The Olympia Dance Festival turns 4 this year, and it is offering more dance than ever.
Sundays performance will feature about 180 dancers from 10 local companies plus a guest soloist, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Maria Chapman.
Shes an amazing dancer, said Ken Johnson, who with his wife, Josie, runs Ballet Northwest and Johansen Olympia Dance Center. She trained at the School of American Ballet in New York.
Shell bring a lot to the program, not only for the audience but also for the groups participating in the festival, he said. Theyll get to watch her dress rehearsal and see her process of preparing for the two solos shes performing. Its a great opportunity for our local dancers to share the same program with a professional of such a high quality.
Pacific Northwest Ballet is just back from performing in New York City, where Chapman drew the attention of New York Times critic Alastair Macaulay.
The brilliant interplay of rhythm and shape that makes the male Sarabande and the female Branle Gay solos so extraordinary was marvelously clean with Jonathan Porretta and Maria Chapman, he wrote of her role in George Balanchines Agon.
She also won praise for her role as one of the muses in Balanchines Apollo. His three muses (Carla) Körbes, Ms. Chapman and (Lesley) Rausch gave the ballet purity, youthfulness and high definition, Macaulay wrote.
On Sunday, Chapman will perform solos from Swan Lake, one in each half of the program.
Also on the program are local dance companies Ballet Northwest, Centralia Ballet Academy, Comerford School of Irish Dance, Debbies Dance Etc., Johansen Olympia Dance Center, Mas Uda Middle Eastern Dancers, Random Acts of Dance Collective (Radco), Slieveloughane Irish Dancers, Southwest Washington Dance Ensemble and Studio West Dance Academy. Both the Centralia and Comerford groups are new to the event.
We have a great mix of ballet and modern and jazz and tap and Middle Eastern dance and Irish dance, Johnson said.
Hes excited about how the festival has developed.
Its definitely been building, he said. The attendance has grown every year. Theres virtually no marketing budget; its word of mouth through the groups. Its a grassroots effort that has grown.
Chapmans performance is not the only educational opportunity the festival provides. Dancers from participating companies can attend master classes, which this year include ballet, modern and African with live drumming.
Were excited about that, Johnson said. African is a great dance form thats accessible to different levels and ages.