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Summer Daze: The Shows to Catch During This Year's Packed Summer Festival Season

Herman Cornejo and Tiler Peck at Vail Dance Festival. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail

It's summer festival season! If you're feeling overwhelmed by the dizzying array of offerings, never fear: We've combed through the usual suspects to highlight the shows we most want to catch.


American Dance Festival

Members of A.I.M. perform Kyle Abraham's Dearest Home. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy ADF

ADF shows no sign of slowing down as it enters its 85th season. Amongst the 53 performances, look out for the Wondrous Women program featuring ADF-commissioned solos created and performed by Aparna Ramaswamy, Michelle Dorrance, Rhapsody James and Yabin Wang, plus an excerpt from Camille A. Brown's ink. June 14–July 21. americandancefestival.org.

Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival

Eastman will perform Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Fractus V. Photo by Filip Van Roe, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

The Pillow season is as overwhelmingly, comfortingly full as ever. Keep an eye out for the return of Royal Danish Ballet and Houston Ballet; premieres from Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie, Ronald K. Brown, Michelle Dorrance and Netta Yerushalmy; and Monica Bill Barnes & Company's after-party romp Happy Hour. June 20–Aug. 26. jacobspillow.org.

Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts

Miguel Gutierrez and Ishmael Houston Jones' Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd will be presented by LUMBERYARD. Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy Blake Zidell and Associates

Its Catskill, NY, campus is still under construction, but that isn't stopping LUMBERYARD from launching its inaugural summer season in its new hometown. STREB Extreme Action and Bridgman|Packer Dance will perform at the construction site, while at nearby theaters Urban Bush Women, d. Sabela Grimes and John Jasperse premiere new works. June 28–Sept. 1. lumberyard.org.

Bates Dance Festival

Nora Chipaumire's Portrait of Myself as My Father. Photo by Gennadi Novash, Courtesy Bates

Sean Dorsey, Rennie Harris and Nora Chipaumire tackle masculinity, morality, spirituality and community during Bates' first season under the direction of Shoshona Currier. The festival opens with Mycelial: Street Parliament, a collaboration between Chicago- and Cairo-based artists in which a mobile app will lead audience members through an interactive performance installation. July 5–Aug. 4. batesdancefestival.org.

The Yard

Davalois Fearon's Time to Talk. Photo by Andrew Lee Imaging, Courtesy The Yard

Caleb Teicher, The Bang Group and Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie liven up Martha's Vineyard in Tap The Yard: A Vineyard Festival of Rhythm and Beats, July 5–7 and 14. Later in the summer, look for Doug Elkins (July 27–28), Canadian ice skating group Le Patin Libre (Aug. 3–4), and The Wondertwins on a split bill with the fearless Davalois Fearon (Aug. 16–18). dancetheyard.org.

San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival

Nunamta Yup'ik Eskimo Singers and Dancers. Photo by RJ Muna, Courtesy Scott Horton Communications

The festival celebrates its 40th season with performances at the War Memorial Opera House after a free opening event July 6 at San Francisco City Hall. Twenty artists or groups representing 18 distinct dance styles—from flamenco to kuchipudi to Appalachian clogging—will present centuries-old dances and new works. July 6, 14–15, 21–22. sfethnicdancefestival.org.

Mostly Mozart Festival

Lucinda Childs' Available Light. Photo by Craig T. Mathew, Courtesy Lincoln Center

While the Lincoln Center Festival is no more, the organization's Mostly Mozart Festival has expanded its offerings to include more dance. This year opens with the revival of Lucinda Childs' Available Light, its first NYC appearance in over 30 years, and closes with the premiere of Mark Morris' The Trout, set to the eponymous Schubert quintet. July 12–Aug. 12. lincolncenter.org.

Vail Dance Festival

Michelle Dorrance and Byron Tittle perform at Vail. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail

The star-studded end-of-summer festival turns 30 with the company debuts of American Ballet Theatre, Alonzo King LINES Ballet and Ballet Hispánico, plus new choreography from Vail veterans Lil Buck, Michelle Dorrance, Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck, Tiler Peck (her choreographic debut), Silas Riener and Rashaun Mitchell, and Claudia Schreier. July 28–Aug. 11. vaildance.org.

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New York City–based dancers know Gibney. It's a performance venue, a dance company, a rehearsal space, an internship possibility—a Rubik's Cube of resources bundled into two sites at 280 and 890 Broadway. And in March of this year, Gibney (having officially dropped "Dance" from its name) announced a major expansion of its space and programming; it now operates a total of 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces across the two locations.

Six of those studios and one performance space are brand-new at the 280 Broadway location, along with several programs. EMERGE will commission new works by emerging choreographic voices for the resident Gibney Dance Company each year; Making Space+ is an extension of Gibney's Making Space commissioning and presenting program, focused on early-career artists. For the next three years, the Joyce Theater Foundation's artist residency programs will be run out of one of the new Gibney studios, helping to fill the gap left by the closing of the Joyce's DANY Studios in 2016.

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"My muses in choreography have evolved over the years," says Wall. "When I'm creating on Shaping Sound, our company members, my friends, are my muses. But at this current stage of my career, I'm definitely inspired by new, fresh talent."

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Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Carol Fox and Associates

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Health & Body
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Chase Johnsey quietly made modern ballet history when he performed as part of the women's ensemble in English National Ballet's The Sleeping Beauty. Photo by Elliot Franks, Courtesy In the Lights PR

Back in January, Chase Johnsey grabbed headlines when he resigned from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, where his performances had garnered critical acclaim for over a decade, alleging a culture of harassment and discrimination. (An independent investigation launched by the company did not substantiate any legal claims.) Johnsey, who identifies as genderqueer, later told us that he feared his dance career was at an end—where else, as a ballet dancer, would he be allowed to perform traditionally female roles?

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