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Festival Fever: 33 Performances On Our Radar This Summer

Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group will appear at Bates Dance Festival this summer. Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy Bates

As far as we're concerned, it's not really summer until our favorite dance festivals kick things off. This year's season is as packed and promising as ever, with seemingly everyone who is anyone converging on at least one big festival between now and August. Here are the artists, premieres and collaborations we can't wait to see.


American Dance Festival

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble

Jerry Metellus, Courtesy ADF

DURHAM, NC ADF's busy five-week season has its eyes on both the past and the future. The season is dedicated to the late Paul Taylor, with Taylor 2 opening the season in his Piazzolla Caldera, the main company performing two programs of classics (all ADF premieres) and Michael Trusnovec, acting as artist in residence, staging the iconic Esplanade on ADF students. Eiko Otake, Micaela Taylor (for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble), and Murielle Elizéon and Tommy Noonan premiere new commissions; Dorrance Dance and Malpaso Dance Company make their ADF debuts. June 13–July 20. americandancefestival.org.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival

Circa, here in What Will Have Been, appears at the Pillow this summer.

Andy Phillipson, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

BECKET, MA As always, there's more happening at America's longest-running dance festival than any one person could experience. We have our sights set on Lucinda Childs' new vehicle for Wendy Whelan (The Day), premieres from companies like Compañía Irene Rodríguez and Gallim Dance, and Ice Dance International's Inside/Out performance featuring choreography by Trey McIntyre and Edward Villella, which marks the first time ice dancing (albeit on synthetic ice) has appeared at the Pillow. Anniversaries are big this summer, too, with the Pillow debut of Compagnie CNDC-Angers/Robert Swinston to mark the Cunningham Centennial, Dance Theatre of Harlem continuing its 50th-anniversary celebrations, and Mark Morris Dance Group looking ahead to its 40th in 2020. June 19–Aug. 25. jacobspillow.org.

Manchester International Festival

Rambert

Ben Hopper, Courtesy MIF

MANCHESTER, UK While they might not be the headliners of this multi-genre festival (that would be actor Idris Elba and musician Janelle Monáe), the dance offerings at this year's Manchester International Festival more than hold their own. There's the multidisciplinary Invisible Cities, a site-specific work that reimagines how Marco Polo described his travels to Kublai Khan, with Rambert performing choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui; the premiere of Trajal Harrell's Tennessee Williams–inspired Maggie the Cat; Thank You Very Much, in which Claire Cunningham uses the strange world of Elvis impersonators to explore issues of identity and self-tribute; and the return of Reggie "Regg Roc" Gray, who is joined by New York City– and Manchester-based flexers for Alphabus. July 4–21. mif.co.uk.

Bates Dance Festival

nora chipaumire's #PUNK 100% POP *N!GGA

Ian Douglas, Courtesy Bates Dance Festival

LEWISTON, ME Buzzy, challenging works from a wide spectrum of artists brush up against each other at Bates Dance Festival. The festival opens with hip-hop duo MaMa2 (Amirah Sackett and Mary Mar) and closes with jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham's exploration of queer black life, This is a Formation: Intervention. In between are Netta Yerushalmy's rigorous deconstruction of dance masterworks (Paramodernities), Joanna Kotze's rumination on the sociopolitical environment around the 2016 election (What will we be like when we get there), and Bates favorites Doug Varone, Reggie Wilson and nora chipaumire. July 12–14; July 25–Aug. 3. batesdancefestival.org.

Vail Dance Festival

Patricia Delgado and Lauren Lovette in rehearsal

Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival

VAIL, CO A panoply of high-profile dancers make their annual trek to the mountains for this collaboration-rich festival. Female choreographers are once again a focus this year, with the NOW: Premieres program featuring new works by Michelle Dorrance, Tiler Peck, Pam Tanowitz and Lauren Lovette, who, in her capacity as artist in residence, will also star in a new work by Ailey dancer Hope Boykin and teach master classes. And it will be a tale of two coasts as dancers from Alonzo King LINES Ballet take the stage with members of New York City Ballet for a new work from King and musician Jason Moran. July 26–Aug. 10. vaildance.org.

Dance Training
Robin Worrall via Unsplash

Social media has made the dance world a lot smaller, giving users instant access to artists and companies around the world. For aspiring pros, platforms like Instagram can offer a tantalizing glimpse into the life of a working performer. But there's a fine line between taking advantage of what social media can offer and relying too heavily on it.

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UA Dance Ensemble members Candice Barth and Gregory Taylor in Jessica Lang's "Among the Stars." Photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona

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The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:

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Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.

We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.

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Dance History
Sergei Diaghilev, who was terrified of the sea, posing with a life preserver aboard a ship. Photo courtesy DM Archives

On August 19, 1929, shockwaves were felt throughout the dance world as news spread that impresario Sergei Diaghilev had died. The founder of the Ballets Russes rewrote the course of ballet history as the company toured Europe and the U.S., championing collaborations with modernist composers, artists and designers such as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. The company launched the careers of its five principal choreographers: Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine.

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