In Modern Company: Eau Claire Dance Festival gives birth to e Dance Company

Caitlin Boyle, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Emily Emerson performing at a past Eau Claire Dance Festival.
A performance from the first Eau Claire Dance Festival.

The e Dance Company, originally founded as the Eau Claire Dance Festival in 2017, is holding a launch party this weekend where people can learn more about what the company does and the impact it hopes to make in the community as it moves forward with a new vision. The party will be hosted by 200 Main Gallery (200 Main St., Eau Claire) from 1-3pm on Sunday, Jan. 19.

Dance company founder Emily Emerson envisioned a one-time festival, a downtown art-crawl centered on modern dance. The event was a success that led to other opportunities to perform at events such as the River Prairie Festival and the 2018 Eaux Claires Festival.

“Needless to say, it grew a lot from my original idea!” Emerson said. “I decided to turn it into a nonprofit, following in the footsteps of the vast majority of professional dance companies in the country, as it opens us up to additional funding, including grants, private donations, and corporate sponsorship.”

e Dance Company’s focus is to perform collaborative art with a focus on modern dance. Emerson’s dance education at St. Olaf College was very collaborative, and she is bringing what she learned at school to Eau Claire. She says that in a company performance, modern dance will be in every piece, but the show will also feature live music, visual art, and spoken word. It follows in the same vein as the shows that Eau Claire Dance Festival performed.

The launch party will be the perfect time for people to stop by and find out more about what the e Dance Company is all about. Emerson says visitors can expect to meet members of the board of directors and hear them talk about the evolution of the organization. People will also hear one of the former dancers speak about how performing for the organization helped their dance career, as well as their perspective on its evolution. While there won’t be any live dancing at the launch party, there will be videos about the origins of the first show’s choreography, which will allow an understanding into how the pieces are developed from beginning to end.

The launch party is of course one more step for e Dance Company to make a name for itself in the Chippewa Valley. Emerson looks forward to organizing the company’s first evening-length show in the near future. While the idea is still far away with no date set yet, much of the choreography for the show is done (although choreography can always change). Emerson says the show will come to fruition after fundraising is complete. The company would also like to reach larger audiences. All in all, Emerson is looking to grow as an artist and help her company thrive.

“As an artist, I’m always looking for new collaborators and new mediums to fuse dance with, especially in ways that I have yet to think of,” Emerson said.

The e Dance Company’s launch party will be 1-3pm Sunday, Jan. 19 at 200 Main Gallery in Eau Claire.