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She’s definitely got dancing in her sights

Dancer hoping to be a hit at closing cabaret, reception of FemFest 2013

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Renée Vandale will be dancing up a storm this weekend.

Vandale, 32, will be hoping to captivate audiences when she performs at the closing cabaret and reception of Sarasvàti Productions’ FemFest 2013: Revelation & Revolution on Sat., Sept. 21 at the University of Winnipeg Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Also appearing on the night will musician Adi Sara Kreindler, comedian Heather Witherden, writer Teresa-Lee Cooke, filmmaker Danishka Esterhazy (Fallen) and there will also be visual art by MAWA (Mentoring Artists for Women’s Art) artists on display.

Currently halfway through this year’s run, the eight-day festival is a collection of one-act plays by female playwrights. The goal is to showcase female playwrights from across Canada and provide opportunities for female theatre artists, with an emphasis on emerging talent, organizers say.

Vandale — who currently lives in Osborne Village and was raised predominantly in St. Vital — will be performing an original solo called Her Sway at the event, which she choreographed in collaboration with musician Tim Church, and was premiered at this year’s Winnipeg Fringe Festival.

"It’s a character-based narrative dance that is based on famous female icons, the lives they live, and stardom," Vandale said.

An established professional dancer and choreographer on the Winnipeg scene, the Collège Jeanne-Sauvé alumnus has also been busy in recent years balancing her dancing work with a full-time career as an optician and casual work as a makeup artist to help pursue her dreams.

"After dancing several years professionally, and living paycheque to paycheque, I decided it was time for a parallel career. I had already been working casually at an optician’s and was offered a full-time position and given the opportunity to attend school. And this is exactly what I did," Vandale said.

"It was a hard two years and I decided to put my first career as a dance artist on pause. However, this didn’t last long. Once my first year was complete, I decided that putting dance on hold was a horrible idea, as I was miserable. I couldn’t understand why I was becoming an optician, when all I wanted to do was dance. I had to constantly remind myself I was doing this so I could dance more."

And despite the challenges of wearing different hats, Vandale persisted.

"So, for my second year, I couldn’t resist it and also danced. I could be found in the studio very late at night working up a dance storm after work and school. I’ve recently received my optician’s licence and feel very proud that I managed to accomplish it. I’m now dancing more, as planned, and feel very happy," Vandale said.

So what does performing at Femfest mean to Vandale?

"Having the opportunity to share my work at such an eclectic festival is an honour. It’s important for female artists to grow and expand in our society together. Femfest is an excellent place for us to come together, celebrate women, and share our artistry with the community," she said.

Next up, Vandale said she plans to choreograph "two new dance works" for her show at the next Winnipeg Fringe Festival, which will be performed under her company name, Black Heart Dance.

To learn more about Femfest, visit femfest.ca. To learn more about Vandale, go to Facebook and search for Black Heart Dance.

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