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From hip hop to salsa, from samba to ballet: Spring dance concert to celebrate the diversity of dance

“All of this comes from the students and their backgrounds," Assistant Dance Professor Kati Garcia-Renart told The Berkshire Edge. "They come here and say, ‘Hey, I want to learn about this. Who wants to do this with me?’ Students often learn from each other, which is how it all becomes a dancing community.”

Great Barrington — Bard College at Simon’s Rock will have its annual spring dance concert on Friday, May 3, and Saturday, May 4, with both performances at 7 p.m. The concert will include over 30 dancers and choreographers, and according to Assistant Dance Professor Kati Garcia-Renart, the performances will include a diversity of styles including classical ballet, contemporary dance, musical theater, flamenco, hip hop, salsa, and samba.

“A long time ago, when I was a college student, a traditional dance program at a liberal arts college generally focused on modern dance,” Garcia-Renart told The Berkshire Edge. “Sometimes they focused on ballet to a certain extent, but modern dance was the real sort of main attraction when it came to creating choreography. But now, in these times, we have to realize that dance does not begin and end with Western dance styles. When it comes to our dance program, I rely very heavily on what the students bring and what their passions and backgrounds are.”

Photos by Dan Karp, courtesy of Bard College at Simon’s Rock.

As an example of student passion for dance, Garcia-Renart explained that for the past few years, there have been students at the college who have studied traditional Chinese dance. “We have also had Indian and African dancing in our program,” Garcia-Renart said. “All of this comes from the students and their backgrounds. They come here and say, ‘Hey, I want to learn about this. Who wants to do this with me?’ Students often learn from each other, which is how it all becomes a dancing community.”

Garcia-Renart said that, over the past 20 years or so, dance has become a much more prominent art form. “We have had Jacob’s Pillow for many years, which has been a central point for dance,” Garcia-Renart said. “But we have a place in Tivoli, N.Y. called the Kaatsbaan International Dance. It hasn’t been around as long as Jacob’s Pillow, but it’s very popular. I think that one of the reasons why dance has become more prominent is because of the reality TV shows that we have, including ‘So You Think You Can Dance.’ I think all of those shows have brought dance into people’s homes, and I think it’s being much more recognized.”

Garcia-Renart said that she hopes that people from outside of the Bard College at Simon’s Rock community will attend the two performances. “I think that it’s important to support young, creative, passionate, and energetic minds,” Garcia-Renart said. “For each dance piece, each student throughout the semester is required to rehearse it at least one hour a week. But most people rehearse more than that, and many of the performers are in multiple pieces. Some people are in rehearsals for many hours a week.”

Both performances are free, and seats are first come, first served. For more information on the event, visit Simon’s Rock’s website.

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