The Merced College Theater is getting ready to welcome ballet, tap, modern, jazz and belly dancers from local dance companies for its 22nd annual Festival of Dance.
The festival begins Wednesday and ends July 2. The Merced Academy of Dance will open the festival this week with performances on Wednesday and Thursday from its jazz, ballet and modern dance groups.
Carol Hart, a modern dance instructor at MAD, said the festival is a great way to showcase what her students have learned. Company dancers, her most advanced students, will perform two high-energy pieces titled “Floored” and “Dark Paradise.” MAD’s junior modern dance class, comprising children ages 8 to 12, will take the stage to present “Metallica,” a fun, robotic number, Hart said.
Jane Vann-Bryan, founder and director of MAD, said 155 students will dance in the opening show. This includes members of her Dance for Parkinson’s class, designed to address Parkinson’s-specific concerns such as balance, coordination and flexibility through dance movements.
The best part of the festival, Vann-Bryan said, is to see the growth the students have made throughout the year.
“I believe strongly the purpose of the Festival of Dance is to show the community of Merced that we have dancers of the same level as if they were to go to Modesto or any larger town in the Valley,” Vann-Bryan said. “The audience will be very surprised with the ability of our dancers, and they’ll be very entertained.”
The Festival of Dance will include performances by the South Pacific Dance Company and Belly Dance Merced on June 17, and Denisa’s School of Dance on June 25. The Mariposa Academy of Performing Arts will perform on June 30, and Atwater’s Step Dance Studio will close the festival with performances on July 1 and 2.
General admission is $10. Admission for seniors, children under 12 and Merced College students is $8. Tickets are available at Gottschalk Music Center on Main Street, Peraino’s at Bear Creek Galleria on G Street, Passadori’s hardware store in Atwater, Mariposa County Arts Council and at the bookstore at Merced College. Tickets will also be on sale at the box office one hour before the show.