Bates Dance Festival plans community performance project

The Bates Dance Festival invites senior citizens and teenagers from Lewiston-Auburn and surrounding communities to participate in a three-week intensive workshop, July 28 through Aug. 15, under the direction of choreographer and educator Jeff Bliss.

No prior dance or performance experience is required. The three-week workshop is offered free of charge as part of the festival’s ongoing community outreach effort.

Twelve “enthusiastic” individuals, ages 15 through 19 and 55 and over, will be selected, along with 12 Dance Festival students, to create and perform a new piece, according to Laura Faure, festival director.

Two informational meetings, one for teenagers and the other for seniors, will be held with Bliss on April 2 to encourage anyone interested in participating in the project.

Bliss will meet with elders at Horizons/55 in the Promenade Mall on East Avenue from 10 to 11 a.m. He will show video tapes from past projects, lead creative exercises and speak about past performances.

Bliss will meet with teenagers at United Baptist Church, 250 Main St., from 3:30-4:30 p.m. He will lead a movement workshop and talk about plans for the summer.

The community performance workshop will meet from July 28 through Aug. 15 at the United Baptist Church, Mondays through Fridays, from 2 to 4 p.m. Participants must be available to attend all classes during the three weeks. Interested individuals must complete a project questionnaire, available from the festival office, 161 Wood St., by May 15.

The final dance piece will be performed as part of the Bates Dance Festival’s culminating concerts on Aug. 14 and 15 in Schaeffer Theatre.

Bliss, a professional choreographer and teaching artist, has been developing community-based experiences for children, professional artists and older adults from diverse communities for more than 12 years.

The co-author with Susan Perlstein of Elders Share the Art of Generating Community, Bliss was a member of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange for seven years. His own choreography has been produced in New York, San Diego and Hong Kong.

For more information about the Bates Dance Festival’s community performance project, call Laura Faure at 207-786-6381.

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