Some dance festivals showcase the best of current choreography. Some are places for dancers to come to find new jobs. Some offer feedback to rising dancemakers, or educational workshops for the attendees. Some, like Tulsa’s own EXCHANGE Dance Choreography Festival, offer a combination of several of those elements.

Tulsa’s new contemporary dance event, eMerge, conceived and presented by Living Arts of Tulsa and launching April 13-14, 2012, takes the idea of a dance festival in a whole different direction. It’s all about community.

Here’s how the call for submissions describes it:

The Living Arts Dance Committee is pleased to present the premiere of eMerge Dance Festival.  This year’s festival is in conjunction with TYPros, to revitalize and re-imagine community spaces for those in need and serves to utilize dance to benefit a community of people. The theme of “emergence” is a direct connection between the type of art/dance project and TYPros project of helping this chosen community EMERGE in reality from their present inaccessibility. The primary goal of the eMerge Dance Festival is to promote a revival of art’s culture-bearing and connective function by reintegrating it into communal settings.  Our community becomes aware of the revitalization happening in our community via our partnership with TYPros, and as they experience/view/participate in art/dance as a vehicle for promoting renewal and emergence among a community in need.

The mission of eMerge Dance Festival is to support and promote community, interactive dance art and civic participation. For our purposes, interactive dance art means art that generates social participation. The process whereby this art is created, the means by which it is displayed, and the character of the work itself should inspire immediate interactions that connect people to one another in a larger communal context.

See those parts in bold? I think they’re pretty exciting. It’s wonderful to see dance in Tulsa gaining so much momentum. But the eMerge Dance Festival isn’t just a series of dance concerts. It’s a statement about how movement emerges from and is essential to the life of all of us.

Choreographers from Tulsa and surrounding areas are invited to submit their work, which will be site-specific in a location to be announced soon by TYPros. The deadline for submissions is January 27, and all the details are in the link above.

I’m privileged to be working on this project as a member of the Living Arts Dance Committee along with seven other local dancers and choreographers, all of us true believers in the power of this art form to heal and inspire. We hope you’ll join us in supporting this new adventure, which in a modern way speaks to the ancient function of dance as an agent of unity and renewal in community.