Dance Fest Looks to Future

inaugural event brings modern dance downtown

Emily Gokey

AMPLIFIED MOVES. The inaugural Eau Claire Dance Festival will include a performance at Owen Park.
AMPLIFIED MOVES. The inaugural Eau Claire Dance Festival will include a performance at Owen Park.

The local arts scene around the Chippewa Valley is the lifeblood of what makes our Midwest home stand out among others. Without a doubt, Eau Claire’s explosion of art and culture is a beautiful novelty of the area. It is no surprise, then, that this beloved arts community is inspiring more forms of fine art to wash over the city in new waves.

“Modern dance in particular has been little explored in Eau Claire, yet it’s so ripe for artistic expression.” – Emily Emerson, founder, Eau Claire Dance Festival

The inaugural Eau Claire Dance Festival’s Act I will hit downtown Eau Claire with a pirouette on Saturday, Aug. 26, in a unique project that will stretch from the Volume One Gallery to the Owen Park band shell in the form of an art crawl, with performance artists scattered throughout downtown in Phoenix Park, at the “Baroque” statue on First Avenue, and at the State Theatre between 10am and 1pm.

One young artist has been tossing her stones into the lively rippling of the local fine arts pool, making the event possible. “I grew up dancing in Eau Claire,” festival curator Emily Emerson remembers. “I noticed a hole as the arts began to grow here, that dance was mostly left out of any conversation.” For her, the birth of the festival is a seed of hope for the rise of dance in the area, giving college-aged and professional dancers more opportunity to develop a dance aesthetic that is exclusively Eau Claire.

“Modern dance in particular has been little explored in Eau Claire, yet it’s so ripe for artistic expression,” Emerson says. The festival’s vision for each performance entails a spontaneous and inherently organic presentation that reflects the history of Eau Claire’s arts scene as well as contributing to the growing popularity of modern dance in the area. The festival will feature not only dance, but poetry and music as well. This style of improvisation is as unselfish as it comes – highlighting interdisciplinary collaboration between performance artists across fields to promote artistic partnerships for future projects.

The goal is to host the festival at least twice annually, with Act II occurring this fall. Staying true to the goal of featuring many forms, the second chapter of the festival will occur as a typical evening-length dance performance set on a proscenium stage with live music performed by local musicians. The project is the synthesis of music, visual art, and writing, all gathered in the hope of developing a greater dance presence in conversations about the local arts community.

Eau Claire Dance Festival: Act I • 10am-1pm, Saturday, Aug. 26 • various locations, downtown Eau Claire • facebook.com/ecdancefest/

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