Festival Dance and Performing Arts Association (Moscow, ID)

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  Ballerina in performance, on pointe, arms raised in a graceful position

St. Petersburg Classic Ballet Theatre dancer performing the well-known piece “The Dying Swan” from Carnival of the Animals as part of the Festival Dance Youthreach Project. Photo by C. Rod Bacon Photography

The only professional dance series between Seattle and Minneapolis, the Festival Dance and Performing Arts Association presents performances in ballet, jazz, modern dance, world dance, and musical theater from such diverse organizations as Alvin Ailey II, St. Petersburg Classic Ballet Theatre, and the National Song & Dance Company of Mozambique.

In FY 2006, Festival Dance received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $9,000 for its Youthreach Project, designed to introduce students in remote and underserved locations to dance performances of artistic quality and cultural diversity. In 2006, four free programs were provided by three dance companies to 4,000 third- through sixth-grade students from 15 rural communities in Idaho and Washington.

Students were bussed to large theaters, where they viewed performances by dancers, singers, and musicians of Mexico City’s Ballet Gran Folklorico de Mexico, Russian ballet artists from the St. Petersburg Classic Ballet Theatre, and a program of Bharatanatyam dance of South India by Ragamala Music and Dance Theatre. At each performance, the artistic director or tour manager narrated the performances, and led background discussions, demonstrations of technique, and miniperformances. For instance, the Ragamala Music and Dance Theatre taught students the importance and meaning behind hand and eye movements in Indian dances and then students participated by using hand gestures to help tell a story.

In order to prepare students for the performances, Festival Dance provides teachers with study guides about the companies and types of dance the students will see, as well as discussion questions and activity suggestions. Typically, students participate in this program for three years, giving them the opportunity to view multiple performances and introducing them to diverse types of international dance and music.

(From the NEA 2006 Annual Report)