Festivals, the city’s preferred mode of entertainment and cultural consumption, are an inevitability in Austin.
And if a festival can charge up local interest for pop music, comedy, film, books and food, why not modern dance?
It seemed a natural idea for Kathy Dunn Hamrick, the longtime Austin choreographer whose own troupe, KDH Dance, has consistently staged some of the most inventive modern movement on the local scene.
And though it’s just one day in its inaugural effort, the Austin Dance Festival on Saturday will host three showcases of short performances by 23 companies from Texas and beyond.
Hamrick said she was astonished by the number of applications she received once she put out the call for entries.
"The call-for-artists went rampant via social media," Hamrick says. "When we received more applicants than we could possibly present, we had to do some serious cutting. It was heartbreaking to turn away so many talented and deserving artists."
The Austin Dance Festival is fleet of foot as well. Two afternoon showcases are each only one hour, with each company presenting pieces just 10 minutes in length or less. The evening showcase is two hours but still features eight different troupes, each again performing short pieces.
Hamrick is not the first to try to rally a modern dance festival in Austin. Efforts have popped in the past in different forms, though none have lasted beyond a few years.
But Austin’s culture-going climate is right, Hamrick believes, for modern dance to join the festival roster.
"Austinites tend to be adventurous and on the lookout for new experiences, especially ones they can share with friends and family, so this festival could be a win-win for both artists and Austin audiences," she says.
"We’re definitely going to try again next year."
Austin Dance Festival schedule
2 p.m., one-hour showcase featuring:Kathy Dunn Hamrick Dance Company (Austin)Verge Dance Company (Austin)ModArts Dance Collective (North Hollywood, Calif.)Sling Dance Project (Austin)Nadia Dosal (Denton)Veronica Ramirez & Pat Stone (Austin)Flatlands Dance Theatre (Lubbock)Austin Allegro Dance Company (Austin)Lisa Nicks and her Band of Wild Ponies (Austin)
5 p.m., one-hour showcase featuring:SpareWorks.dance (San Antonio)David Chao (Round Rock)Circuitous Dance/Kate Warren (Austin)Diane Cahill Bedford (College Station)Mysti Jace Pride (Austin)Catherine Solaas (Austin)
8 p.m., two-hour showcase featuring:Alyson Dolan (Austin)Darla Johnson (Austin)Ballet East Dance Company (Austin)Houston MET Dance Company (Houston)Contemporary Dance/Ft. Worth (Fort Worth)Annette Christopher (Austin)Out on a Limb Dance Company (Waco)Dark Circles Contemporary Dance USA (Dallas)