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“D.C. is not often seen as a major dance hub nationally, but it should be,” says Samantha Pollack of Washington Performing Arts. “We really have some incredible companies that perform in everything from tap to flamenco to modern ballet to Sri Lankan.”
Local companies that have gained renown performing in those styles and others, take pride of place in the VelocityDC Dance Festival. Over the past five years the festival has helped improve D.C.’s dance reputation — at least among the local population. A collaborative effort between Washington Performing Arts, the Shakespeare Theatre Company and the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, VelocityDC aims, says Pollack, “to highlight the depth and breadth of dance” in our area.
“It’s one of my favorite things that we do all year,” says Pollack, director of programming at WPA, “because it involves local artists and has such a diversity of talent.”
More than 20 area ensembles are set to take part in this year’s sixth annual festival, beginning Thursday, Oct. 9, including Washington Ballet, CityDance Conservatory, Christopher K. Morgan & Artists, and Silk Road Dance Company. Grouped into two Harman Stage programs, participating dance troupes perform for only about 10 minutes each, basically providing teasers for future full-length performances. There’s also the pre-show “RAMP!-to-Velocity” series of informal, intimate performances featuring some of D.C.’s dance up-and-comers, as well as established choreographers. Additionally, Jane Franklin Dance and Bob Boross Freestyle Jazz Dance each offer a site-specific work at different points in the festival’s three-day run.
As for highlights, Pollack singles out a performance as part of a Harman Stage program from SerendibDance and the Washington-based Sri Lankan choreographer Asanga Domask. “Domask has a group of about 10 young kids performing at a very high level of traditional Sri Lankan dance,” Pollack says. “I really love it.”
The Velocity DC Dance Festival starts Thursday, Oct. 9, at 6:30 p.m., and runs through Saturday evening, Oct. 11, at Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW. Ticket are $18 for each of the two Harman Stage programs. Call 202-785-9727 or visit washingtonperformingarts.org.
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