If you find yourself in Durham during the summer, two things become apparent: It’s crazy hot, and there’s a whole lot of moving going on. And by moving, I mean dancing.
In mid-June, students — 443 of them — arrived at the American Dance Festival (ADF) from 25 countries. If you’re around these parts, you can’t miss them. You feel their energy. You might be at Whole Foods and notice a buzzing pack of dancers in sweatpants on their lunch break. Or you might spot an old ADF school bus smothered in graffiti cruising around town depositing dancers at their training studios. This place is a kind of magical summer camp for grown-up dancers. It’s an incredible epicenter of creativity. Stuff gets done during ADF. Connections are made. Art is created. People are inspired.
Another major part of ADF is the lineup of performances taking place on the stages of the Durham Performing Arts Center, Reynolds Industries Theater at Duke, and other venues throughout the season. Some companies that perform are festival favorites that are welcomed back by ADF audiences summer after summer, and some are new to the stage or perhaps a bit lesser known. Both contribute to the rich culture of dance the festival brings to the Triangle each year. Some work, like the four solos that make up “On Their Bodies,” is commissioned by ADF and has never been seen before. Some work may be considered more classical, other work more avant-garde. The spectrum of work you experience at ADF spans numerous dance genres.
This weekend brings “Footprints” to Reynolds Industries Theater, a culmination and celebration of all that the festival embodies. Three groundbreaking choreographers have created dance pieces specifically for ADF students to perform. The students auditioned at the start of the festival and have powered through six weeks of rigorous training. It’s been exciting watching them prepare to showcase these works for the first time and to feel the fresh energy they bring to the dance floor. After the season wraps, ADF students will take their experiences with them to enrich their schools or dance companies.
It’s been another lively season at ADF. “Footprints” will be proof of that.
Katie Peeler is the Marketing & Audience Services Associate at the American Dance Festival.