Have you ever wanted to move to Middle Eastern music? Audition for a part in a play? Improvise dance on your own?
Now is the time to learn these skills and more at Dance Matrix & Company’s third annual Performance Arts Festival. The festival brings together two days of workshops and performances to raise awareness of the vibrant local performing arts community.
For Dance Matrix & Company artistic director Beverly Mendez, awareness of the wide variety of performers in the area and bringing those artists together in one space to collaborate is the two-fold mission of the event.
And for attendees, she said, “No previous experience is necessary to take a workshop and have fun.”
Workshops will be held in the afternoons and are open to the community, for all ages.
They include “Mommy & Me,” a movement class for parents and preschool-age children with Cherish Dobbins. “Hip Hop Dance” with Jordan Taylor, “Middle Eastern Movement” with Amy Limbrick and “Contemporary Fusion Dance” with Kelly Hamlin round out the dance offerings.
For those looking for practical advice on becoming a performing artist, there are workshops on “How to Audition” and “The Business of the Art” with Sabine Kvenberg.
There’s also “On Your Feet, creative theater workshop” with Kimberly Kemp, “Ballet for Actors” with Mendez and additional workshops.
Mendez said each year the lineup features different artists, and it happened to skew toward dance this time. Attendees can also see locals at the top of their craft perform. Evening performances during the two days will include local professional singers, dancers and filmmakers.
Those performing include singer-songwriter Kevin Caffrey, filmmaker Hailey Gibbons, dancers Kelly Hamlin and Ed Yates, Egyptian folklore dancer Amy “Kiyaana” Limbrick, dancer Diontey Michael, TRIBE Hip Hop Crew, ballet and DMC dancers.
Following the performances will be an audience talk-back, Mendez said, where audience members and performers can share their ideas and feelings about what they saw.
“That feeling is what makes performing arts important,” she said. “Audiences can allow themselves to really think about what they saw and felt, and share what they thought about what, for example, an abstract piece was really about. It’s important for artists to have that feedback, too.”
The festival will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. at the University of Mary Washington’s Hurley Convergence Center. Proceeds will go to UMW dance scholarships.
Mendez said the event evolved from her dance company’s annual performances, as she sought to bring in musicians, other dancers and actors to provide variety. She said it was fun and showed audiences the real depth of professional artistry in the area. As she transitioned her dance company into a nonprofit, she sought out to bring the community of actors, dancers, musicians and other performers closer together annually.
And the event has community support, with a grant from the Fredericksburg Arts Commission and a large variety of participants.
“Fredericksburg has so much, but it is all unconnected,” she said. “We’ve got theater, performing poets, singers. And this festival helps us as a community pull together.”