The inaugural Come Together Dance Festival in 2013 gathered 27 Philadelphia-area dance companies for a weekend of workshops and performances celebrating the depth and diversity of the city’s dance scene. Last year the number was trimmed slightly to 24, and co-founder Roni Koresh decided that he would cut the number even further for year three, aiming for a more manageable 20. The final count for this year’s festival wound up being 33 companies, reaching beyond Philly to companies from New Jersey, New York, and Seattle.
“I have a difficulty saying no,” Koresh explains with a resigned laugh. “When you see such a vast amount of creativity, you figure out how to make it happen.”
That’s what Koresh has been doing for nearly a quarter of a century, ever since founding the Koresh Dance Company in 1991. The Israeli-born choreographer understands the struggles and challenges faced by both emerging and established dance companies, and imagined the Come Together Dance Festival as a way to create community and grow audiences and attention.
“One of the things that is difficult in this business is that sometimes you feel all alone,” Koresh says. “You struggle every day, raising money, trying to get the art form to a level where it’s respected, and sometimes it gets very lonely. So when you see that there are so many people doing it, loving it, invested in it, it helps the spirit. In numbers, we can prevail.”
Hairy Legs and more
The festival is made up of five programs at the Koresh Dance Company’s home base, the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. The roster includes local favorites such as Philadanco, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Rennie Harris PureMovement and the Kùlú Mèlé African Dance & Drum Ensemble.
New Jersey’s 10 Hairy Legs, NYC’s Ballet Inc., and Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Theatre will bring an outside perspective to the event. While he insists that the festival will remain primarily focused on Philadelphia dance, Koresh hopes that the inclusion of companies from other cities will help spread word of the festival and the scene while giving local dancers fresh inspiration.
“The initial reasoning behind the festival was to create an audience that is versatile and aware of the treasures that Philadelphia holds," Koresh says. "Philadelphia is a destination city with the Barnes and the Art Museum — and the cheesesteak. But it would be nice if it was also known for its cultural depth.”
If you go
Come Together Dance Festival
Suzanne Roberts Theatre
Broad and Lombard streets