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Five Things To Know About 'Festival On The Vine'

file photo: Julie Denesha
KCUR 89.3
Members of AileyCamp The Group at Festival on the Vine in 2015 performed 'Alegretto' choreographed by Tyrone Aiken.

The late dancer and choreographer, Alvin Ailey, believed that "dance is for everybody." That philosophy extends to an event in its second year called Festival on the Vine: three days of dance, art and live performance in the historic 18th and Vine jazz district. 

The festival was created by Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, the second home for Ailey's New York-based dance company. Chief artistic officer Tyrone Aiken walked us through some things to know: 

1. A thriving dance community in Kansas City

"There is an incredibly rich dance scene in Kansas City. Some of the best dance you're going to see, some of the best professional companies, you'll see at the festival."  

2. Dancers return to their Kansas City roots

"We're bringing Dallas Black Dance Theatre, and we have an alum that went through AileyCamp that's a part of Dallas Black Dance Theater. We have an alum that is with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (based in Denver, Colorado) that is coming Saturday night. So there are connections to Kansas City through those companies." 

"To bring those artists, and to bring the work of national choreographers to Kansas City, to talk about African-American contributions, but also contributions from the African diaspora and how that intersects with other communities is really what the festival is about." 

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Chief artistic officer Tyrone Aiken prepared to walk some of the AileyCampers through the steps of a dance routine.

3. Talking about diversity

"It's an opportunity to talk about why diversity matters, why building connections, collaborative efforts, are essential to our ability to offer our citizens the best so that they can informed, enlightened, and better understand and contextualize the world that we live in."   

4. It's not just about dance 

"At the (First Friday) block party we're doing a fashion show this year, (and) there will be a hip hop artist performing. We'll have other ways to engage audiences, and to meet them where they're at, and hopefully, introduce them to and then connect them to why the arts should be celebrated in Kansas City."

5. Finding the right price point

"The festival was created through our strategic plan, and it's part of audience development. It was really about finding the right price point to attract new audiences, and to build the audience that we had. Our price point needed to be a little bit more affordable to introduce people to dance and to get them to the 18th and Vine jazz district." 

Kansas City Friends of Alvin Aileypresents Festival on the Vine June 30, July 1, and 2, at the Gem Theater, 1615 E 18th St, Kansas City, Missouri. A free First Friday block party takes place on July 1, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. 816-471-6003 for more information or to purchase tickets for performances.

The Artists In Their Own Words series is supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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