In a season of change, the Bates Dance Festival begins its 35th summer this week with two performances that feature new works by New England dancers.
The festival draws students from around the world, who come to Maine for dance instruction. It also features public performances through Aug. 5. DanceNow, on Friday and Saturday at Schaeffer Theatre on the Bates College campus in Lewiston, launches the public portion of the festival.
First up on Friday are Vermont-based performance artist Lida Winfield, and Betsy Miller and Matthew Cumbie. Winfield’s “In Search of Air” explores growing up dyslexic. Miller, choreographer and assistant professor of dance at Salem State University in Massachusetts, and Cumbie, associate artistic director of Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, Maryland, offer a duet, “The (still perfectly fine) Adventures of Unicorn Hair + Dragon Heartstring,” that challenges assumptions about postmodern dance.
On Saturday, Christal Brown, assistant professor of dance and chair of the dance program at Middlebury College in Vermont, and her company, Inspirit, perform “The Opulence of Integrity,” a multimedia work about Muhammad Ali and the struggle for identity of men of color in the United States.
The lineup the rest of the summer includes David Dorfman Dance and a host of other dance artists who have worked at the festival over the years, including Bebe Miller, Doug Varone and Larry Keigwin, who is coming to Lewiston to celebrate the final season of longtime director Laura Faure. Faure has directed the festival for 30 years and is credited with fostering creative development and innovation in dance, introducing new and emerging artists and presenting the top dancers and choreographers in its public programming.
In May, the festival announced that Maine native Shoshona “Shoni” Currier will succeed Faure as director. Her first day is Aug. 15.
Among the notable events this summer will be the 35th Anniversary Gala on July 28 and 29, when many longtime festival dancers return to toast Faure and the festival. The program on July 28 will be dedicated to the late Marcy Plavin, the festival’s founder. The program on July 29 will be dedicated to Faure.
On Aug. 3 and 4, site-specific choreographer Stephan Koplowitz will present “Mill Town,” which Faure describes as “a love letter to Lewiston” at the Bates Mill Complex.
DanceNOW, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
David Dorfman Dance, 7:30 p.m. July 13 and 15
Zoe | Juniper, 7:30 p.m. July 21 and 22
35th Anniversary Gala, 7:30 p.m. July 28 and 29
Stephan Koplowitz’s “Mill Town,” Bates Mill Complex, 130 Mill St., 8 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4
TICKETS & INFO: $25, $18 seniors, $12 students; 786-6161 or batestickets.com; batesdancefestival.org