Ballet goes outdoors for new festival

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Courtesy Grand Rapids Ballet

The Grand Rapids Ballet (GRB) is planning a new outdoor summer dance festival for West Michigan. 

The ballet company is hosting a first-of-its-kind Summer Dance Festival, to take place outdoors from 5-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26 and 27, at Peter Martin Wege Theatre, 341 Ellsworth Ave. SW. 

The festival will offer two nights of entertainment featuring performances from GRB, the Grand Rapids Ballet School and nine other performance groups across Michigan. Local food trucks, beer tents and live music will be on-site. 

“The idea for our Summer Dance Festival was born out of a communitywide celebration of our 50th anniversary, and in that spirit, I’ve opened the stage to performers from our diverse local dance community,” said James Sofranko, GRB artistic director.

The outdoor stage will open with live music by local singer/songwriter Ralston Bowles from 5:15-5:45 p.m. each evening and the first dance performances will begin at 6 p.m., featuring classical ballet favorites and contemporary works performed by GRB’s company dancers, apprentices and trainees. 

“We are excited to present an inclusive and community-centered showcase of the best dance artists and students in Grand Rapids,” said Glenn Del Vecchio, GRB executive director. “We are very proud to have been a part of the art and culture of Grand Rapids for the past 50 years and look forward to continuing to serve our region and Michigan into the next 50.”

To celebrate dancers and different styles of dance from across the Mitten, GRB is hosting various community dance partners who also will perform throughout the event, including Arthur Murray Dance Studio, CPR Dance: Inhale Movement, Dancespire, Deos Contemporary Ballet, Edgar L. Page (Aug. 26), Golden Tiger Kung Fu Academy (Aug. 27), Grand Valley State University Dance Program, La Fuerza de Grand Rapids (Aug. 26), and Ray Love – The P.A.C.K.

“I hope that people will recognize not only the treasure of Grand Rapids Ballet that exists here but also the thriving arts scene and the multitude of dance organizations that bring art daily into our lives,” Sofranko said.

The festival is free for attendees, who are invited to bring their own chairs to enjoy the performances.

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