Eighteen years ago I attended a dance convention whom the director of was an acquaintance. We spent time talking during lunch and he asked if I would be interested in organizing an event in St. Louis that would celebrate National Dance Week. He told me that NYC was holding a public performance event with hopes to revive the celebratory week.
As I pondered what I could potentially do and how it could be meaningful, it occurred to me that for the many years that I had been a studio owner in St. Louis, I always felt that the city had a “lonely” dance community. Studios were not connecting with each other in any significant ways and there was no reason why they could not and should not do so. If I could organize a day of dance involving likeminded dancers on one stage, then that would be something to celebrate.
And so it was decided, I would offer an event that was reflective of the quality of dance in our community, unify the dancers of our community, and ultimately positively impact our community.
Our first event was held in 1997, at the St. Louis Union Station. Our tiny stage consisted of wood squares that measured about a measly 12×12 feet placed on a concrete floor. Union Station generously told me that they had a sound system we could use, but unfortunately, to avoid the terrible static sound emanating over the speakers, my poor husband had to delicately hold a cable in place for our entire one and a half hour performance (for those of you who have been performing for decades, you know these struggles all too well). I believe we had about six groups that performed…we made it through and had a decent audience. All in all it was a lovely day, what more could you ask for?
Since my youth, growing up and performing in NYC, I have possessed a dedication and passion for dance and have always welcomed hard work. Now, in the eighteen season of National Dance Week, I am thrilled to tell you that our event is highly recognized and anticipated among the studio owners, dance company’s, university company’s, dancers and audiences alike. The excitement and enthusiasm among the dancers and artistic directors has become a very strong presence at our event where now we feature over 50 studios and dance troops. We actually have to turn dancers away due to time constraints.
The audience overflows the performance venue (still held at the St. Louis Union Station) and we are a featured event by news outlets throughout the city.
A number of years ago we established the annual St. Louis NDW Honorary Dance Company Award which is given to a dance company which has shown both dedication and passion in their work. Over the years that honor has gone to MADCO, aTrek Dance Theatre, Afriky Lolo, The Slaughter Project, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Viva Flamenco, The Big Muddy Dance Company, Missouri Ballet Theatre, and Ashleyliane Dance Company, the 2015 awardee.
We have also had the honor to include guest artists and speakers such as the Kansas City Ballet Company, Alvin Ailey, Jo Rowan (Dance Chairman Oklahoma City Unversity), and Michael Uthoff (Executive Director of Dance St. Louis) to name a few. We have had the pleasure to hold various master dance classes and injury prevention workshops.
The local businesses who have been steadfast supporters helping to make our event a success since the early days of inception are; Dancewear Solutions, for our beautiful marley covered 40×25 raised stage; AudioActive Projects, who provides us with a professional sound system and sound technician; Jonathan R. White Photography; DanceArt Graphic Design for our website; Eureka Sign and Display for our stage banner; Union Station, providing the performance venue; Stages Performing Arts Academy; Edison Theatre; and Enterprise Bank and Trust.
To sum up, the reason I continue year after year to spearhead this event, along with a dedicated committee working with me, is because I can see the synergy and enthusiasm that has developed over the past 18 years. When fifty dance company’s come together to heighten the awareness of dance and expand dance education to the public by presenting a day of dance and a multitude of dance disciplines…something special happens.
I am proud to say that our event is a testament to the thrill an audience receives being entertained and the positive impact performers have as a result of one single word… DANCE!
Please visit our website www.nationaldanceweekstl.com and Like us on Facebook!