June 2, 2014 § 1 Comment
So, you’ve heard of the NC Dance Festival, and maybe you’ve even seen a performance or two. But how much do you know about this event, heading into its 24th season, and its parent organization, Dance Project? Here are some of the common questions we get about the NC Dance Festival–click on each question to jump to the answer. Test your own knowledge below!
Frequently Asked Questions about the NC Dance Festival
The NC Dance Festival was started in 1991 by Jan Van Dyke and John Gamble, then professors at UNC-Greensboro. The Festival is managed by the non-profit organization Dance Project, which was originally formed in 1974 in Washington, D.C., where it served as the managing organization for Jan Van Dyke’s school and performance space as well as her dance company. The Dance Project has been in operation in North Carolina since 1989 with similar purposes, managing Jan Van Dyke’s current company, the Van Dyke Dance Group; a community-based school; and directing and coordinating the NC Dance Festival. Since 1991, the Festival has grown into a statewide tour, visiting several cities around NC. Want to know more about the history and structure of the Festival? Read more here.
Once a year, usually in the late fall or early winter, we put out a call for applications by video. We have found that we get the best quality work if we ask for finished choreography, not dances still in-progress. Once all the applications are in, a panel of judges–a different group each year– is selected by the Dance Project Board of Directors. The panel usually consists of four reviewers with diverse perspectives, including college students and other people interested in dance from the North Carolina community.
The panel considers all the submissions in a blind review—they do not know which choreographer submitted which work. Each reviewer makes recommendations and scores each work; the dances that score the highest overall are generally the ones invited to join the touring roster for that year. One or two additional invitations may be issued to round out the roster.
As an organization, the Dance Project is interested in cultivating the field of modern dance in North Carolina, so our focus for the NC Dance Festival is, generally, modern and contemporary dance forms. However, we frequently feature contemporary forms such as contemporary ballet, contemporary hip-hop, Afro-modern fusion, and other blended forms. In addition, sometimes NC Dance Festival host sites invite local choreographers working in other dance forms–African, Latin Dance, or tap, for example–to present work on a Festival performance.
We’ve considered this option in the past, and we haven’t ruled it out for the future. But our aim is to present a diverse collection of professional dance choreography from across the state, and we strive to represent the various styles and interests within the NC dance community. Each year we look at several different elements in choosing artists, and aim for a group that is diverse in terms of aesthetic point of view, racial and ethnic identity, gender, aesthetic point of view, geographic location, and career stage in order to promote both excellence and variety. Presenting this sort of variety doesn’t always lend itself well to an annual theme!
Yes, the Dance Project offices are based in Greensboro, where our small staff (3 part-time, 1 volunteer) manages our various programs in Greensboro and around the state. We are fortunate to have presenting partners throughout NC who help us produce the NC Dance Festival tour. Currently, faculty at Meredith College, Appalachian State University, and UNC-Charlotte act as NCDF hosts, organizing many of the local details of the performances. Our Program Director stays in contact with these hosts to coordinate programming, publicity, and technical details throughout the season. In addition, we have a talented Tech Director who tours with the NCDF performances and makes sure the technical aspects of each performance go smoothly! It’s a community effort, for sure.
As an organization, we are interested in increasing the opportunities for professional artists to make, show, and perform dance work in the state. Choreographers who are chosen to tour with the NC Dance Festival are all professional choreographers, though not all of them choreograph full-time. Many work in university or college dance departments around the state. Many of these choreographers have their own dance companies; some are independent choreographers. There are more and more professional performers in the state–hooray!–and the quality of the dancing for the touring NCDF choreographers is very high.
Each NCDF host site chooses a few local artists to perform alongside the touring artists; in some sites, advanced dance students are selected to present work or perform.
Good question! We ask ourselves this question frequently, as a smallish non-profit. We rely on grant support from state and local foundations and arts agencies, as well as donations from individuals for much of our funding. We are currently seeking corporate sponsors for the upcoming season (know anyone interested in sponsoring the season? Send them our way!). Income from ticket sales makes up very little of our funding, though it does help. Each host site keeps most of its own ticket proceeds, so the NC Dance Festival as an organization only keeps the proceeds from ticket sales in Greensboro, after paying for the theater rental. We get additional financial support from selling program ads, and from our other programs, such as the classes Dance Project offers at the School at City Arts.
We love the outreach we do as part of the NC Dance Festival! In each site we visit, we offer at least one master class–for free–with a Festival artist. These classes change every year as our roster of artists changes, but they range from contemporary ballet to contact improv; modern dance partnering to classic modern techniques. In Guilford County, where we are able to apply for more grant support (because we are based in Greensboro), we take the touring artists into the local public schools to teach classes and perform in mini-concerts. We see this as such an important part of what we do: inspiring and connecting with the next generation of dancers, choreographers, and audience-members. We hope to be able to expand our outreach program more substantially in the other cities we visit, but funding is often limited. Inspired to help us fund additional classes and outreach performances? Make a donation online or contact us for more information.
During the Festival season (September-January), check out our Outreach page for master classes open to the community.
If you’re reading this blog post, chances are that you’re already connected with us in some way. But here are all the ways to link up with us and get the latest information about our upcoming activities:
Join our email mailing list: we send out email blasts once or twice a month about our upcoming events
And, of course, keep reading the blog!
Still have questions about the NC Dance Festival? Leave them in the comments or send them our way by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.