Eiko & Koma to revive River (1995) at the American Dance Festival. Photo by Philip Trager

As Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Dance Company, recently pointed out to me, modern dance is old enough now to have classics. The American Dance Festival is out to prove that this summer while also trying to push the form forward by commissioning new works.

Held at Duke University in Durham, N.C., since 1977 and with roots dating back to the 1930s, the festival opens next week with a gala starring North Carolina’s own Mark Dendy, Scottish Dance Theatre, Martha Clarke, African American Dance Ensemble (led by Chuck Davis, who hosts Dallas Black Dance Theatre’s annual DanceAfrica show) and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Clarke returns to the festival July 18-20 for a commissioned world premiere on a bill with a revival of Twyla Tharp’s 1996 work, Sweet Fields.

ADF also is bringing back a pair of dance pieces that were key — along with Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Nine Sinatra Songs and The Catherine Wheel — to me becoming a dance lover in the 1980s and later a dance critic: Rosas danst Rosas (1983) by Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker (June 10-12), with its feminist take on modern angst using a vocabulary of intense everyday movement, and Bill T. Jones’ D-Man in the Waters (1989), dealing with death metaphorically in a gorgeously rendered swimming motif (June 16-18). (Jones’ 1990 The Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land is the best thing I’ve ever seen on a stage.) Eiko & Koma (July 5-6) also bring their retrospective tour back to Durham with a site-specific performance of River (1995) at Sarah P. Duke Gardens.

Running for six weeks, through July 23, the festival is rounded out with Yossi Berg & Odef Graf (June 14-15), Tao Dance Theater (June 20-22), Evidence and Dayton Contemporary Dance (June 23-25), Rosie Herrera (June 27-29), Pilobolus (June 30-July 2), Emanuel Gat Dance (July 7-9), Doug Varone and Dancers (July 11-13), Shen Wei Dance Arts (July 14-16), Bulareyaung Pagarlava (July 18-20) and Paul Taylor Dance Company (July 21-23). Herrera, Pilobolus, Shen Wei, Pagarlava and Taylor each premiere ADF commissions.

My ADF stories from last year’s festival are here. Press release after the jump.

2011 AMERICAN DANCE FESTIVAL
SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING TREASURED
Opens with ADF Gala, Two Company Debuts, Reconstructed Masterpiece,
Award Ceremonies, and Season Dedication

Durham, NC, May 24, 2011 – The American Dance Festival (ADF) will launch its 78th season on June 9th at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC) with the 2011 ADF Gala, a one-night-only performance by five companies celebrating the career of ADF Director Charles L. Reinhart. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas will make its ADF Debut with her 1983 classic work Rosas danst Rosas Friday-Sunday, June 10-12 at Reynolds Industries Theater, and Israel’s newly coined “choreographers to watch,” Yossi Berg and Oded Graf, will bring a US Premiere to Reynolds Industries Theater Tuesday-Wednesday, June 14-15. The exhilarating Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will round out the first week with a reconstruction of his masterpiece D-Man in the Waters at the DPAC Thursday-Saturday, June 16-18, featuring live accompaniment by the Durham Symphony. Additionally, former ADF Dean, Donna Faye Burchfield, will be presented with the Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching on June 10th, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker will be presented with the prestigious $50,000 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award on June 11th at Reynolds Industries Theater prior to her company’s performance, and on June 16th the season dedication will be given to acclaimed visual artist Alex Katz prior to the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company performance at DPAC.

ADF GALA
Thursday, June 9 at 7:00pm
Durham Performing Arts Center
The 2011 season will commence with a special Gala performance celebrating Charles L. Reinhart’s incredible career and final season as ADF Director. The evening will feature works by five choreographers and companies, along with special speakers including Mayor Bill Bell, Duke’s Vice President Tallman Trask, African American Dance Ensemble’s Artistic Director Dr. Charles R. “Chuck” Davis, and ADF Co-Director Jodee Nimerichter. All gala proceeds will benefit the newly established Charles L. and Stephanie Reinhart Fund, which will support future tuition scholarships, commissions, and other special projects.

Gala performances include: North Carolina native Mark Dendy will channel modern dance giant and one of the ADF’s founders, Martha Graham, for a unique impersonation. The Scottish Dance Theater will perform the US premiere of Drift (2010), an intense and highly physical duet that examines loneliness and the risk of full commitment. Reconstructed with support from the ADF, Martha Clarke’s Pagliaccio (1980) celebrates humor and wit and will be performed by acclaimed performance artist John Kelly. Durham’s own African American Dance Ensemble will celebrate traditional African dance, music, and culture with the first section of Celebration, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago will present an excerpt of Ohad Naharin’s THREE TO MAX, a collage of Naharin’s works from the past decade.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas (ADF DEBUT)
Friday, June 10-Sunday, June 12 at 8:00pm
Reynolds Industries Theater
Heralded as one of the most original and profoundly influential European choreographers working today, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas will make their ADF debut this summer with their acclaimed 1983 classic Rosas danst Rosas. Performed to a score created simultaneously with the movement, five physically intense “chapters” will unravel the relationship between music and choreography and explore the complex interactions between uniformity and individuality. In addition to the company’s performances, a talk with be held with De Keersmaeker on Saturday, June 11 from 10:30-11:30am in White Lecture Hall on Duke University’s West Campus, offering a rare and special opportunity to speak with one of the worlds most influential choreographers. The discussion is free and open to the public.

Yossi Berg and Oded Graf  (ADF DEBUT)
Tuesday, June 14 at 8pm-Wednesday, June 12 at 2pm & 8pm
Reynolds Industries Theater
Since the beginnings of their partnership in 2005, the dynamic Israeli duo Yossi Berg and Oded Graf have built a reputation for creating supremely physical, sometimes provocative, and always poignant dance works. With an evening that is sure to stir audiences, their ADF debut will feature the US premiere of Animal Lost (2010), a wildly imaginative and, at times, comical exploration of stereotypes and social clichés.Their exceptionally technical dancers challenge the line between fantasy and reality, investigating relationships and self- discovery through compelling text, gestures, movement, and even song.

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Compnay (Reconstructed Masterpiece with Live Music)
Thursday, June 16-Saturday, June 18 at 8pm
Durham Performing Arts Center
Multi-talented choreographer, dancer, theater director, and writer Bill T. Jones will once again inspire ADF audiences with his company’s athleticism, grace, and beauty from June 16-18 at DPAC. The program will feature the reconstruction, with support provided by ADF, of his masterpiece, D-Man in the Waters (1989), a living memory of Jones’ firsthand experience with death and the resiliency of the human spirit in the face of tragic loss. The company will also perform Spent Days Out Yonder, an excerpt from Jones’ work You Walk? (2000), which explores Latin cultural influence on America, and a duet originally choreographer and performed by Jones and his late partner, Arnie Zane, entitled Continuous Replay (1977). The Durham Symphony will provide live musical accompaniment for D-Man in the Waters and Spent Days Out Yonder.

AWARDS AND DEDICATIONS
SCRIPPS/ADF AWARD: Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker will be presented with the 2011 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award by Stuart Hodes, former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company and partner of Martha Graham. The $50,000 honors lifetime achievement in dance. The presentation will occur at the beginning of her company’s performance on June 11th at 8pm at Reynolds Industries Theater.

TEACHING TRIBUTE: The Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching Award will be presented to Donna Faye Burchfield, former ADF Dean and Director of the Hollins University/American Dance Festival MFA program. A ceremony will take place on Friday, June 10th at 4:00pm in White Lecture Hall on Duke University’s West Campus. ADF Dean Emeritus Martha Myers will present the award. The award honors educators who have made extraordinary contributions to the field of dance.

SEASON DEDICATION: The 78th ADF Season will be dedicated to acclaimed visual artist, Alex Katz. Katz has been a longtime friend and supporter of the ADF, creating 9 season posters since 1979, including the 2011 season poster. The dedication will be presented immediately prior to the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company performance on Thursday, June 16 at DPAC. An exhibit of the season posters he created for the ADF from 1979-2011 will be on display throughout the season in the Durham Performing Arts Center and will be free and open to the public.

WAYS TO SAVE
In light of the current economy, the ADF is pleased to provide several opportunities to save while still enjoying the performances and programs of this world-renowned Festival. ADF PICK4+ buyers can save up 25% when purchasing 4+ tickets at either ADF@Duke or ADF@DPAC performances. PICK4+ buyers also enjoy other benefits such as easy ticket exchange, ticket insurance, a tax deduction receipts for unused tickets, and free tickets to the ADF Faculty and Musicians concerts. Groups of 10 or more save 20% off regular-priced tickets and Seniors receive a $3/ticket discount. Area students may take advantage of the ADF Student Rush program and save 50% on all tickets purchased one hour before each performance. *ADF@DPAC and ADF@Duke orders cannot be combined to secure the PICK4+ rate.

PURCHASING TICKETS
Tickets range in price from $23 – $51. Single tickets can be purchased online at http://www.americandancefestival.org, or in-person at the Duke University Box Office (ADF@Duke performances) and/or the DPAC Box Office (ADF@DPAC performances).
ADF@DPAC PICK4+ discounted tickets are available through the online order form, in person, or by phone. To receive the PICK4+ prices online using Ticketmaster, you must purchase 4 tickets to one performance. ADF@Duke PICK4+ tickets are available through the online order form, in person, by phone, or online. *facility & processing fees may apply.

ADF@DPAC performances:
http://www.americandancefestival.org
919.680.ARTS (2787)
DPAC Ticket Center
The American Tobacco District
123 Vivian St.
Durham, NC 27701
Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm
Saturday 10am-2pm

ADF@Duke performances:
http://www.americandancefestival.org
919.684.444
Duke University Box Office
Bryan Center, Duke University West Campus
Box 90940
Durham, NC 27708
Monday-Friday 11am-6pm

For additional information about ADF performances, free community outreach activities, or the ADF School, please visit http://www.americandancefestival.org.

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