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See some of area’s top dancers at Dance For Four

While sports fans are focused on college basketball’s best vying for the Final Four, local dance companies have their own talent showcase — Dance For Four.

Springfield’s Gary Geis Dance Company will host some of the area’s top pre-professional dancers at 8 p.m. Saturday, March 30 at the Clark State Performing Arts Center.

Dance For Four has been a bi-annual highlight since 2006, and will feature Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II, Wright State University Dance Ensemble, Gem City Ballet, as well as the Gary Geis Dance Company.

The diverse blend of styles will include classical ballet, modern dance, Latin jazz dance and tap set to music by classical and contemporary composers as well as popular artists.

Mark Cummings, Gary Geis Dance Company’s associate artistic director, said the roots run deep for many of the staff members of each program, more than 20 years in some cases, with the artistic directors of each company sharing a history with Wright State’s dance department as teachers and former students.

Lori Common of Gary Geis Dance Company and Barbara Pontecorvo of Gem City Ballet were principle dancers with the Dayton Ballet. Gina Walther of Wright State was a principle dancer with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and Cummings danced with the training companies for Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and Dayton Ballet.

“In a way, we have all been a part of each other’s artistic growth,” Cummings said. “When we were young, we danced together and shared many of the same wonderful teachers. When we became teachers ourselves, we shared the joy of building dancers who communicate our vision. Now our greatest joy is passing on what we have learned to this new generation of dancers who have inspired and touched us and made us proud.”

While entertainment and appreciation of several dance styles is the primary focus, Cummings said there’s even a lesson to take away from Dance For Four.

“Gary (Geis) will turn 70 this coming August and has always said he will dance forever. I find it thrilling to teach these kids from the bottom up and then get the chance to see them take flight on stage. That is how we dance forever.”

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