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Professional dance companies from all over South Carolina took the Koger Center stage with flying colors Friday as a part of the first South Carolina Festival of Dance. A particularly large audience gathered to see what USC’s Board of Dance member Gillian Albrecht called “a bringing together of some of the greatest dance talent in the state of South Carolina.”

The festival, presented by the USC Dance Program, was the brainchild of Artistic Director Susan Anderson and Dance Festival Coordinator Kindra Becker.

“[Anderson] wanted to start a statewide dance festival, so last year she asked me to write a grant to the provost’s office, and we’ve been working on the festival since we received the grant,” Becker said.

The festival is sponsored by the Creative and Performing Arts Grant Program of the USC’s Office of the Provost.

Friday’s performance featured eight professional dance companies from Greenville to Charleston as well as the FresNO Dance COllective of Fresno, Calif.

“We invited professional companies from all over South Carolina to perform and had an overwhelming response,” Becker said. “With the professional companies, we wanted to feature all kinds of dance.”

Contemporary, modern, jazz, ballet and even aerial dance companies lit up the scene with their various forms of choreography.

“I never knew that there are so many dance companies here in South Carolina as it’s not really a state known for its professional companies — at least I had never heard of it as one,” said first-year early childhood education student Marissa Hickman “It was really cool to see the variety that each company brought and to see it all in one place as well.”

First-year dance performance and choreography student Sarah Glendhill said that she thought the festival highlighted the differences between the styles of dance.

“Also, you don’t often get to see a performance with such a wide range of style, and I think that the variety of the festival kept the audience interested and engaged,” Glendhill said.

“This festival is a great way to bring together the dance community in the state as well as show off USC’s dance facilities,” Becker said.

She added that master classes would be held in USC’s dance facilities, including the recently constructed Band and Dance Hall, on Saturday and Sunday. These master classes were led by both USC dance professors and the artistic directors of the companies that performed in the festival.

Becker said that she hopes for the festival’s future.

“We would love for this to be an annual event; this is something that we’d like to continue for as long as we could keep it going,” she said. “It’s important for the dance community and the audience to see different styles of dance, which is what we’re doing.”

The festival had a very positive reception among audience members.

“I enjoyed how it was so jam-packed with constant fast-paced movement and changing of dancers,” Courtney Crego said. “Also, I liked how you could tell that the dancers were having a great time performing the work through their animated facial expressions,” added the first-year elementary education student, who was required to attend for a dance appreciation course. “It’s not something I would have attended by choice for fun, but I’m glad that I went. It was a lot better and more entertaining than I thought it would be.”