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[Above: COCo Dance Theatre, Photo by Julieta Cervantes]

Lewiston, Maine. It may seem an unlikely place to go to see some of the best performances of the year, but indeed every summer it becomes a hotspot for contemporary dance.  At the Bates Dance Festival, the usually snow-capped Bates College quad melts to green, becoming fertile ground for dancers from all over the country and abroad to get together to learn, exchange, create, see great dance and have fun. 

Headlining at Schaeffer Theater are performances by Monica Bill Barnes & Company (7/10), Doug Varone and Dancers (7/15, 7/17), COCo Dance Theatre (7/23-24) and AXIS Dance Company (7/30-31).  It is quite a fabulous line-up.  Monica Bill Barnes & Company, known for her quick-witted comicality, will perform "Another Parade," featuring music by James Brown, Tina Turner, Back and Elvis! Doug Varone and Dancers will grace the stage with "Lux" (my favorite!), "Castles" and excerpts from "Chapters from a Broken Novel," currently a work in progress.  This summer will also be Varone's sixth creative residency at Bates since 1992.  Cynthia Oliver's COCo Dance Theatre will present their newest multidisciplinary work, "Rigidigidim di Bamba: Ruptured Calypso," which explores Caribbean identities and has received a National Dance Project touring grant from the New England Foundation for the Arts.  AXIS Dance Company, unparalleled in its groundbreaking work in physically integrated dance, will bring award-winning works by David Dorfman, Alex Ketley and Sonya Delwaide to Maine.  There will also be a pre- and post-performance lecture series, "Inside Dance: Understanding Contemporary Dance," led by Boston dance writer Debra Cash.  

Also at Schaeffer Theater, the "Different Voices" concerts showcase choreography by established and emerging artists from around the globe.  This year's artists include Claudia Lavista and Omar Carrum (of Delfos Danza Contemporanea, Mexico), Paniabra Gabriel Canda (Mozambique), Shiferaw Tarikou (Ethiopia), Deborah Goffe (Hartford, Conn) and Helen Simoneau (Quebec). 

Besides performances at Schaeffer Theater, the festival also offers a number of events at various venues around campus.  The "Musician's Concert" features 10 incredible composers and musicians (and happens to be one of my favorite events year after year).  To end the season, the "Festival Finale" comprises work by Foley, Young, Mejia and Lavista set on festival dancers, as well as a performance by participants of the festival's Youth Arts Program, a unique program for local children of all ages. 

Also on the agenda are a number of free events, including lecture demonstrations by Barnes, Varone and AXIS, a panel discussion with visiting international artists titled "Global Exchange: Sharing Across Cultures," "Moving in the Moment," and a Dance and Media Video Talk.  "Moving in the Moment," (another personal favorite of mine), features a night of improvised dancing organized by Chris Aiken and the festival faculty on August 3rd.  

For more details and ticket information, please visit the festival's website at

Special News!
Having hosted choreographers from South Africa for sixteen years, Laura Faure, festival director, travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa this March for the FNB Dance Umbrella Festival.  She shares some amazing insights on the festival's blog at

[Above: AXIS Dance Company, Photo by Margot Hartford]

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