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Dance News

High school dancers converge on UW-Madison for major regional festival

March 21, 2017

More than 500 high school students, teachers and recruiters from across the United States and beyond will be on the UW-Madison campus Thursday through Sunday for the Regional High School Dance Festival.

The event, being hosted for the first time by the School of Education’s Dance Department, will feature five concerts that are free and open to the public at the Wisconsin Union Theater’s premier venue, Shannon Hall.

Karen McShane-Hellenbrand
“These will be high-quality concerts that feature everything from student choreography, to the works of faculty or teachers, to guest artists,” says UW-Madison’s Karen McShane-Hellenbrand, a faculty associate with the Dance Department who is co-director of the regional festival along with Professor Jin-Wen Yu, who chairs the department.

This four-day festival, which is offered under the umbrella of the National High School Dance Festival (NHSDF) organization, is packed with performances, workshops and lectures from faculty, students and professional artists. There also will be master classes in contemporary technique, ballet, social and popular dance forms, somatic practice and more.

“The festival is a wonderful opportunity to see what is taking place in high school dance education across the country,” says McShane-Hellenbrand.

Under the leadership of dance pioneer Margaret H’Doubler, UW-Madison became the first university to offer a degree program in dance in 1926. Nine decades later, the department is celebrating its 90th anniversary milestone throughout the 2016-17 academic year with a full season of dance concerts and events, including the Regional High School Dance Festival.

“It’s important that UW-Madison continues to support dance and promote dance education,” says McShane-Hellenbrand. “We are committed to keeping that legacy going.”

The festival will include a College Fair, where students can speak with dance faculty and teachers from 28 college and university dance programs from around the nation. In addition, the festival also provides an opportunity for students to take part in auditions for college, university and summer dance programs.

Dance Regional Festival 2017The Regional High School Dance Festival will be headlined by a free concert from Giordano Dance Chicago (GDC) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 23. The critically acclaimed, original jazz dance company has captivated audiences worldwide with its dynamic high-impact artistry and diverse repertoire -- including new and innovative jazz dance choreography that redefines jazz dance.

The festival will also feature two student showcase concerts and two gala concerts filled with amazing student choreography.

High schools participating in the Regional High School Dance Festival hail from Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas from within the United States, and will be coming from as far away as China.

“The festival is a great recruitment tool that allows us to showcase our program, our facilities and our dance community to students who otherwise may never get a chance to see Madison, Wisconsin,” says McShane-Hellenbrand.

For more details about the Regional High School Dance Festival at UW-Madison, visit:

Festival Concert Schedule 
Events are un-ticketed, free and open to all
Wisconsin Union Theater, Shannon Hall
Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., Madison

Thursday, March 23
7:30 p.m. ­– Opening Ceremony Performance, Giordano Dance Chicago

Friday, March 24
5:30 p.m. -- Student Showcase Concert
8 p.m. ­--  Gala Concert

Saturday, March 25
5:30 p.m. – Student Showcase Concert
8 p.m. -- Gala Concert

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