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Dance companies ‘Come Together’ for annual Philadelphia festival

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STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON 
For Digital First Media

More than 30 dance companies will “Come Together” to celebrate diversity, creativity, and technical excellence. The third annual festival, July 22 through 26, is presented by Koresh Dance Company (KDC) and features local, regional, and national dance companies.
KDC founder Roni Koresh values collaboration, and launched the festival with his brother, executive director Alon Koresh, in order to provide a platform for networking and mutual support in the dance community, according to the press release. (KDC was founded in Philadelphia in 1991 and is the resident dance company of the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. They’ve toured in more than 38 states and seven countries.) Styles showcased at the festival include hip hop, tap, jazz, ballet, modern, contemporary, acrobatic physical theater, and traditional African and Indian dances.
The participating companies were chosen from more than 70 who applied or were invited, including: PHILADANCO!, Kùlú Mèlé African Dance & Drum Ensemble, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Brian Sanders’ JUNK, Raphael Xavier, Kun-Yang/Lin Dancers, SHARP Dance Company, and more. The festival also will feature choreographers, young dancers from the Rock School for Dance Education, the University of the Arts, and the Koresh Youth Ensemble.
Sydney Donovan has been a member of the Koresh Youth Ensemble for five years and will perform with the group for the last time this year. At 18, she’s aging out of the ensemble and going to the University of the Arts in the fall.
She performed with the ensemble at the festival a couple of years ago, too, she said in a telephone interview.
“It was really cool. The festival has all these different companies we’ve been looking up to,” she said, and seeing the professionals up close was priceless to her.
This year, she and the ensemble are performing a piece called “Forward,” she said. It has three sections with different feelings. The first has “more oomph,” she said. “It has anger. It’s angsty.” The second section is more calm, slower. The third section is uplifting and gets people feeling hopeful, she said.
Being on stage is a surreal experience for her.
“When I try to think on stage, it’s all a blur,” she said. “If I have a moment where I’m standing and looking out, that’s so cool to see all these people are taking the time to see what you have to show them.”
But the best part is dancing, which is like therapy for her and makes her feel good, she said, especially with the ensemble.
“It’s this community. I feel like I’m part of a family,” she said. “Koresh, the whole studio, there’s so much support. It’s great dancing with these people who care about each other.”
The support of her studio and the people in it make all of the hard work — including classes six days a week — worthwhile.
“Every once in a while, I think maybe I’m not good enough,” she said. “Then I look around and I see the people supporting me. It’s worth trying. Even if I fail, the journey there is awesome so far.”
And that includes “Come Together,” which she’s really looking forward to. She’ll love performing, but she’s happy to be a spectator as well.
“I’m so excited about the festival,” she said. “I’ve seen some of the companies that are performing. I can’t wait to watch them, too.”

IF YOU GO

What: Koresh Dance Company’s “Come Together” dance festival
When: Various times July 22 through 26 (festival schedule: http://koreshdance.org/cometogether.php
Where: Suzanne Roberts Theatre, 480 S. Broad St. (Broad & Lombard), Philadelphia.
Tickets: $35; seniors $30; students $25 (check online for pass discounts for multiple nights)
For Tickets: Call (215) 985-0420 or visit http://philadelphiatheatrecompany.org/tickets
Info.: www.koreshdance.org/cometogether.php

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