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Pop Filter Hot Pick: Jazz Dance World Festival

From August 1st through August 5th, the renowned Jazz Dance World Congress and Festival will be in town to showcase the talents, styles and techniques of 750 dancers and 10 companies from around the US and the globe. Co-presented by Giordano Dance Chicago and Point Park University, the multi-format event celebrates the uniquely American art form of jazz dance.

An international consortium designed to further the legacy of jazz dance and education, the highly anticipated event is taking place on the campus of Point Park University--utilizing its world-class LEED Gold-certified dance facilities--with additional classes and performances nearby, at Downtown's August Wilson Center for African American Culture and Byham Theater.

Forget BatBurgh, we're DanceBurgh

During the Congress--which is held in a different global city every three years--dancers, teachers, choreographers, and performers will gather in Pittsburgh from across the US and from some 20 different countries. Based in Evanston, IL, the Congress offers classes a wide range of jazz styles and techniques taught by a world-class master faculty, performances by internationally-known dance companies, jazz dance choreography competitions, and the chance for lively panel discussions about relevant topics within the field.

While taking place in each host city, the world-renowned Jazz Dance World Congress involves both the local dance community and the general public in its professional productions. While in town, the Congress will showcase the world-class dance facilities and faculties of Point Park University, with classes and workshops offered at the school's state-of-the-art studios--as well as the new August Wilson Center.

"This is the first time the Festival and Congress are in Pittsburgh and we are very excited about this. It's also the first time the Congress is taking place in dance studios and facilities; most often it is held in hotels and ballrooms. With the choice of Pittsburgh, the world-class dance complex and facilities at Point Park will be highlighted, along with the August Wilson Center and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre," says Chris Hays, with Point Park University's Conservatory of Performing Arts. "It is also great that a Point Park alum is now a principal at Giordano Dance Chicago. Point Park and many companies have long-standing relationships with Giordano Dance Chicago and they are they driving forces behind this event."

One of the country's top dance programs, Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts attracts driven students from around the world. Known for its superlative performances of ballet, modern and jazz that are drawn from challenging classic and contemporary repertoires, the Conservatory also produces and presents innovative original works by noteworthy guest artists, and its faculty of renowned dance professionals.

Seize the dance

For the public, the highlight of this week is the Jazz Dance World Festival, which is held in conjunction with the Congress, and features four nights of professional performances at Downtown's ornate Byham Theater. This is the very first year that Pittsburgh has played host to the event, and every night features a completely unique production. Dancing alongside top troupes from Japan and Mexico, to Salt Lake City and Chicago, will be Pittsburgh's own world-class companies and performers. The four electrifying evenings will feature eight performances of a variety of styles by highly acclaimed professional companies from around the world.

"This truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the public to see a wonderfully interesting collection of performances and dancers from all over the country and the world," says Hays. "Jazz Dance is accessible and had a broad appeal for all arts enthusiasts. There will even be a ballroom dance couple from Chicago."

In addition to host company Giordano Dance Chicago, featured groups include the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble (Pittsburgh); Cuerpo Etéreo Danza Contemporánea (Mexico); Del Dominguez & Laura Flores (Chicago); Koresh Dance Company  (Philadelphia); Masashi Action Machine (Japan); Philadanco! (Philadelphia); Odyssey Dance Theatre (Salt Lake City); and the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Pittsburgh).
Marking its milestone 50th anniversary as host of the Congress and Festival, Giordano Dance Chicago will perform a variety of pieces from its popular repertoire, including the award-winning Pyroknesis by Christopher Huggins, a rhythmic Latin ballroom piece entitled Sabroso by Del Dominguez and Laura Flores and Jolt by Autumn Eckman and Nan Giordano.

Don't miss energetic fast-paced performances by Philadanco!, who have been working to bridge cultural divides through dance since their inception in 1970. This year's Festival will also feature the Japanes troupe, Masashi Action Machine, whose innovative jazz dances blend a Japanese spirit with a Western sensibility.

Joining the Festival's diverse lineup on August 3rd will be Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (PBT), who will perform a unique blend of contemporary and classical styles that will challenge audiences' preconceptions about the relationship between classical composition and ballet. Adding to the eclectic evening, PBT will perform excerpts from the cutting-edge Chromatic, a 2012 Pittsburgh world premiere created for PBT dancers by choreographer Dwight Rhoden. Set to music by Johann S. Bach, the piece marries the classical ornamentation of the Baroque era with contemporary and athletic movement.

Go behind the bar

Patrons who purchase Festival tickets are welcome to attend the pre-show International Choreography Competition, sponsored by Dance Studio Life, which takes place at 6:30 p.m. each evening at the Byham. The first place winner of this esteemed competition will receive $2,500 and the coveted opportunity to perform alongside professional companies at the closing night of the Festival on August 4th.
For a sneak peak of the Festival, check out this video.

View a full Festival schedule.

Purchase tickets now.

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