BAR HARBOR — Dance impresario Sheri Kean will return to the Criterion Theater Sunday, Oct. 26, with her annual Bar Harbor Dance Festival.
As in the past two years, she will bring with her a variety of solo and group dancers who will perform in an even greater variety of dance genres, including, tap, jazz, Russian folk, Celtic line dance and Argentine tango.
“I love dancing,” Kean said. “I have been in showcases and ballroom competitions myself and know how enriching such events can be for both the dancers and the audience. I want to bring more dance to Bar Harbor, where we have many talented dancers who don’t have that many opportunities to showcase their talents and get the recognition they deserve.”
Kean said she also has a longstanding love of the Criterion Theater.
“As soon as I formed Sheri Kean Productions Inc., becoming a formal nonprofit, I looked for ways I could give back to the community. Bringing live events back to the Criterion is one of those ways.”
What makes this year’s event extra special is that the proceeds will be used to help a fellow dancer, 26-year-old Chelsea Libitzki, who was paralyzed in a car crash four years ago.
While walking and dancing are still a distant possibility for Libitzki, both her life and her work as a dance instructor at the Libitzki School of Dance would be greatly improved with a standing wheelchair.
Physically, a chair that can offer Libitzki a range of positions from prone to standing, would improve her circulation, bone density and muscle tone, as well as have the psychological benefit of allowing her to converse with people on an eye-to-eye basis.
Professionally, a standing position should help give her a better perspective of her student’s performances as soloists and in ensemble numbers.
At a price of $50,000, and not covered by insurance, getting such a piece of equipment seemed as distant a possibility as walking.
“When I learned about Chelsea,” Kean said, “a fellow dancer and teacher, whose circumstances I can only begin to imagine, I felt I should do something for her and dedicate our third Annual Bar Harbor Dance Festival to her.”
Kean said some of the acts will be familiar to local audiences, including recent MDI graduate Emily Homer and Ellsworth High School Senior Ed Venzura, while others, such as ballroom dancer Shiwa Noh, will be new to the festival.
The Dance Festival is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. The box office opens at 1:30 p.m. at the Criterion. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students, with no charge for children under 10.
Those who cannot attend the Dance Festival but would like to contribute toward Chelsea Libitzki’s standing chair are invited to visit the online fundraising site “Stand Up with Chelsea” at www.gofundme.com.