Leslie Friedman, founder and artistic director of the foundation, started the International Dance Festival in 2012 to create opportunities for dancers to show their work and to practice their craft, and grew into a space where novice dancers could experiment with movement.
Friedman traveled to countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa to dance, perform and teach, and learned that movement was connective, able to sew understanding between cultures. "When you see a performance, you are absorbing something about the values and ideals of these cultures," she said.
The variety of dance forms and cultural inspirations, from Korean dance to contemporary, speaks not only to the universality of movement, but the shared story of relationships — with others and the one we have with ourselves.
Peri Trono, a choreographer and dancer who works with five companies based in the Bay Area, is a recipient of the International Dance Festival choreography award. Her piece, titled "fetch," is a two-person dance that depicts the tension and fluidity of relationships. Trono said she does not typically perform her own work, but wanted to dance fetch because she found that the process of feeling her choreography was different from viewing it. Dancing through an emotional experience, especially a piece that considers the tumultuousness of a relationship, is another way to have a conversation, speaking with bodies instead of words. "You almost feel fulfilled because you've experienced in a short amount of time all these emotions and it's not explained," Trono said.
Participants of the International Dance Festival and Day of Dance will be able to see, and participate in, these conversations first hand. "When I am dancing I am both more aware of every motion, every gesture than I could describe and less self conscious. I become the dance, I become part of the music, I become something different," Friedman said.
"Close, Far and Somewhere in Between" brought the audience to tears, Mitchel reflected. One viewer was so moved by the performance that she reached out to a distant friend to mend ties. Mitchel does not expect this response from every viewer, but she doesn't just want to make beautiful dances, she wants to tell stories.
In conversation with Friedman, she noted that there's a magical quality to the stage, that something happens when the dancers make themselves available to the movement, to the physicality of the performance. But there is something too, that is done to those who watch dance performed, something that allows for us to reach each other without fear of vulnerability. Dancers seem to know that there are stories in our bodies, words waiting to come out, words without language. Friedman says that just the act of being on stage communicates something, that being in a place tells a story. They know the movement of these words and they speak for us. They show us that we are here.
The Full Day of Dance is Saturday, May 18 from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. and International Dance [email protected] Valley is Sunday, May 19 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20. Mountain View Masonic Center, 890 Church St., Mountain View. More information can be found at livelyfoundation.org.
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