What's new at ADF? A lot

Jun. 07, 2014 @ 08:55 AM

Ask American Dance Festival director Jodee Nimerichter “what’s new?” at the festival’s 81st season, and expect to listen for a while.

In fact, most of the programs feature choreographers/companies here for the first time. Even familiar “faces,” such as Pilobolus and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, at every ADF season since the festival moved here in 1978, offer new work. And, so does John Jasperse, no stranger here.
For Pilobolus, one ADF premiere represents a collaboration with Israeli writers Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen, performed on the troupe’s program June 26-June 28 at the Durham Performing Arts Center.
These Israelis are among an unprecedented number of Israeli artists showcased this season. “The density of strong work being made in Israel is so incredibly high,” Nimerichter said in a telephone interview.
The Israeli-based Vertigo Dance Company kicks off the season on Thursday-Saturday at DPAC with the ADF premiere of “Vertigo 20,” its largest-scale production yet. It includes lots of balloons and a set with built-in seats.
On June 17 at the Nasher Museum of Art, Israeli choreographers/dancers Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor make their festival debut with 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. showings of “Two Room Apartment,” a duet, which reflects their relationship in life and art. The Israeli Dance Critics’ Conference named the dance Best Performance of the Year in 2013.  The performance contains some nudity.                        
And July 24-July 26 at DPAC, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet presents work by two Israeli choreographers: Hofesh Shechter’s “Violet Kid” and the world premiere of Emanuel Gat’s “Ida?”.
Finally, the Israeli-born choreographer Netta Yerushalmy’s ADF-commissioned world premiere is part of the Footprints program that wraps up the season July 24-July 26 at Reynolds Industries Theater. This program also features ADF-commissioned world premiers by Carl Fink and Leonie McDonagh. Choreographers will work with ADF students to create these works during the six-week festival.
If the last Footprints choreographer sounds familiar, that’s because she’s artistic director/dancer in ponydance, the Irish company that made its ADF debut last summer with “Where did it all go right?” at Motorco Music Hall.
“People fell in love with it and asked, ‘Can you bring that piece back?,’” Nimerichter said.  But some members of the company were working on other projects. So Nimerichter asked McDonagh to create a new work for the Footprints program. “She has an incredible sense of humor and an interesting, creative mind,” Nimerichter added.
Other performers/companies making ADF debuts this summer include Gregory Maqoma, Ballet Hispanico; Ishmael Houston-Jones & Emily Wexler; Adele Myers and Dancers;  and Tere O’Connor Dance.
Maqoma is the first South African dancer/choreographer to perform at ADF. Inspired by his 19th century Xhosa warrior ancestor, his evening-length solo, “Exit/Exist,” will be performed June 14-16 at Reynolds Industries Theater.
Ballet Hispanico’s program June 20 and June 21 at DPAC includes a new, ADF-commissioned work, “Show.Girl,” by Miami-based Rosie Herrera.
Adele Myers and Dancers perform “Einstein’s Happiest Thought” June 30-July 2 at Reynolds Industries Theater. This work was inspired in part by Myers’ decision to enroll in trapeze school to get over her fear of falling.
Ishmael Houston-Jones & Emily Wexler perform the N.C. premiere of their first, evening-length collaboration, “13 Love Songs: dot.dot.dot” at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. June 24 and June 25 at Durham Arts Council’s PSI Theater – a new venue for ADF.  “It opens up the possibility to be in a more intimate space and feel like you’re really close to the experience,” Nimerichter said.
Tere O’Connor brings a marathon experience for dancers and audiences when he makes his ADF debut with four interconnected works. The journey begins July 13 with “Sister” at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Ark, followed by “poem” and “Secret Mary” July 15 at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. and “BLEED” at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. at Reynolds Industries Theater. The Ark performances are free and so is the July 17 conversation with O’Connor at 8 p.m., also at the Ark.
ADF audiences will be the first in the U.S. to see Ballet Preljocaj’s “Empty moves” (parts I, II and III)” performed at 8 p.m. July 11, July 12 at DPAC.  Prior to the July 11 performance, artistic director Angelin Preljocaj receives the Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for lifetime achievement.
And, in “On Their Bodies,” a new program, seen only at ADF, accomplished choreographers Ronald K. Brown, Stephen Petronio, Doug Varone and Shen Wei perform ADF-commissioned solos they created. The program takes place July 22 and July 23 at DPAC.  These choreographers don’t often perform. So, Nimerichter asked herself, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could grace our stage again?”

WHAT: The American Dance Festival’s 81st Season.
WHEN: Thursday (June 12) – July 26.
WHERE: Duke University’s Reynolds Industries Theater; Durham Performing Arts Center.
TICKETS: 919-684-4444; 919-680-2787; www.americandancefestival.org
New this season: $10 tickets for ages 18-30 for DPAC, Reynolds performances. Must purchase tickets in person at the box offices.