The Mississippi Dance Festival is a three-day dance intensive taking place September 8th – 10th on the Southern Miss Hattiesburg campus. It is designed to serve Middle and High School pre-professional dance students and K-12 professional dance educators as well as traditional classroom teachers who seek to further their knowledge of and experience in dance through a diversity of master dance technique classes and forums, and other educational, social and performance experiences. The Mississippi Dance Festival was founded and is annually directed by USM dance professors Elizabeth Lentz-Hill and Julie White. Festival instructors and performers include dance professionals from throughout the Gulf South, with special guest artist Zachary Whittenburg. Grants were secured to bring in this recognized Chicago-based artist educator, performer, and advocate to Misssissippi. Zachary Whittenburg spent ten years as a professional dancer with companies including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, BJM Danse Montréal, Pacific Northwest Ballet and North Carolina Dance Theatre, now Charlotte Ballet. His subsequent freelance career included work with, among others, Lucky Plush Productions, Same Planet Performance Project and Molly Shanahan / Mad Shak, plus instruction and coaching for the artists of DanceWorks Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Mordine & Co. Dance Theater, River North Dance Chicago and Thodos Dance Chicago. Dance Editor at Time Out Chicago from 2009–12, Whittenburg has written for numerous print and online publications, contributes regularly to Dance Magazine, is a panelist and guest speaker, and tweets @trailerpilot about contemporary culture and the performing arts. As Associate Director of Marketing and Communication at Hubbard Street, he represented the company on the Chicago Dancemakers Forum consortium, and he is currently Communications and Engagement Director at Arts Alliance Illinois, promoting advocacy, community, education policy, research, the intrinsic value of the arts and the voice of a creative state. Mr. Whittenburg will teach master classes in contemporary dance and repertory, lead seminars on community engagement and dance criticism, and share marketing strategies for promoting and fundraising in the arts and education. He will also be performing on the MDF Concert.

It is the mission of the festival, in its fifth year, to support the many excellent K-12 dance programs and studios throughout the region, as well as our colleagues in K12 traditional classrooms, by providing valuable training and learning opportunities for those who are deeply invested in quality standards-based dance and interdisciplinary education in Mississippi and the surrounding states. For more information, please contact Julie White, USM Dance Department Dance Education Director and Mississippi Dance Festival Education and Registration Director, at or

MDF Fees

Festival fees include dinner at the Friday night social, six master dance classes (including Friday night’s social dance class), admission to the MDF concert, participation in the Improv Jam (Saturday) and Student Showing (Sunday), and an MDF T-shirt.

* Student $125
* Teacher $50 ($75 if pursuing CEUs)
* Observer/Parent $40 (includes t-shirt)
* Please note that an optional meal plan is available for an additional fee

Registration Deadline and Requirements

Pre-Registration: beginning Monday, April 17th (starting at 9 AM)

Final Registration: Friday, August 25th (5 PM)

In order for registration to be considered complete and guaranteed festival participation to be possible, the following documents, deadlines, and payments must be met:

* MDF Registration Form
* MDF Confirmation and Liability Form
* Payment (remaining balance is pre-registered or in full if not) by Friday, August 25th at 5 PM on-line via the MDF website.

Pre-registration is available and encouraged in order to secure a spot at the festival, and opens Monday, April 17th at 9:00 AM.

Historically, MDF has had a waiting list of 25 or more students each year. A $50 pre-registration fee (non-refundable but transferable under extreme and pre-approved circumstances) is required.

Mississippi Dance Festival

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