SURREY FESTIVAL OF DANCE SOCIETY: A SHORT HISTORY 2015
The Surrey Festival of Dance had a small beginning 49 years ago. It was the dream of a group of 7 ladies whose children had grown up to have a love of dance and who believed that a dance festival would be an ideal way of putting back into the community what had been an everlasting joy to them and their children.
The first festival held in 1966 had 400 competitors (Yes this was to be a competitive type of dance competition although the competitive nature of the event was to be downplayed) and over those first few developing years it was held in church halls and libraries until the Surrey Arts Centre Theatre was re-developed in 1980. The Festival and Honour Awards presentation are held in the Surrey Arts Centre Theatre. The “No Borders” Group Dance Challenge with over 85 groups and 1500 + participates is also held at the Surrey Arts Centre.
Currently the Festival runs competitive classes in various sections such as Ballet, Contemporary/Modern, International, Tap, Stage, Musical Theatre, Jazz and Hip Hop. These sections are further sub divided into sub sections for example: Junior, Intermediate, Senior and Adult. From its small beginnings it has now blossomed into one of the largest adjudicated dance festival of its type in North America.
There are 30+ days of non-stop dancing from 9 am to 9pm every day of the week. (Exception Good Friday and Easter Sunday) Adjudicators are from North America and as far a field as England and Scotland. 10,000 performers cross the stage during this period, ranging in age from pre-school to adult. (The majority age from 3 – 20, with oldest adult in 2015 was 83) All of these performers receive a written and verbal critique of their performance along with a certificate if they place in the top three of their class. Most class winners are also awarded a trophy many of which have been with the festival since its inception.
The Festival is run by a small group of dedicated volunteers many of whom spend part of their annual vacation in what can only be described as a generous contribution to the good of the community at large and to dancers in particular.
The Surrey Festival of Dance is one of 34 member festivals of the Performing Arts BC Association of Regional Festivals. Each year in May our adjudicators select 11 representatives to perform at the annual Performing Arts BC Festival called “The Provincials”, which is regarded as the Highest Honour, we can bestow. A recent addition to our Festival is our Winners Group Competition called “No Borders” Group Dance Challenge in which the first place winners of the group classes compete for monetary awards and trophy.
After the competitive an Honour award presentation is held were scholarships and trophies are awarded and this marks the end of the Festival year and the entrance to a new one. In 2015, the Festival adjudicators awarded over $60,000 in scholarships and bursaries and summer school workshop to deserving students to help further there education in their chosen fields of endeavour.
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