Dallas-based dancers Avery-Jai Andrews and Lauren Kravitz’ organization Agora Artists is hosting the fourth annual Mini Movement Fest, an all-day event involving a variety of dance workshops and an evening concert, at Arts Mission Oak Cliff on August 5. Mini Movement Fest costs $20 for the whole day or $5 per class and the choreographic workshop is free.
Andrews and Kravitz founded Agora Artists, a non-profit organization that provides programming and resources for local dancers and choreographers. According to their website, “Through workshops, forums, and other creative assets Agora Artists aims to help individual dancers maintain an active and sustainable creative life.”
Avery-Jai Andrews and Lauren Kravitz met in 2007 at Booker T. Washington High School and both went on to study at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. After performing abroad and across the country, respectively, the pair returned to Dallas advocating for local arts.
Andrews said she was looking for other dancers who are on the same journey around her.
“The word ‘agora’ is a Greek word and it means to gather. And in Portuguese it means now,” Andrews said. “That’s a really healthy lens to look at how Agora Artists operates- we are a community of artists, aimed at supporting makers in the creative process, helping them to learn the tools and skills needed for self-producing.”
Agora Artists focuses on the creative process more than the end product. With events like Mini Movement Fest, Andrews and Kravitz hope to cultivate connections within the local dance community.
“Mini Movement Fest is the first event that Avery-Jai and I produced together back in 2019, and was the catalyst for what Agora Artists is today. We were both envisioning how we could build a community in Dallas and how we could bring dancers together because Avery-Jai had a hard time finding a strong freelance community of dancers.”
Mini Movement Fest first started out as an experiment where Andrews and Kravitz invited other Texas-based artists to teach a dance workshop during the day and perform afterwards.
Kravitz said the festival felt open and accessible to both trained and non-classically trained movers.
“It was this really, really invigorating day of movement and there were many opportunities for people to practice,” Kravitz said. “Dancers are taking workshops and also see the professional dancers in the evening concert, and then a lot of space in between are moments for people to connect in conversation.”
Kravitz said that Oakcliff’s need for financial accessibility and the diverse community helped Agora Artists and Mini Movement Fest thrive.
Kravitz said that they are determined to keep the barrier of entry super low and that her and Andrews make a point to individually connect with dancers in various parts of the industry from tap dancing to Bharatnatyam.
“Oakcliff was the one place that I found where I really felt welcomed,” Andrews said. “And where I felt the leadership was asking, ‘What are you interested in? What do you want to do?’ It’s a very creative space geographically how the neighborhood really invites people to come out.”
“And being in Oakcliff gives us an opportunity to to be in conversation with what accessibility looks like to invite in new audiences that haven’t felt as welcomed elsewhere,” Kravtiz said.
Mini Movement Fest is open to all interested in dance or those wanting to come out for the day. The event’s schedule runs from 10 am-10pm, ending in a culminate dance party.
“Every single year, we’ve had someone with no relationship to dance come to at least one of the workshops. We really are trying to keep this open to all and the people that we bring in are usually really attune and conscious of who’s in the room and are able to craft the experience to really suit and support the people who are there.”
Andrews and Kravitz agreed they are confident about this year’s festival as producers. And as dancers, they will both be participating in the workshops and the evening concert and are excited to see the day come together.
“[The festival] is the thing that refills my cup,” Andrews said. “It’s good people, good food, old friends coming together and new friends.”
“I think dance classes allow you to just kind of connect in a more visceral way that doesn’t necessarily need a lot of words but it’s just like I’m here,” Andrews said. “You’re here and we’re moving.”