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Surrey Festival of Dance springs to life, live and in-person for first time in 4 years

‘It’s great to be back,’ said Carol Girardi, longtime organizer of the fest, founded 57 years ago
The 2023 Surrey Festival of Dance launched Saturday morning (April 1) at Surrey Arts Centre with International category performances, including this “Black and White” group-dance number that involved Yoshier Hu, with Cindy Yang Dance Academy of Canada. (Photo: Anna Burns)

Dancers of different ages and styles fill Surrey Arts Centre for nearly a month in the return of Surrey Festival of Dance, one of North America’s largest dance competitions.

The theatre’s Main Stage got going with International performances Saturday (April 1), and the dancing will continue there until April 27. Other categories include tap, stage, ballet, jazz, contemporary/modern, and hip-hop/street.

The event hasn’t been held publicly at the Bear Creek Park theatre since 2019, after being cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic and then held online over the past two years.

“It’s great to be back,” said Carol Girardi, president of the Arts Council of Surrey and a longtime organizer of the annual dance festival, founded 57 years ago, in 1966.

An Honour Awards night is planned May 11.

New this year, a $10 “show pass” grants admission to all performances and includes a 170-page program. General admission is $2 per person, per session, or free for kids aged five and under. Admission fees go into scholarship funds for the dancers.

An obituary in this year’s festival program remembers Virginia Bell, who was among seven founding members of the festival. Bell died in Nanaimo last September just four days after her 88th birthday. She was a lifetime member of the arts council and an early member of Surrey Rockhounds, a club devoted to rocks and gems.

The festival has many fond memories for Girardi.

“I have made lifetime friends and enjoyed watching the young dancers compete with joy and determination,” she writes in the April edition of “Spotlight,” the arts council’s monthly magazine.

For more festival details call 604-501-5184 or visit, where the schedule is posted.

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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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