Bates Dance Festival's 1998 season highlights new dance and jazz collaborations

The Bates Dance Festival, northern New England’s leading contemporary dance presenting and training program, announces its 1998 performance season, July 18 -Aug. 16. The season includes three internationally renowned dance companies, as well as concerts featuring African, jazz; percussive dance and music, and works by emerging choreographers from around the world. Recognized throughout the contemporary dance community for its excellent performance series, the Bates Dance Festival, located on the Bates campus, will feature the critically acclaimed works by Minneapolis-based JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski, the innovative Doug Elkins Dance Company and post-modern choreographer Bebe Miller Company, as well as HOT FEET, featuring American jazz, French-Canadian step, Afro-fusion, jazz tap dance and contemporary music.

In addition to its critically acclaimed mainstage performance series of 13 concerts, the festival offers two intensive training programs, one for adults and one for younger dancers. For more information, or to request a brochure, call the Bates Dance Festival at 207-786-6381.

As part of a four-week residency, JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski, known as one of the most original voices in jazz, will present an evening of new repertory July 25 at the Lewiston Middle School Auditorium. Since 1989, this eight-member company has performed at leading concert halls in more than 30 states, in Europe and the Caribbean presenting its profoundly musical and accessible choreography to enthusiastic audiences. As the concert’s highlight, JAZZDANCE will preview Ezekiel’s Wheel, a 35- minute work by Buraczeski and jazz composer Philip Hamilton. Inspired by the writings of James Baldwin, the work for eight dancers is set to a suite of original songs for vocal quartet and instrumental quintet. “Sensuously lyrical, handsome and sexy work . . . danced with beautiful clarity, dynamism and infectious gusto,” The Minneapolis Star Tribune said.

Among the festival’s extensive roster of artists, Bebe Miller, in residence at the festival for three-weeks, is one of its most popular performers. The festival presents Bebe Miller Company in concert Aug. 7 and Aug. 8 at Schaeffer Theatre, featuring a preview of Miller’s newest collaboration, Going to the Wall, an aesthetic examination of cultural identity with an original score by award-winning composer-clarinetist Don Byron. The concert also will include Blessed, set to gospel music by an Australian a cappella group, and The Hendrix Project, set to the heat of Hendrix’s music and the moods of his days. “Vibrant, quirky dancing . . . Miller and her dancers are terrific,” The New York Times said.

One of the country’s most eclectic choreographers, Doug Elkins Dance Company, is a New York-based company known for combining diverse dance styles in works that offer hilarious comment on contemporary culture. The company will perform its acclaimed 1996 work, Center My Heart, an energetic ensemble piece set to devotional music by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, as well as two Maine premieres. This troupe of six dancers will perform Aug. 1 and Aug. 2 at Schaeffer Theatre. “He surprises and seduces. Doug Elkins is an authentic creator who knows how to hustle and translate traditional choreographic language into new forms,” The Paris Le Figaro said.

Highlighting the festival season is HOT FEET, an evening of American jazz, French Canadian step, Afro-fusion, jazz tap and more, July 31 at the Lewiston Middle School Auditorium. This lively concert will feature works by award-winning South African dancer Vincent Mantsoe; acclaimed French- Canadian step dancer Benoit Bourque of Montreal; jazz tapper Herbin Van Cayseele, fresh from his tour with the Jazz Tap Hip Hip Festival and Riverdance, and jazz master Danny Buraczeski. The concert will include live music by festival musicians.

Showcasing emerging artists from around the globe, the Different Voices concert at Schaeffer Theatre Aug. 13 features new works by choreographers Kota Yamazaki of Japan, Sukarji Sriman of Java, Antonio Tavares of Cape Verde, Vincent Mantsoe of South Africa and Simon Ellis of Australia, all in residence as part of the festival’s International Visiting Artists Program.

In conjunction with performances, the festival will present a series of pre-and post performance discussions and lectures, “Inside Dance: Understanding Contemporary Dance,” that will offer audiences insight into the artists and contemporary dance. The lectures will be held to accompany performances by JAZZDANCE July 25, Doug Elkins Dance Company Aug. 2 and Bebe Miller Company Aug. 8, all at 7:15 p.m. at the performance site. Historian and dance critic Suzanne Carbonneau, will lead these engaging talks.

In addition to mainstage performances, the festival will offer a wide range of free, public events. On Aug. 3 in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, choreographer Tamar Rogoff will present, The Ivye Project, a “live” documentary with slides, video and readings from her site-specific work in the Holocaust memorial in the forest of Belarus. On Aug. 6 in the Olin Arts Center Concert Hall, the Composer’s Concert features an eclectic mix of original works by musicians Philip Hamilton, Peter Jones, Gilles Obermayer, Shamou, John Clark Stiefel and Mike Vargas. A diverse group of festival dancers and musicians, led by contact-improvisers Nancy Stark Smith, perform in the annual and highly popular Moving In The Moment Concert Aug. 11 in Alumni Gymnasium. Rounding out the festival’s five-week season will be the Young Choreographer’s/New Works Concert Aug. 14 and Aug. 15 at Schaeffer Theatre, and the Student Finale Aug. 15 in Alumni Gymnasium, featuring faculty works performed by local youth and festival students, as well as panel discussions and workshops led by distinguished artists.

The Bates Dance Festival receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New England Foundation for the Arts, Maine Arts Commission, Africa Exchange, the Bingham Betterment Fund, Harkness Foundations for Dance, Capezio Ballet Makers Dance Foundation, Lewiston Auburn Children’s Foundation, the Shapiro Family Foundation, the Sequoia Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cole Haan, Androscoggin Savings Bank, Mechanics Savings Bank, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Northern Utilities and Peoples Heritage Bank.

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