By Wilma Allen
Thanks to enthusiastic audiences and sold-out performances in its first four seasons, this year’s Amelia Dance Festival will be bigger and bolder than ever, promises organizer Susan Dodge. For four years now, she has attracted top-notch dance professionals from around the country and made Amelia Island a very desirable place to perform. Today, it is a rising star in the national dance scene.
Headliners will include crowd favorite John Manzari, a top tap dancer from New York who has danced in each Festival. Other returning artists include East by North, a New York-based modern dance troupe noted for its mesmerizing blend of movement and stillness; contemporary dancer, Carlos Garland, a choreographer and Broadway regular; Rhythm Theory Tap Ensemble, known for stirring symphony-like dance compositions; the eclectic Moving On Dance Company; and audience favorites from the Florida Ballet and Jacksonville Dance Theatre.
New this year will be the Kilowatt Dance Theatre of New York, specialists in jazz-style dance including swing, Lindy hop, Charleston, blues and more. The award-winning Atlanta Dance Connection will blend classical ballet and traditional African dance. James L. Boyd III, who has performed with Elton John, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, and prima ballerina, Misty Copeland, will share the stage with Dominique Guerra from the United Ballet Theatre in Orlando. And Marco Tacandong of Jacksonville will round out the show with hip-hop.
Visiting artists will take the stage on Friday and Saturday evenings. A mix of visiting dancers and local talent from Ballroom On Amelia, Bean School of Dance, Bodyworks of Northeast Florida, Royal Dance Academy-Fusion, and The Island Tappers will perform in Saturday and Sunday matinees.
For those inspired to do more than just watch, workshops with highly skilled instructors in different dance styles, from hip hop to ballet, will be held throughout the festival. Whether you have experience or not, there will likely be a workshop for you. A full list is at the AI Dance Festival website, ameliaislanddancefestival.org.
Evening performances are Sept. 8 and 9 from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Matinees are Sept. 9 and 10 from 2-4 p.m. All take place at Amelia Community Theatre (ACT) on Cedar Street with its comfortable seating and well-equipped stage. Tickets are going fast, so purchase yours now at ameliaislanddancefestival.org.; the Amelia Island Community Theatre Box Office, 207 Cedar Street, Fernandina Beach, 904-261-6749; or ameliacommunitytheatre.org/box-office.