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Bates Festival Newsletter

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Newsletter Vol. 7, Fall 2009
Newsletter Writer and Editor: Laura Faure

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Doug Varone and Dancers by Phil Knott

2010 SEASON SNAPSHOT

  • Young Dancers Workshop: June 25 – July 16
  • Professional Training Program: July 17 – August 8
  • Youth Arts Program: July 19 - August 7
  • Performance & Events Season July 10 - August 7

Coming up in 2010

This coming summer we will continue our tradition of nurturing a creative community of contemporary dance by bringing together leading dance practitioners, composer/musicians, educators, students and audience members. The 2010 Festival will offer a sampling of the best up and coming and established contemporary dance makers.

Highlighting the season will be Festival veterans, Doug Varone and Dancers. Since our collaboration in 1992 on A Momentary Order, we have been proud to support and present the extraordinary works of this gifted master. Doug brings his company back to Bates for a three-week creative residency to develop his latest work, Chapters From a Broken Novel. The company will offer classes, performances and a sneak preview of Chapters.

Also on our season comes the funny and delightful, Monica Bill Barnes & Company. The New York Times calls Barnes “… one of the wittiest young choreographers around.” Caribbean-born choreographer Cynthia Oliver brings her company, COCo Dance Theatre to perform, Rigidigidim De Bamba De: Ruptured Calypso, a feast of eloquent words and delicious movement. The award-winning mixed abilities dance company AXIS presents a new work by David Dorfman that incorporates a community cast. And our annual Different Voices concerts will feature an exciting and diverse mix of choreographers from Africa, Asia, Mexico and the U.S.. Complimenting these performances will be a variety of free performances, lectures and events. Through out the Festival dancers from all corners of the globe will be busy learning together, creating and sharing new works and celebrating dance.

Please plan to join us next summer. We welcome your ongoing interest and support. And, please, visit us online at: http://www.batesdancefestival.org.

Tentative Performance Series: July 5 – August 7

July 10 .................... Monica Bill Barnes & Company Performance
July 12 .................... Doug Varone and Dancers Lecture Demonstration
July 22 .................... Global Exchange: Sharing Across Cultures, Panel discussion with international visiting artists
July 15 & 17 ............ Doug Varone and Dancers Performances
July 19 .................... COCo Dance Theatre Lecture Demonstration
July 20 .................... Global Exchange Panel
July 23 & 24 ............ COCo Dance Theatre Performances
July 26 .................... AXIS Dance Company Lecture Demonstration
July 27 .................... Musician’s Concert
July 30 & 31 ............ AXIS Dance Company Performances
August 3 .................. Moving in the Moment Improvisation concert
August 5 & 6 ............ Different Voices Performances
August 7 .................. Festival Finale

LOOKING BACK: AMIDST CHALLENGES A YEAR OF STABILITY AND GROWTH

Laura Faure, Festival Director

We all know that the financial crisis of the past year dealt a severe blow to arts organizations nation wide. Like others BDF experienced increasing costs and a significant decline in corporate and foundation gifts causing us to re-examine our priorities and plans. Fortunately, we were blessed with sustained core support from our most valued funders including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Performance Network, New England Foundation for the Arts, Maine Arts Commission, Surdna Foundation, Sequoia Foundation, and the Davis Family Foundation as well as a growing cadre of generous individual donors. After careful deliberation, we elected to go forward with a bold plan to expand and deepen our reach. The really good news is that, as a result, we attracted many new participants to our programs. We saw increases in both student enrollment and audience attendance. And, many loyal ticket buyers introduced new friends to the Festival. We also continued our service to emerging and mid-career choreographers by hosting 12 residencies that resulted in the creation of nine new works. Read about our successful expansion of Youth Arts Program and Young Dancer Workshop further on.

Here’s what BDF participants had to say about their experiences:

“I am struck by the way the Bates Dance Festival is: A place to meet the artists you will work with in the future; a place to continue long histories together; a way for professional artists as well as aspiring artists to learn, to be challenged, to be reminded of the possibilities of dance; a place that gives me hope: for the field, for my particular convictions, for being with others.” Victoria Marks (2009 faculty)

The Festival was a remarkable experience that contributed to deepening my technical abilities and fostering my voice as an artist and teacher. " Professional Dancer

“I feel like a changed person with an expanded outlook on, not only the dance world, but the real world.” Young Dancer

“We live in such a small community and last year the school budget for field trips was frozen. We lost arts programs and teachers. YAP offers our children a chance to learn about different cultures and study the arts. Its wonderful to see how their awareness expands.”
Youth Arts parent

“My wife and I have been members/attendees for years.  Last night we attended the opening of Kate Weare Company.  We loved it, and really enjoyed the Q&A at the end, since neither of us are artists, getting a bit of a window into the creative spirit and process is special.”

YOUTH ARTS KEEPS THE CHANGE!
by Dana Reed, Youth Arts Program Director

Youth Arts in Class

“Keep the Change” was the theme of this summer’s Youth Art’s Program (YAP). The final production was performed in the Festival Finale on August 8. The program and the piece focused on positive ways the students could change themselves, their home, community, and the world. The “change” began with the program itself, extending the program to a full day of activities. This offered the students more time for creating and learning with each age level taking modern, hip hop and repertory dance classes, plus music and journaling. In addition, one class each day incorporated all 60 students that strengthened the sense of unity among the group. During this class period a variety of master classes, art projects, and group rehearsals were offered. Master classes were conducted by BDF faculty, international artists and dance education interns with each teacher presenting a different dance form. During the master classes the students studied court dances of Louis XIV, a folk style Caribbean Soca dance, West African dance, an ancient Egyptian belly dance, break dancing, contact and improvisation. Many of the guest artists included our theme of “change” into their lesson, such as how dances in history have changed and evolved and how different cultures influence that change. Also, many students began to show changes and improvements throughout the three weeks. The variety of the techniques offered allowed each student to find a connection to the program. Many of the cultural dances taught were included in our Finale performance that set a broader and more world-wide view for the audience to enjoy.

In addition, YAP focused on ways to change our community and collected “change” (coins) in recycled bottles to be used as props and musical instruments in our show. Every student decorated their own piggy bank to use in the finale and take home as a camp reminder. After the performance all the coins collected were donated to the New Beginnings Teen Center in Lewiston. Together, YAP and local community raised $661 for the center. This gave everyone a role in helping produce our Finale performance and the coin gathering created a connection between our students, their families, the community, and the Bates Dance Festival.

YOUNG DANCERS WORKSHOP EXPANDS
by Karl Rogers, Co-Director of Young Dancer Workshop

Young Dancers in Class

It’s a feeling I’ll never replicate — 99 teenagers swarming me and my fellow faculty, running full-throttle across Alumni gymnasium at the successful conclusion of this year’s Young Dancers Workshop (YDW) showing for family and friends. I was literally consumed by sweaty teenaged bodies, emotions, thoughts and celebration. There was much to celebrate, too.

YDW is built on the fundamental belief that pre-professional dancers aged 14-18 are more likely to thrive in a supportive, non-competitive environment. After 15 years of YDW being a two week program we knew that with more time their experience would be deeper and more rewarding. So we took a leap and added a third week to the workshop. And the great news is three weeks was a huge success!

Like other years, Director Laura Faure, assembled world-class faculty and musicians. What always strikes me, besides my colleague’s awe-inspiring skill, is the unified, coherent message conveyed across the wide spectrum of disciplines offered. Students learn first-hand that the study of dance demands rigor but can be fun. It requires self-discipline and self-assessment while engaging with a community and a global exchange of ideas. To this end, I often think YDW’s main mission is one of exposure: exposing young dancers to new ways of thinking about dance, new ways of approaching familiar ideas in dance, and to new dance forms, traditions and aesthetic sensibilities. While much of this exposure comes in the dance classroom, the YDW schedule is packed. Students attended two dance concerts and lecture demonstrations by three resident companies; Battleworks, COCo Dance Theatre (Cynthia Oliver), and Kate Weare and Company. There were workshops in injury prevention and advance studies in dance. There was an evening dedicated to an “up close and personal” introduction to the faculty, and another focused on the counselors. The faculty showed their work in an informal concert and one night was an informal concert of works made while at Bates. There was an evening to watch videos of past BDF performances, a day full of workshops in dance-related disciplines including a site-specific workshop, pointe, massage and more. And for a change of scenery students took a trip to Reid State Park along the coast of Maine (a first trip to the ocean for more than one of the students). It’s quite a schedule to orchestrate! But, YDW never rests on success and is always evolving.

Our 16th summer worked better than I ever imagined. The students were given the time to deepen their experience and to fully engage with their classes. This years’ group of students demonstrated a higher level of technical skill and their dancing just got better and better. In three weeks we saw substantial growth. The pace was still breakneck with events most nights and four classes each weekday, but there was more time to enjoy and soak in the sense of community. Plus, the incredible faculty and musicians were able to share even more with their usual generosity and clarity. I look forward to co-directing many more years to come. It is my favorite three weeks of the year!

A GATHERING PLACE FOR MATURE PROFESSIONALS
by Nancy Salmon, BDF Associate Director

They arrived, filling up the house, while I was at work. Some stopped in to say hello when they picked up their registration packets. Others just settled in. I usually leave a Welcome note with flowers in the lounge. Until this day each summer I’ve lived alone here for three weeks. Such a joy to come back to the Vintage Dancer House (Frye House in Bates College lingo) to peals of laughter, changed hair styles, older and wiser bodies and brains, a glass of wine and great friends. This, after a year’s absence and a long day helping everyone arrive for the Professional Training Program.

To live in the “Vintage Dancer House” you must be at least 45 years old. Occasionally someone younger slips in or is granted special dispensation. This summer the youngest was 48 and we ranged upward from there, nearly touching 70. All are professional dancers with careers as private studio owners, independent artists-in-residence, college dance department chairs, high school dance program teachers, dance program administrators or company directors, and one higher education retiree who still teaches and choreographs. Many have attended the Festival for a decade or more. They come year after year to “be a student”, to recharge their creative batteries and to renew friendships. Many mention the opportunity to contradict the isolation we feel in our hometown dance work – a lack of colleagues and/or lack of new ideas and challenges to our thinking.

Our mornings start with Ann, the early riser, making coffee in the lounge and Melody going out for a run. Others of us bounce, stagger or wander to sit with a cup of coffee and talk about the day ahead or the night past or this particular morning’s physical challenge or socio/political outrage. We separate to go to class (most everyone takes four classes) or, in my case, the office. We gather again, usually after dinner or the evening event to review the day and the dance combinations. Some do their class homework. Often there is wine involved and lots of laughter and some serious debates about topics as diverse as teaching philosophy, homelessness and poverty, equal/civil rights, healthy care - before we separate to sleep.

There are always a couple of newbies to welcome each summer and some people return on alternate years. Catching up is an exciting challenge. Some of us stay in touch throughout the year. Others of us just delight in our reunion each summer.

REACHING AROUND THE GLOBE - ARTIST PROFILE: Michel Kouakou
Michel Kouakou, photo by Arthur Fink)

Michel Kouakou

At BDF two of our core goals are to foster artistic development and exchange by connecting artists from across the global dance community; and showcasing the diversity of contemporary dance to Maine audiences. Since 1994 we have hosted extended residencies for sixty-five artists from abroad providing them with opportunities to study, create and perform new works and build meaningful relationships with the U.S. artists and audiences. With some, like Gregory Maqoma and Michel Kouakou, we have built ongoing partnerships and hosted multiple residencies to support collaborative projects.

Last summer we hosted a third fabulous residency by Ivory Coast dancer/choreographer, Michel Kouakou. Michel began his career studying dance, acrobatics, and Marionette Theater in his home country. After receiving several dance prizes in Abidjan, he continued his study of contemporary dance with Germaine Acogny at L’Ecole de Sables in Senegal. As a dancer, he has performed with choreographers Germaine Acogny (Senegal), Seydou Boro (Burkina Faso), Bud Blumenthal (Belgium), and Arata Kitamura (Japan) Georgio Rossi (Italy), and Kota Yamazaki (Japan). In 2003, he formed his own company, Daara Dance, for which he had created and performed works in the US, Holland, Germany, Italy, Israel, Palestine, Belgium, France, Tunisia, Chad Republic, Ivory Coast, and Czech Republic. In 2003 he was invited to teach modern dance at the Duncan Centre Conservatory in Prague and served as a full-time faculty member for six months. Currently, Michel performs with Reggie Wilson Fist and Heel Performance Group, and travels internationally creating his own work.

In 2006 Michel came to visit Bates at the invitation of resident artist, Marc Bamuthi Joseph. In three short days he won our hearts with his infectious smile, community spirit and multitude of talents (dancer, musician, dance-maker). During that visit he met Lucky Kele of South African with whom he forged an immediate connection.

In 2007 we invited he and Lucky to return and collaborate as part of our International Visiting Artist Program. They created a provocative, deeply spiritual work that was performed on our Young Choreographer/New Works concert. A charismatic soul, Michel exuded good will and embraced the spirit of the Festival as he jumped in to play for class, demonstrate an African dance phrase, or share a personal story in our weekly roundtable discussions.

In 2008 I attended a dance platform in Tunis where she saw new solo works by Michel and his friend and former Compagnie Tche Tche dancer, Nadia Beugre. Michel, Nadia and their mutual friend, Daudet Fabrice, told her they were hoping to develop a new work built around their long friendship as teenage dancers in the Ivory Coast. With support from our fellow African Contemporary Arts Consortium partner, Marge Neset of VSA Arts of New Mexico in Albuquerque, we proposed to host this project at Bates that coming July (a mere two months away). After a bit of scrambling we managed to procure visas, flights and before we knew it the artists were on their way to Bates. The three had an intense and enriching four weeks together at the festival, spending many hours in the studio to uncover a common language for their piece. They shared the work-in-progress in our studio showings and received feedback from fellow dancers. This was a rare and important opportunity for them to come together and focus on their collaboration and we were thrilled to support it.

In 2009 after a year of globetrotting Michel contacted us to ask if he could once again come to work on a new solo for which he had fall touring dates. We couldn’t say no! He offered a fabulous workshop for our Youth Arts Program kids; taught a master class in contemporary African dance for our students, as well as one for African immigrant teens in Portland; and performed his new piece, Sack, with an additional cast of nine, on our Different Voices concert. Again, he enlivened the festival community with his spirit.

Next summer we have invited him to teach classes in contemporary/traditional African dance as part of our faculty for the Young Dancers Workshop. He has become part of our family.

Michel's residencies at BDF are part of our ongoing activities as a founding member of The Contemporary African Arts Consortium (TACAC), a landmark program designed to initiate and sustain a dynamic exchange of arts and ideas between artists, arts organizations and public communities throughout the United States and the African continent.

TWO PIECES OF CAKE
by Jenny Berkowitz 

For the past two summers I have been an arts administrative intern at the Bates Dance Festival working with Kristin O'Neal, the Box Office manager, to oversee the ticket sales for the Festival's Performance series. I was able to see the skeletal structure of the Festival and discover from the inside out how the Festival, as a whole, and the box office, in particular, works. I learned public relations lessons - how to communicate clearly and practice patience - and began to understand that some people do not have the worldwide web access or skills.

The best lesson of all was from a lovely patron, Mr. Caseiro. At the peak of exhaustion after a long day full of classes, phone calls, a rushed dinner, and forced smiles, Kristin and I were rewarded with two lovely pieces of chocolate cake by the one and only Mr. Caseiro and his lovely wife. Why? Mr. Caseiro simply replied that he wanted to express his gratitude for our hard work, generosity, and the help we had given him! Mr. Caseiro's gift meant a lot to me because I found something similar in my own experience.

My internship was not the first time I had been a part of the communal atmosphere for which the Festival is known. I attended the Young Dancers Workshop for two summers during high school. Both the YDW and the opportunity to be an intern have contributed enormously to my life and education as a dancer. I have always had an enormous love for dance, but my exposure was limited by the resources in the rural part of Maine where I grew up. YDW provided me with an opportunity to expand my repertoire of dance. I was exposed to modern, African, jazz, and anatomically correct ballet classes and a, generally, creative atmosphere. Each aspect of the Festival provides a non-competitive atmosphere that encourages genuinely shared experiences, collaboration, and ample room for a movement artist, at any stage, to keep developing. Because of the exposure and training I received as a high school student I was able to continue my dancing at Goucher College. I received a BA in dance last year and now contribute to the dance community in Baltimore, MD.

The summers that I interned at the Festival have provided me with great opportunities to continue my education - taking classes, dialoguing, collaborating, and socializing with movement and music artists of every variety. This is why I deeply understand Mr. Caseiro's gift. It is an empowering experience to give back and show deep appreciation. I feel blessed to be able to give back to the community that has given me so much as a young artist. I look forward to giving more support in the future. 

FUNDER PROFILE: Surdna 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 Surdna Foundation that has awarded three, consecutive, three-year grants to the Festival since 1999. In 2009 a $75,000 grant from Surdna supported outreach efforts to teens nationwide; scholarships and access to performances for teens in our Youth Arts and Young Dancers programs; eight fellowships for high school dance teachers; and fee support for our faculty..

The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures. For five generations, since 1917, the Foundation has been governed largely by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity.

“From our vantage point as a national funder, Bates Dance Festival is distinctive among youth artmaking programs because it offers teens a rare opportunity to learn from nationally and internationally-recognized contemporary dance artists and engage with their creative process. Under Laura Faure’s committed leadership, the Festival has made great strides in making this excellent dance training available to a broader range of talented youth.”
-- Lynn Stern, Program Officer for the Arts, Surdna Foundation

Director, Laura Faure, notes, “Critical ongoing support from the Surdna Foundation has been invaluable to our effort to develop high quality dance training for teens [and educators] that enhances their self-confidence, enriches their expression, and prepares them to be compassionate global citizens.

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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 dance performances, workshops and discussions.

SUPPORT the Bates Dance Festival
BDF relies on contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals to supply 40% of our operating budget. Please consider becoming a donor – complete the ‘Support BDF’ form found on our website at: http://abacus.bates.edu/dancefest/support.php.

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