Encore Magazine February 2022

Page 24

TheArts Spotlighting greater Kalamazoo's arts community

Dancing for Joy

Midwest RAD Fest returns to live performances BY KATIE HOUSTON


ext month marks two years since arts organizations everywhere began coping with canceled schedules, unemployed artists, empty venues and uncertain funding. But the 41-year-old Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers troupe is emerging flexible and resilient, as is one of its signature annual events, the Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Fest, also known as RAD Fest. The three-day juried event returns to the Epic Center March 4–6 for four dance concerts, featuring 30 modern, post-modern and contemporary works created and performed by upwards of 250 choreographers and dancers from New York, North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Texas, Utah, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina and Michigan. RAD Fest Curator Rachel Miller has been in charge of the festival for the past 10 of its 13 years. Miller, who is an adjunct instructor of dance at Grand Valley State University and co-chair of the dance department at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and has danced for 17 years as a Wellspring company member, says the event was created in 2009 when two Wellspring programs were combined. “One was the Alternative Dance Project, which presented a guest company in an evening-length program. The other was the Dance Forum, which invited guest dancers from the region to perform,” she says. In 2021, RAD Fest was virtual due to Covid-19, although when the months-long process of submissions, adjudication and curation for the festival began in late 2020, 24 | ENCORE FEBRUARY 2022

Bottom: Seyong Kim, the adjudicator for this year's RAD Fest, performs at the festival in 2020. Center: Members of RE|dance Group of Chicago perform at the 2020 festival. (Photos by Robyn Hoing Photography/ Courtesy of Wellspring/Cori Terry and Dancers.) Top: This year marks the third time dancers from Social Movement Contemporary Dance of Houston, Texas, will perform at RAD Fest. (Courtesy photo.)

no one knew how the performances would be presented. As most organizations that pivoted to livestreamed events learned, there were unexpected benefits to going virtual. “As we sold tickets to viewers in seven different countries, we learned we can reach and affect so many people,” Miller says. “What surprised us was the greater level of artist-audience interaction. Perhaps because people were more comfortable engaging virtually, the artist talks, Q&As and panels saw more involvement in contributing to the conversation.”

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