American Dance Festival kicks off Thursday in Durham

CorrespondentJune 7, 2014 

The Renay Aumiller Dances company will be part of “Here and Now: NC Dances” at Reynolds Industries Theater on June 18.


  • Cheap tickets

    The “ADF Go” program allows 18- to 30-year-olds with proper ID to buy $10 tickets to any American Dance Festival performances in the Durham Performing Arts Center or Duke University’s Reynolds Industries Theater. Tickets must be purchased in person at the venues’ box offices (no online or phone sales) but may be purchased at any time and can be bought in advance.


    Go to for additional events, including the International Screendance Festival, faculty and musicians’ concerts, ADF tours, post-performance discussions, free youth workshops and a moonlit yoga celebration.

  • ADF by venue

    The American Dance Festival 2014 season, which runs from June 12 through July 26, includes 12 company debuts, 12 ADF commissions, 10 world premieres, two U.S. premieres and one ADF exclusive program. Full details at

    Here’s a venue-by-venue look:

    Durham Performing Arts Center

    123 Vivian St., Durham.

    Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets are $19.25-$58.

    Info: 919-680-2787 or

    June 12-13: Vertigo Dance Company

    June 20-21: Ballet Hispanico

    June 26-28: Pilobolus

    July 5-6: Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

    July 11-12: Ballet Preljocaj

    July 18-19: Paul Taylor Dance Company

    July 22-23: On Their Bodies

    Children’s Saturday Matinees: Durham Performing Arts Center

    Performances begin at 1 p.m. Tickets are $16.

    June 21: Ballet Hispanico

    June 28: Pilobolus

    July 19: Paul Taylor Dance Company

    Reynolds Industries Theater, Duke University

    125 Science Drive, Durham

    Performances are at 8 p.m. (unless noted). Tickets are $27-$34.50.

    Info: 919-684-4444 or

    June 14-16: Gregory Maqoma/Vuyani Dance Theatre

    June 18: Here and Now: NC Dances, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

    June 30 and July 1-2: Adele Myers and Dancers

    July 7-9: John Jasperse Company

    July 15-16: Tere O’Connor Dance. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

    July 24-26: Footprints (new works by three choreographers)

    Off-site performances

    Performances are at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.

    919-684-4444 or

    Tickets are $16.25.

    June 17: Niv Sheinfeld & Oren Laor, Nasher Museum of Art, Duke University, 2001 Campus Drive., Durham.

    June 24-25: Ishmael Houston-Jones & Emily Wexler, Durham Arts Council PSI Theatre, 120 Morris St., Durham.

— American Dance Festival Director Jodee Nimerichter began to worry as she surveyed an empty dance studio one night last month. Not one of the 60 young men and women she’d invited to learn about the annual showcase of modern dance had shown up by the starting time.

The gathering is one way Nimerichter was hoping to reach out to new audiences to spark interest in the 81-year-old festival opening its 36th Durham season Thursday.

The idea came from meetings with longtime supporters to brainstorm ways to attract 18- to 30-year-olds, a group under-represented at the box office. At one donor’s business, Nimerichter approached a young employee.

“He had no idea what ADF was,” she said, “but after hearing about the different companies and performance styles, he suddenly responded, ‘It’s like every body tells a story.’ Out of the blue, he’d become a marketing person for us!”

Nimerichter turned the young man’s observation into the logo for a new ADF T-shirt. She developed other marketing ideas based on his observation that he couldn’t afford the tickets and he wouldn’t want to go without someone else along who knew about modern dance.

Through her contacts, Nimerichter invited dozens in the targeted age group to meet at the festival’s studios for refreshments and incentives. Just when Nimerichter thought the idea had failed that night, people began drifting in and soon nearly 30 invitees were noisily mingling and noshing.

Nimerichter asked attendees what made them decide to come. Durham resident Marc Wagenseil, 26, had a typical response.

“I’d never been to any kind of dance performance before,” he said, “and it seemed really risky to buy an expensive ticket to something I might not enjoy.”

To counter such concerns, Nimerichter gave each person four free tickets and asked them to tell their friends about the performances they see. She also encouraged them to tell their friends about “ADF Go,” a new incentive offering $10 tickets to anyone between ages 18 and 30. A week later, Wagenseil seemed to be fulfilling Nimerichter’s fondest hopes.

“I’ve already started spreading the word about the tickets and people are blown away,” he said. “It feels good to tell people about an opportunity that has no hidden catch.”

Despite the focus on younger audiences this season, Nimerichter wanted to make sure regular attendees were not overlooked. So half of the 24 companies and choreographers this season are returning from previous years, but each is presenting premieres, making the familiar also new. And for aficionados who are always ready for something different, 12 companies are appearing for the first time.

The schedule is also more flexible this season, with shows opening on every day of the week. Nimerichter hopes the wider range of performance dates will help to compete with the many summer entertainment options now available.

Nimerichter knows many people are still afraid they won’t understand what they see.

“I’m encouraging regular attendees to ask friends and co-workers to go with them to a performance so they can explain things and make them more comfortable with modern dance,” she said. “With such a variety of performances, it’s rare not to find something that speaks to you.”

That prediction is expressed in Nimerichter’s addendum on the new T-shirt. The front’s slogan, “Every Body Tells A Story,” is expanded on the back with “Find Yours At ADF.”


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