Festival Fever: Three Top Summer Dance Festivals on College Campuses
Students at American Dance Festival (Grant Halverson, courtesy American Dance Festival)
Summer means ballet intensives and Nationals, right? Right. But it also means dancers are descending on college towns around the country for multi-week festivals—opportunities to hone their modern skills and rub shoulders with some of today's star choreographers. Interested in expanding your horizons, working with the pros and getting a taste of campus life? Here are three of the biggest and best summer dance festivals held on college campuses.
Bates Dance Festival
Bates Dance Festival is held at Bates College in Lewiston, ME, and has a strong relationship with the Bates dance department. “Many artists who teach at the BDF return during the year to teach and set work," says festival director Laura Faure. The festival's Young Dancers Workshop is offered for dancers ages 14–18, and its Professional Training Program is available for everyone older than 18. BDF is proud of its welcoming, yet rigorous, environment. “You're gaining access to an essential professional network in a noncompetitive community," Faure says. Expect classes from rising modern choreographers like Dante Brown and established masters like Doug Varone. Because of the campus setting and faculty crossover between the festival and the dance department, participants get a good sense of the college's dance program while still being exposed to a variety of teachers. High school students can meet with a Bates admissions counselor to ask questions about attending the college.
Salt Dance Fest
The University of Utah hosts Salt Dance Fest each summer, inviting local artists, University of Utah faculty and choreographers from around the country to use the school's top-notch facilities in their exploration of the creative process.
Salt is restricted to college-aged dancers, and is less focused on technique (though a few classes are available) than other summer festivals. Salt participants come to experiment in classes like “Hot Mess," taught by San Francisco–based choreographer Alex Ketly, which asks dancers to confront what it means to do something badly.
American Dance Festival
American Dance Festival takes place on the Duke University campus in Durham, NC. ADF offers two different summer training programs: the Six Week School, for dancers ages 16 and older, and the Three Week School, for dancers ages 12–16. Both are modern focused, offering everything from Cunningham to Gaga—with options to take ballet, composition and more. Participants may have the opportunity to learn existing repertory (past students have tackled choreo by William Forsythe) and have brand-new work set on them. “The ADF experience is very comparable to being a dance major," says ADF dean Leah Cox. “Festival participants can live on campus in the dorms. There's a feeling of community and stability."
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.
We also want you to
get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.
Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.
Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."
Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)
If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.