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Debut performances, a dance-themed film fest, “Movers and Shakers” panel lunches, and more fill the weekend of the third annual Detroit Dance City Festival. This year’s reach extends far beyond Detroit, with dancers and choreographers coming from all over North America, and as far away as South Korea and Poland, to participate in the three-day festival, July 30 through August 1, organized by Detroit’s ARTLAB J.

The focus, however, remains on growing and harnessing a vibrant dance culture within Detroit.

Festival Director Joori Jung describes, “Detroit Dance City Festival seeks to establish an artist hub where choreographers and dancers can come together to share their work and create an artist network. This year, the festival has reached an international level, and I believe this is just the beginning. We will keep extending our network to the world. We will move and grow with people and the city.”

A highlight of this year’s festival is the Choreographer’s Showcase, Thursday July 30 and Friday July 31, 7pm at the YMCA Boll Theatre, which includes 29 selected choreographers from over 70 submissions.

Tracy Halloran Pearson, with her dance company ConteXture Dance, will perform a brand new choreographed work on Thursday called Pathways and Echoes. She cites the importance of the Detroit Dance Festival on many levels. “What ARTLAB J and Joori have done, she’s created a culture of dance in Detroit. She and the Detroit Dance Festival have created a voice for dance, and a lot of people are paying attention.”

Barbara Selinger of DDCdances, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, also sees the Festival in terms of an evolvement in terms of the perception of dance in Detroit. As someone who has been on the scene, “I think it’s important that dancers recognize and see the companies that have longevity.” Her group will perform a selection from Dead Letters, which they premiered during their anniversary concert earlier this summer.

Marcus White, a Detroit-based choreographer who will be performing in the showcase, as well as serving as the curator of the film festival and panel lunches, describes what makes this year’s festival different from the first two. “Between the second year and third, we [the Festival] were a Knight Arts Challenge winner. That support really allowed us to expand the scope and position it as an international dance festival. We are really making Detroit a cultural hub for dance in the world… Programmatically, we’ve been diving more deeply into the work of local artists, while bringing in artists from around the world.”

The three-day schedule is jam-packed. In addition to the Choreographers Showcase Thursday and Friday nights, the Festival culminates with a Gala Saturday evening, August 1, at the Music Hall Center for Performing Arts. Performers including Detroit’s ARTLAB J Dance and Eisenhower Dance, New York-based choreographer Camille A. Brown, South Korea’s Dance Company, and Teatr Tańca Zawirowania from Warsaw, Poland.

White says that while “the real mission of ARTLAB J is to support artists in Metro Detroit, [this year] we’re still keeping that while beefing up our exchange.”

That support translates into workshops and training sessions as well. During each of the days of the Festival, from 9am to 5pm, there will be over 20 workshops offered by choreographers and educators, including Selinger and Pearson, and special master classes with Camille A. Brown.

The “Movers and Shakers” lunches that White has organized at The Carr Center provides a space to hear from arts and dance professionals, including CultureSource’s Lynne Friman, Christina deRoos from Kresge Arts in Detroit, Laurie Eisenhower from Eisenhower Dance, and Kim Smith from Michigan Opera Theatre.

Each afternoon in Harmonie Park, the Summer Stage will host free, family-friendly dance performances, ranging in styles from contemporary ballet to capoeira, to hip hop and belly dancing.

Of the changes in the city’s dance scene, Pearson notes, “Before, we had trouble finding enough local people to participate, and now we have people coming from other cities, which is just outstanding.”

For a complete program schedule of events, click here. To purchase a festival pass or tickets, click here