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Art Sensation
Sunday, April 17 • 8 p.m.
Thalian Hall Main Stage
310 Chestnut St.
Tickets: $15 •

Tracey Varga, dance maven and philanthropic citizen, created Art Sensation as a cross-genre dance showcase to benefit local non-profit organizations. “I read an article in the StarNews about the Coastal Carolina Food Bank,” Varga, a member of Forward Motion Dance Company, says. “The article showed me how much need there was in the community, and I thought we should do something to help.”

Thus, she began hosting dance fund-raisers with Forward Motion Dance Company. Since, she has watched Art Sensation grow tremendously over the past decade—so much so she had to move the event from City Stage to Thalian Hall, a much larger venue, three years ago. “We’re so excited to see it grow,” she says, excitedly, as she prepares for the April 17th event, to benefit the Full Belly Project (

In previous years Art Sensation has helped fund causes that are instrumental to a flourishing community: Domestic Violence Shelter and Services Inc., and Good Shepherd Center to name a few. Coupling with last year’s monies raised, the funds from the 2011 event will go to Full Belly to support their mission to improve economic possibilities in less-developed countries by continuously improving agricultural development with innovative technology. Founded in 2003, the organization fights hunger and poverty around the world.

Along with helping out a good cause, the talent presented at Art Sensation will certainly enthrall audiences. The Thalian Hall Main Stage will host a variety of dance performances put together by local choreographers, ranging from the tribal-infused moves of Vatra Gitana Belly Dance Troupe to upbeat hip-hop with P.J. Barnes and Keith Welborn.

Varga, who has spread her step all over the nation, from Maryland to Idaho to New York, is excited to reveal a new element to the show: Irish dancing from The Walsh Kelley School. The school combines Celtic music, art and traditions through a host of moves. Other dances of the night will include African, modern, lyrical and classical. Varga has also choreographed a new routine for The Company “T” Tap Dancers and for the modern contemporary piece by Forward Motion.

As far as a theme goes, the show doesn’t attempt to follow one. “It’s just variety,” Varga explains. “We do have local choreographers come in to present their piece, and then we choose for the event. [Art Sensation] opens up to a lot of different genres.”

While dance performances are the main focus of the show, the musical talent is also something to be admired. Arts Sensation has showcased concerts from the Brad Lloyd Jazz Band and Tallis Chamber Orchestra in years past. Come this weekend, they welcome the swinging sounds of the Wilmington Big Band. Directed by Jim and Laura McFayden, the 17-piece orchestra is dedicated to keeping the original art of American jive alive. “The tap dancers will be doing an Ella Fitzgerald piece,” Varga says, offering a sneak peek on the bill.

Like the name suggests, the evening will fill all senses with an overwhelming spectacle of arts appreciation and humanitarianism—two elements for which Varga is especially knowledgeable. Her works have been applauded at Dance-a-lorus, a Cucalorus event held annually as part of Wilmington’s premier film festival, and she’s also performed in the NC Dance Festival, at Thalian Hall, City Stage and the Cameron Art Museum. Currently, she teaches modern/jazz and tap dance at the Wilmington School of Ballet. Like the many sensational outfits and organizations she represents, this weekend’s gala will follow suit in expressing the beauty of bodies in motion—both on the dance floor and in the Full Belly field.

Tickets to Arts Sensation, a fund-raiser for the Full Belly Project, are $15 and can be purchased by calling Thalian Hall Box Office at (910) 632-2285.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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