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Lewis J Whittington
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Suzanne Roberts Theatre
United States
Philadelphia, PA

Philly dancers unite for Come Together Festival

by Lewis J Whittington
July 23, 2014
Suzanne Roberts Theatre
480 S. Broad Street
(Broad & Lombard Sts.)
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Like a lot of choreographer/artistic directors of dance companies, Roni Koresh can look sleep deprived. Yet, earlier this month, just after company rehearsal and a week before he launches the second run of the Come Together Festival, he looks completely relaxed, sitting outside of Koresh's new studio complex off of Rittenhouse Square, checking his cell phone, but pausing to say hi to everyone who walks by greeting him warmly. It is a beautiful day in this dancy neighborhood.

One reason may be that, after over a year of fundraising and renovations to the former fitness center, the building is now Koresh Dance Company's permanent home, with serviceable, even elegant studios, facilities for the Koresh School and expansive resources for dance showcases series Koresh hosts for various regional companies, with a focus on cultural dance outreach.

It is out of the showcase series that Roni and KDC executive director Alon Koresh conceived the Come Together Festival in 2013 that would present the full breadth, talent and emerging voices of dance artists in the Philadelphia region in a theatrical setting with full production values at Koresh's home theater in the heart of Philly's theater district.

"We were maybe too ambitious last year," Roni admits now "presenting 28 companies over two weekends," Koresh recalled, "then we realized beside the expense, audiences waited for the second weekend. So this time, we thought it would be better to go for 5 nights in a row. The downside is that we have to be even more efficient, all the tech on same days, for instance, will be intense."

Even with this many companies and a few dancer-choreographer soloists performing, Roni said that it was "difficult to choose" from so many applicants. "We don't have a specific interest in putting forth our personal tastes, this is about the versatility and variety that we have here. This festival is a derivative of the showcases we've done here at the studios and what we saw from Indian, to hip-hop, jazz, modern, flamenco, tap, even poetry and music collaborations with dance- that showed me what treasure of the city."

The Koresh brothers have even larger goals for already in mind and are planning to eventually bring in artists from outside the region.

"We want to eventually model the scope after some of the European festivals, where everybody wants to come. One of the prime objectives though is Philly dance," Roni explained.

"This is the beginning. We're not yet at that place where we can have the budget to accommodate people the way they need to be. It's been so successful in the participation so far, though, it's realistic to have that goal," he assures "I'm satisfied to keep it the way it is or it can grow to compete with any festival in the world."

Koresh sees the festival as way to highlight Philly as a vibrant dance community that is unique and growing. "Part of it is a choice of this city. The problem we have here is that we have to shift the spotlight to Philly, so people can see the how much is here."

The Come Together Festival runs July 23-27, 2014

Participating Companies:

Brian Sanders' JUNK
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers
Chisena Danza
Koresh Dance Company
Project Moshen
Danse4Nia Repertory Ensemble
Blythe Smith
Raphael Xavier
Derling Dance Arts
Tyger B 
Opus 1 Contemporary Dance Company
AJ Garcia Rameau
Nora Gibson Performance Project 
Rennie Harris PureMovement
Introspective Movement Project
Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers
Just Sole Street Dance Theatre
Destany Churchwell
Alchemy Dance Company
Raphael Xavier
The Rock School 
The Lady Hoofers Tap Ensemble

For more information on all festival events visit www.koresh.org
(L to R) Artistic director-choreographer Roni Koresh & KDC board president Steve Lazin.

(L to R) Artistic director-choreographer Roni Koresh & KDC board president Steve Lazin.

Photo © & courtesy of Lewis J Whittington

Photo courtesy of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

Photo courtesy of Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers

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