FAQ – Jazz & Tap Dance Festival

Jazz & Tap Dance Festival – Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Jazz & Tap Dance Festival?

The Jazz & Tap Dance Festival is a dance revue with pieces performed by 7-9 companies each year.  Dancin’ Unlimited produces the show to celebrate the vitality and breadth of jazz, tap, and hip-hop dance at this unique Washington area event.  The annual Festival features the artistic achievements of the dancers with the exciting new creations of their choreographers.  This festival is not a recital.  These are advanced and professional dancers performing in a theatrical setting with lots of …  lights – music – action!

Why is the Jazz & Tap Dance Festival so unique?

The Jazz & Tap Dance Festival is the longest running dance festival in Northern Virginia!  It  has survived the test of time.  Most dance festivals in the area are less than 10 years old.  The Festival has lots of variety and generates enthusiasm for “show” dance forms – jazz, tap, hip hop.

When/Where is the next Jazz & Tap Dance Festival?

Convergence – the 30th Annual Jazz & Tap Dance Festival is on Saturday, March 12th at 8:00 PM  and Sunday, March 13th  at 4 PM at the Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale Campus theatre.  The NVCC Annandale Campus theatre is located at 8333 Little River Turnpike, Annandale, VA; and is convenient to Rt 495 Beltway Exit 52-A.

How do I buy tickets for the festival?

Reserved seat tickets are $25 in advance (until the day before the show) and $28 at the door.  The Festival is supported and funded in part by the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

May I come to a dress rehearsal?

The dress rehearsal is primarily to conduct a preliminary run through of the program and for the dancers to see each other.  If you have a special group, however, such as a scout or church group, arrangements can be made for them to see the dress rehearsal.  Dancin’ Unlimited wants to provide opportunities for exposure to the dance arts.

Who produces the J&T Dance Festival?

Dancin’ Unlimited, a professional jazz dance company in Northern Virginia, produces the Festival as an annual community dance arts effort.  Two other dance companies have been consistent collaborators through the years:  Center Stage Dance Company, which focuses on tap dance, and Encore Theatrical Arts Project, which focuses on musical theatre.

Why does Dancin’ Unlimited keep producing the Festival?

The Jazz & Tap Dance Festival is part of Dancin’ Unlimited’s commitment to bring the art of concert and musical theatre jazz dance to the community.  The Festival provides a venue to showcase jazz dance separate from traditional ballet and modern dance.  Jazz dance is very entertaining.  It’s just plain fun.  It attracts audiences not accustomed to seeing dance shows to the dance arts.  The production effort promotes artistic cooperation/collaboration among the participating companies.  Dancers build their network and are inspired by each other to continue their training.  Participation improves their skills and artistic talent.

When did the Festival start?

The Jazz & Tap Dance Festival started in 1986.  The inspiration for the festival first came to Marilyn York in the early days of Dancin’ Unlimited, then known as the Virginia Dance Theatre. The group presented concerts in a cabaret format, interspersing different musical acts among their own numbers in order to give the dancers a chance to catch their breath. In 1986, York decided to make the jump to an exclusively dance-oriented program. With the help of a $2,000 contribution from Stein’s Theatrical and Dance Supply in Arlington, York was able to organize the very first Jazz & Tap Dance Festival.

Why should I come to the Festival?  What will I see?

The Festival presents fresh jazz, tap and hip hop dance material each year.  If you are new to the dance arts, these dance styles are energetic and entertaining.  Audiences tell us that the variety of dance numbers, enthusiasm and professionalism of the program keeps them coming back.  The Festival honors classic and concert jazz technique, our indigenous American dance style that’s become integrated into Broadway dance and the wide range of popular entertainment venues.

Do the same companies participate each year?

Four to five of the companies tend to participate each year, which means that the audience can follow their favorites.  A couple companies are new or rotate each year.  The structure of the show is similar year to year, but the material is fresh and new.   Dancin’ Unlimited rotates presentation of some repertoire pieces every 3-5 years.  The choreography for these pieces has been recognized at the Giordano Jazz Dance World Congress several times.

What is jazz dance?

As a general term, jazz dance encompasses such a dizzying range of styles and eras that it is nearly impossible to pinpoint. Originating from West African musical tradition, jazz dance has grown from the streets of New Orleans to Vaudeville, from the Broadway theatre to the jazz concert stage.  Jazz has evolved over the 20th century to include the lively Lindy Hop, the sleek stylings of musical theater legend Bob Fosse, and the hip-hop of today’s hot young artists.

For Marilyn York, the main focus of her career has been the “classic” approach to jazz dance.  Classic jazz technique borrows heavily from the fluid lines of ballet, featuring broad, grounded movements and captivating music. Though it demands years of training, jazz allows dancers more freedom to showcase their personalities.  Quality jazz dance is timeless.  As a living artistic history, jazz dance stems from the heart of a nation never at rest.  Kinetic yet fluid, technically acute yet hugely entertaining.  It is always fresh, reflecting popular musical culture with its traditions of liberation and empowerment.

Why Jazz Dance?  What makes Jazz Dance Different?

Jazz dance is distinctly American and is uplifting, exciting and fun.  It tends to get people moving in their seats, and the dancers feed off their energy.  The audience becomes part of the show.  They are “engaged” in the dance and follow the movement closely, alert and ready for each next dance phrase.  Young dancers are inspired by the jazz dance performance energy and fun.  They are exposed to American music since the big band era.