Wake Forest Dance Festival to debut all-day park event

— Suzanne M. Blake • s.blake@n-que.com • September 2017

Wake Forest Dance Festival - Masha Maddux

The Wake Forest Dance Festival’s director is Mariya “Masha” Dashkina Maddux, a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Company in New York City. Maddux is a professional concert dance performer and dance educator living in Wake Forest. Photos provided by Masha Maddux

Masha Maddux was just 4½ when she watched a dance performance in her home country of Ukraine that changed her life aspirations forever. After that, Maddux knew her main dream: to dance.

Now, Maddux is bringing an all-day dance festival to Wake Forest’s E. Carroll Joyner Park in hopes that the September 30 event could evoke a similar calling in future dancers and introduce residents to professional talent as well.

Maddux became inspired to create the event when she saw Joyner Park shortly after moving to Wake Forest from New York.

“The first time I went to Joyner Park and I went out there and saw the stage and this lightbulb went off. It just got under my skin, and that’s when I knew. It was past the inspiration part. I was driven there,” Maddux said.

Wake Forest Dance Festival -

Professional dancer Bailey Shaw (left) and Wake Forest Destiny Dance Institute student Chloé Neunsinger dance at E. Carroll Joyner Park, 701 Harris Road in Wake Forest.

The festival will commence with an educational technical rehearsal, followed by dance performances in select areas of Joyner Park to combine nature and art. The activities will end with a more formal, staged performance that night. Manuel Barriga and wife Mayerlin Munoz are just two of many professional dancers who will take the stage.

“I think it’s a great idea to be outside and perform for people for free so people can just come out and enjoy a nice performance, which is not usually something people can do here. So I guess that and also, in my personal case, performing with my wife, which is not something that we’ve done before,” Barriga said in describing what he looks forward to at the festival.

Barriga hails from Holland but was trained in Madrid, Spain. He has worked for dance companies in California and New York and most recently in Raleigh with Carolina Ballet.

Another professional dancer is Renay Aumiller of Renay Aumiller Dances, or RAD, a company based out of Durham that travels across the United States. Aumiller will bring a performance called “Breathing Lessons.”

“This dance started as an exploration of the broad concept of change. I wanted to see if changing the way I move could change the way I think. If I could find a new way of patterning my movement, would my mind more easily accept and deal with larger changes?” Aumiller said. “This particular solo works with the breath slowing and speeding up, holding and letting go as a catalyst for the movement performed by the dancer.”

The performances planned for this pioneer festival, from dance companies in the area and professionals from all over the world, signifies something deeper for Aumiller.

“This festival highlights the growing North Carolina dance community. It gives our state one more opportunity to celebrate dance, in all its forms, in a fresh and exciting series of events. It means that there is possibility for growth in dance visibility and appreciation in Wake Forest and beyond,” Aumiller said.

For Maddux, the goals of the dance festival are almost endless.

“I would love for people to be inspired and walk away with a feeling of joy, a feeling of having learned something new, new experiences that will be memorable,” she said. “Maybe there will be a couple of new students who were not students prior to that who are now interested in taking dance. I would love to present that type of opportunity to somebody else.”