Big River Dance Festival Coming to Huntington

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Sholten Singer

Big River Dance Festival is the areas only professional dance festival hosted at Jeslyn Performing Arts Center Friday, September 18 through Saturday, September 19, 2015.

In its inaugural year BRDF looks to extend the tri-state areas dance community by offering educational master classes as well as performances and a dance on film, film festival.

Summer Logan, co-director of the festival, gave details of the festival and the time and effort put in to organizing the event.

The classes and performances have no direct theme, only to create an atmosphere where dancers and feel welcome and come willing to learn through the classes or experience the surrounding dance culture through the performances.

“We have teachers from all over that teach all different things,” Logan said. “We have some contemporary jazz, we have a contemporary west african teacher, we have some classical modern teachers, we have a yoga dance fusion class, we also have a pilates class, a meditation class, and a couple of classes for younger students as well.”

Logan and her staff put out an open call for submissions to artists all over the United States to both teach and perform at the festival. Group submissions could be no longer than 10 minutes and individual submissions could be no longer than 6 minutes.

Marshall University’s own Kristin Boyd, who is a junior nursing student, will be performing in the festival as a solo artist.

The 21 year old Beckley, West Virginia native has been dancing since she was three years old and it has always been a passion of hers to continue dancing. She has been involved in the local dance scene since arriving at Marshall.

“I originally got involved with aMUsed (a Marshall University Student Ensemble of Dance) my freshman year at Marshall,” Boyd said. “Jessica Lynn Fox was my instructor and continues to be to this day. I immediately wanted to continue and continue to get more involved with her and any dance experience she had to offer. Summer Ogg Logan has also been one of my instructors for several years now. I continue to value them as teachers and mentors and knew right away that I wanted to get involved when I knew Big River was going to happen.”

Boyd hopes the festival will open the communities eyes to the talented artist of the area.

“From this experience, I always want to broaden my technique and movement as well as learn and grow through a performance setting,” Boyd said. “Big River will benefit Marshall as well as the community because people will see that a small collection of individuals can make a big impact and that art truly is the heart of Huntington.”

The festival is just one more step in Boyd’s journey to continuing her dance education and career.

“I have always aspired to dance professionally and work with so many artists,” Boyd said. “I hope to work as a dancer in some aspect of my life in the future. Whether teaching or being a part of a small company. I want to travel and dance along the way, whether professionally or not, always for fun.”

The classes being taught this week end range from contemporary west african to classical modern and the teachers are traveling to the area to show the community their talents.

“We had to do a complete separate call for people who were interested in teaching classes,” Logan said. “So all of the master classes that are being taught this weekend are from people who have come into the area. We do have a few community classes that are taught by teachers here as well.”

The pre-festival chatter has show a great deal of promise for the festival itself and for the continuation in years to come.

“It’s been really fantastic, people have been really really excited,” Logan said. “We’ve got people coming from all over that are extremely excited and have shared it with their communities and are really excited about this happening here in Huntington which is a relatively small pocket of the world. So having people coming in from Chicago and all that kind of stuff to come and dance with us is really exciting.”

Community Class begin Friday at 3:00 p.m. and the festival ends Saturday night following at Professional dance concert.

Kelsie Lively can be contacted at lively37marshall.edu