Durham, NC: The American Dance Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary this summer with “Split Scenes,” six and a half weeks of performances of some of the most important works in the modern dance repertory — past and present. In order to represent as many dances as possible, 60 to be exact, the Festival will — for the first time in its history — present shared programs showcasing works by several modern dance choreographers at each performance. In all, 37 contemporary dance companies drawn from four continents will perform. Eleven world premieres are scheduled. The 2008 season takes place June 5 to July 20.
“Trying to represent the overwhelming riches of the modern dance repertory in such a short span of time is like trying to fit an entire encyclopedia onto a single page. Our solution is to make the dances the star this season,” said Charles Reinhart, who is celebrating his 40th year as director of the American Dance Festival this summer. “When faced with the sheer volume of work that we wanted to show, we felt the only way to accomplish such a staggering mission was to ask the companies to share programs. Given the history of the art form, it was amazing, but almost all said ‘yes.”
What is also noteworthy is that while some of the classic works may not have been originally created for the companies performing them this season, these troupes have gained a reputation for the quality of their interpretations. Examples are Ririe-Woodbury’s performances of Alwin Nikolais classics and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s performances of Twyla Tharp’s repertory, Dayton Contemporary Dance’s performances of Talley Beatty and Eleo Pomare, and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble’s performances of work by Donald McKayle.
LOOKING BACK WITH 20/20 HINDSIGHT: The season’s repertory crisscrosses decades reaching back as far as Martha Graham’s 1930 classic antiwar solo “Lamentation,” and Asadata Dafora’s anthropomorphic “Awassa Astridge/Ostrich” (1932), Tally Beatty’s 1947 masterpiece “Mourner’s Bench” and Jose Limon’s 1942 solo “Chaconne”.
RECONSTRUCTING PAST HITS: There will be reconstructions of classic works, selected to suggest the extensive and singular riches — in form and content — of modern dance, with each reconstruction reflecting the unique contribution of its choreographer: Donald McKayle’s “Games” (1951); Laura Dean’s “Tympani” (1980); Erick Hawkins’ “New Moon” (1989); Hanya Holm’s “Jocose” (1984), and Martha Clarke’s “Nocturne,” commissioned by the ADF in 1979.
FAST FORWARD TO 2008: Adding to the Festival’s history of 600 world premieres, the season will include newly minted dances — all ADF commissions — by John Jasperse, Pilobolus (with Basil Twist), Larry Keigwin, Robert Battle, Mark Dendy, Dairakudakan, Kochuten, plus Shen Wei’s “Connect Transfer (new version).” The season will also feature a new version of Bill T. Jones’s “Another Evening: A Serenade”.
AND INTRODUCING…. American companies new to ADF are: Ailey II, which will perform Alvin Ailey’s spiritually luminous “Revelations,” Ririe- Woodbury, which performs Alwin Nikolais’s “Crucible” (1985) and “Tensile Involvement” (1955) and ZviDancers, which performs Zvi Gotheiner’s 2006 “Les Noces.” PARADIGM, a duo of beloved, older dancers, Carmen deLavallade and Gus Solomons jr, will present two world premieres, one choreographed by Robert Battle, and the other by Larry Keigwin. The American-born Khadija Marcia Radin will perform her “Dunya Road (The Road of Apparent Reality)” and “Rapture,” both influenced by Islamic Sufi whirling. Twyla Tharp’s “Sinatra Suite” (1984) and “Sweet Fields” (1996) will be performed by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
ADF’s TRAILBLAZING INTERNATIONAL WORK CONTINUES through summer 2008 with a festival of Japanese dance companies each presenting an American premiere including “Shinkju ten no Amijina,” a solo choreographed and performed by Terko Fujisato; Takiko Iwabuchi’s “Against Newton 2” performed by Dance Theatre LUDENS; Shinji Nakamura’s “Circus” performed by Natural Dance Theatre, as well as “Woman Washing Rice” choreographed and performed by Kei Takei. ADF was the first American organization to present Butoh companies by introducing U.S. audiences to Dairakudakan, one of Japan’s leading pioneers of the art form. The troupe returns with the ADF-commissioned world premiere of Akaji Maro’s “Secrets of Mankind.” Takuya Muramatsu’s “…gosh, I am alive…” will be performed by dancers from his company, Kochuten.
The original American presenter of Compagnie Maguy Marin, the ADF will present Marin’s “Umwelt” (2004), a powerful new look at human existence. Also on the boards is Turkey’s Aydin Teker and Dancers, which performs Teker’s 2005 “aKabi.”
RETURNING ATTRACTIONS: The work of both Ronald K. Brown and Doug Varone has been attracting greater and greater attention. Each will be represented by some of their most popular dances including Doug Varone’s “Luxe” and “Home,” and Brown’s “Walking Out the Dark” and “For You,” a solo tribute to the Festival’s former Co-Director, the late Stephanie Reinhart. One of the dance world’s wittiest choreographers, the dyed-in-the-wool-experimentalist Trisha Brown, will be represented by some of her classic dances, “PRESENT TENSE,” “Spanish Dance,” and “Accumulation” performed by the Trisha Brown Dance Company. Lar Lubovitch, known for his lush musicality, will be represented by “Concerto Six Twenty-Two,” performed by Lubovitch’s 40–year-old company. David Parsons will perform his 1981 eye-tricking classic “Caught;” Meredith Monk, who made her first appearance at ADF in 1970, returns to the Festival to perform the vocal solo music from “Education of a Girl Child.”
The husband/wife choreographic team Eiko and Koma will perform their 1989 “Rust.” For decades no ADF summer has gone by without performances by Pilobolus and Paul Taylor Dance Company. Ditto this season, which also sees the return of Shen Wei Dance Arts, an ADF regular since 2000. Taylor will present his most recent work “CHANGES” set to pop music.
OTHER SHOWS OF NOTE include the Festival’s annual Musicians
Concert on June 22, featuring compositions and performances by members of the Festival’s music faculty. The ADF Dance Faculty Concert takes place July 13, and the Hollins University/ADF MFA show on July 19.
AND THE HONORS GO TO…. Choreographer, dancer, teacher, Dianne McIntyre will receive this year’s Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching. She will be honored on June 28. Laura Dean will be presented with the 2008 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award as part of a special performance in her honor on June 29. One of the most prestigious honors in the field, the $50,000 award has previously been given to such modern dance luminaries as Martha Graham, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham and Twyla Tharp.
ADF ON EXHIBIT: Each summer since the 1970’s, the American
Dance Festival has commissioned a major American artist, including Elizabeth Murray, Jennifer Bartlett, Joan Snyder, Cecily Brown and Alex Katz, to design its season poster. An exhibit of their now historic works will be shown this summer in the lobby of the Reynolds Theater. Alex Katz will design this summer’s poster.
EDUCATING PROFESSIONALS: In its commitment to stimulating and advancing interest in dance on all levels, each summer the festival hosts the National Endowment Journalism Institute for Dance Criticism.
This summer’s Institute takes place June 21-July 11. Once again the ADF will be the scene of a Dance Professionals Workshop (June 13–19, June 20–26, June 27–July 3, and July 4–10, and July 11–17). Additionally, ADF has joined with Hollins University to offer an MFA in Dance, making it the first dance institution to unite with a university for a graduate degree program. The Festival’s six-week school takes place this year, June 5-July 20. Attracting over 450 students worldwide each summer, the Festival offers courses in all forms of dance and related subjects. It also hosts a four-week School for Young Dancers, which takes place this summer, June 5-July 20.
INTERNATIONALLY SPEAKING: Choreographers from China, Taiwan, Russia, Mongolia, Argentina, and Germany, among other countries will participate in the Festival’s 2008 International Choreographers Residency Program. The six-week program began in 1984 to stimulate a vibrant exchange of ideas among the artists, encourage the creation of new dances, and forge new collaborations.
FILM AND DANCING: The Festival hosts two projects designed to explore the relationship of dance and film entitled Dancing for the Camera: International Festival of Film and Video Dance, which takes place this year, July 11-13 and Screendance: State of the Art 2, Curating the Practice/Curating as Practice, July 10-14.
BOOKS & DANCE: Over the years the ADF has published a series of important books and journals including “The Black Tradition in Modern Dance.” This summer it will release Dr. Gerald E. Meyers’ “Who’s Not Afraid of Martha Graham.” Dr. Meyers is the ADF Philosopher in Residence.
ADF, BRIEFLY: ADF was founded in 1934 at Bennington College in Bennington, VT by Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman. It moved to the campus of Connecticut College in 1948, and to its present home in Durham, NC in 1978. Currently under the direction of Charles L. Reinhart and Co-Director Jodee Nimerichter, ADF has a reputation worldwide for discovering, commissioning and bringing recognition to major dance artists and emerging choreographers throughout the world. Over its 75-year history, it has been the scene of 600 world premieres.
The Festival is currently creating an online exhibit of its history, which will be up and running during the season. It can be connected to by logging onto the ADF website.