Movers and shakers attend Michigan Dance Festival

Katerina Mihailidis, Staff Reporter

Oakland University’s School of Music, Theater and Dance is proudly co-hosting the 22nd annual Michigan Dance Festival on Saturday, Oct. 7 in Varner Hall.

The Michigan Dance Council was founded in 1996 to give choreographers the opportunity to showcase their work, as well as give dancers the opportunity to take classes from well-noted choreographers in the state. It was the council that created the dance festival, the same year.

“MDC was founded as a means to connect the arts community across the state and to encourage wide participation… to create a voice for the dancers of Michigan,” said Susanna Michaels, cofounder of the MDC.

With dance classes and workshops being offered, attendees can experience various dance styles. The dance styles include the Dunham Technique, Caribbean dance, ballet, jazz, hip-hop and contemporary modern dance.

“We really try, within the small frame of the dance festival, to bring something for everyone,” said Gregory Patterson, chair of MDC. “We offer a variety of styles and make it very eclectic.”

The day begins at 12:30 p.m. with two free community classes for all levels of dancers. The festival ends with the Gala concert at 7 p.m., the general admission of which is $20. Students and seniors can enjoy the concert for $15.

The Gala concert is a performance of eight dancers/finalists competing for the 2017 Maggie Allesee Choreography award. The eight dancers submitted their choreographies to the MDC in May&June and through third party adjudicators they were chosen to perform their work and compete in the Gala concert at OU in order to receive the “Maggie” award.

Maggie Allesee, a philanthropist and an art enthusiast, will give out the award herself to whoever wins the competition.

This year’s dance festival is not only different because it will be hosted at OU, but because MDC is including a dance class for challenged movers.

This is the fourth year that MDC organizes auditions for summer intensive scholarships through dance school and programs in Michigan. Grand Rapids Ballet, Blue Lakes Fine Arts Camp, Eisenhower Dance Oakland University Summer intensive, ArtLab J, Complexions Detroit Summer Intensive and Impulse Dance Institute are a few of the programs that offer summer intensive scholarships.

According to Michaels, Michigan at one point employed the most dance educators in the country. However, due to the lack of funding, dance programs are being compromised or even cut from the curriculum in public schools. This is why it is important to have community and statewide events like the MDC Michigan Dance Festival Michaels said.

“It provides an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to engage in a dance experience, whether it is as a participant in a dance class, as an audience member or as an arts enthusiast contributing comments at the annual dance networking meeting,” Michaels said.

Penny Godboldo, dance instructor for the Dunham Technique at the festival, said that all attendees need to bring for her class are their mind, their body and their spirit.

“I want attendees to leave this festival with either a new excitement or a renewed excitement for the power of movement and the power of dance, in terms of communication, in terms of self-expression, in terms of storytelling [and] in terms of creating moves and various scenarios,” Godboldo said.

Loving dance since the age of 11 years old, Godboldo said that the festival will make people become re-inspired for what dance can offer.

MDC brings the dance festival to the east, west and central Michigan. With months of preparation, including board meetings, information-gathering, teacher-finding, a judication process that determines the finalists performing in the Gala concert, as well as getting the OU studio together, Patterson said that MDC and OU are looking for an exciting event this year.

Registration for the festival is open online at where attendees are encouraged to look at the schedule of the festival and sign up for the different activities, classes and the Gala concert.