Dance Festival draws world-class talent to Seaside

Special to The Sun

The Merchants of Seaside will host the Seaside Dance Festival May 5-7. This annual dance festival, featuring professional performances, demonstrations and open discussion under the stars, continues the tradition of hosting world-class talent in Seaside to showcase the latest dance trends as well as the beloved classics.

Guest artist and director Davis Robertson returns to curate Seaside Dance Festival this year with new and returning talent who will demonstrate and perform famous choreographed works on the Amphitheater stage. Robertson is the international program director of Bolshoi Ballet Academy of Moscow and répétiteur for the Robert Joffrey & Gerald Arpino Foundation.

Featuring members from national dance companies, the Seaside Dance Festival offers a variety of dance style performances by professionals, including ballet, contemporary, tap, hip hop, jazz, modern, neo-classical and more.

“This unusual and unique gathering is special every year,” said Robertson. “There is almost nowhere else in the country, other than New York City, where you can attend a show that includes top-notch dance companies that perform a plethora of different types of dance numbers all in one program. It’s basically a dance platter full of professionalism and variety brought directly to the people of Seaside. The only other place I can think of where this happens is at New York City’s Fall for Dance Festival. But here in Seaside, you can come for no fee to enjoy the diversity, the quality and the level of dance professionalism.”

Seaside Dance Festival offers three variety-packed dance-themed evenings for the serious dance aficionado and those who simply enjoy the performing arts. Seleta Hayes Howard, Seaside Nutcracker Ballet Mistress and Special Projects Director, said the dance weekend has been designed to engage the community in all forms of dance.

On Friday, May 5 at 6 p.m., audience members can join the conversation during a lecture performance and demonstration all about dance, from modern and jazz to classical ballet. World-class, professional dance artists will demonstrate and be available to answer questions during a warm-up expo and open discussion in the Seaside Amphitheater.

“This is an opportunity for curious dancers, members of the community and visitors to get to know more about the arts, and for a young audience to get to know the 'stars' —the artists themselves,” said Robertson. “Audience participants will be exposed to different forms and different types of dance for an incredible, unique opportunity to get to know the dance stars as well as receive a wonderful introduction to the dance world.”

On Saturday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m., a one and a half hour, energy-packed performance showcase pops with dance variety. This night under the stars is tailor-made for serious dance aficionados or those who simply enjoy performing arts entertainment.

Highlights of the show will include Robertson and a guest artist who will perform a duet to an original piece, “Setting Sun,” tapper Jason Bernard of the New York City Ballet, a return performance by Daniel White of the Richmond Ballet, former Joffrey Ballet Concert Group dancer and assistant director of M.A.D.D. Rhythms in Chicago Jumaane Taylor, Natia and Clifford Williams from Complexions Contemporary Dance, Chrystyn Fentroy and Jorge Velez of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Jennifer Kronenberg and Carlos Guerra from Miami City Ballet.

Sunday, May 7 at 7:45 p.m., the Seaside Dance Festival culminates in a Roger Jeffrey short film and documentary that will precede a full-length family, dance-themed screening of the film "Singin’ in the Rain." Guests can bring lawn chairs, blankets and dinner or snacks to enjoy another relaxing evening under the stars.

All Seaside Dance Festival activities take place in the Seaside Amphitheater. The weekend is produced by the Merchants of Seaside and there is no admission to attend the performances. Guests can book accommodations by visiting www.seasidefl.com/vacation/rentals.