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Dances on the Lakewalk reunites performers

(From left) Dancers Andrea Smith, Laura Goodman and Anna Finke practice one of their moves in a rehearsal for Dances on the Lakewalk. (Photo by Ryley Graham)1 / 2
Doris Ressl and Dawn Karlovsky perform in last year's Dances on the Lakewalk show. (Photo submitted)2 / 2

Doris Ressl of the Ressl Dance! company will once again be bringing dance to the outdoors in the annual Dances on the Lakewalk event July 15-16. This dance performance brings community members together in Lake Place Park to enjoy a free show put on by both local and non-local dancers and choreographers.

In previous years, Dances on the Lakewalk has drawn up to 200 people. While it succeeds in drawing in spectators, the show also succeeds in bringing together the dancers themselves. This year three of the performers, Andrea Smith, Anna Finke and Laura Goodman, will be dancing together for the first time in 17 years. They grew up together dancing for the Minnesota Ballet, but have since moved down different career paths. Ressl wanted to get the women together again for a spot in Dances on the Lakewalk.

"Doris approached us last year on the Lakewalk because she had a piece in mind that she wanted us to do," Goodman said. "So it's a reunion of sorts for us."

The women once had plans to become professional dancers. Although they've moved down different career paths since their time with the Minnesota Ballet, Smith, Finke and Goodman have remained attached to dance in one way or another. Smith is a local physical therapist and recently came back to dance after 15 years. She also performed in the 2015 Dances on the Lakewalk.

"I started taking some adult dance classes," Smith said. "It relit the spark."

Finke has done production work in New York for the past decade and recently moved to Chicago. She did costume and photography work for Merce Cunningham, a former dancer and choreographer who is a big name in American modern dance.

"I take a class here and there, but I haven't performed in forever," Finke said.

Goodman is a dancer and teacher with the Minnesota Ballet, however, the last time she performed was seven years ago. She is a new mother and also works as a parent educator in Duluth.

"I have my own company called Boost Parenting," Goodman said. "I'm a parent coach, so I work with parents individually and also hold workshops on parenting topics."

Although they are all involved with non-performing professions, Smith, Finke and Goodman have maintained a love for dance.

"They were all very serious about dance as a profession. That's how training is in ballet and it was back then, too," Ressl said. "They were training toward a profession of dancing in the company, but you know, things always change."

Smith, Finke and Goodman will be among the 17 dancers performing in Dances on the Lakewalk. This year, eight choreographers were invited to find dancers to work with from within the Duluth dance community. They have the freedom to choreograph whatever they want to, and are also encouraged to draw inspiration from the sculptures and scenery in Lake Place Park.

"We have choreographers coming from Duluth, two from California and two from the Twin Cities," Ressl said. "They are choreographing pieces for various community dancers here, or they're bringing their own dancers."

One benefit of holding the show in a public park is that it becomes instantly more accessible to community members. There is handicap parking available, areas for people with limited mobility and, because the concert is free, there are no financial walls standing between art and the public.

"This dance is really a gathering of people," Ressl said.

Dances on the Lakewalk will be held at 7 p.m. on July 15 and 16 in Lake Place Park. The show is free and will last about an hour with a brief intermission in the middle. Spectators can look forward to enjoying a professional show in unconventional scenery, while many performers are looking forward to getting back on the stage, or, in this case, getting back on the Lakewalk.

"Dancing together again will definitely be fun," Finke said. "I mean the studio is where we grew up and it'll be interesting trying to do the moves again.