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Ballet Folk of Moscow, later renamed American Festival Ballet, became a company in residence at the University of Idaho through a Memorandum of Agreement "MOA" in 1974. The "MOA" was renegotiated in 1990 after a reorganization establishing Festival Dance & Performing Arts Association, Inc. The Agreement was supported with the purpose of obtaining "valuable programs of a high quality, not otherwise available to the University or the community". Throughout the many years that Festival Dance has been in residence, it has indeed provided these valuable programs through a fruitful partnership which greatly enhances the University of Idaho land grant missions of teaching and service.

Click here to learn more about the University of Idaho Dance Program

Teaching, Benefits, and Services to University of Idaho Students

University Dance Class Instruction

From 1974 to the present, Festival Dance has provided professional dance instruction for several of the University of Idaho dance courses per semester through our agreement with the University. This partnership enabled the dance program to expand from modern dance to ballet, to increase professionalism, and attract more dance majors. Classes have been taught by outstanding ballet teachers from America's leading dance companies, giving UI students the fantastic opportunity to study from exceptional dance professionals who would not otherwise be available to teach classes at UI in Moscow, Idaho. Instructors provided by Festival Dance for the University of Idaho have included:

  • Janice James, former prima ballerina with Ballet West, Salt Lake City
  • Zachary Ward, a former dancer with Dallas Ballet and director of performing arts academy in Fort Worth, Texas
  • Afshin Mofid, former soloist with New York City Ballet
  • Craig Williams, former danseur with American Ballet Theatre
  • Shana Bereska, former soloist with the Boston Ballet
  • Mia Song Seshiki, a specialist in the Vaganova Russian technique of classical ballet
  • Rachel Dodson, Master of Fine Arts in Dance and Somatic Movement, Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography, Vaganova specialist

Dance Class Practicum for Dance Pedagogy

Festival Dance provides the students taking Dance Pedagogy at least 15 hours of practicum a semester. These students observe dance classes and learn from our dance instructors who supervise them and sign off on the required hours for the course.

Summer Dance Workshops

From 1974 to 2012, Festival Dance provided an intensive dance summer workshop that brought outstanding guest teachers to UI. In some years these workshops attracted up to 60 students from all parts of Idaho and the Northwest to UI, providing recruitment opportunities. (UI information was given to all attendees, and several times UI staff spoke to students about opportunities at UI.)

The workshops were also available to UI students, for which they could receive university credit. In 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, the workshop was offered in cooperation with UI Dance Program through a partnership with Greg Halloran, who also taught classes at the workshops. Festival Dance and UI Dance Program shared costs and cooperated on creating brochures for this project advertising UI, which were sent to all dance schools in Idaho and the Northwest.

Some of the outstanding professionals who taught at Dance Idaho include:

Francoise Martinet, former lead dancer with the Joffrey Ballet

Mary Anthony, Artistic Director of the Mary Anthony Dance Company

Birute Barodicaite, Dance Faculty at Ruth Page Institute, Chicago

Lauren Anderson, former prima ballerina for Houston Ballet and first African American ballerina to achieve principal status for a major dance company

Michah Moch, soloist with Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Los Angeles

Festival Dance has also provided other instruction as requested and mutually agreed upon in several levels of ballet, jazz, and pre-professional jazz. For these classes, Festival Dance paid instructors and was reimbursed by HPERD. In the case of pre-professional jazz, the department paid $650 per semester for the instructor, Lorraine Person, but Festival Dance paid the teacher $20 per hour, her rate for Festival classes.

Master Classes with Guest Companies

Through Festival Dance's Great Performance Series, nationally recognized companies are brought to the Palouse to present public performances. At least once a year, artists from these companies teach master classes for UI dance students. Either Festival Dance provides these classes free or shares the cost with the Dance Program. UI students have the unique opportunity to have classes with leading professionals in their field. Companies offering these services have included Trey McIntyre Project, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Lula Washington Dance Theatre, Soul Street Dance, BodyVox Dance Company, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Eugene Ballet, and others.

Equipment for Dance Classes

In 1974, when Festival Dance moved to the Physical Education Building, the organization provided the equipment necessary to offer ballet classes in Studio 110, including mirrors, a Marley floor (providing a non-slip surface), sound equipment, and music (records at that time). Later, a Marley floor was provided for Studio 212. The Marley floor from Studio 110 was also used at the Hartung Theatre for Dance Theatre productions. UI eventually purchased mirrors and a Marley floor for Studio 110. The Marley floor in Studio 212 belongs to Festival Dance, the sound equipment is shared--MS and Festival Dance take turns replacing the equipment as needed. The original cost of the Marley floor purchased by Ballet Folk was $6,000, including shipping.

Financial Support for Studio Improvements: The Paul G. Allen Grant

In 2004, the Department Chair, Cal Lathen approached the Festival Dance Director, Micki Panttaja, and explained that the department through UI had applied for a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to build a subfloor in Studio 110 to provide resiliency for dance classes. To obtain the grant they needed evidence that it would support the community as well as the university. Festival Dance was asked to write a letter explaining the community services offered through Festival Dance classes, and to contribute toward matching funds for the grant. A letter of support was written and $5,000 was pledged and paid on 11/9/2005 for this project, which also included new Marley floor for the studio.

Providing Jobs for UI Dance Students

Each year Festival Dance hires dance students to teach beginning-level dance classes at salaries ranging from $12-$20 per hour. In addition, dance students are hired to teach Discover Dance classes in area schools at $30/class. This amounts to a work/study program for the dance program through which students are able to earn money for their education while at the same time gaining valuable teaching experience and enhancing their resumes. The amount paid to dance students in the past year was $6805.

Expertise Provided by Affiliate Faculty

Executive Directors, Joann Muneta, Micki Panttaja, and Cindy Barnhart have given lectures to UI dance classes in Fund Raising, Grant Writing, Promoting Dance, Professional Opportunities, and Managing a Dance Studio. Joann Muneta served a term on the UI Arts Committee, and on the Search Committee for Dance Program faculty when Greg Halloran was hired.

Current Academy Director, Rachel Dodson, serves UI students in Ballet and Modern, in addition to Festival Academy instruction.

Presenting Performances for University of Idaho Faculty and Students, and the Moscow and Palouse Area: Providing Cultural Enrichment and Diversity

From 1974 through 1978, Ballet Folk of Moscow gave two annual performances in the UI Administration Auditorium and in the Hartung Theatre. Later when the Auditorium was remodeled for music programs and the Hartung Theatre was taken up entirely with drama productions, Festival Dance & Performing Arts began presenting professional touring dance companies at the Beasley Coliseum in Pullman. Festival Dance still presents a holiday production at the UI Auditorium and a Spring Concert at the Hartung Theatre each year in addition to the Great Performances Series of 4-6 events per year by professional touring companies.

The Great Performance Series is the only professional dance series between Seattle and Minneapolis and has garnered grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Idaho Commission of the Arts, the Washington State Arts Commission, the Western States Arts Federation, and the New England Foundation for the Arts.

Festival Dance has presented over 80 different touring professional dance companies, including all the major modern dance companies and many leading ballet companies, plus world dance companies from Brazil, Canada, Caucasus, China, England, Ghana, India, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Mozambique, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Venezuela, and the American Indian Dance Company, Lakota Dance Theatre, and Naa Kahidi Dance Theatre from Alaska. African American companies have included Alvin Ailey II, Dallas Black Dance Theatre, Cleo Parker Robinson, and Lula Washington Dance Theatre. At least one and usually two diverse cultures are presented each year.

In 1990, Festival Dance had the honor of presenting Mikhail Baryshnikov and the White Oak Project at the Spokane Opera House. Moscow and UI members were offered first choice of tickets (the production sold out in one week). President Zinser and University faculty attended a special reception to meet one of the world's greatest dancers.

For the Great Performances shows, discount tickets are provided for UI students, with additional discounts for dance majors. With the assistance of the UI Office of Diversity, 60 free tickets for selected UI classes and international students are made available for one world dance event each year.

Services to Youth, the Community, and the Region

Representing the University of Idaho: On Tour Throughout the State and Nation

In 1974, Ballet Folk of Moscow performed at the Spokane Expo, representing the University of Idaho and the City of Moscow. All expenses were paid by the State of Idaho.

In 1976, Ballet Folk of Moscow performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and at Freedom Square in Philadelphia, representing the University of Idaho, City of Moscow, and the state of Idaho for the Bicentennial. All expenses were paid by the State of Idaho.

From 1994 through 1989, Ballet Folk of Moscow, later American Festival Ballet, toured and performed in 32 states and 43 Idaho communities, including the Morrison Center in Boise, representing the University of Idaho.

Educational Services for Area Youth

Festival Dance has a stellar record of providing outstanding arts opportunities for area youth. Over 4,000 young people from Moscow and the region are reached each year with dance classes, summer workshops, in-school master classes and workshops, performance opportunities, and programs by leading professional touring artists. Festival Dance has provided programs for every school in Moscow, plus schools in Potlatch, Troy, Genesee, Kendrick/Juliaetta, Lapwai, the Couer d'Alene Tribal School in Tensed, and Pullman, Colton, Garfield, and Palouse, WA.

Programs include the Festival Dance Academy, Outreach Dance Classes, Discover Dance, Youthreach Program, Missoula Children's Theatre residencies, Dance Out performances, and Summer Workshops. Festival Dance has received state and national recognition for these programs and in 2006, Festival Dance received the Moscow Mayor's Award for Excellence in Arts Education.

No other arts organization except possible the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival can match Festival Dance in the extent and range of our outreach and educational services.

Festival Dance Academy

Festival Dance has offered dance classes for the Moscow and surrounding communities since 1974 in the Physical Education Building. Presently classes are offered beginning with age 4 in Creative Dance, PreBallet, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Dance Team, Lyrical, and Pilates. Students are also given performance opportunities in productions with professional dance companies, such as the Eugene Ballet (The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake), and the Haran Irish Dancers and Craicmore Celtic Dance, and in Festival Dance produced shows (A Christmas Carol, Peter Pan Christmas, Joy to the World). Students also take part in Dance-Outs for the community, such as presentations at Moscow's Farmers Market, and the Community Walk. The annual enrollment of the Academy is 100-160 students, many of whom are children of UI students, faculty, and staff.

Outreach Dance Classes

Weekly dance classes are taught at Genesee and Troy Elementary schools and twice-weekly classes are taught at Lapwai Elementary School giving rural are students opportunities to study dance that they would not otherwise have.

Youthreach Dance Program

Four Youthreach programs are presented each year with 600-1,000 area students bussed to Beasley Coliseum for each one to experience programs by touring artists and companies. Youthreach programs are also presented at Lapwai, Potlatch, Genesee, and Moscow Jr. High School. Programs include lecture/demonstrations, mini-performances, audience participation, and question and answer sessions to meet the artists. These are planned and evaluated by area educators who are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the programs


Discover Dance

18-20 in-school dance classes in African, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Breakdance are taught each year in cooperation with physical education, music, and movement teachers.

Missoula Children's Theatre

Annual residencies of Missoula Children's Theater are sponsored offering performance opportunities for students and free drama workshops for area schools.

Dance Outs

Take dance out of the studio and into parks, streets, communities, and schools with performances by Festival Dance Academy students.

Summer Workshops

Four to six summer workshops are offered each year for ages 4 and up, beginning through advanced levels. This past summer workshop included: Storybook Ballet (ages 4-6), imagination Arts Musical Theatre (ages 7-14), Jazz and Ballet.

Relationship with the Nez Perce Tribe

Festival Dance has had an ongoing relationship with the Nez Perce Tribe since 2004 when we received a three-year grant from the Northwest Area Foundation to mentor the development of arts programs in three rural communities--Troy, Potlatch, and Lapwai. Through Festival Dance board member, Ann McCormack, a Nez Perce Tribal member, we formed an Arts Committee of tribal members to research needs and develop programs that would serve the tribe and community. Activities during the three years included sponsorship of a Missoula Children's Theatre Residency and the development of a theatre piece based on Nez Perce tribal legends, which is still being presented by the Nez Perce Tribe.

Since then, Festival Dance has contributed to work with the Nez Perce Tribe on a program entitled, "Building Cultural Bridges". In cooperation with the Tribe, we have sponsored performances by touring artists for Lapwai schools including American Indian Dance Theatre, Kusum Ensemble, Manding Jata, Rainbow Dance Theatre, Soul Street Dance, and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre. We have also arranged to have programs by the Nez Perce Youth Dancers from Lapwai with the Palouse Drum, (UI and WSU students), for Moscow schools in 2010 and 2011. With the assistance of grants from the Nez Perce Tribe Education Fund, we provide an ongoing dance instruction program for Lapwai youth. We work with Jenny Williams, advisor of the Nez Perce Culture Club, and Terri Wagner, principal of Lapwai Elementary School. Gerald Henry and Terry Whipple of Lapwai are on the Festival Dance Board of Directors.

Students from the Coeur d'Alene Tribal School in Tensed attend our Youthreach programs as described above. We have begun exploring ways to increase services and partnerships with the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.


As described above, Festival Dance is a leading provider of cultural diversity programs for the University and region. We have brought artists to our area representing 15 different cultures and ethnicities, providing public performances, outreach programs, master classes, and meet the artist programs. UI faculty and area teachers have written commending us for making these programs available, and for increasing knowledge about, and respect for, diverse cultures.

"Thanks to Festival Dance and Performing Arts, McDonald Elementary School

students increase their cultural awareness and appreciation through real-life

demonstrations that we could not otherwise offer through traditional classroom

instruction. These exceptional programs make a critical difference in the

educational experience of our students."

- Cindy Bechinski, Principal at McDonald Elementary School

"Manding Jata delivered on all fronts--performance, education, professionalism,

and authenticity. It was an absolute delight to be part of this extraordinary

event and I can't say enough good about what Festival Dance is bringing to the

UI/WSU/Palouse community. I commend the efforts of the Festival Dance

coordinators for bringing such performances to a community that is in desperate

need of exposure to art and culture."

- Barry T. Bilderback, UI Professor of Music

"Lula Washington provided a program that had rich educational value. our

community has very little ethnic diversity, so our students are rarely exposed

to African-American culture. On behalf of the Troy students and staff, I want

to express our gratitude to Festival Dance for making this opportunity available

to us. Experiences like these expand our world and make us better citizens."

- Trish Bechtel, Principal at Troy Elementary School, 2011

Bringing Town and Gown Together

UI and Moscow have the unique advantage of a cooperative and vibrant relationship that benefits the University, UI students, and the community at large. Festival Dance is proud to be part of the dynamic that makes this relationship possible.

Like the UI Arboretum, the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, the UI Auditorium Series, the Prichard Gallery, and Idaho Repertory Theatre, Festival Dance provides a link between town and gown with programs and outreach that benefit all parties. In addition, Festival Dance collaborates with the City of Moscow, Latah County, Washington State University, the Nez Perce Tribe, the State of Idaho, and the State of Washington.

We are proud to serve the University of Idaho in many innovative ways that maximize resources and enhance the teaching and service mission of the University by providing services and innumerable benefits in exchange for office and studio space. We look forward to continuing this very special and beneficial relationship for many years to come.