Flavors of dance

CorrespondentJune 8, 2013 

  • ADF, by venue

    The American Dance Festival 2013 season, which runs from June 13 through July 27, includes 11 company debuts, nine commissioned world premieres and one U.S. premiere. Full details at americandancefestival.org. Here’s a venue-by-venue look:

    Durham Performing Arts Center

    (919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com)

    Weekend Performances: 8 p.m. ($18-$54)

    June 13-14: Shen Wei Dance Arts (opening night June 13, at 7 p.m.)

    June 20-22: Pilobolus

    June 27-29: Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion

    July 5-6: Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company

    July 12-13: Paul Taylor Dance Company

    July 19-20: Trisha Brown Dance Company

    July 26-27: Forces of Dance

    Children’s Saturday Matinees: (Saturdays, 1 p.m., $15)

    June 22: Pilobolus

    July 6: Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company

    July 13: Paul Taylor

    Reynolds Industries Theater, Duke University, Durham

    919-684-4444 or tickets.duke.edu

    Midweek Performances: 8 p.m. ($25-$32)

    June 15-17: The 605 Collective

    June 19: N.C. Dance Festival (7 and 9 p.m.)

    June 23-25: Faye Driscoll

    June 30-July 2: LeeSaar The Company

    July 9-11: Camille A. Brown & Dancers

    July 22-24: Footprints (three premieres performed by ADF students)

    Off-Site Performances: 7 and 9 p.m. ($15)

    919-684-4444 or tickets.duke.edu

    June 25-26: Mark Heim – “This Land is Your Land” at Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University

    July 17-21: ponydance at Motorco Music Hall, Durham


    Check americandancefestival.org for additional events, including the International Screendance Festival, faculty and musicians’ concerts, MFA thesis performances, ADF tours and post-performance discussions. The site also includes a blog, a dance memory test and the stories of 80 past ADF participants.

The American Dance Festival turns 80 this summer, and its 35th season in Durham offers some of the biggest names and hottest newcomers in modern dance. But Jodee Nimerichter, the festival’s director, still runs into people at parties who seem hesitant and even afraid of the art form.

“Modern dance might not be for everyone,” she said during a recent break from last-minute season preparations, “but I think, within its range, there’s something for everybody. It’s like Baskin-Robbins ice cream – there are so many flavors. You might not like all of them, but there are few who can’t find something they like.”

Nimerichter is trying even harder this year to provide variety. To counter stereotypical objections that modern dance is weird and off-putting, she points to companies this season that use everyday situations and recognizable story lines, to those that take circus and acrobatic techniques as starting points, and to those that perform in nontraditional spaces with audience interaction.

The festival’s website allows newcomers to learn what each company is like through short video clips, the effectiveness of which Nimerichter knows firsthand.

“My sister claims not to like modern dance, even with my influence,” Nimerichter said, “but in looking over the website, she came across the clip of The 605 Collective, known for its playfully physical style. I was happily surprised when she told me she wanted tickets to see them.”

For those still hesitating, here’s a guide to selecting performances this season, from sticking a toe in to wading in deeper (see sidebar for locations, times and tickets):

For the first-timer

Pilobolus: Their funny, jaw-dropping combinations of bodies include a new collaboration with illusionists Penn & Teller and their 2011 hit that projects kaleidoscopic video being shot from underneath the dancers as they gyrate to music by OK Go.

Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company: Using lines attached to the dancers, Angiel’s choreography puts bodies in the air, twirling, bouncing and soaring to high-energy music and dramatic lighting.

For an informal introduction

Mark Haim: Staged in Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art with the audience casually arranged, Haim’s 50-minute piece has 14 contemporary characters performing evolving patterns with coffee cups and cellphones, commenting on consumerism and body image in humorous and poignant ways. (Contains nudity.)

ponydance: Staged in downtown Durham’s Motorco Music Hall with the audience at tables (drinks are available), this Irish company’s piece looks at the quirky characters in a pub with honest and funny insights. (Contains partial nudity.)

For the theatrically minded

Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion: “Pavement,” inspired by the film “Boyz in the Hood,” follows the lives of friends in Pittsburgh, employing naturalistic movement, dialogue and film clips, along with music from blues to hip-hop.

Camille A. Brown & Dancers: Brown brings her musical theater background to “MR. TOL E. RancE,” celebrating the black performer throughout history and wittily examining pervasive stereotypes in pop culture.

For the art lover

Shen Wei Dance Arts: Visual richness fills “Near the Terrace,” Shen Wei’s mesmerizing, ritualistic piece that puts the audience into a calm, ethereal landscape.

Paul Taylor: The crystalline patterns of “Arden Court” and the idyllic, pastoral setting of “Perpetual Dawn” reflect two of Taylor’s most beautiful creations, works that seem like living paintings.

Dicks: music_theater@lycos.com

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