RFT Spring Arts Guide 2012: Dance

Black Dance USA is an energetic and colorful three-day celebration.
Black Dance USA is an energetic and colorful three-day celebration. Courtesy of Black Dance USA

RFT Spring Arts Guide 2012: Dance

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The phrase "flash-mob dance-off" may not hold any relevance to you now. But thanks to National Dance Week, life can soon feel like the iconic Ferris Bueller's Day Off scene in which a crowd of standers-by suddenly breaks out into enthusiastic, choreographed song and performs a citywide celebratory shimmy and shake. Simply find National Dance Week St. Louis 2012 online (www.nationaldanceweekstl.com), learn this year's opening dance to Kenny Loggins' "Footloose" and show up at the main stage to participate. Come out for the flash mob and stay for the free festivities, featuring more than 50 local dance companies showcasing everything from belly dance and ballet to cultural, tap, modern, hip-hop and jazz dance. The event opens at noon on Saturday, April 28, at St. Louis Union Station's South Plaza (1820 Market Street), with the participatory kick line kicking off at 2 p.m. Call 314-703-0985 or visit www.nationaldanceweekstl.com for more information. — Mabel Suen

Glitz, Glamour and Garters
The revival known as neo-burlesque celebrates the various incarnations of an art form that encompasses comedy, dance, performance art and striptease — picture Dita Von Teese, not Elizabeth Berkley from Showgirls. From May 17 to 19 the Show-Me Burlesque Festival features the best burlesque talent in the Midwest and beyond, with performers hailing locally and from such far-flung locales as San Francisco, Baltimore and Brisbane, Australia. Tickets can be purchased individually for events during the three-day festival, while a special VIP package gives guests preferred seating for the three main events: the Show-Me Burlesque Gala at Jumpin' Jupiter (7376 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-645-5867), the Show-Me Spectacular at the Sheldon Concert Hall (3648 Washington Boulevard; 314-533-9900) and Carnivalesque/The Beggar's Carnivale at Casa Loma Ballroom (3354 Iowa Avenue; 314-664-8000), as well as general admission to the Late-Night Sexy Soiree and collectors' items. The kickoff Show-Me Burlesque Gala begins at 8 p.m. on May 17. Tickets range from $20 to $140. For more information, visit www.showmeburlesque.com or call 314-632-6369. — Liz Miller

A Celebration in Movement
Better Family Life's Black Dance USA: A Celebration in Movement provides just that — movement worth celebrating. From Thursday through Saturday (May 24 through 26), the festival offers three full days of dance classes for both youth and adults. From Dunham technique (as in East St. Louis' Katherine Dunham) to Congolese dance and from hip-hop to Egyptian yoga, these educational sessions feature diverse styles and live music, and are taught by talented teachers who've traveled from far and near. The Center of Creative Arts hosts the classes, and registration starts at 8:30 a.m. daily; visit www.blackdanceusa.com for pricing and to sign up in advance. And for those who'd rather watch dance than dance themselves — hey, there's no shame in that! — Black Dance USA culminates in a performance by Los Angeles' Lula Washington Dance Theatre. Incorporating elements of several dance disciplines — including ballet, jazz and African — this ensemble's choreography goes beyond dance steps, reflecting African American culture and history, and considering humanitarian matters. Tickets for this concert, held at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Washington University's Edison Theatre, cost $22 to $40; visit www.edisontheatre.wustl.edu to make a purchase.— Alison Sieloff

Spring in Your Dance Step
On a normal weekend the only way you'd be able to catch the performances of 30 dance companies would involve a personal jet, a time machine, a full wallet, a bit of luck and a fair amount of moxie. That is, unless you live in St. Louis. Here, we have the Spring to Dance Festival every Memorial Day weekend, which brings exactly that much dance to the stages of the Touhill Performing Arts Center — and for just $10 a day. No full wallet necessary! So here's how the fest works: Every night from Thursday through Saturday (May 24 through 26), the doors of the Touhill open at 4:30 p.m., and various local arts organizations present interactive demos in the lobby starting at 5:30 p.m. Then, at 6 p.m. dancers get moving on the Lee Theater stage (seating here is first-come, first-served; passes required), and the main hall swings into action at 7:30 p.m. (there's reserved seating here). Though the performance times remain the same each evening, the companies switch out nightly, ensuring that nearly all dance styles are represented throughout the fest, from ballet to contemporary to tap and then some. And these ensembles travel to St. Louis from all over to perform — Q Dance hails from Ontario, Pilobolus comes from Connecticut, and the Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company is based right here, just to give you an idea. To check out the full Spring to Dance Festival schedule and for more information, visit www.dancestlouis.org, and to purchase tickets, visit www.touhill.org. — Alison Sieloff

Blonde Redheaded Stepchild
In another, ahem, tale as old as time, sweet, beautiful Cinderella is born to a wealthy, loving father who cares for her deeply until his untimely death lands his only biological daughter in the untoward hands of her bitter, jealous stepmother. Though she becomes a lowly scullery maid in her own home, kindhearted Cinderella takes it all in stride — until she loses that slipper, which of course ends up being a good move after all. Get swept up in the beauty and comic lightness of this tale-turned-ballet (adapted from the Brothers Grimm's much darker story) June 1 to June 3, as the Missouri Ballet Theatre performs Cinderella at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard; 314-935-6543). Tickets range from $20 to $38, and showtimes vary. For young balletgoers, the Edison Theatre is hosting prince and princess parties including story time with the Fairy Godmother, waltzing lessons and photo opportunities with the ballet prior to matinee performances.— Liz Miller

Dancing on Air
Dancers already seem to be able to defy gravity, what with their ability to spin on those pointe shoes and effortlessly leap high into the atmosphere, but En L'Air Aerial Dance Company takes weightlessness to a whole new space. Founded by Monica Newsam, this seemingly lighter-than-air group utilizes strips of silk fabric tied to the rafters, a trapeze and even a cube frame to showcase movement in a whole new way, imaginatively expanding the conventional definition of dance and upwardly increasing the limits of the stage. To witness this ensemble's distinctive aesthetic, don't miss Airborne Soirée, happening at 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday (June 7 through 9) at Satori (3003 Locust Street; 314-652-3003). At this concert Newsam and company are bound to amaze and engage — and make you believe that they can fly. For additional details about the performance and to purchase tickets, visit www.enlairaerialdance.org. — Alison Sieloff

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