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Kerry Clawson, Akron Beacon Journal  |  August 01, 2019

Kerry Clawson: Full day, night for dance lovers at Cleveland festival

Dancers of all ages and abilities can get a big dance fix Saturday during a full day and night of community events at the third annual ADF in CLE, DanceCleveland’s partnership with the renowned American Dance Festival.

Free dance classes will include ballet with Pamela Pribisco, modern jazz with Gregory King and contemporary with Bobby Wesner, as well as a master class with Philadelphia dance company BalletX, all from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

At 12:15, free classes will include West African dance with Talise Campbell and zumba with Brenda Johnstone. Next comes yoga with Yoga Strong Studios and social dances with Tony Fresh at 1:30 p.m. Finally, La Danse Cleveland will teach ballroom dance, Edna Duffy will lead liturgical dance and Logan Jacklin will lead a mega barre exercise class right down the middle of Cleveland’s 14th Street at 3 p.m.

See to register for all free classes. (The festival runs through Aug. 10.)

Playhouse Square, Idea Center and US Bank Plaza are where all the Saturday activities will take place, which include a free Student Showcase concert of 10 Northeast Ohio dance schools from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Allen Theatre.

The piece de resistance will be a ticketed performance at 7:30 p.m. for Philadelphia company BalletX, which will make its Cleveland debut Saturday at the Ohio Theatre. The company, hailed for its athleticism, emotion and grace, challenges the boundaries of classical ballet by working with some of the most exciting contemporary choreographers.

BalletX will be performing in Cleveland right before moving on to the Vail International Dance Festival, where it has built a reputation as one of the event’s darlings. The company, which performed at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron in 2013, is devoted almost solely to performing new works created for it.

“The audience loved them and they were just amazing, quite frankly,″ DanceCleveland Executive Director Pam Young said of the contemporary ballet company’s earlier Akron appearance.

For Saturday’s program, the versatile company will perform Nicolo Fonte’s en pointe modern ballet “Steep Drop, Euphoric,″ hip hop choreographer Lil Buck’s (aka Charles Riley) playful “Express” and co-founder Matthew Neenan’s “The Last Glass.” The last dance, which evokes a quirky, wild street parade, was performed in Akron nearly six years ago.

Buck is a Memphis Jookin star — a style of street dance — who is well known from the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.”

“He bridges the gap there is in the dance world between concert and commercial dance,″ DanceCleveland’s Sarah Hricko said of Buck.

Fonte is “kind of considered to be one of the best young choreographers of today,″ Young said.

The evening will end with a silent disco at 9 p.m. at US Bank Plaza.

Closing the festival on Aug. 10 will be two performances by Malpaso, at 3 and 7:30 p.m. at the Allen Theatre. The troupe, formed in 2012 and considered Cuba’s premiere contemporary dance company, will be performing in Cleveland for the third time.

Its mixed repertoire program will include Sonya Tayeh’s “Face the Torrent.” Tayeh, well known on “So You Think You Can Dance,″ worked on the beginning stages of the dance at Cleveland State University in 2017. Her work features industrial-sounding music and lighting that makes the dancers look like they’re floating.

Also on the program will be company member Beatriz Garcia’s “Being (Ser)” and Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin’s 1986 dance “Tabula Rasa.”

“Malpaso may be the first Cuban dance company to work with an Israeli choreographer,″ said Young, who shared that the famous Naharin worked with the company on the dance in Havana.

For tickets to BalletX or Malpaso’s festival performances, which start at $20, see or call 216-241-6000.

Theater making a difference

• Gum-Dip Theatre will present the original play “Denied Admission,” created to bring awareness of asylum seekers, Thursday through Aug. 4 at The Center, 118, W. Market St., Akron.

The play, devised from transcripts of “credible fear” interviews from asylum seekers who feared for their lives, follows three who cross the U.S. Southern border, coming from Honduras, Somalia and Guatemala. The play grew from a meeting artistic director Katie Beck had a year ago with local advocates for migrants.

Each performance will be followed by a talk-back with a professional or advocate who works with asylum seekers. For information, see For each ticket sold, 25 percent will be donated to Akron Interfaith Immigrant Advocates.

• The Improvaneers, an improv troupe comprised fully of Northeast Ohio performers who have Down syndrome, will perform “Not Your Average News Team” at a 7:30 p.m. preview Friday, and 7 p.m. main show Saturday at Weathervane Playhouse, 1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron.

The cast of nine, directed by Rob Snow, has been training two hours per week for the past year to build their improvisation skills, which foster self confidence, quick thinking, problem solving, team work, listening and focus. For tickets, which cost $5-$30, see

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or


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