ADF reaching out
The American Dance Festival will celebrate its 80th Anniversary season by going to new lengths to bring the strange, beautiful and far-out world of modern dance to audiences here during it’s six-week season that opens Thursday.
For the first time ever part of the main-stage programming takes place in a downtown Durham venue. The Irish dance company ponydance will make its festival debut at Motorco Music Hall, 723 Rigsbee Ave.
ADF director Jodee Nimerichter had seen the company in a hotel bar in Adelaide, Australia, as part of a dance festival there. The dance, “Where did it all go right?” takes inspiration from quirky characters often met in a pub setting. “I literally laughed out loud,” Nimerichter said. “It was so much fun when I saw it, I really wanted to recreate the experience here.”
So, she approached Motorco’s general manager, Jeremy Roth, who agreed to host the ponydance performances. “We’re just trying to be good community members,” Roth said in an interview. “ADF is in Durham and it’s cool that we have that.”
The Irish company will perform two shows a night for five nights, July 17-July 21, at Motorco. People will be able to purchase drinks before the performance, Nimerichter said.
She said she hopes performances at Motorco encourage a younger crowd and others who would normally shy away from modern dance.
Main-stage programming also travels to Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art – another first – as the museum and ADF partner to produce Mark Haim’s “This Land Is Your Land.” Set to a country music score, the 50-minute work explores such issues as consumerism, environmental concerns and body image.
Another event is so far offstage as to be in New York. That would be Mark Dendy’s site-specific work for 80 dancers that takes place outside Lincoln Center July 24 -July 25. The joint commission by the center and ADF celebrates the festival’s 80th as well as opens the center’s free, outdoor summer performance series.
Although the Dendy work will not be performed in Durham, the ADF is holding a raffle that will send two people to New York to see it. And Nimerichter wants to share some of the dance through video footage on the festival’s website, www.americandancefestival.org. That website also features “80 Faces of Dance,” which celebrates the festival’s 80th anniversary by featuring videos of people in the dance world sharing their ADF experiences.
In addition to ponydance, other companies/choreographers making ADF debuts this summer are: The 605 Collective from Canada; LeeSaar The Company, formed in Israel; and the U.S. company: Camille A. Brown & Dancers.
Work by five North Carolina choreographers will be featured, for the first time, on the festival’s main stage lineup – a joint presentation by ADF and the NC Dance Festiva. They are John Gamble, Cara Hagan, Lindsey Kelley, Natalie Marrone and Mindy Logan.
“We wanted to showcase talented choreographers living and working here,” Nimerichter said.
A number of programs by established choreographers include a seminal work from the past as well as premieres.
Shen Wei Dance Arts opens the festival Thursday at Durham Performing Arts Center with a program that features Shen’s 2000 “Near the Terrace Part I” and an ADF-commissioned world premiere “Collective Measures.” Pilobolus performs their 1972 “Ocellus,” the second work created by the troupe. Their program also features two ADF-commissioned world premieres that includes a collaboration with illusionists Penn and Teller.
The Trisha Brown Company makes what may very well be its last appearance at ADF July 19 – July 20 at DPAC . Because of Brown’s health, the company is considering winding down in two years, Nimerichter said. Brown has suffered small strokes in recent years and can no longer create new work. The program will feature her last work ever, the 2011 “I’m going to toss my arms – if you catch them they’re yours” as well her 1983 “Set, Reset.”
The festival’s last week, July 22-July 27, represents a grand finale and illustrates what ADF is all about: supporting both emerging and established choreographers and giving students a chance to dance.This season more of them than ever – more than 80 -- appear in programs.
Students perform work by emerging choreographers Rosie Herrera, Adele Myers and Vanessa Voskuil in the Footprints program July 23 and July 24 at Reynolds Industries Theater. And they appear in an unprecedented Forces of Dance program, July 26-July 27, that celebrates both this year’s and past Scripps American Dance Festival Award recipients. The DPAC program features students in reconstructions: Martha Graham’s “Ritual To the Sun” from her 1981 “Acts of Light” and Bill T. Jones’ 1996 “Love Re-Defined.” ADF-commissioned world premiere by Twyla Tharp was created for the students. The program also spotlights work by this year’s Scripps/ADF recipient, Lin Hwai-min, a solo from his 1998 “Moon Water” performed by Cloud Gate Dance Theatre dancer Chou Chang-ning.
Lin, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre, was an ADF student himself in 1978.