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Florida Dance Festival returns to Tampa

If you love contemporary dance, or even if you only sort of like contemporary dance, you're going to want to spend some time in Tampa during the next week and a half

The annual Florida Dance Festival returns to the University of South Florida with performances by some of the best dancers and dance companies from around the state and around the country.

The bulk of the festival consists of classes and workshops for dancers, and the performance schedule has been pared back from the early days of the festival 36 years ago. But there are still plenty of public performances to make multiple trips to Tampa worthwhile.

On Saturday, Los Angles dancer/choreographer Sheetal Gandhi offers her rhythmic "I Was Just ...," which is framed as a response to recent tragedies in Ferguson, Mo., Sanford and Staten Island, NY.

On June 26, the New York-based Kate Weare Company will perform a piece, which is described as "an exploration of an erotic fantasy as a portal toward identity."

June 23 brings Florida Dances, always a popular element of the festival, with works from companies from all over Florida. Among the companies participating this year are Sarasota's Fuzion Dance Artists, who will re-stage their version of Larry Keigwin's "Mattress Suite." Fuzion performed the piece in Sarasota just a few months back.

Finally, on June 27, the Festival Finale features works from the festival's faculty which include top-tier dancers from around the nation.

It's a good idea to get tickets early, because the theater isn't huge and a lot of the hundreds of dancers who are at USF for festival classes will want to see the shows.

Details: June 19-27, Theatre 2, University of South Florida Theatre 2, 3829 W. Holly Drive, Tampa. Show times: 8 p.m. June 20, 23, 26 and 27. Tickets: $14-$22. Information:

-- Marty Clear