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DAZZLING AND DIVERSE DANCE: Dancers from the University of Calgary's Dance Department's Dance Montage tear up the University Theatre's floor this week.
The Gauntlet

Dance Montage challenges U of C dancers

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There's more to dance than professional prima donnas on a stage or a Britney Spears video.

Dance Montage, an annual performance co-sponsored by the Faculties of Fine Arts and Kinesiology, has showcased the incredible variety of the Calgary dance community since 1968. This year will be no different. Over 80 performers and a dozen choreographers are presenting 10 pieces that range in style from modern to jazz to funk.

"Calgary has a large and diverse dance community, but that isn't always present to the public," says dancer and choreographer Christie Preston, a graduate of the University of Calgary's dance program. "At Dance Montage, the audience gets to see stuff beyond MuchMusic and their five-year-old child's ballet recital."

Preston arranged a traditional West African dance for the show which she will perform along with two other dancers. Although she is a four-year veteran of Dance Montage, this is her first time choreographing.

"It's different because of all the hats I'm wearing," she explains. "It's a challenge."

Challenging the artist is what Dance Montage is all about. Unlike most performances, no experience is required to audition and all skill levels will be on the stage come opening night.

"Dance Montage was initiated by the Faculty of Physical Education in 1968 to showcase the dance classes they offered," says Dawn Dymond, the performance's producer since 1995. "In the early '70s it expanded to include the dance community and the general population of Calgary. Now we have beginners on stage and they are just as good as the seasoned performers."

A varied cast and a unique show has attracted substantial crowds in previous years. Unlike most dance performances in Calgary, Dance Montage usually sells out. This is hardly surprising considering it has something for everyone.

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