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Bates Festival Newsletter

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Newsletter Vol. 5 Spring 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

2007 SEASON SNAPSHOT

• Young Dancers Workshop: July 7 - July 21
• 3-Week Professional Training Program: July 21 – August 12
• Youth Arts Program: July 23 - August

July 14............................. Rubberbandance Group
July 20 - 21..................... David Dorfman Dance in underground
July 26 ............................ Global Exchange: Sharing Across Cultures, Panel discussion with international visiting artists
July 28............................. 25th Anniversary Gala with Liz Lerman, Rennie Harris, Bebe Miller, Doug Varone, Sean Curran, David Dorfman, Danny Buraczeski and PearsonWidrig DanceTheater
July 29............................ An Evening of Improvised Works with Nancy Stark Smith and others
July 31............................ Musician’s Concert, featuring music from around the world
August 2.......................... Different Voices, featuring international and emerging choreographers
August 4.......................... Bridgman Packer Dance in Trilogy
August 5.......................... BoánDanz Action in False Testimony
August 9 & 10 PearsonWidrig DanceTheater
August 11........................ Festival Finale, featuring faculty repertory works

Individuals looking for a rewarding vacation destination need look no farther than Maine. If you’re thinking of coming our way this summer, the Maine Office of Tourism can assist with travel plans. Visit their website at www.visitmaine.com or call 1-888-624-6345.

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2007 25th ANNIVERSARY PREVIEW

Laura Faure, Festival Director

This summer we will celebrate 25 years of fostering a creative community of contemporary dance. Bringing together leading dance practitioners, composer/musicians, educators, students and audience members, the 2007 Festival (July 7-August 12) offers an opportunity to look back at our history, invest in our future and celebrate the present with a community of contemporary art makers.

We have been busy with anniversary planning since last spring and are now putting the final touches on what we hope will be a spectacular 25th season. To mark this auspicious occasion we are gathering together a remarkable group of artists who we have come to think of as members of the Festival family. Renowned choreographers Liz Lerman, Rennie Harris, Bebe Miller, Doug Varone, David Dorfman, Sean Curran, Danny Buraczeski and Sara Pearson & Patrik Widrig will perform as part of our Anniversary Gala, July 28th, as well as offer workshops in technique, repertory, creative process and site work, and participate in panel discussions. These are choreographers with whom we have had long, fruitful and mutually beneficial relationships. All have taught, performed and created works in residence at BDF, immeasurably enriching our community. We are thrilled and honored that they will join our celebration this summer.

Bebe Miller - photo by Lois Greenfield

Also highlighting this special season will be new works by Montreal's hottest hip hop company Rubberbandance Group, underground, a highly charged political work by David Dorfman Dance, cutting edge video dance works by Bridgman Packer Dance and BoánDanz Action, a magical site-specific work by PearsonWidrig DanceTheater created with composer Robert Een, students and community members, plus performances by international and emerging artists and students. Other special events include panel discussions with dance makers and Festival veterans, and workshops with resident artists. (Visit our website for full details.)

As we approach summer the excitement is building. Already our professional program is nearly fully enrolled with a record number of students signing up early to ensure a place at the Festival. Across the country the artists are in their studios developing new works to grace our stage. At home local school contacts are assisting with recruitment of low-income youth for scholarships to our Youth Arts Program. This summer YAP will move onto the Bates campus to allow the children increased access to Festival artists and activities. Bates College professor of dance, Carol Dilley, and I are putting the final touches on our American Masters reconstruction project with Danny Buraczeski (see next story) to strengthen the connection between the academic dance program and the summer Festival. We continue to expand the scope and content of our website and are currently developing our ability to communicate with all of you via email. Meanwhile Development associate, Alicia Nichols, our advisory council and I have been vigorously pursuing the needed funds to realize our ambitious anniversary program. As you peruse this issue the arc of activity connecting one Festival season to another, and the Festival to the larger world of contemporary performance will become visible. We welcome your ongoing interest and support. Please join us this summer and keep in touch.

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AMERICAN MASTERS: DANNY BURACZESKI

Photo - no credit

Two of our ongoing goals are to connect significant artists with the next generation of dance makers and to strengthen our ties with the Bates College dance program. To those ends, we applied for, and were awarded, an American Masters grant in the amount of $10,000 to restage Swing Concerto, a classic jazz work by choreographer, Danny Buraczeski, set to the music of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman. The award was given by American Masterpieces: Dance, a new program of the National Endowment for the Arts, administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts that awards $400,000 in grants to support the restaging of historically significant American dance work. Swing Concerto had its original premiere in St Paul, Minnesota in November 1993. This summer eleven Festival students will spend three weeks learning this work for a performance in our Festival Finale, August 12. In the fall Mr. Buraczeski will return to set the work on a group of Bates College dance students who will perform it during the fall semester.

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PEDAL-POWERED VOYAGE

by Alexandra Urza

Alexandra Urza and Megan McInerney

Each year dancers travel to Bates College from all corners of the world. Many spend days in transit—airport seats are slouched in while bad weather passes and planes are repaired, radio stations scanned nervously in traffic jams. Last summer, en route to Lewiston, I was my own mechanic, I waited out lightning storms under poplar trees, and stopped for lunch in sun-colored hay fields.

After registering for the Bates Dance Festival, I was left to figure out how to get to Maine from Portland, Oregon. I hesitated to make plane reservations, seeing the cross-country trip as an unusual opportunity to see a part of the U.S. that was entirely foreign to me. I was, after all, technically unemployed until September. In early May, my housemate traded her fixed-gear for a touring bike, and we remembered an unlikely idea brought up 4 years earlier, in one of the first conversations we ever had. Less than two weeks later, we pedaled down our Portland street headed for another Portland with a tent, a camp stove, and rain gear.

In the weeks of planning leading up to our departure, I was mostly excited for what was waiting for me on the other side of the continent. Within an hour of climbing onto my top-heavy silver road bike, however, it became clear that the journey was just as important as the destination. The first afternoon, we hit the drenching rains that would stay with us until Montana. We got off our bikes in that first rain, climbed into a gutter alongside the slick two-lane highway, and laughed until our ribs hurt. The utter ridiculousness of our trip never completely faded, though we gradually became accustomed to nature’s whims and the crawling pace of our progress.

Crossing some 12 states at an average rate of 60 to 100 miles per day, we soon fell into a perfectly synchronized rhythm of flexion-extension. After a couple of weeks, whole days would pass without a word exchanged between the two of us. Our calves cramped at the same moment on the same day, and eyes closed in perfect coordination at the end of hot days. The meditative pace of our travel was regularly interrupted by unexpected adventures: bull-riders, bartenders, moose and peacocks all made for hilarious encounters along the way.

By the time I reached Lewiston, I had traded most of my flexibility and agility for strength and endurance. My body stuck in a hopelessly narrow range of motion -- the first days of the Festival were painful and frustrating. Once I had restored my mobility, however, I realized that the bike trip’s true benefit for my dancing was mental: freed from the stresses and pressures of my life’s routine, the barrier between technical and creative had been lifted ever so slightly. I found that my ability to absorb information had expanded, while personal expression infused my movement like never before. The two months in transit had created a space between my Festival-self and my otherwise hurried life, giving my dancing my undivided attention.

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YOUTH ARTS PROGRAM: A Local Success Story

Terrence Karn and YAP kids - photo by
Phyllis Graber Jensen

For fourteen years our Youth Arts Program has offered dance and music classes to local children during the summer months. Led by a gifted faculty of youth educators, the program has served over 900 students many of whom are low-income students with little access to live performing arts. YAP has received generous support over the years from several dedicated foundations and local corporations who recognize the multiple benefits of artistic engagement and expression to young people. Since YAP's inception we have provided full scholarships to more than 600 of our students. Many have returned year after year eager to continue their training. This has allowed us to witness their remarkable development. Some have graduated to our professional program and gone on to conservatories and colleges. We have received many appreciative and glowing responses to YAP over the years but the one that follows is a truly remarkable statement about the power of the arts! It comes from the mother of Julie who has attended YAP since 2002.

"There are so many ways that YAP has helped my daughter, Julie. It has helped her to become more confident and have better self-esteem. Because of this she does better in school and at trying new things. She makes friends more easily and doesn’t go along with peer pressure. This past summer at YAP she helped a new student who was afraid to leave her parents. She explained what happens and how nice the teachers are. She shared how she used to be scared but now loves it. The girl asked Julie to stay with her so her parents could leave for work. I remember when Julie started years ago -- she used to be that little girl.

My entire family is overweight except for Julie. YAP helps with childhood obesity. Because of YAP Julie dances for fun and this mean exercise. All year she practices the moves she has learned during the summer. She watches less television and plays fewer video games. All she wants to do is dance and have fun. YAP has also taught her to eat a healthier diet. When we go shopping she always puts her favorite vegetables and fruits in the cart. When I ask her why she says, 'because Jane [YAP director Jane Wiener] says to eat healthy.' In fact we both eat a lot healthier now.

Julie is ADHD and has a hard time focusing. Julie's case manager at school says she is doing much better. Each year I see an improvement in her. The first year of YAP I saw a big difference. She has to focus to learn the dance moves she loves. This teaches her the skills she needs for the things like schoolwork that she isn't so keen on. Julie is now excelling, she works at the same level as the other children in her class. She used to be a year and a half behind.

YAP also gives Julie positive mentors like music director Terrence Karn. She sees how much the teachers love the students and the vice versa. The YAP teachers offer more than just dance and music. They teach the kids kindness, caring, love and patience. Julie doesn't have a positive male influence in her life. My father is a smoker and disabled. We left her father when she was three years old because he was abusive. Julie sometimes gets an uneasy feeling around men. But YAP has helped her with this too. Now she is not afraid to ask questions or talk to men. Last year she had a male teacher at school and was able to tell him when she didn't understand things. She has learned she can open up and not be afraid.

Since Julie has been at YAP for a few years now it feels like an extended family. I hope this program can continue for many more years to come. I know that YAP has done all this for my daughter and many other parents feel the same way. I am a single Mom trying to do my best. I am saving my change and bottles. I used to buy a lunch on payday as a treat but now I am saving the $5.00 a week toward the YAP fee so that we will not need a scholarship and some other needy child might benefit. It's a small sacrifice on my part and yet gives my child a lifetime of memories."

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FUNDER PROFILE: LEF Foundation

The Bates Dance Festival receives support from a variety of sources – individuals, corporations, and foundations. We are pleased to recognize the generous support of the LEF Foundation who has awarded significant grants to the Festival in nine of the past twelve years. In 2007 a $15,000 grant from LEF will help to support residencies that integrate dance creation, teaching, performance and outreach by leading contemporary dance artists.

Located in Boston, the LEF Foundation was incorporated in California in 1985 and endowed by a gift made by its president, Marion E. Greene, and her family. From the onset, LEF has been committed to supporting the contemporary arts in all disciplines. LEF Foundation operates within two regional areas: California and New England. Through its grant programs and special initiatives, LEF New England supports contemporary art production and works to enhance the environmental conditions that foster creativity and experimentation. LEF is committed to providing support for provocative and innovative projects. LEF seeks to identify and promote creative ventures and to sponsor work that challenges its audience with new ways of perceiving the world.

"The LEF Foundation has supported the Bates Dance Festival for many years and is especially pleased to fund the 25th anniversary season. For LEF, the importance of the festival is, first and foremost, the quality of the work that is developed and presented there. As compelling, however, is the way in which the festival engages and supports its artists -- over the long term, in the creation of new work that involves risk, and by creating a larger conversation within which artists can speak and reflect on their work. "

-- Louisa McCall - Program Manager, LEF Foundation

Director Laura Faure notes, “Generous and repeated support from the LEF Foundation has enabled us to initiate and renew creative relationships with important contemporary artists from around the world and to encourage their creativity and connection to students, peers and audiences.”

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TELL IT!
Participant Feedback

Julian Barnett - photo by Tom Caravaglia

Last summer Julian Barnett spent three weeks immersed in classes and rehearsals as part of our Emerging Choreographers Program. He was moved to respond to the war raging in Lebanon and chose to make a trio to synthesize his feeling towards the conflict. Julian selected two dancers from the Festival with whom to develop the work. I Don't Want to Feel A Thing was presented as part of our Different Voices concert, August 10 & 11.

Julian says, "The significance of this festival spans global boundaries and reaches beyond political and cultural conventions. The Bates Dance Festival was and will always be a beacon of light as I continue through my artistic career and life. I am grateful for your encouragement, your platform, and your faith. At Bates I was able to truly challenge my physical language by trying to approach a concept that was entirely new. I wanted to make a piece about something substantial and to speak about the reality of the world at this time."

Seven dance educators from U.S. performing arts high schools were awarded fellowship to participate in our 2006 Teacher's Training Program, generously supported by the Surdna Foundation. Here’s what they had to say:

“I want you to know how much my life, as a dance teacher, was enriched because of the generous gift you offered me. There was a feeling of belonging at the Festival. The program was extremely professional, organized, educational, versatile and full of talent. I was very inspired.” – Sandra Foster-King, San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts

"I found the Festival to be one of the most educational and enjoyable dance intensives I have ever attended. The courses were challenging physically and mentally and the faculty was of the highest caliber. The evening performances and lectures were wonderful. I have returned to work with my students revitalized and with a renewed interest in my teaching.” – Mary Ann Laverty, Woodside High School, Newport News, VA

The Festival was 'dream come true' for me. I was able to make connections with other teachers throughout the country; participate in courses with prominent, master teachers; study dance pedagogy; and attend a host of performances, talks, showings and more. It was the ultimate professional development experience.” – Nyama McCarthy-Brown, Carver School of the Arts, Baltimore, MD

Master teacher and returning faculty member JoAnna Mendl Shaw offered these comments in her follow up letter:

"The Festival is committed to and fully embraces the creative process at its most ragged and risky. Teaching at the Festival is allowed to be a process of posing questions, not only providing answers. The students who attend the Festival are encouraged to take risks and discover their own passions and strengths through engaged dialogue. I find this environment rather unique as a dance educator."

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LIVING LARGE AT THE BATES DANCE FESTIVAL

by Allan Shapiro

This summer, the Bates Dance Festival (BDF) will celebrate 25 years of challenging and nurturing dancers, choreographers, musicians, students and audiences. I have been bringing my family to BDF for most of those summers. My wife, Meryl an accomplished dancer and choreographer, looks forward to spending three intensive weeks taking classes and attending performances. Our three children have participated in the Youth Arts Program and performed in the Festival Finale. My oldest daughter is now studying dance in college in New York. I am convinced that her BDF experience has fueled her creativity and expanded her imagination. My younger son and daughter, no longer dance but their participation at BDF has influenced their taste in music and opened their minds to unorthodox thoughts and ideas. Not a dancer, I work in television production for ABC News, but nothing is as exciting or stimulating as hanging out with dancers and musicians. In short, our lives have been enriched by our experience at BDF.

Here is a glimpse at some of the remarkable performances and events that we experienced with the other festival participants over the years. The first performance my family saw at BDF was Bebe Miller’s Hendrix Project—an abstract homage to the music of Jimi Hendrix and the 60’s. Over the years we witnessed the elegant style and emotional intensity of Doug Varone’s work for the theatre and once in an old Lewiston textile mill. Rennie Harris brought his company Pure Movement to BDF and hip-hop, popping and locking, spinning on backs and heads seemed to take over the festival. Another year the festival paid tribute to the Acadian heritage of Maine with a Contra dance in the gym with live Franco-American fiddlers.

Percussive dance was featured several summers with 'Hot Feet' concerts. Where else but Bates could one experience in a single performance contemporary tap with Tamango, Irish Step dancing with Sean Curran, Acadian step dancing with Benoit Bourque and Spanish Flamenco with Clara Ramona and her two sons. Dance at BDF knows no political boundaries as exemplified by the Different Voices concerts. Performers from every continent such as Vincent Mantsoe (South Africa), Ting-Chu Cho (Taiwan), Marianela Boán (Cuba), Mauricio Nava (Mexico) and Anh Khanh (Vietnam) share the styles, music and traditions of their native countries. That is not to say the BDF has not provided a venue for dancers and musicians from across the U.S. Participants from over 38 states have shared their work at the festival.

Dance at BDF knows no physical boundaries either -- how else to explain the ambitious site-specific performances. Stephan Koplowitz filled the Perry Atrium on campus with dancers and live music while the audience observed from inside and out. PearsonWidrig DanceTheater took over the grounds of the Maine Audubon Society's Gilsland Farm Sanctuary where live music filled the air and live dancers filled fields, woods, marshes and gardens. That concert, performed on one of the hottest days of the summer, ended, refreshingly, with dancers splashing and dumping large bowls of water over each other. Anyone who witnessed last summer’s Equus Project, performed on the Bates campus quad, will never forget the remarkable interaction between dancers and horses.

No events at BDF are more eagerly anticipated than the Musician's Concert and Moving in the Moment. One cannot describe these performances as concerts so much as wild unpredictable experiences that engage the audience. The Musician's Concert features all the accompanists/composers in residence at the festival. They play a multitude of instruments, even each other's instruments, and often move while playing. Nothing inspires them more than the enthusiastic urging of the dancers in the audience. Moving in the Moment is improvisational dance at its most daring. Everyone gets into the act. Dancers from all disciplines take part. The dancers and musicians switch roles and the audience is invited to join in. It is a time to dance, make music, interact and play. Moving in the Moment starts out as an everyday event. It could be a dance warm-up, a basketball game or a picnic. The dancers start with a loose structure that allows the dance to evolve. The dance has a beginning, middle and end and somehow the end makes sense.

The Bates Dance Festival has been run, or perhaps better described as nurtured, by Laura Faure for the past 20 years. Laura has provided a safe environment for artists to create, perform, instruct, experiment and share. She works tirelessly throughout the year so that for five glorious summer weeks, a dancer’s imagination can, like a handful of clay, be kneaded, stretched, re-formed. It is no coincidence that artists and students return again and again to BDF. Somehow Laura manages to find new artists, locally, nationally or internationally that inspire the Festival anew. Every summer, the Bates Dance Festival provides a venue for dancers and musicians to grow technically, creatively and spiritually.

How does one celebrate 25 years of all this? How can five summer weeks and one gala performance encapsulate 25 years of artistic freedom and spiritual growth? The simple answer is that one does what hundreds of dancers have done for the past 25 years. Make the Bates Dance Festival your Maine destination this summer. Take it from someone who has brought his family here for most of those 25 years. Come as a dancer or an audience member. Bring your family. Bring your friends. Savor the experience and share it. You will leave greatly enriched and anticipating your next visit.

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MEMBERSHIP

BDF relies on contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals to supply forty percent of our operating budget. Please consider becoming a Member. Go to the "Support BDF" page to download a gift form or send an email to dancefest@bates.edu for more information.

Founded in 1982, the Bates Dance Festival is a summer program of Bates College whose mission is: to bring an artistically and ethnically diverse group of outstanding contemporary dance artists to Maine during the summer months to teach, perform, and create new work; to encourage and inspire established and emerging artists by giving them a creative, supportive place in which to work; and to actively engage people from the community and region in a full range of danceperformances, workshops and discussions. The Festival receives some in-kind support from Bates College and pays an annual fee in exchange for services.

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