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Making the Arts Accessible: Florida Dance Theatre

By Kelly Church

For over 20 years, Florida Dance Theatre actively works to continue their goal of bringing dance to the community. The non profit organization consists of two separate entities; A training Academy for students and a professional contemporary ballet & modern company.

Executive Artistic Director & Founder, Carol Erkes, explains that the academy is open to all students ages 3 through Adult and professional level. Classes offered include ballet, modern, jazz, tap and hip hop. Students are placed into classes according to their knowledge of dance and their technique level and not on age. Students ages 11 and up may audition for FDT's Youth Ensemble, a student group that performs at local schools, senior centers and community events.

The professional company consists of dancers that have joined the company from around the country through an audition processes. Each season 8-10 dancers are on full salary for an average of 26 ? 32 weeks. The company does 4 major performances throughout the season along with community events and guest performances. They have recently been named the company in residence at Florida Southern College and all performances are held at Branscomb Auditorium. The upcoming season includes the premiere of Dracula on October 24th, the Nutcracker in December, Celebrate Dance in February and a Midsummer Night's Dream in the spring.

In the community Florida Dance theatre provides free summer camps, school performances, community events, and scholarship programs. The organization continues their mission to bring the art of dance to the entire community through education, outreach, and entertainment.

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