Dance Fest, under the artistic leadership of Risima Risimkin was formed in 2005 as a unique festival for contemporary dance in Macedonia. The festival from the very beginning has become known for its program quality and outstanding mission and vision. It is a bridge between Macedonia and the world, an opportunity for artists to communicate and a place where everyone can be what they are.
The mission of the festival was and still is going in the direction of making a strong connection with artists from different countries and cultures and giving them the opportunity to work together. It is a ground on which bi-directional long-lasting relationships in dance can be made.
In the last 15 years, an army of dancers has gone through the festival venues, several different stages in Skopje: Macedonian National Theatre, Macedonian Opera and Ballet, Youth Cultural Center, Stage Zebra and National Theater in Veles and Bitola & Shtip (other cities in Macedonia).
Companies like the Netherlands Dance Theater, Scapino Ballet Rotterdam, Galili Dance Company, Rotterdam dance Academy, (Netherlands); National Ballets from Lisbon, (Portugal); Pecs, (Hungary); Belgrade, (Serbia); Ljubljana, (Slovenia); Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya, Izmir (Turkey); Battery Dance Company & Philadanco! (USA); Kafig Dance Company by Mourad Merzuki, Pokemon Dance Company and Realite Dance Company, France; State Ballet Hildesheim & Steptext dance Project, Germany; Katsura Kan Butoh Company, (Japan); Bely Theater, St. Petersburg, Russia; ARA Dance Company, Latvia; National Opera and Drama Dance Theater, Dragon Kung Fu Contemporary Dance Company & Nine Contemporary dance Company from Beijing, China, National Ballet & Skopje Dance Theater, Macedonia, Dance Company of Zurich University of the Arts, Zurich, Switzerland, Ljubljana Dance Theater and others presented their work and made a strong impact on the development of the contemporary dance scene in Macedonia.
The board of the festival, which is composed of top artists, intellectuals and journalists gives the MENADA award for lifetime achievements in the field of dance, in honor of all great dancers who have left their mark in the evolution of ballet and dance as an art form in Macedonia and founders of National Ballet: Gorgi Makedonski, Natka Penusliska, Olga Milosavleva, Irena Veterova, Tatyana Petkovska, Elisaveta Kusovska, Ekrem Husein, Emilija Dzipunova and Jagoda Slaneva, but also the important names of the global dance scene as Vladimir Vasiliev, ballet legend of 20 Centory; Gradimir Pankov, artistic director of The Grand Ballets Canadiens; Hans van Manen, one of the greatest choreographers in the field of Modern Ballet; Milko Shparemblek, exceptional choreographer from Croatia with world carrier and Didier Deschamps, France and Zhao Xi, China
From 2014 Dance Fest includes the International Competition for young choreographers DANCELAB and attracts many young choreographers from Europe. The competition is biennial and its jury consists of great experts from all around the world.
Part of the additional program of the festival is the first Dance Parade in Macedonia with more than 1000 participants on the streets of Skopje (2010), many workshops for dancers and choreographers, a contemporary dance workshop with over 100 participants from all over Macedonia (2013), conferences for dance, promotions of books for dance, Dance Screen programs etc.
Dance Fest has appeared on the front pages of world-famous dance magazines several times, such as Dance Europe and Dance for you, and photos of performances and events have been published by international news agencies such as Getty images, Reuters and others.