performers and educators, who have professionally studied and performed locally, nationally, and internationally, with heralded persons and institutions such as: Agnes deMille, Alvin Ailey, Anna Sokolow, Boston Ballet, Brenda Bufalino, Chet Walker, Leonide Massine, Jimmy Locust, Josh Hilberman, Jacobs Pillow, Matt Mattox, National Ballet Senegal, and Stuttgart Ballet, among others.


Invigorating the performance art genre called “dance” is no easy task, yet this two-pronged approach that reaches hundreds of dance enthusiasts from all geographic locations, ethnic and cultural diversities, and complementary levels of dance ability – from absolute beginners to full-fledged professional company members – has proved a successful platform. Businesses, educational, cultural, travel, and arts institutions, as well as dance industry vendors, students, and audiences, have joined the cause.


This year’s performance line up for both days evenly distributes outstanding works from Massachusetts-based modern, ballet, jazz, hip-hop and world dance companies, for the widest audience viewing pleasure. Here are some highlights:


* BoSoma Dance, founded by Irada Djelassi and Katherine Hooper in 2003, stretches every boundary of human physicality and musicality, through high intensity, paradoxical twists, turns, leaps, and rapid spatial changes that thrill audiences, consistently.  “BoSoma Dance Company was founded upon the belief that dance should be an accessible art form, transcending borders of social background and cultures; it collaborates with local musicians and visual artists with the intent of reaching out to audiences of different artistic mediums.” (


* Boston Dance Company, a Cambridge-based non-profit organization founded in 1992 by James Reardon and Clyde Nantais, both exemplary dancers and master educators from the Boston Ballet and Boston Conservatory, trains young dancers in “classical balllets, Balanchine ballets, reconstructed historic works, 20th century masterpieces, and new works by emerging local choreographers specifically commissioned for BDC.” BDC also produces full-length annual Nutcracker performances and family-orientedSpring productions (


* Chaos Theory Dance, founded by Billbob Brown in 1999, derives its name “from the science of complexity, which finds meaningful patterns in apparently unpredictable systems, such as weather, clouds, traffic, and social groups … finding balance between highly ordered movement, and moments that go as wildly out of control as possible.”  Cosmically and personally embracing, CTD “delights audiences with stunning lifts and belly-slapping laughs … warming hearts and inspiring souls … (through) movement that borrows from all genres -  modern dance to jazz, tap, ballroom, and boxing!” (,


* Contrapose Dance, founded by artistic director Courtney Peix, creates exciting and entertaining works that “engage audiences by plumbing deep emotions,” inviting them to “set aside expectations and respond to the thrill of the new.” Contrapose Dance, with roots in classical training, combines traditional with contemporary, bringing a “new energy to the theater scene, attracting a new generation of dance lovers." Contrapose seeks not only to reach existing dance audiences but also to widen the circle by reaching out to communities that may never have attended dance concerts. (


* Fran & Miriale Dance Fusion is a new performance and education duet with roots in Venezuelan folk, Afro-Cuban, Flamenco, ballroom, jazz, and funk, that provides a refreshing (if not sizzling) fusion style that teens, young adults, and all ages are instantaneously drawn to. High energy hip, rib, and shoulder undulations, contracted torso complemented by precision turns, dips, and fast footwork incites movement in the body and spirit of any onlooker or participant.


* Impact Dance Company, founded by Sarah K Jerome, is one of Boston’s youngest contemporary based dance companies, with all of its performers under the age of 27. IMPACT seeks to “give a voice to our generation and those younger than us who feel like no one has ever understood them or their feelings…to let them know they are not alone.”  IMPACT  “initiates change by bringing dance to the forefront and raising awareness…by magnifying what is not stereotypically accepted or touched upon as frequently as it should be,” by providing realistic and poignant portrayals through high energy animated and pedestrian movement, music, and the spoken word. (


* Lorainne Chapman The Company (LCTC) “challenges dancers and audiences both kinetically and emotionally. Through her dynamic movement and compelling theatricality she is able to blend together even the most incongruous ingredients.”  “Providing passionate, engaging, and satisfying theatrical performances LCTC connects the energy and synergy from dancers to audiences in significant, yet unexpected ways.”  Her keen sense of musicality and theatrics drives her challenging 2011 production. (


* Legacy Dance Company, founded by Thelma Goldberg, a well-known and highly regarded tap dancer and master educator, is the youth performance division of Dance Inn, performing tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and musical theater repertoire that delights audiences young and old.  Establishing the Dance Inn in Lexington in 1983, Thelma’s mission is “to offer the highest level training and programming for both the recreational and aspiring professional dancer,” always emphasizing good technique and musicality, and “dance as a life-long activity.” (


* Navarassa Dance Theater, founded by Aparna Sindhoor, Ph.D., in 1991, creates “solo and group works in classical and contemporary dance and theater that are Inspired by Indian classical and folk dance forms, theater, world music, martial arts (kalari ppayattu), aerial dance, yoga, live singing and storytelling.” Navarassa is a “dynamic, radical, and original style of dance theater, known for its shows with themes that deal with human issues in a meaningful way that makes audiences enjoy and be touched at the same time.” (


* Les Enfants du Soleil, founded by Pape N’Diaye of Dakar Senegal, is a powerful ensemble that provides “authentic African cultural experiences through education and entertainment…to raise the standards and elevate the perceptions of African dance in the minds of mainstream audiences.” Alioune “Pape” N’Diaye choreographs in djembe, kutiro, sabar, modern, and African contemporary dance forms – with high-energy elegance and precision. (


* Triveni Dance Ensemble, founded by Neena Gulati, Master dancer and teacher of classical Bharat Natyam in Massachusetts since 1971, focuses on the “preservation and presentation of ancient temple dances and their educational stories, using a highly formalized choreography which combines hand gestures, facial expressions, rhythmic footwork and sculptured body postures.” Bharat Natyam, considered a ‘fire dance,’ combines “Expression” (BHA), “Raga” or “Music” (RA) and “Tala” or “Rhythm” (TA) in the exquisite elocution of gestures, movements and poses, while wearing brightly colored sarees, ankle bells, and temple or “performance jewelry,” creating a mystic aura for dancers and audiences, alike. (


Also performing are the heralded Audra Carabetta Dancers, Jazz Inc., Quicksilver, SkooJCorE-O, Prometheus, Sokolow Now!, Susan Seidman and Seidman Says Dance, and Upsana – not to be missed performances by master technicians, creators, and performers from all corners of Massachusetts.


To date, MDF is sustainable through performance and dance class ticket sales, and the dedicated hours of our board members and valued volunteers.  We thank ALL of our dancers, teachers, and supportive institutions and audiences for helping us to promote dance and healthy communities across the Commonwealth, and invite you to partake in our 2011 festivities.


Please visit: ( for ticketing, dance class schedules, and performance company lineup.

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Rebecca Parris was born on December 28, 1951 in Newton, Massachusetts into a family of educators and musicians. Her early career is marked by studies with world-class vocal coach, Blair MacClosky, and attendance at Boston Conservatory. At first she toured with top 40’s bands, then became immersed in the American jazz genre of singing, developing herdistinctive version of improvisation, scat, exemplary phrasing, and masterful story telling.

Parris has performed worldwide with great jazz legends, including Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Wynton arsalis, Gary Burton, Count
Basie, Woody Herman, Terry Gibbs, David “Fathead” Newman, Norman Simmons. Harold Jones, Andy Simpkins, Gerry Wiggins, Bill Cunliffe, Red Mitchell, Buster Cooper, Nat Pierce, and many others. Rebecca has performed
at the legendary
Monterey Jazz Festival in '90 & '95, North Sea Jazz Festival, >Oslo Jazz Festival and the International
Floating Jazz Festival, continuing to exemplify American jazz singing across the globe.

Rebecca's latest release is You Don't Know Me on the Saying It With Jazz label. Rebecca performs some
well-chosen standards with her long-time trio: Brad Hatfield, piano; Peter
Kontrimas, bass; and Matt Gordy, drums. Rebecca's previous releases include her
all-ballads CD,
My Foolish Heart
, The Secret of Christmas"Arial Narrow"; A Beautiful Friendship, with the Kenny Hadley Big Band, Double Rainbow with Eddie Higgins and Michael Monaghan, A Passionate Fling, Love Comes and Goes, and Live at Chan's. (go to:

Additional to performing, Rebecca is a noteworthy vocal teacher, widely in demand, from students near and far, that don’t mind traveling to benefit from her instruction. She is also a community activist who has led benefit concerts for numerous charities and causes, is an ardent supporter of “Save School Music,” and a recent advocate of the “Massachusetts Dance Festival.”

Rebecca Parris will be opening for two weekends of dance festivals during the first statewide MDF events, beginning on Saturday August 21st @ 8:00 pm, at the Boston Ballet top floor performance venue, and the following Saturday, August 28th, and the Fine Arts Center in Amherst. Sheyes""> will perform a few of her favorite jazz songs, then turn the
stage over to 11 professional dance companies for the evening.

Having just attended another spectacular performance by Rebecca last night, I can vouch that our regional icon and “First Lady of Jazz” from Massachusetts, is fully engaging in her playful, serious, sensuous way, that pulls you into an astounding musical experience.

Ticket prices for August 21st and 28th are $25.00 at the door, $20.00 in advance. Go to:
to order in advance.

And enjoy the show!

Article by Lisa Leake

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Massachusetts Dance Festival’s first annual statewide events, sponsored by the UMass Amherst Department of Musicand Dance, will be held August 21st and 22nd at Boston Ballet, 19 Clarendon Street,Boston, and August 28th and 29th, at UMass Amherst (Totman Building) and The Fine Arts Center, Amherst. 2010 events at both sites includeSaturday evening performances by eleven professional dance companies, andSunday late afternoon performances by eleven emerging dance companies,representing genres of ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, multimedia, EastIndian, and hip hop/jazz. Each presentation reveals the sheer creative power ofdance – the breadth of training and talent across the Commonwealth – ofphysicality, technical excellence, emotional exuberance, and compellingartistry, that is certain to attract and engage audiences of all ages andbackgrounds.

Innovative choreographies of two weekends include: 1) “Marionette,” which questions the notion of “success,” reflectingthe “struggle to get ahead in business, financial, and personal lives…driven byrelentless social images,” choreographedby Katherine Hooper of BoSoma DanceCompany, where athleticism and the “constant energy of phrasing” propelsdancers ahead three steps, and back only two; 2) A dramatic selection by Contrapose Dance entitled “Sanitas,” which approaches society’s “recent obsession withcleanliness and staying free of sickness,” plummeting deeply into the humanpsyche … gripping audiences while challenging dancers through feats of athleticand artistic elocution; 3) Monkeyhousedancers’ newest creation, “"Times New Roman Italic""">Against the Odds11.0pt"">,” which “explores themes of endangerment and stagnancy,” and theenormous effort required to get “unstuck,” using a series of ‘found sound’recordings of rain and train station buskers; 4) A multi-media celebration ofthe Connecticut River by Sorvino DanceProject called “Downstream,” where fluid movements are adapted to the power,stillness, and interruptions of the river, against a backdrop of SamPettengill’s visual artwork, and a magnetic improvisational and polyrhythmicmusical landscape; 5) An energetic and uplifting piece, Mariah Steele’sSimon &Garfunkel Suite,” which portrays a“desire to celebrate life and the human experience in all its grit and humor,dust and glory… a love of community, awe of our bodies’ vast capabilities … anda deep faith in humanity.”

Additional to dance performances are a total of 48 dance classes for adults and childrenin Boston, August 21st and 22nd, and in Amherst, August28th and 29th, between the hours of 11:00 am and 5:00 pmon Saturdays, and between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm on Sundays. Massachusettsmaster dancers, college and K-12 educators, and industry specialists covergenres of ballet, jazz, tap, modern, African, Cuban Salsa, hip hop, “inclusivedance for physically disabled dancers,” and a diverse range of innovativechildren’s dance classes. Specialty workshops on “dance photography,” “managing a successfulcultural business,” and “healthy dancers” will also run adjacent to movementclasses, offering a full spectrum of activities for all ages and levels ofaudience participants.

MDF’s Emcee for both Saturday nights is Massachusetts native and national jazz icon, RebeccaParris, who will open both performances and sing two of her favorite,popular jazz standards. She is an ardent supporter of music and danceperformance and education in Massachusetts, and a tireless promoter of theMassachusetts Dance Festival’s mission:

…to revitalize dance and arts-related professions by developing partnerships withbusinesses, corporations, institutions and communities. MassachusettsDance Festival believes that dance, as a major component of arts and culture,is essential to meaningful lives and healthy communities. Dance and artseducation contribute to quality life in the 21st Century byproviding rich education for youth and promoting cultural understanding andtolerance within diverse communities.”


Tickets are $25.00 and can be purchased in advance or at the door. Discounts areavailable for Boston Dance Alliance Members, students, senior citizens, andgroups of 10 or more. Call: (508) 429-7577 for ticketsales information. You may alsopay for tickets in advance, through Pay Pal, at the Massachusetts DanceFestival web site

For a full listing of performing artists and adult and student dance classes, go to: 11.0pt""> and 11.0pt"">

MDF is a registered 501(C) 3 non-profit, with its 2010 summer dance festivalsupported by: Body Grooves,Boston Dance Alliance, Dancing Arts Center, the Dance Inn, Hot Stepz Magazine, North Shore Dance Alliance, Red Fez Restaurant, and Teddy Shoes.yes""> Senator Sonia Chang Díaz,Chair of the Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development Committee, endorses the Massachusetts Dance Festival.

MDF can help to establish Massachusetts asan important destination for arts, culture and tourism.

Photo of BoSoma Dance Company
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