World Dance Movement, a leader in the international dance scene, is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. Founded by Artistic Director Michèle Assaf, World Dance Movement (WDM) was born out of her desire to create a platform for dancers from across the globe to come together and share their passion.
Assaf stated, “I was greatly inspired as I traveled to different countries and was fortunate enough to observe the way different cultures trained, their dance class etiquette, their professionalism and their passion for this physical and emotional art form. My vision, with Desmond Richardson, was to create a safe space for dancers, choreographers, master teachers, artistic directors and designers to unite and share their culture and passion for the art of dance and movement under one umbrella. Swimming in the Mediterranean Sea with Desmond Richardson, we created the name and vision of World Dance Movement and here we are 10 years later!”
Daniela Iorli, director of marketing for WDM, told Dance Informa that time flies when you’re having fun. WDM began with an idea that eventually became its mission: Bridging Cultures Through Dance!
“In the earlier years, World Dance Movement was ‘only’ a workshop. As it started growing and becoming more and more international (students from over 30+ countries now participate at WDM events) other initiatives were added,” Iorli said. “In 2018 WDM has officially evolved into an International Dance Festival with several dance and cultural events happening throughout the three weeks. This would have not been possible without the support of our amazing partners, Annalisa Bellini and Mimmo Daoli and the local institutions, including the City of Castellana Grotte and Regione Puglia, the region of Apulia where our signature event takes place every year in Italy.”
This signature event was originally an extensive workshop experience, with classes for ballet, jazz, contemporary, modern, hip-hop, lyrical, improvisation and more. Then WDM Italy expanded and added its WDM International Dance Competition. Dancers can come and enjoy one, two or three weeks of workshops, and/or participate in the competition.
This summer, from July 8-29, more than 40 classes will be taught by over 20 world-renowned faculty members in 16 (and counting!) styles. Students will be broken into four levels – children aged 6-9, 9-12, then intermediate and advanced/professional.
“It is not every day that you have the chance to learn from world-renowned faculty members such as the legendary Desmond Richardson and also have the possibility to enjoy his company while relaxing at the swimming pool or having dinner all together in a typical local restaurant. Students can ask advice, get to know these dance professionals at a personal level. The experience goes way beyond the dance classes and this is very rare to find in other events,” Iorli said.
“And let’s not forget the amazing things Puglia has to offer – the delicious food, the paradisiac beaches and numerous tourist attractions. Puglia is a region to visit in its entirety, from the Gargano to the islands of Tremblings, from the Tavoliere to the Murgia, from Bari to the zone of the Trulli, up to Salento surrounded by the Adriatic Sea. The splendid caves of Castellana and the Trulli of Alberobello.”
The WDM International Dance Competition, which is open to dancers aged 6 and older, is July 22.
Overall, during WDM Italy, over $600,000 in dance scholarships is awarded by prestigious dance centers, schools, workshops, colleges and universities. Some of the scholarship sponsors include AMDA, Sacred Heart University, Pace University, Institute of the Arts Barcelona, Broadway Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Center, Steps on Broadway, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Industry Xperience, Millennium Dance Complex, LA Dance Magic, Conservatorio Superior de Danza de Madrid, StageDoor Workshops, Adrenaline, Milano in Danza, Tanec Bez Hranic, Edge Performing Art Center, Kledi Dance, The Pulse, Open Call, Studio Harmonic, Abruzzo on Stage, Flava Dance Movement, Gaga Dance Movement, NYCDA and others.
For its 10-Year Anniversary, WDM is launching new WDM Italy initiatives as well! First, say hello to the brand-new WDM Aerial Dance Competition!
“World Dance Movement – The International Aerial Dance Competition will take place on July 23 on our beautiful outdoor stage, in front of an historical church,” Iorli shared. “We have three age groups: 7-11, 12-16 and 17+. All age groups can register as soloist, duo or trio in three styles – Silk, Hoop and Trapeze. The winners will be awarded cash prizes and prestigious dance scholarships.”
WDM already offers aerial dance and acrobatics classes at WDM Italy. Both are taught by Claudia Cavalli and Vito Cassano from the company Eleina D.
“They proposed the idea to host our own Aerial Dance Competition and we loved it!” Iorli said. “We realized that there aren’t many competitions for aerial dance even if the popularity of this fascinating art form is increasing. We really wanted to offer aerial dancers an opportunity to showcase their talent the same way we do with other forms of dance. At the core of our mission is the possibility to offer opportunities to dancers. Opportunities to learn, opportunities to win scholarships, opportunities to perform, opportunities to get paid jobs and much more!”
Giulia Staccioli, artistic director of KATAKLÓ, will be one of the Aerial Dance Competition judges.
Second, 2018 is introducing the WDM Showcase, different from the weekly Gala Performances!
“The WDM Showcase offers young dance companies from national or international dance studios, dance centers or universities the possibility to perform on the WDM Festival Stage during WDM Italy with their own short production (at a maximum of 15 minutes),” Iorli explained. “The Gala Performances are WDM’s end-of-the-week shows in which students perform the pieces learned during the classes and choreographed by our faculty. The WDM Showcase is open to all who registered for our event.”
Schools or companies will have to submit a video sample of the piece they would like to perform via email by May 31 in order to be considered. The new WDM Showcases are scheduled for July 12, 19 and 26 on the outdoors WDM Stage in Castellana Grotte.
Third, WDM Italy has announced that in addition to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line returning this summer to discover new talent (more than 12 dancers and singers were hired last year!), Amici will be casting at the event this year.
“Amici is an extremely popular TV Talent Show in Italy and they are always looking for talented dancers,” Iorli commented. “Amici Production team heard great things about the students participating in WDM and the international caliber of our event and they wanted to have the possibility to find new talent through us. We were thrilled to offer an additional opportunity to our dancers.”
In 2017, WDM student Lauren Celentano was cast in Amici. Coming from Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, she found herself living her dream in Italy and performing on TV.
“She is the first American dancer ever selected for Amici and she is one of their most popular participants. People adore her!” Iorli exclaimed. “We hope to continue the collaboration with Amici for many years to come and to help them discover other amazing talents such as Lauren.”
For more information on WDM Italy, WDM Aerial Dance Competition, WDM Showcases or Auditions, visit www.worlddancemovement.com.
By Chelsea Thomas of Dance Informa.