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Dancers hit stage at Surrey Arts Centre for 5-week festival first held 58 years ago

April 3 start for event that will welcome close to 8,500 dancers this month
Olivia Barnabe (top) and Emily Mikkola of Encore Dance Academy perform at the 49th edition of Surrey Festival of Dance at Surrey Arts Centre. (File photo: Boaz Joseph)

Thousands of dancers will hit the stage at Surrey Arts Centre during the month-plus Surrey Festival of Dance, starting Wednesday, April 3.

The 2024 edition of the festival celebrates 58 years of showcasing several styles of dance, including tap & stage, ballet, international, jazz/acro, hip-hop/street and modern/contemporary.

The festival is among the largest amateur dance competitions in North America, with more than 8,500 dancers crossing the arts centre’s Main Stage, ending with a No Borders Group Dance Challenge on May 9.

Since its start in 1966, the dance festival has always been held during the month of April.

This year, the festival kicks off with tap/stage dancers from April 3-5, followed by ballet (April 6-11), international (April 13-14), jazz/acro (April 17-20), hip-hop/street (April 21) and modern/contemporary (April 24-27).

A number of scholarships and awards are given to dancers every year, and admission fees ($2 for any day of solos, duos and trio sessions, or $2 per session for groups) fund the scholarships.

The 2023 edition of the festival was held publicly at Surrey Arts Centre for the first time since 2019, after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and then held online over the next two years.

Festival organizers work to ensure that entry fees are “affordable and reasonable for all,” they say on the website, where all schedules are found.

“We strive to provide the necessary tools, adjudicators and instructors, not only to enrich the dancers, but also to educate and expand their dance awareness in the dance discipline of their choice.”

Surrey Festival of Dance Society is run entirely by participation from an executive board, members and associate members.

“Without this support, the Surrey Festival of Dance Festival could not take place and operate the way it does,” the website notes. “During the (festival), many of our volunteers donate their personal holiday time, take off secular work days, and leave personal endeavors or leisure activity to ensure the Dance Festival runs smoothly.”

For more festival details call 604-585-3320 or email

Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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