1st-ever Nevada City Dance Festival kicks off Nov. 14 | TheUnion.com

1st-ever Nevada City Dance Festival kicks off Nov. 14

Professional dancers will perform Nov. 17 and 19 as part of the inaugural Nevada City Dance Festival.Shown is internationally renowned Afro-Cuban dancer, Kimberly Miguel-Mullen, who performs on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Kelly Fajack/WPN |

The inaugural Nevada City Dance Festival will be held Nov. 14-19 under the auspices of The Miners Foundry Cultural Center in Nevada City.

A first-ever festival of professional dance in Western Nevada County, the event includes master classes, dress rehearsals and performances by visiting dance professionals.

Among the activities are:

A gala reception at the Miners Foundry on Nov. 17

Two dance master-classes (Nov.14 & Nov. 18)

Three technical and dress rehearsals (Nov. 15, 16 & 19)

Two professional dance performances by the visiting companies (Nov. 17 & 19).

The two professional dance performances are by the contemporary San Francisco ballet company, dawsondancesf, on Tuesday, Nov. 17, and the internationally renowned Afro-Cuban dancer, Kimberly Miguel-Mullen on Thursday, Nov. 19.

The festival came about through support from the California Arts Council (CAC) and local sponsors.

Last August, the Miners Foundry Cultural Center was awarded a grant by the CAC to be used to support the production of the festival.

“Although our area hosts a range of professional level arts experiences, never in the history of Western Nevada County has there been a dance festival” said Karen Attix, Miners Foundry dance consultant and choreographer. “This is not for lack of interest,” she continued.

“We have a large community of dancers, dance educators, choreographers and dance students here, including six dance studios, two high school dance programs, all pursuing a wide range of dance forms”.

As to the professional dance performances, artistic Director Gregory Dawson formed dawsondancesf in 2007 as an outlet for his choreographic goals and vision. Dawsondancesf has steadily delivered risk-taking, muscularly elegant performances since

its establishment.

The company breaks down the barriers placed on classical ballet, and brings to light the strength and beauty that artists possess within themselves. dawsondancesf has been described as “raw, chilling physicality” and “So You Think You Can Dance” on


For the Nov. 17 performance, Dawson has choreographed a piece specific for the Miners Foundry’s Osborn/Woods Hall.

“Having created a good amount of my larger works in unconventional spaces, I find myself attracted to the challenge,” Dawson said. “So much so that I’m slightly uncomfortable with the conventional proscenium.

“What attracts me to the space is the history that lies within,” he added. “The richness of the architecture, the sweat that was behind the construction of the edifice, and most definitely how lives are effected by its existence.

“Having visited the Miners Foundry, I was inspired to create a composition that is intimate and inclusive, and having the structure be the gateway into the world that we will create.”

Kimberly Miguel-Mullen, the dancer in the Nov. 19 performance, is an acclaimed choreographer and dance ethnologist. The Los Angeles Times has described her movement as “spectacularly supple,” a well-crafted mixture of Silvestre contemporary dance and traditional techniques from the African diaspora.

She is considered one of the world’s best Afro-Cuban dancers and has performed in the USA, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and Hong Kong.

On Nov. 19, Mullen will perform Yemanjá: Mother of the Deep, an inspirational performance piece; a creative interplay of live music, song and dance that will engage and transport its audience on a journey that evokes the transformative spirit of the sea.

Music will be composed by producer and Grammy Award-winner Alberto Lopez will accompany texts penned by critically acclaimed songstress Mia Doi Todd. Also featured will be the musical talents of extraordinary Brazilian guitarist Fabiano do Nascimento, percussionists Evan Greer and Kahlil Cummings, among


“Historically speaking, the local music and dance community in Nevada City is reputable for their efforts in painting a strong African/Afro-Diaspora cultural arts presence,” explained Mullen who has for the last four years made Nevada City one of her main flagship cities for her dance residencies and intensives in California. “Karen Attix approached me about the possibility of performing my full-length concert show for the festival with the concept of exposing audiences to two California native artists whose contrast in artistic dance styles both exemplify high art at its best.”

Gretchen Bond, Miners Foundry Executive Director, said the festival fits in with the center’s mission.

“With the support of the community, we have been working for a number of years to enhance the Osborn/Woods Hall to better support a diverse selection of performing arts programs,” she said.

“With the completion of the installation of the professional dance floor in the winter of 2013, we are now able to welcome professional dance companies to perform, and to develop ongoing professional dance residency programs to our community.”

All dance activities during the festival will take place at the Miners Foundry and at the dance studio at Nevada Union High School. The Foundry has also partnered with local dance studios; Holt Ballet Conservatory, KSK Dance Collective and the Nevada Union Theatrical Dance Department, in the promotion of the festival and the events.

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