Durham, NC – Once again ADF is ahead of the pack. For the past three decades, dance audiences in Durham, NC have edged out New York City. With a new dance by Paul Taylor, plus historic firsts for Eiko & Koma and Pilobolus, the 2007 American Dance Festival will be the scene of dance-breaking news with audiences once again seeing major premieres before they hit the Big Apple. This year’s Festival takes place June 7–July 21.
Stay tuned for American debuts by seven Russian and Argentine contemporary companies, who will participate in two festivals-within-a-festival; a new look at a series of American classics; and the PBS broadcast of the premiere of “Dancing in the Light,” the fourth and concluding 60-minute section of the Festival’s Emmy Award-winning “Free to Dance” series. This is the tip of the iceberg of the Festival’s 30th anniversary celebration of its move to Durham, NC.
“From the moment the ADF moved to Durham, it was received with great enthusiasm by its new public,” said Festival Director Charles L. Reinhart. “Three decades later, the reaction is the same. To say thank you, we have planned an especially packed 30th anniversary summer for 2007 and are working on big plans to celebrate our 75th anniversary in 2008.”
EVEN MORE THAN WORLD PREMIERES: The world premieres by both Pilobolus and Eiko & Koma will upset each of their singular traditions. Pilobolus, renowned as a choreographic collective, has invited Israeli choreographers Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak to collaborate with Robby Barnett and the Pilobolus dancers in the making of a new work (June 21–23), marking the company’s first foray into outside collaboration since its beginning in 1971. (At press time, the dance is still untitled and awaits a composer.) Eiko & Koma, who, for the first time, are permitting other dancers to perform their work, will present the revival of “Grain” (1983), but this time performed by two young Cambodian artists, Charian and Peace, whom the company met while in residence in Phnom Penh. “Quartet,” a world premiere, will be performed by Eiko and Koma and their two new Cambodian recruits (June 25–27). Although Paul Taylor has not yet revealed information about his world premiere, if his track record of ADF premieres (14 in all) including “Aureole,” “The Book of Beasts,” “Piazzolla Caldera,” “Cascade,” “Profiles,” “Polaris” and “Promethean Fire” is any forecast, a great new dance is in the works (July 12–14). The fourth world premiere will be by California-based choreographer Rudy Perez (July 16–18), who had been a member of New York City’s Judson Dance Theater in the 1960s.
CLASSICS ANEW: While ensuring its prominence at the dance frontier (ADF has been the site of 585 premieres, 312 of which were commissioned by the Festival), ADF simultaneously continues its commitment to the preservation of classic modern dance. The Festival’s 2007 contribution includes the first peek at the re-envisioned update of Martha Clarke’s 1984 dance theater masterwork, the Hieronymus Bosch- inspired “Garden of Earthly Delights” (June 7–9). The 2007 cast for the dance includes “Movin’ Out” star Elizabeth Parkinson, former Mark Morris dancer Marjorie Folkman and former Tharp! performer Andrew Robinson, among others. “Sky Light,” Laura Dean’s 1982 kaleidoscopic swirl of movement, staged for ADF by Rodger Belman, will be accompanied by live music. One of the first celebrants of the Black tradition in modern dance, ADF has played a major role in rescuing endangered works by African American artists. This summer Dianne McIntyre will oversee the staging of Helen Tamiris’s “How Long Brethren?,” choreographed in 1937. Although a white artist, Tamiris is well known for her dances of social protest set to Negro spirituals. The Perez premiere, plus the Dean and Tamiris works are part of the Festival’s Past/Forward program, and will be performed by a select group of ADF dancers.
RUSSIAN FESTIVAL: The ways in which contemporary Russian choreographers see their rapidly changing country and its people will be theatrically revealed in five U.S. premieres presented by three contemporary Russian dance companies. Making its U.S. debut, the 15-year-old Chelyabinsk Contemporary Dance Theater, directed by Vladimir and Olga Pona and based in Chelyabinsk (situated on the Asian side of the Ural Mountains), will present three premieres: “The Other Side of the River,” “Nostalgia” and “Waiting” (June 14–16). Vladimir Golubev, who danced with Chelyabinsk for nine years, will make his U.S. debut with his own solo work, “Not Unsteady Support,” in a program shared with the Iguan Dance Theatre (June 17–19). Iguan grew out of a combined dance performance in 1995 by Michail Ivanov and Nina Gasteva at Tam-Tam, St. Petersburg’s celebrated nightclub for avant garde music. The two artists emerged from dramatically different backgrounds: He studied agriculture, doing his thesis on the construction of pigpens, and she studied theater. Their work, which combines plastic arts, dance, pantomime and drama with great doses of wit, has been twice nominated for Golden Mask Awards, the Russian equivalent of the Tony.
ARGENTINE FESTIVAL: To celebrate Argentina’s increasing importance on the international modern dance scene, ADF will present four U.S. premieres by some of Argentina’s most heralded young dance artists including Edgardo Mercado, Gabriela Prado and Fabián Gandini. Susana Tambutti, one of Argentina’s leading modern dance choreographers, will present her well-received solo “The Stab,” performed by Luciana Acuña, in a program shared with Edgardo Mercado, who makes his U.S. choreographic debut with “Plano Difuso,” a solo for dancer Pablo Castronovo (July 8–10). The dance uses an original score by Gabriel Gendlin. The U.S. premiere of Gabriela Prado’s and Eugenia Estévez’s collaboratively created “Llueve” will be performed by Prado, Estévez and Luis Oscar Biasotto (July 8–10). A wildly imaginative collective comprised of dancers, actors, choreographers and musicians, Krapp (named after Samuel Beckett’s “Krapp’s Last Tape”) will present the U.S. premiere of a new work, “Olympica,” that explores the complexities of success (July 5–7). For its U.S. debut, Compañía Contenido Bruto presents the premiere of “Kevental,” set to original music by Silvina Gandini and Claudio Garbolino (July 5–7).
FREE TO DANCE: ADF’s “Dancing in the Light,” the final installment of the Festival’s Emmy Award-winning “Free to Dance” television series will be aired on PBS Great Performances on June 20. While the first three episodes documented the critical contribution that black artists have made to modern dance through interviews and snippets of works, “Dancing in the Light” is comprised of six dances: Asadata Dafora’s “Ostrich Dance,” an excerpt of Katherine Dunham’s “Barrelhouse Blues,” Pearl Primus’s “Strange Fruit,” Talley Beatty’s “Mourners Bench,” Donald McKayle’s “Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder” and the first section of Bill T. Jones’s “D-Man in the Waters – Section 1” Each dance is introduced by actor/choreographer Taye Diggs. The series was inspired by the Festival’s commitment to preserving classic dances by African American choreographers.
PERFORMANCES INDOORS AND OUT: The Duke University lawns, rivers and gardens are routinely commandeered for site-specific performances by adventure- seeking choreographers. This summer Anna Halprin sets her celebratory 1981 “Planetary Dance” in the Duke Gardens on June 10 with a cast of hundreds including ADF students, faculty and the Durham community. The performance is free. Shows inside the theater will be given by Shen Wei Dance Arts, which presents Shen Wei’s abstract “Rite of Spring,” set to a piano version of Stravinsky’s score, and the sculptural and surreal “Folding,” which he originally created for China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company (July 1–3); African American Dance Ensemble, which presents a program of eight dances that celebrate traditional African culture, movement and music (June 12–13); and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, which will perform Twyla Tharp’s “Baker’s Dozen” and Jirí Kylián’s “Petit Mort,” among others. (June 28–30). The irrepressible Mark Morris Dance Group returns to ADF with a program of some of his favorite works including “The Argument,” “All Fours,” “Italian Concerto,” and “Grand Duo” (July 19–21). The company will dance to live music. Morris will receive the prestigious 2007 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award on July 21.