Amy Fitterer at this week's presentation at the Cowles Center.

By Caroline Palmer

Next year some 500 dance artists, administrators, presenters and educators will be in Minneapolis for the annual Dance/USA conference. On Wednesday night Amy Fitterer, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based national dance service organization, led a presentation for members of the Twin Cities dance community at the James Sewell Ballet TEK BOX theater in the Cowles Center with the goal of drumming up local interest for the big event June 18-21, 2014.

According to Fitterer, the conference will focus on concerns of the dance field as a whole but Minnesota choreographers and dancers will have a chance to shine in showcases at the Cowles and Northrop Auditorium, among other venues. Many of the performances will be open to the public as well as the conference attendees, creating a four-day dance festival atmosphere.

Aparna Ramaswamy (co-artistic director of Ragamala Dance) -- who received a glowing review earlier this week in the New York Times -- Sara Thompson (external relations director at Northrop) and George Sutton (executive director of James Sewell Ballet) are the leaders for the Twin Cities conference planning committee. This formidable trio, together with Dance/USA and several community representatives including Lynn Von Eschen (executive director of the Cowles Center), Laurie Van Wieren (choreographer and curator), Uri Sands (co-artistic director of TU Dance) and many others, will organize everything from performance showcases, open rehearsals, volunteers and fundraising to scholarships for local attendees.

There will be a gala opening night event, keynote speakers and opportunities to tour the dance hot spots of the Twin Cities (there are many). Unlike many meetings that stick to a centralized location, the Dance/USA event will take place at a variety of sites.

Registration for the Dance/USA conference doesn’t open until January but ideas are being sought right now for breakout sessions that touch upon at least one of four topic areas: health and wellness for dancers, best business practices for dance organizations, audience engagement strategies and the use of technology. Suggestions will be accepted through October 18 via the Dance/USA website at Persons interested in working on the conference planning teams are encouraged to contact


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