JAZZDANCE to open Bates Dance Festival

The Bates Dance Festival, northern New England’s leading contemporary dance presenting and training program, presents the jazz maverick Danny Buraczeski in concert with his company JAZZDANCE July 25 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the performance are priced at $14 and $8 (for full-time students and seniors) and may be purchased at the door or in advance by calling 207-786-6161 in the Lewiston Middle School Auditorium, located on Central Avenue. The evening features critically acclaimed works by Minneapolis-based JAZZDANCE, highlighted by a special preview of Ezekiel’s Wheel, a new piece based on the fiction of James Baldwin, with an original score by composer-vocalist Philip Hamilton. The concert also will include Scene Unseen, with music by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington, and Swing Concerto, with music by Brave Old World, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman.

Buraczeski is best described as a classic jazz dance stylist, whose company has performed at leading concert halls and festivals in more than 30 states, in Europe and the Caribbean. Propelled by the rhythms of jazz, Buraczeski’s formal explorations and sophisticated musicality distinguish him as one of the most original voices working in the form. JAZZDANCE delivers “simply the most ebullient, dynamic and all-out energy-sapping dance around,” says The Minneapolis Star Tribune. “Downright terrific,” says The New York Times.

Drawing on a background in ballet and modern in addition to jazz, Buraczeski has helped redefine what was once considered a limited form – jazz dance. After a career on Broadway, appearing in such musicals as Mame with Angela Lansbury and The Act with Liza Minelli, Buraczeski formed the original New York-based JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski in 1979. Based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul since 1993, JAZZANCE is a regular guest at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and New York’s Joyce Theater.

In addition to the complete repertory of JAZZDANCE, Buraczeski has created works for the Boston Ballet, Seattle’s Spectrum Dance Company and many repertory companies and university programs around the nation. Among other awards, Buraczeski has received multiple fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the McKnight Foundation.

During a four-week residency at the 1998 Bates Dance Festival, JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski will teach master classes and continue to work on Ezekiel’s Wheel, a National Dance Project commissioned by the Walker Art Center and the Bates Dance Festival and slated to premiere this fall. Buraczeski discovered the life and work of James Baldwin while living in Europe in the late 1970s. According to the choreographer: “Baldwin’s personal ‘gospel’ of recognition, responsibility and redemption was like a lighting bolt, illuminating the dark chambers of the human heart. A writer of power and grace, Baldwin’s voice became a crucible in 1960s America for issues of equality and identity — between races, sexes, generations — issues which continue to galvanize our society.” After meeting composer Philip Hamilton at Jacob’s Pillow in the early 1980s, and working together at the Bates Dance Festival several more times, Hamilton and Buraczeski decided to create a work together based on Baldwin’s fictional writings.

Audiences are invited to attend Inside Dance: Understanding Contemporary Performance, a talk by noted dance historian, writer and educator, Suzanne Carbonneau. The Bates Dance Festival presents this series of pre- and post-performance talks in an effort to enhance understanding and increase appreciation for contemporary dance. Carbonneau will discuss the Buraczeski’s work and its place in the context of American jazz dance. This free half-hour talk will take place July 25 at 7:15 p.m in the Edmund S. Muskie Archives on Campus Avenue at Bates College.

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

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