Salvatore LaRussa Dance Theatre on Sunday, Oct. 3, sold out its 12th outdoor dance festival in Middle Village, where performers showcased modern and classical dances.
Ten professional dance companies performed in the courtyard of LaRussa Studio with a live audience of about 50 people. The festival takes place twice a year in June and October.
Sal LaRussa opened his studio after dancing professionally for years, when he worked with local Broadway companies and international groups. LaRussa then ventured back to Middle Village, where he grew up, to provide his hometown with art programs.
“Our goal is to provide arts activities and performing arts in dance and drama,” LaRussa said. “We also want to educate the Queens community in the arts.”
LaRussa said there was nothing like this in Middle Village before he opened his dance company.
“I really didn’t have it growing up, there weren’t any professional arts groups or programs in the area,” LaRussa said. “I always had to seek elsewhere like in Manhattan for those services, so we’re trying to provide that on a more local basis. I think it’s just important to provide these services where it didn’t exist for me.”
Nicole Speletic, another Middle Village native, opened the dance festival with her art installation, “Concrete Cage.” Speletic’s art integrated photographic installation with a live performance. Audience members were able to view photographs of Speletic improvising movement in Croatia as she performed live in front of them.
Speletic said this installation was inspired by the spaces she was working in.
“It was the confinement of those spaces that resonated with the many ways we are experiencing that constraint and limitation in our lives now,” Speletic said.
Speletic also agreed that she wasn’t able to explore her passion for dance growing up in Middle Village.
“We had to go elsewhere to have exposure to a lot of art,” Speletic said. “You had to go and find it. I think it would be great if we could bring that into Middle Village. I think a lot of people would appreciate it. I think Middle Village is ready for it.”
Speletic said she hopes to bring more performances and installations to her hometown.
For more information on LaRussa Studio, visit its website at SLDT.org.