The Austad Auditorium will light up this weekend with swirling costumes and high-energy movement as high school students take the stage for the Utah Dance Education Organization's 10th annual High School Dance Festival.
The event is held at a different university in the state each year. Saturday evening's performance is free and open to the public.
UDEO is a nonprofit created in 2000 with the goal of promoting dance as an art form throughout Utah. The organization works with individuals and groups of all ages in the public and private sectors.
The festival helps UDEO fulfill its goals to increase networking, improve dance education and build a Utah dance community.
Hilary Carrier, chairwoman of the UDEO high school dance festival, has been organizing the event the past three years. As a dance instructor at West High School in Salt Lake City, she has also participated by bringing her own dance companies.
She said the festival, which runs all day, is a great way for students to meet other dancers from all over the state.
Seventeen schools will participate this year, from as far away as St. George and as near as Weber County. There are usually 400 to 600 students taking part. The dance companies that are invited are made up of students who attend dance classes requiring an audition.
The festival is not a competition, but each company performs two pieces and judges give them a rating and feedback. At least one of the pieces is choreographed by students.
Throughout the day, students also attend dance classes by professionals from the community. This year's choices include modern dance technique, improvisation, hip-hop, yoga and partnering.
"This is a good experience for students to learn from different teachers," Carrier said.
The festival culminates in the evening with a gala concert. All schools in attendance participate in the final performance, and select students will be recognized with awards from the judges.