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Bates Festival Newsletter

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Newsletter Vol. 15, Fall 2013
Newsletter Writers and Editors: Laura Faure, Kim Konikow & Quilan Arnold



doug varone
Varone's Carrugi by Cylla Von Tiedemann

shiferaw birega
Shiferaw Birega by Arthur Fink

Darrell Jones & Angie Hauser in A History photo by Arthur Fink

The 2013 season, our 31st, brought many flavors of the world to Lewiston, ME. Nejla Yatkin/NY2Dance shared the U.S. premiere of Oasis, a provocative portrait of life in the Middle East that keep audiences talking long after the curtain came down. Our old friends, Doug Varone and Dancers wowed us with their virtuosic performance of Carrugi inspired by the winding streets of Italy's small towns.

Shiferaw Birega joined us from Addis Abba, Ethiopia to dance about the struggle for freedom, and Bridgman|Packer Dance mined familiar geography (Portland, ME) to create an extraordinary visual landscape in their multi-disciplinary piece, Voyeur. Likewise our day-to-day exchanges in classes, over meals, and in the studio were enriched by the presence of dancers from Ivory Coast, Korea, Japan, Argentina, Mexico, as well as from more than 37 states.

We continued our tradition of supporting artists over the trajectory of their careers and providing a laboratory for the creation of new work. Both Bebe Miller, who we first invited to BDF in 1989, and Doug Varone who joined us in 1992, were celebrating 25 years of dance making in 2013. We were thrilled and proud to host A History, Bebe's re-investigation of her process seen through the magnificent dancing of Angie Hauser and Darrell Jones. A highlight of this autobiographical journey was an extensive installation of archival material spread throughout the lobbies, halls and rehearsal rooms of Schaeffer Theater. Viewers lingered long and returned often to absorb the many manifestations of Miller's remarkable body of work.

Varone noted: "My time at Bates has been some of the most creatively productive of my career and I believe much of that is due to the rare environment the Festival fosters." Well that certainly proved true again this summer! The Varone company spent two intensive weeks developing Symmetry and Narrative set to a phenomenal trombone concerto by Christopher Rouse. Daily rehearsals, held at the New Beginning gymnasium on College St. were always open to visitors, and beyond the Festival crowd, attracted a bevy of neighborhood kids who plied Doug with questions and showed off their own dance moves. We hope they will enroll in our YouthArts Program next summer! Doug and Bebe also staged works for repertory students whose performances wowed audiences at the Festival Finale.

local youth
Local Youth show off their moves

The Festival also took dance off the stage and into the public realm with successful forays into the Lewiston and Portland communities. Kendra Portier and Raja Feather Kelly of David Dorfman Dance, who were both conducting creative residencies at BDF, shared a sneak preview from Dorfman's newest work at the Lewiston Public Library during the July ArtWalk. The complete work will be showcased on our 2014 season. Stay tuned for more news. Also our very own Admissions Director, Meredith Lyons, along with Colby professor of dance, Annie Kloppenberg, performed with a group of BDF dancers in the windows of Think Tank during the First Friday ArtWalk in Portland. Both events attracted large, curious viewers and helped introduce the Festival to new, potential audiences.

With media playing an increasingly important role in all we do, nowhere was this more evident than at BDF this summer. In addition to the savvy use of technology by Bridgman|Packer and Bebe Miller, our video/media team of gifted experts and interns shot, edited and disseminated fabulous videos and commentary about all aspects of the Festival through our youtube channel, blog, Facebook, and other social media. Adding a totally new dimension to the meaning of performance, we hosted a dynamic experiment in embodied experience online with Meta-Academy (see next article).

Doug Varone chats with a visitor

Here's what three faculty members had to say about BDF this summer:

"Art triggers conversation and BDF brings all the ingredients together to ignite the fire - it is contagious. I was thrilled to experience the Festival's infectious breeding ground for creativity." ~Alex Springer

"For me Bates is a creative incubator where I can experiment with my teaching, branch out to a larger community, and deepen my knowledge." ~Robbie Cook

"The many small and great miracles that happen everyday at BDF and resonate well beyond the moment are a marvel. Thank you for creating such a context, one in which we can all try for a brief moment to be our best selves in community." ~Ray Eliot Schwartz


Meta-Academy by Arthur Fink
Meta-Academy by Arthur Fink

Last summer BDF became the epicenter for a pilot phase of meta-academy, an online open co-learning environment for interdisciplinary studies on contemporary creative practices. Instigated by Bates College professor of dance, choreographer, scholar and video artist, Rachel Boggia, and conceived by Venezuelan artist, researcher, consultant, educator, on-line producer/curator, video broadcaster and vlogger, Marlon Barrios Solano, the project took up residence in airy, new computer lab on campus during our Professional Training Program. Read all about it on our BDF Blog.


doug varone and dancers
Peter Jones

by Kim Konikow


Peter reminisced, "My first year, 1990, was amazing. Laura (Faure) and I met at an American College Dance Festival conference. I was just getting started, and she brought me in after seeing what I did in a class. It couldn't have been more stellar. There were only three musicians back then! We taught, and made music on the weekends. It felt comfortable and exciting, doing a good job...and not getting fired!" he said, laughing. "Bates was a great place to meet choreographers, like Mark Taylor, Bebe Miller, Douglas Dunn, Kae Takei and Brenda Bufalino. Especially Dunn - we had conversations that were really special."


Peter describes his music like this: "It's a blending of open and inventive harmonic progressions combined with subtle percussion grooves. The chords are open in spacing, with a certain emotional resonance; then there's the side groove, and the big open chords move slowly over them." Composers who have had a huge influence on him are Aaron Copeland, Keith Jarrett and JS Bach.


"Jones and I have shared so many personal and musical experiences. We share a lot of interests: sincere music, from the most esoteric to the most popular; baseball; playing for dance classes, when every factor is in place (musically astute instructor, talented students, good room, good instruments); hiking (ideally with a dog) and talking; philosophy and aesthetics and much more. Peter is so principled and compassionate. I can't separate out his personality from the way I perceive his playing -- he listens, and plays with profound feeling in a highly understated way that is never self-indulgent or over the top. He says what needs to be said, and leaves it at that."
Robert (Tigger) Benford.  Associate Professor and Music Director, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, NJ.


At Bates Jones has consistently worked with Rachel List, Bebe, Doug Varone, and David Dorfman. His favorite space to play music in is Alumni, or the 'Golden Room'. "It's an awesome to play class in," he says. He's played a lot for modern, but loves the structure and form of ballet. "As a pianist, I do what needs to be done for the Festival. It's so thrilling to have it happen musically," he commented passionately.


"It has been an absolute joy to work with Peter in my Ballet classes at Bates over numerous summers. His sensitivity to the exercises being given in class result in musical choices that are not only supportive, but also inspiring for the students, pushing them gently toward giving their best efforts and reaching for a higher level of artistry. It is truly collaborative when we are in the studio. I feel deeply supported as a teacher and love the fact that the students are exposed to a wide range of styles from the purely classical repertoire to folk and traditional music to something improvised on the spot. No matter how I may be feeling at the beginning of class, by the end, I have always been transported to a happier place!"
Rachel List, Director of the Dance Program, Hofstra University, NY   


Many commissions came out of Peter's work at Bates. In 1998/99, he took a leave from Mount Holyoke, and moved to NYC, which made it easier to attract commissions. He has created numerous scores for choreographers, including Viscous Beauties for Kevin Wynn, 21st Century Stride for Danny Buraczeski's JAZZDANCE, and The Metal Garden for Sean Curran.


"Peter Jones is not an accompanist - he is a master composer/musician for dance. I like to say that "music is the motor for dancing", and if that is true then Peter is the consummate poetic, rhythmic and melodic musical motor-man. It is truly a collaboration between dance teacher and musician - letting each other lead and getting sublime, sweaty, lyrical, jazzy, percussive and magical results!"
~ Sean Curran, Choreographer and Co-Chair, Department of Dance, NYU's Tisch School of the Arts


Each summer BDF hosts The Musicians' Concert as part of its' performance series. It began in 1992, with three artists including Peter, Evan Harlan and Clark Stiefel. Today it typically features ten or more players.  For many years Peter has taken a lead role in organizing this popular event.  


Peter reflects, "Another really important aspect of the Festival is the porch community -- it is very magical. On Frye Street where all the artists live there are no constrains of an institutional setting. Everyone greets each other, and hangs out together, relaxing from the day. And, music is always being made."


"The poetry and soulfulness of Peter Jones' music has brought tears to my eyes on several occasions.  Somehow the less notes he plays the more they do. He has technique to burn, and the essential modesty to go with it. Peter is also the Mayor of the Musician's House. He's always looking out for people and is a very loyal friend and supportive collaborator. Peter is an important part of what makes Bates Dance Festival tick."
~ Jesse Manno, Senior Instructor, Music Director, Department of Theatre and Dance, University of Colorado at Boulder


Peter has released seven CDs of music on his own recording label, Joneschord Music. He certainly believes in longevity; he has worked at Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts for 27 years and serves as the musical director for the dance program.


by Kim Konikow

Business of Dance Class 2013
Business of Dance Class 2013

The Business of Dance course is a core component of the curriculum at the Bates Dance Festival. An important topic of daily discussion is how to incorporate the practical aspects of the dance profession into daily life. The course emphasizes the importance of these administrative skills (time management, record keeping, research, networking, etc.) as not being separate from dancing or choreography, but intrinsic to having a successful career. BDF faculty and choreographers visit daily to share their paths and bring a personal focus to the day's topic. Through this material students have gained a more holistic understanding of the dance field and their personal dance community.

This year, students wrote their "Elevator Speech", a very brief statement about who they are and what their focus is. Everyone should have one of these... Here are three examples of their elevator speeches.

"I am a lifelong learner that finds inspiration in the integration of art forms. Dance is my outlet to be true to myself and through movement I can express the real me. I believe in life I am meant to always work within the arts, through any medium. As a performer, viewer, collaborator, and listener I will make an influence in the field I am immersed in." ~Alexis Aguilar

"As an educator, I challenge students to explore the fundamentals of dance technique, physical fitness, history, composition, improvisation, anatomy, and performance in order to properly prepare them in the field of dance. As a performer and choreographer participating in area arts organizations and dance companies, I model and validate what I require of my students in the classroom and on stage. It is my intention to teach with integrity and unwavering high standards. The honor, love and respect for dance, as an art form, is what drives me to teach with a level of firmness, fairness and fun." ~Marlena Duncan

"I am an artist who moves, speaks, and sings for justice with clarity and passion. I am inspired by my faith, Bob Marley and Martha Graham. I practice listening to my heart and those I could more easily ignore. I am praying for peace, an end to greed and materialism and I am always hoping for more than meets the eye." ~Ronya-Lee Anderson

I am so proud of this class! They really honed in on what is important in their careers, and I feel certain that most will succeed in achieving their goals. They have now joined the class of 2012 in a Facebook group, and are helping one another to move forward.

Faculty member Kim Konikow teaches our Business of Dance course. She is the founder of artservices & company, Consulting for the Arts, and resides in Southern Uta


Quilan Arnold in class with Jennifer Archibald by Arthur Fink
Quilan Arnold in class with Jennifer Archibald by Arthur Fink

by Quilan Arnold

I was standing in the lobby outside of the BDF office simply waiting my turn to register. I looked at the door and read the bright yellow sign listing a set of regulations regarding the class switching process. The final rule read, "Relax, you're at Bates, so your life must be pretty good!" The statement was humorous, but little did I know how true it would hold during my three-week experience at Bates.

Lewiston, Maine! Never heard of it, and certainly never thought it would be a place full of insightful faculty and inspirational peers. The classes, the intimacy, and the connections that the Festival provided enlivened the town so much as to leave me mournfully staring back through the taxi window as I rolled away from one of the most addictive experiences I've had, and one that I will never forget.

Every day at BDF consisted of challenging my creativity, overcoming my weaknesses, and evolving my strengths. Each course had its own distinct personality, yet each informed the other. For example, in Choreo Lab II with Doug Varone the emphasis on instinctual movement to spawn composition. That allowed me to create immediately when Jennifer Archibald called on me to provide movement for Hip Hop Repertory. The four classes I enrolled in, each so different from the other, interwove to create a unique education experience. That integration defined the beauty of the BDF course selection process.

Yet, the attraction of BDF reached far beyond the classroom. The personal relationships I made during the Festival are what will keep me coming back. BDF's administration and faculty do a phenomenal job of establishing an intimate environment that fosters support and encouragement among every single participant. I felt a sense of community that represented passion and commitment for the art of dance, for life, and for each other.

Ultimately, the Festival provided a tremendous pool of resources, welcoming me to take a cliff dive. Living in Lewiston, Maine for three weeks of my summer to tread the waters of BDF was one of the best decisions I have made in my dance career. Soaked in rich experiences, with new knowledge to ponder, I left the Festival empowered and knowing that the BDF experience was meant to overflow into the greater community, where passion and love are precious resources the world always needs more of.

Quilan Arnold is currently a graduate student at The Ohio State University in pursuit of a M.F.A in Dance. Originally from Germantown, Maryland, Quilan spent his undergraduate studies at Penn State University and graduated with a B.A. in Integrative Arts (Dance and Theater) with a minor in Dance.

FUNDER PROFILE - Samuel L. Cohen 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 Samuel L. Cohen Foundation that has awarded frequent support to the Festival since 2006. In 2013 their $7500 grant helped to underwrite access to BDF by students from southern Maine.

The Foundation's primary focus is to ensure that all people in southern Maine have the opportunity to develop their potential and provide healthy, productive futures for themselves, their families, and their communities.

"The Sam L. Cohen Foundation recognizes that the Bates Dance Festival is an artistic happening of national and international acclaim.  We are pleased to help ensure that Maine’s own young dancers and professionals can participate in this tremendous opportunity ."


BDF relies on contributions from foundations, corporations, and individuals, like yourself, to supply 40% of our operating budget. Please support our 2014 season with a tax-deductible gift in any amount. NOW you can give online at Support BDF.

Founded in 1982, the Bates Dance Festival is a summer program of Bates College whose mission is: The Bates Dance Festival advances the work and life of dance students, professional artists and public communities by cultivating opportunities for learning, creativity and connection in a supportive and diverse dance and performance environment.

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