Tannery Winter Dance Fest
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‘Champions and Lovers’ at Tannery Winter Dance Fest

Annual performance returns with dancers from near and far

Dawsondancesf dancer Sade Barnwell is part of the company’s new show for the Tannery Winter Dance Fest, ‘Champions and Lovers.’ PHOTO: DEVI PRIDE.

In 2015, the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center (TWDCC) invited former Lines Ballet dancer Gregory Dawson to Santa Cruz for the first-ever dance performance at the Colligan Theater. After the performance sold out, and was enthusiastically received, the TWDCC knew they would have to have him back.

“We knew that Santa Cruz audiences were hungry for great dance with something you could sink your teeth into intellectually,” says Cat Willis, TWDCC Executive Director. “Dawson’s innovation with contemporary ballet forms is particularly appropriate for Santa Cruz, as audiences have not typically had contemporary ballet companies showcased in our city.”

For this year’s TWDCC Winter Dance Fest, Dawson and his San Francisco-based tour de force company Dawsondancesf will be joining again to debut a new piece called Champions and Lovers.

Choreographers often create works especially for the Winter Dance Festival. This year, Santa Cruz choreographer Taliha Scott will be opening the festival with ORÉNDA: First You Gave Me, followed by local teacher and Santa Cruz choreographer Stephanie Emmanuela Da Silva with her recent work Innocent Targets.

“TWDCC is especially excited to be featuring the work of emerging female choreographers from Santa Cruz alongside Gregory Dawson, who has taught and mentored Taliha Scott in his position as Cal Arts Summer program assistant to the chair,” Willis says. “The dynamic voices of all of these choreographers will exemplify what it means to push boundaries of forms in dance and telling stories from the voices of today.”

The aim of the Winter Dance Fest is to exhibit emerging and established contemporary choreographers on the same stage in Santa Cruz, hence inviting local dancers alongside Dawson.

“It’s exciting to the bring fresh voices and ideas to the dance stage,” Willis says. “That is what is at the heart of the contemporary form; breaking through traditional ways of moving and finding relevance from the artist’s particular voice and juxtaposing that with familiar forms.”

7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23. Colligan Theater at The Tannery Arts Center, 1010 River St., Santa Cruz. 425-1440, tanneryworlddance.com. $18/$22.

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