As part of the Utah Arts Festival, art lovers can see a sampling of the local dance scene, with established companies dancing alongside undiscovered gems, and personal favorites flanked by the bizarre. From ballet to belly dancing, hip-hop to aerial, and tango to wandering elves, performances take place just about everywhere, on stages, streets, city building stairs, and even in the air.
The Bboy Federation • One of the groups doing things differently this year is The Bboy Federation. Instead of a traditional performance, an instructor will be giving an hour class from 4-5 p.m. in a different urban dance style. Festivalgoers can watch, but they're really encouraged to participate.
The driving force behind the group is 30-year-old Joshua Perkins, who has been dancing since he was 15. Known to his bboy friends as "Text," he and business partner Jimmy "Pyro" Karren, 34, are interested in making urban street dance a legitimate form.
"Traditional dance, such as ballet or modern, has a career path," Perkins said. "You can go to the U. and get a degree. Or if you play a sport, you can either get a scholarship or at least it can be part of your college experience."
Currently, urban or street dance skills won't enhance a dancer's college application. "Kids put a lot of time into this, but their parents try to steer them in a different direction because there is no future," Perkins said.
So Perkins and Karren established the nonprofit Bboy Federation. They're launching a fund-raising effort to fund a full or partial scholarship for urban dancers, aiming to launch it by spring 2013. Applicants will be required to keep a high grade-point average, while continuing to compete in bboy battles to keep their dance skills sharp.
Perkins is passionate about working to fund the future of dance, "but the one thing I don't want to do is overpromise and underdeliver."
Watch and participate • 4-5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, The Round stage
Focus • Demonstrators will focus on house dance on Friday; breaking on Saturday; and popping on Sunday
More • For information, visit http://www.bboyfed.com
Thomas Mattingly Dance Project • If you're hooked on the new reality show "Breaking Pointe" set at Ballet West, you've seen dancer Thomas Mattingly. Outside the reality show world, Mattingly is noted for his generosity as a dancer and a choreographer.
In 2010, he debuted "Prone," the first-ever UAF dance commission, while this year's piece is the second. He described his yet-unnamed work as "modern, quirky and lively."
Mattingly began choreographing three years ago for Ballet West's annual "Innovations" program. Since then, he has created works for the Ballet West Academy, Ballet West II, Youth America Grand Prix, Beijing Ballet Invitational and the South Davis Community Hospital Benefit.
His dance company only performs when members, highly trained classical and modern dancers, are available from their other professional jobs.
This year, his company consists of his Ballet West colleagues Arolyn Williams, Jacqueline Straughan, Katie Critchlow and Adrian Fry, as well as Brad Beaks from Ririe-Woodbury and Caine Keenan, a former Ririe-Woodbury dancer.
Mattingly would be happy to continue choreographing new pieces for the arts festival. "I love choreographing and working with this amazing groups of dancers, but honestly, I'm nowhere near done dancing myself," he said.
Watch • 5:30 p.m., Friday, June 22, Festival Stage
Repertory Dance Theatre • The modern-dance company will present two performances at the festival this year, although one inspires the other.
Last season, RDT dancers learned a piece by the late, renowned dance-maker Merce Cunningham, subsequently creating their own choreography using his technique of chance operations. Now RDT has taken the idea a step further, giving festivalgoers the opportunity to contribute dance moves, gestures or shapes for a new RDT work to be premiered next fall.
Any good sport has eight seconds to be filmed, and will receive credit for their ideas in the "8 Seconds of Fame" project.
In addition, on Sunday RDT will perform two favorites from the past season, "Karyo" and "Gamut."
Participate in "8 Seconds" • 1-2 p.m. daily, Festival Stage
Watch • 6:30-7:30 p.m., Sunday, June 24, Festival Stage
Check it out
O For a full schedule, go to http://www.uaf.org/ and click on DANCE