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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.

Broadway
Amber Gray and Patrick Page. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Hadestown

There's a rare moment in Broadway's Hadestown where the audience is able to breathe a sigh of relief. The smash-hit success is not well-known for being light-hearted or easy-going; Hadestown is a show full of workers and walls and, well, the second act largely takes place in a slightly modernized version of hell.

But deep into the second act, the show reaches a brief homeostasis of peace, one of those bright, shining moments that allows the audience to think "maybe it will turn out this time," as the character Hermes keeps suggesting.

After songs and songs of conflict and resentment, Hades, the king of the underground, and his wife, the goddess Persephone, rekindle their love. And, unexpectedly, they dance. It's one of the most compelling moments in the show.

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

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News
Amber Star Merkens, Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group

There's always been something larger than life about choreographer Mark Morris. Of course, there are the more than 150 works he's made and that incisive musicality that makes dance critics drool. But there's also his idiosyncratic, no-apologies-offered personality, and his biting, no-holds-barred wit. And, well, his plan to keep debuting new dances even after he's dead.

So it should come as little surprise that his latest distinction is also a bit larger than life: The New York Landmarks Conservancy is adding Morris to its list of "Living Landmarks."

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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