The Department of Theatre and Dance begins its first ever South Carolina Festival of Dance Friday.
The festival is set to run through Sunday.
"You never know what kind of reaction you're going to have," said Kindra Becker, a graduate student in the School of Library and Information Science. "We've had a really great reaction to it. I've had way more people wanting to perform than I thought I was going to have."
Becker, the festival director, wrote a grant to the Provost Office for the festival last October and has been working on the festival ever since. Since then, she has signed up both professional and preprofessional dance companies to participate and has also organized a number of master classes.
Friday night, the department will host nine professional dance companies in the Koger Center. The performance will show what South Carolina has to offer the dance community professionally, which was one of Becker's reasons for starting the festival. The festival will also expose preprofessional dancers to professional dance performances. Participants include professional companies Columbia City Ballet, Unbound and Vibrations.
On Saturday, the department will host 11 preprofessional companies that were required to submit an audition to be admitted into the schedule. Saturday's showcase, featuring Columbia City Jazz, Southern Strutt and Your County Ballet Company, will give the companies a stage to show what the state has to offer preprofessionally.
In addition to the preprofessional showcase, Saturday will include performances by USC Dance as well as select professional companies.
"A lot of the dance circles are very isolated — not a lot of people are aware of what others are doing," Becker said.
The festival hopes to increase awareness of dance, which is the reason why it's open to the whole state.
In addition to performances, the festival will include a master class component open to all dancers. The master classes will assist in Becker's goal to connect preprofessional dancers with their professional counterparts.
Master classes are divided into skill levels that correspond to ages. Choreography in the classes will vary from swing dance and ballet technique to flamenco and hip-hop. The festival will also host master classes in yoga and musical theory.
Performances Friday and Saturday will be at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for students, $14 for faculty and staff and $16 for general admission. Tickets can be purchased at the Carolina Coliseum box office or by phone at 803-777-2551.