July 3, 2014
By Briana Erickson
Swamp Dance Fest, the University of Florida’s annual summer dance program, is hosting a series of events that will bring the art of movement to the public over the next few weeks.
The festival is a rigorous program that includes performances that will be open to the public.
Swamp Dance Fest, which runs July 7-Aug. 3, has been in place since the inception of UF’s dance program and is held in the UF School of Theatre and Dance in the G-6 studio in the Nadine M. McGuire Theatre and Dance Pavilion.
Registered participants are dance majors at the university and non-UF students. The intensive program introduces new skills for dancers ages 16 and older through technique classes cultivated through performances by dancers and guests. About 20 to 25 dancers are expected to be in this summer’s program, according to Tiffany Rhynard, director and choreographer for this year’s festival.
“Working through hands-on experiences in such an intimate environment with faculty, the students are exposed to things they weren’t familiar with,” Rhynard said.
Free weekend community classes are open to the public.
The goal for this year’s program is to have a greater connection with the professional dance world, Rhynard said. Four professional artists will teach students about technique and growing out of their comfort zones.
“That’s a huge area of growth,” she said.
Rhynard said that for four weeks, working long hours, the dancers begin to expand their mind and body.
The guest artists will hold talks about their creative process and will present their work at public forums.
Guest artists this year will be Colleen Thomas and Bill Young, recognized worldwide for physicality and dynamic partnering, Miami-based Xavier Cortada, who will collaborate with Rhynard and choreographer Whitney Wilson on a production, as well as Joshua Bisset and Lara Quattrocchi, co-directors of the Shua group, who will work with students on interacting with the audience in unusual settings to create deep listening.
“They really set up the visual landscape,” Rhynard said.
In one performance, Bisset and Quattrocchi had dozens of clear plastic water bottles on stage at the end of their piece, and once constructed a false wall that the audience burst through during their performance.
Rhynard said the student dancers will learn how to engage with their audience in a tactile environment.
By the end of the program, there will be four productions open to the public.
Rhynard said the performance technique class that the dancers endure every day with teachers they haven’t necessarily trained with help them to be in control of the dexterity of their body, and lead to a transformation.
“It’s a great opportunity for people to learn more about dance,” Rhynard said. “It’s a gem, this festival.”
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