Bates Dance Festival to feature dance from South Africa, China; music from all over

Vincent Mantsoe. (Danile Aime)

Vincent Mantsoe. (Danile Aime)

Coming up at the Bates Dance Festival are the popular Musicians’ Concert and a pair of performances exploring changing times in South Africa and China.

The annual Musicians’ Concert brings together skilled artists from the dance festival’s corps of composer-performers at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, at the Franco Center, 46 Cedar St.

Two days later, Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe explores the impacts of South African urbanization in his dance “Skwatta,” and Yin Mei looks back at China’s Cultural Revolution in “DIS/oriented: Antonioni in China.” Performances take place at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 1-2, in Bates College’s air-conditioned Schaeffer Theatre, 329 College St.

Tickets to the Musicians’ Concert cost $15 for the general public, $10 for seniors and $7 for students. Admission for Mantsoe and Mei is $25 for the general public, $18 for seniors and $12 for students. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone at 207-786-6381 from 1-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday, by mail or in person. Learn more:

Mantsoe and Mei hold a free Show & Tell lecture-demonstration at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 29. The dancers also hold question-and-answer sessions following their evening performances. Dance writer Debra Cash precedes the Aug. 2 performance with an Inside Dance lecture at 7 p.m. in Schaeffer.

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Musicians’ Concert

Rob Flax is one of the Bates Dance Festival musicians featured in the Musicians' Concert. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Rob Flax is one of the Bates Dance Festival musicians featured in the Musicians’ Concert. (Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College)

Thoughtful, playful and profound sounds take center stage when these extraordinary composers known for collaborations with dancers perform original and improvised works that blend musical styles from around the globe.

The evening features multi-instrumentalists Jesse Manno, Terrence Karn, Adam Crawley and Shamou whose collective musical repertory spans Africa, Asia and the Middle East; composer-pianists Peter Jones and Carl Landa; tabla master Rajesh Bhandari; and violin prodigy Rob Flax.


South Africa’s best-loved choreographer returns to Bates this summer with an enthralling new solo, “Skwatta,” a dance born from his alarm at the increase in informal settlements around his mother’s East Rand home as urbanization clogs South Africa’s cities.

Sinewy and fluid, Mantsoe shape-shifts as if channeling ancestral spirits through a contemporary dance language that fuses his own cultures of Pedi and Shangaan with Asian and Aboriginal influences.

Descended from a long line of “sangomas” (traditional healers), Mantsoe was born and raised in a township of Soweto during the depths of apartheid. He trained with Moving Into Dance Mophatong in the early 1990s, and served as its artistic director from 1996-2001.

Mantsoe has created works for Dance Theatre of Harlem, Inbal Dance Theatre (Israel), Collective of Black Artists and Entre Deux Company (Canada), Skånes Dance Theatre (Sweden), ACE Dance and Music (UK), Introdans (Netherlands) and the South African Ballet Theatre. He has presented his solo works in Europe, Asia and North America, as well as Africa, including at Nelson Mandela’s presidential inauguration in 1994.


Yin Mei. (Paul B. Goode)

Yin Mei. (Paul B. Goode)

This Chinese choreographer delves into childhood memories of growing up during the Cultural Revolution in her profound solo “DIS/oriented: Antonioni in China.” The piece takes the form of a dance-theater “conversation” with Michelangelo Antonioni’s seldom-seen 1972 documentary portraying everyday life in China, “Chuon Kuo Cina,” which was not shown in China until 2004.

Mei’s body of work explores themes of artistic and spiritual significance arising at the intersection between Asian traditional performance and Western contemporary dance. Her work has been performed in New York at Lincoln Center, New York City Center, Dance Theater Workshop and Danspace at St. Mark’s Church, as well as at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and other venues in the United States and abroad.

As a Fulbright Scholar in Hong Kong she choreographed “The Seven Sages of Bamboo Grove” for the Hong Kong Dance Company in collaboration with director Jay Scheib, and the opera “Nixon in China” at the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, with director Chen Shi-Zheng.

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