Austin’s Arcos Dance ensemble joins other out-of-town companies at this year’s {254} Dance- Fest.

Arcos Dance photo

A growing regional interest in the {254} Dance-Fest, the festival-within-a-festival during the Waco Cultural Arts Fest, has L. Brooke Schlecte feeling like she’s, well, not so far out on a limb.

Schlecte founded and directs the Waco-based Out on a Limb Dance Company that acts as the artistic center for the dance fest, which marks its third year Sept. 27-28 at the Waco Convention Center.

Attendance still isn’t where she’d like it to be — modern dance often is an acquired taste in Waco — but it’s now drawing the attention of dancers and choreographers across the state.

More than two dozen individuals and companies sent in suggested work for this year’s call for submissions. This year’s festival schedule will feature dance from the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, the Tulsa Modern Movement and The Bell House from Tulsa, Oklahoma; Austin’s Arcos Dance; Fort Worth’s Collective Force Dance Company; and programs at Texas Christian University, the University of North Texas, Texas Woman’s University, Southwestern University and the University of Texas at Austin.

WCAF invitees Lan’naya West African Drum and Dance Ensemble, also will perform as part of the dance fest. Some festival participants are coming back after a positive experience in Waco, Schlecte noted. “Some were very shocked by how much they liked Waco,” she said.

There’s also new local involvement, with dancers from such local studios as Joy’s School of Dance, Jenni Holley Dance Studio, All That Jazz Dance Studio and Baylor Dance Company forming a {254} Choreography Dance Exchange to perform an original piece.

Two dance classes that Schlecte recently began at downtown Waco’s Creative Art Studio and Theater also will show their work in public, Out on a Limb Dot Buds for children ages 3 to 6, and Out on a Limb Dot Vines for adults.

A hallmark of this year’s festival is live, original music for many performances. Out on a Limb will premiere “Se Morte,” a 25-minute work with music by Baylor University percussion professor Todd Meehan, at 3 p.m. Sept. 28. The five-dancer, six-movement work concerns “what scares us, overpowers us, makes us follow them and kills us figuratively,” Schlecte said.

Dancing to original music opened the piece in a way that performing to a prerecorded track didn’t allow, she said.

“When I had music made for us, that’s when the piece exploded. It was so freeing,” she said.

Schlecte also will perform to live music for the Waco Cultural Arts Festival’s fundraising White Linen Night on Sept. 25, dancing to music from Tibetan singing bowls played by Isabel Kelly. That event also will feature Austin musician Guy Forsyth and his Hot Nut Rivets Band, with tickets at $45.

The dance fest has free admission with most of the guest performances at 5 and 7 p.m. Sept. 27 with public master classes at noon Sept. 27, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Sept. 28.

There is an outdoor Dance Jam at 1 p.m. Sept. 27, continuing a series of improvised jams that Schlecte and Waco dancers have been holding to expand the public’s contact with dance, including one this summer at CAST and Saturday at the Downtown Waco Farmers Market. Similarly, festival performances will provide a post-performance time for dancers and choreographers to talk with their audiences.