Dancers collaborate for annual festival
By Shauna Stocken
The DANCE Lansing Summer Festival kicked off in LCC’s Dart Auditorium July 24 through 27 as the final event of LCC’s 2018 “Summer Stage Under the Stars” series.
The free dance concert ran two hours and featured 26 dances by men and women from dance companies around the Lansing area.
“In 2005, it started with a brainstorm,” said Joanne VandenBergh, president of the Lansing Happendance Board of Directors. “The idea was opened up to everyone, choreographing and dancers of all ages, it just came to be. It started off small and then just mushroomed into a wonderful, yearly event.”
Dancing in the festival for her first time was 19-year-old Audrey Spitzfaden, a current dancer at Happendance and a dance intern at LCC last year.
“This gives people a chance to choreograph without having to be a professional, which is really awesome,” Spitzfaden said.
Spitzfaden was featured in a duet during act one and choreographed a three-person dance for the second act on July 26.
Returning to once again dance on stage in Dart Auditorium was Jennah Gray, a dance teacher with Happendance and Dance Works of Michigan.
“I’m always excited to be here,” Gray said. “This space is beautiful; there’s lots of art and other pictures from past performances here. There’s a really good energy. It’s one of my favorite places to dance.”
Gray, who has made a career out of her passion for dance, said she joined the summer festival for the impact on the community and to share dance with others.
“It’s great because it opens up community and oneness and then it also gives a lot of inexperienced choreographers a chance to try and place their ideas and their pieces on actual bodies.”
According to VandenBergh, the dance festival is a partnership between many organizations. The two primary organizations are Happendance and Lansing Community College.
“They (LCC) have the educational program at the upper level and a lot of our students feed into their dance major. And we also have a partnership where we have some interns that come from LCC, so it’s a reciprocal education.”
The dance performances keep the audience entertained with skits, dancers in pink tutus, cultural costumes, break dancing, and even dancers performing up the wall and in the stairways.
“Most of the shows are unique, but you will see some of the same acts in each show,” VandenBergh said. “Our next big event is in REO Town and then we end up at the Jazz Festival.”
The Lansing Community Dance Project Summer Festival of Contemporary Dance runs until Wednesday, Aug. 8. For a complete listing of locations, times and dates, visit Happendance on Facebook.