Catherine Cobb in Sara Sanford's, are we human?
photo credit: Richard Calmes
The annual SERBA festival is held each spring and hosted by one of twenty SERBA member companies. The 2009, 2011, & 2014 festivals were co-hosted by the Alabama Dance Theatre of Montgomery, a member since 1989 and Honor Company since 1992 and Southeast Alabama Dance Company of Dothan, a member since 1988 and Honor Company since 2004. Festivals each year bring over 700 dancers, directors, choreographers, and professional support personnel along with nationally recognized instructors and musicians together. The festival consists of three days of instruction and performance.
SERBA is one of five divisions of Regional Dance America (RDA), a national association of dance companies founded in 1988 to promote the artistic development of dance companies throughout the United States. There are over 85 companies and over 3,000 dancers from across the national who are members of RDA. The organization offers instruction, scholarships, awards, and performance opportunities. An annual SERBA festival is held each spring and hosted by one of eighteen SERBA member companies. Festivals each year bring over 700 dancers, directors, choreographers, and professional support personnel along with nationally recognized instructors and musicians together.
ADT became a performing member of the Southeastern Regional Ballet Association in 1989. Membership in RDA/SERBA offers opportunities for dance companies to dance companies to work, learn and grow as they network together with new teachers and experience new aspects of the art of dance. Through personal contacts and through its regional coordinators, Regional Dance America (RDA) learns of the needs of regional companies, their problems and aspirations, and guides them toward solutions and progress. RDA gives regional ballet national stature and credibility. Today, in five regions, regional dance companies are providing training, choreographic and performing opportunities to students, who in the past would have to leave their hometown to pursue a career in dance.
The annual SERBA festivals are the focal point of the entire regional ballet movement. Each year member companies meet in a host city and spend four days sharing all aspects of the art of dance. Classes are taught by world renowned teachers in ballet, modern, jazz, pointe, variations, pas de deux, hip hop, and more. Dancers are often given seminars on theatrical make-up, nutrition, injury prevention, and tips on auditions for summer programs and for companies. The exchange makes each festival a growing experience like no other. Festivals also serve as a public showcase for the best work done each year by member companies. Standards are maintained by the use of impartial adjudicators, who view the ballets and choose those of the highest merit. Representatives of America’s professional companies often attend festival to look for potential talent.
A few members of RDA/SERBA attain the status of Honor Company. This recognition is given to those companies which have achieved the highest level of artistry by consistently being selected to perform on the Gala Performance. The Alabama Dance Theatre achieved Honor Company status in 1992 and is held in high regard among regional companies. The Alabama Dance Theatre attended and performed at nationally held festivals in Houston, TX in 1997, Pittsburgh, PA in 2007 and Montreal, Canada in 2012. Festivals have also been held in Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, Knoxville and Memphis, TN, Greensboro and High Point, NC. In 2009, 2011, & 2014 ADT was proud to co-host the SERBA Festival in Montgomery. At the 2009 festival ADT was chosen to represent SERBA at the International Ballet Competition in June 2010. ADT and SEADAC of Dothan will again co-host the SERBA festival 2018 in Montgomery.
Art does not flourish in isolation. It grows in an atmosphere of candor and sharing. By attending festivals RDA member companies gain a wider perspective about their current level and their potential for progress. The festivals are essentially performing events each hosted by an individual company or region which draws upon the resources of the local community. Each spring the process begins when nationally recognized adjudicators tour the regions to select works by participating companies and arrange festival programs. Each company receives a written report about its own offerings as well as those of the other members. For those in isolated communities where there is no informed dance press, the adjudication reports are especially valuable.
The culmination of the season is the festival where the dancers perform and take classes while the directors and board members share ideas and network. Tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships are awarded to dancers for study at prestigious summer programs. And major professional companies, colleges and universities scout for their future talent. A National Festival is held every four or five years, bringing together all member companies for five days of classes and performances. National Festivals serve to further the national identity of RDA and its member companies. They also help to bring an even greater perspective, inspiring the growth and development of the dancers, choreographers, directors, companies and the national organization as a whole.