The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Dancers converge in Kalamazoo for Midwest RAD Fest

Courtesy | RAD Fest

The 15th annual Midwest Regional Alternative Dance (RAD) Festival brought dancers from across the country to the Epic Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan from Feb. 29 to March 3 for a multi-day dance event. RAD Fest focused on building the Midwest’s dance community by bringing in experienced performers and instructors to connect the local dance community.

The festival spotlighted post-modern and contemporary dance from emerging and professional artists. Performances, classes and lectures, allowed dancers, including multiple Grand Valley State University students, staff and alumni, to network with one another.

The event was curated by Rachel Miller, adjunct professor of dance at GVSU, who has been with the event for many years. Alongside Miller, several other GVSU dance professors were involved with the festival this year. Hannah Seidel, associate professor of dance at GVSU, taught dancers contemporary movement forms, and Carolyn Rabbers, adjunct professor of ballet at GVSU, brought her company, CPR Dance: Inhale Movement, for a performance on the festival’s opening night. 

Rabbers said RAD Fest gave her the opportunity to catch up with dance colleagues and friends from different states. Rabbers also praised the platform that RAD Fest provides to dancers and educators, specifically those within the GVSU community.

“It (RAD Fest) always feels like the best reunion to celebrate and catch up on life and art,” Rabbers said. “(It’s) an inspiring weekend with so much passion and love for dance and movement, (and) it is always special to see the GVSU Laker presence in the larger professional dance world.”

With internship opportunities and the chance to grow in their dance skills, GVSU dancers were encouraged to attend the event. Rabbers said there are many GVSU alumni who perform, participate and serve at RAD Fest every year. One GVSU dance program alum, Grace Kitching, not only performed at the event, she also served as the curatorial assistant intern under Miller.

As the curatorial assistant intern, Kitching helped support the festival’s traveling artists and assisted in organizing events throughout the weekend. Additionally, Kitching attended several masterclasses and performed with the Detroit Dance Collective (DDC).

Whether it was taking classes, watching performances or performing herself, Kitching said RAD Fest offered inspiration attendees, and invited dancers of all ages, genders and experience levels. 

“(It’s) comforting to know that everyone is accepted and welcome at RAD,” Kitching said. “Dance is my favorite thing in the world. Every time I watch dance, there is at least one aspect that inspires me.”

Kitching emphasized the importance of networking during college, and keeping in touch with mentors and colleagues after graduation. Kitching said her relationship with Miller led to the opportunity of working under her as an intern at RAD Fest.

“The (GVSU) dance department staff is incredibly supportive (by) offering networking opportunities to students,” Kitching said. “GV connected me with many companies, artists and events out in the working world. I feel that I can turn to any of them for advice and support.” 

Both Rabbers and Kitching said events like RAD Fest are important for fostering community within dance. 

“Through gathering in celebration and movement, we share in our woes, concerns, explorations, research, passion and love,” Rabbers said. “This powerful sharing is unique each year, making RAD Fest an amazing festival to consecutively return to.”

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