A dance festival is an organized event where dance performance is celebrated. Dance festivals may include competitions for individual dancers or teams, or may simply serve as a cultural event focused on dance. Some dance festivals seek to show off talented regional, national, or international dance companies in all categories, while others focus on the performance of a specific style of dance.
One popular type of dance festival focuses on a competitive element. Dance companies and individual dancers must submit applications to perform, and may be sorted into categories by age, style, or experience level. Performances are judged by dance professionals, who may hold a seminar with the dancers following their performance, to suggest improvements and discuss the event. Prizes, such as trophies, money, or scholarships to dance training camps, may be given out for the best dancer or dance team.
Dance festivals may also serve as a community event for a region. In some areas, all local dance studios and schools are invited to participate in the festival, which may last for several days and is usually open to the public. A community dance studio allows local citizens to see the wide range of dance opportunities available in their region and obtain information about nearby dance programs and classes. These festivals often feature a wide range of dance styles, including break dancing, aerobic dance, ballroom dancing, ballet, and jazz.
A cultural dance festival usually focuses around a specific holiday or event where dance is used as a major part of the celebration. In Japan, the Obon festival is an annual event meant to honor the dead, at which special Obon dances are performed in many different regions. Both trained dancers and local community members can participate in the Obon dances, and may use colorful props such as lanterns or fans. Cultural dance festivals often attract a large tourist element, and many communities use these events to stimulate travel and tourism throughout the region.
A dance festival may also celebrate a specific style of dance, such as hula, ballet, or cheerleading. In these events, dance studios may send their best dancers or teams to compete against other dancers from local areas and even other countries. Often competitive, stylistic dance festivals may last several days, and may also include training seminars for the dancers, and community events and activities for the audience. Participating in a stylistic dance festival is a great way for young dancers to be exposed to the wide range of dance opportunities in their particular style, and can be a great team bonding exercise for a dance group.