Iowa Dance Festival to celebrate collaboration, conclude with drive-in outdoor performance

Since 2007, co-directors Nora Garda and Eloy Barragan have been sharing the love of dance with the dance community through the Iowa Dance Festival. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the duo said they are committed to still holding the festival through a virtual format.



Tatiana Plowman, Arts Reporter

The Iowa Dance Festival has celebrated the art of dance for the past 13 years, where both amateur and professional artists collaborate together. This year, the performance will take place entirely online.

“Iowa City has such a tradition for the arts,” said Eloy Barragan, co-director and founder of the festival. “We have always seen tons of music festivals in the area, but never one devoted to the art of dance.”

The festival will offer virtual Zoom classes, live streamed performances, and will showcase the talents of multiple dancers in a final drive-in performance at the Iowa City Municipal Airport. Participating dancers had to submit audition clips in order to be featured in. The festival will be divided into three key portions: “On the Screen,” “On the Stage,” and “On the Street.”

“Despite COVID-19, I knew that our festival was still going to happen under any circumstances, the adaptations we have made allows for everyone to enjoy,” said Nora Garda, another co-director and founder. “We have also added brand new elements, such as featuring aerial dancing within performances.”

ScreenDance is a type of dance that is created exclusively for the camera. The genre focuses on the storytelling of a dance through cinematic techniques such as cinematography, Barragan said. Out of 100 submissions from 26 different countries, 11 pieces were selected to be showcased in the live streamed event for the On the Screen portion of the festival.


Barragan said the ScreenDance performance is one of her favorite parts of the festival, and will showcase artistry, musicality, and feature a wide range of performers.

Within the “On The Stage” portion of the festival, there will be multiple Zoom master classes throughout Friday and Saturday offered by former UI dance student Hannah Weeks, visiting UI instructor LD Kidd, and Barragan, who is also an associate dance professor at the UI. Classes in the dance styles of ballet, contemporary and hip-hop will be offered.

“Normally, we would all gather in-person to take these classes together, but this time we will all be gathered over Zoom,” Garda said. “The nice thing is that the video links for these classes will be on our website for many following weeks.”

The festival will end with the “On The Street” portion of the festival. The outdoor performance will take place at the Iowa City Municipal Airport, where patrons are encouraged to drive through and remain in their cars to watch. The performance will also be broadcasted over the radio on station KICI, 105.3 FM. Tickets for this event have already sold out, but the performance will be live-streamed on their website.

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Iowa City Public Art Coordinator Marcia Bollinger helped the festival find a safe location that not only abided by the COVID-19 guidelines urged by the CDC, but also one that kept the performers safe. By hosting the performance in a drive-in location, she said, it would be the safest option for all who attended.

“We knew that we wanted an outdoor location that would allow for a decent sized audience to watch the show safely and comfortably,” Bollinger said. “After working with the Eulenspiegel puppet company and Summer of the Arts, we realized that this same location would be perfect for the dance festival.”

While all of the festival’s events are free, donations are welcome. The festival will take place from Oct. 15 through Oct. 17. All of the links for classes and virtual streaming performance links will be found at the Iowa Dance Festival’s website.

“What the community needs now more than ever is joy, this is why we wanted the festival to be free to allow everyone to just enjoy themselves and the art of dance,” Garda said.