International modern dance festival takes over Durham

"Shadowland" by Pilobus, one of 61 different performances happening as part of the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. (Grant Halverson. )

The American Dance Festival takes over the Bull City this summer once again.

The festival is all about modern and contemporary dance and is celebrating its 83rd season this year.
American Dance Festival director, Jodee Nimerichter said it offers something for everyone as the season runs from mid -June through July and features 61 different performances by 26 different companies or choreographers from all over the world, at 13 different Durham venues.

Nimerichter said even people who've never experience any modern or contemporary dance can find something to love about the festival.

"Modern and contemporary dance . . . is really built up on the fundamental basis that dance can be created through individual creativity, Nimerichter said.

"And for me, the breadth and the depth of what that means is so vast because of the personalities in the world who make up the modern dance, so come and be open to trying and seeing new means of movement that you might have not ever have thought existed," she said.

"I think for people who have not experienced modern dance, this week's program called '5 By 5' is an excellent introduction to modern dance and to performance, as five works by five really interesting makers at work today, and each of the pieces is really distinct, so it gives you a flavor and a piece of possibilities to come," she added.

In addition to a variety of performance styles, Nimerichter said newcomers may want to check out their lineup based on the scale of the performance, as they offer shows at both large and small venues alike.

Check out a sneak peek of the performances coming up July 1-14

"If you are a lover of going to a big venue and you want to experience something at a beautiful proscenium like DPAC, we have pieces and companies there that can wow you," she said.
"Company Wang Ramirez is a real fusion of contemporary and hip hop, that might be something for you, and then we have really more intimate, more abstract work and avant garde work that's happening in the galleries 21c Museum Hotel, so there's a big range of possibilities depending upon what your personality might gravitate to the most."

Nimerichter said the festival is also about more than just performance, but also about the evolution of modern dance.

She said the hundreds of international modern dancers who come to Durham to take part in the six-week festival also converge to learn more from each other, and to also teach others.

"I would encourage people to also go behind the stages with us and if you haven't taken a tour, come see a tour of classes," Nimerichter said.

"Over 300 students coming to live, eat and breathe dance, and they dance all day, and we do tours, and you can come see the passion and the dedication for many of those who'll go on to have professional careers."

Read more about festival extras like tours here.

The festival is also debuting five new acts this year. It's the 39th year Durham is hosting the event, but Nimerichter said she's met folks who've been following the festival even before it moved to North Carolina.

"Many of the people have been coming to see performances since the very beginning," she said. "So we have people with so much historical reference to so much of what ADF's history is, but also that legacy of modern dance.

"And it has been really riveting for people to come up to me every year and say 'I was at the performance in 1981 and I remember the ... ' and they get very personally connected," she said.

Look up upcoming shows here.

Check out a sneak peek of the performances coming up July 15-30

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