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A spring in their step

In Cambridge, it's the season of daffodils and dancers as the city holds its 14th annual DanceMonth celebration

If you happen to be wandering around Cambridge this month, don't be surprised if you stumble onto dancers improvising on street corners, cavorting in subway stops, or twirling about in an assortment of other ''choreographically challenged" venues.

These so-called ''Dance Distractions" are a part of DanceMonth, Cambridge's citywide celebration of the movement arts. According to event founder Rozann Kraus, director of the Dance Complex in Cambridge, ''DanceMonth is a way to call attention to the richness of the art form that is an intrinsic part of our lives, and to honor the hard-working local artists who make Cambridge so artistically vibrant."

The 14th-annual DanceMonth officially kicks off Saturday night with a party at the Dance Complex, followed by more than 60 concerts, workshops, and events (held at nearly two dozen venues) throughout May. Special events include Dance Complex's annual open house May 21, which offers everyone a chance to get into the action with a full day of free mini-classes. Tuesdays@Noon targets the 9-5 crowd with noontime ''performance lunches" that combine a healthy meal and a dance performance. And through a partnership with the Cambridge schools, dance teachers will be paired with classrooms for special curriculum-based projects.

''Everything happens in Cambridge, but dancers come from all over to participate in DanceMonth," Kraus says. ''For some people, spring isn't spring until DanceMonth happens."

The following are a few DanceMonth highlights. For a full schedule of events, visit www.dancemonth.com.

May 5 Green St. Studios' Community Concert 8 p.m., Green St. Studios, 185 Green St., Cambridge. 617-864-3191. $15, $12 students, Boston Dance Alliance members. The renowned Central Square teaching/performing complex offers its own DanceMonth kickoff with a concert that showcases the diversity of its classes and performances. Concert highlights include works by modern dance choreographers Jody Weber and Cheri Opperman, as well as works in dance forms ranging from Middle Eastern and tribal belly dance to Balkan folk dance.

May 6 The Ultimate Dance Party 8-11 p.m., Dance Complex, 536 Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-547-9363. Free. Hosted by Kraus and Cambridge Mayor Kenneth Reeves, the event features nearly nonstop dancing to live music by Stan Strickland, Jerry Bussiere and Friends, as well as the official presentation of Cambridge City Council's DanceMonth proclamation. Food is provided by international restaurants from the Central Square area. A raffle offers a chance to win an assortment of prizes donated to support DanceMonth.

TUESDAYS@NOON Noon-1 p.m., at Dance Complex. $12, $27 for the series.

May 9 Kinodance Company. May 16: The Elders Ensemble of Prometheus Dance.

May 30 The Revolutionary Snake Ensemble Dance Jam.

May 11-14 CRASHarts' Dance Straight Up! Zero Arrow Theatre, Arrow St. and Mass. Ave., Cambridge. 617-876-4275. $30 per show.

Collage Dance Ensemble: May 11 at 7:30 p.m. and May 14 at 2 p.m.

Lorraine Chapman, the Company, and Debra Bluth: May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and May 13 at 8 p.m.

CRASHarts' annual showcase honors selected local companies by commissioning new works and presenting their world premieres. This year, the weekend's performances encompass two different programs. Ahmet Luleci's rousing Collage Dance Ensemble honors traditional folk dance while energizing the forms with modern interpretations. Though working with very different stylistic approaches, Lorraine Chapman and Debra Bluth are two of the area's most innovative and respected modern dance choreographers. Their work is always worth a look.

May 13-14 Dances Afoot May 13 at 8 p.m., May 14 at 7 p.m., at Dance Complex. $15. This Dance Complex faculty concert features works by some of the area's most accomplished dancemakers, showcasing the Complex's depth and diversity. Prometheus Dance's Tommy Neblett and Diane Arvanites-Noya premiere a new trio; Daniel McCusker offers two new dances; and Kraus debuts a new solo work. Deraldo Ferreira's company performs a Capoeira piece, and Danny Swain offers a jazz funk octet. Veteran choreographer Margot Parsons presents a new restaging of the elegant ''Terra Cotta."

May 21 Dance Complex Open House noon-6 p.m., at Dance Complex. Free. This day full of 20-minute mini-classes offers an opportunity for dance enthusiasts of all levels and persuasions to sample a wide range of dance styles, from ballet to martial arts. Visitors can spend a whole day taking different classes or just watching. No special shoes are needed. Wear loose, comfortable clothes.

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