Bates Dance Festival Marks 35th Anniversary With Ambitious Site-Specific Premiere

Stephen Koplowitz's Mill Town. Photo by Ellen Maynard, courtesy of BDF

What would it take to create a site-specific work in and around the Bates Mill Complex, a former textile factory in downtown Lewiston, Maine?

It was a question Bates Dance Festival executive director Laura Faure posed to internationally renowned site choreographer Stephan Koplowitz. Four years later, with a $100,000 budget, Mill Town will premiere this week, to close out the festival's 35th-anniversary season and will be Faure's final performance season with the festival.


The full-length multimedia work features 50 dancers—professionals, pre-professional students, festival participants and youth community members—performing to original music by award-winning composer Todd Reynolds. Audience members will move throughout the 19th-century complex to view live performance, video filmed throughout the city and artifact installations from a local museum.

"Underlying the Bates Dance Festival's mission is to involve and be a part of the greater Lewiston-Auburn community, and that's an important part of this project. It's something that Laura certainly has valued in her 30 years of being director," Koplowitz says. "I'm honored that it is her last commission at Bates, although that does add a little pressure."


Stephen Koplowitz's Mill Town. Photo by Ellen Maynard, courtesy of BDF

Faure retires this year, having led the festival for 30 of its 35 years. She's guided it from having fewer than 50 students, a few concerts and a handful of faculty to 320 students, 13 concerts and more than 80 artists who teach and perform each year at the festival. In addition to a mainstage performance series with contemporary dance artists from around the world, there is a Young Dancers Workshop for pre-professionals ages 14 to 18, a Professional Training Program for dancers ages 18 and up and a seven-day Teacher Training Workshop. Community outreach includes the Youth Arts Program, which provides dance, music, theater and visual arts training for ages 7 to 16 and culminates in a 20-minute performance where the students create all the music, choreography and costumes.

Bates also offers the Emerging Choreographers Program, the International Visiting Artists Program, the Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium and the Community Dance Project, which invites local residents to collaborate with a choreographer and dancers to create a new work.

"The growth has been organic—our community has all had a hand in what the festival is today," Faure says. "I'm very proud of the work we've done to create such positive energy, and my deepest hope is that it will always remain an incubator for emerging artists and a safe space for collaboration."

Mill Town, premiering August 3 and 4.

For more, visit here.

Thinkstock

Q: My studio is growing quickly. I'd like to bring in someone to take over the majority of teaching and manage the curriculum and performance teams, while I run the business side. What's the best way to do this?

Keep reading... Show less
Your Studio
Thinkstock

Most dancers are taught from a young age that no matter what happens onstage, the show must go on! Costume rips? Don't stop dancing. Forget the choreography? Don't stop dancing. Fall down? Get back up, but for the love of all things holy, don't stop dancing!

Anna White, teacher and studio director at Melinda Leigh Performing Arts Center in Mobile, Alabama, breaks down how she conveys this message to her students.

Keep reading... Show less
Videos

This month's winner is a lyrical piece to "Wounded Animal" by Mary Lambert, performed at the Turn It Up Dance Challenge. Before setting the movement, Ashley Zelano, choreographer and artistic director at the Fierce Dance Academy in New Castle, Delaware, took a cautious approach with the 11 teenage dancers. The song describes the despair felt in a relationship where one party can't fully commit. But she understood that her teenage students might not relate to what inspires her as an adult.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers & Role Models
Photo by Nathalie Van Empel, courtesy of BYU CFAC

It's been a good month for choreographer and teacher Nick Palmquist. While he's been on DT's radar for quite some time, he burst onto the social-media scene in late November when the biggest professional ballet stars in the country participated in the #nickpalmquistchallenge. Prompted by Palmquist's choreography, stars from Marcelo Gomes to Stella Abrera were digging into the sultry stylized movement of the Steps on Broadway commercial jazz teacher, and sharing it on social media. He now has 38.4K followers and counting.

Keep reading... Show less
Photo by Keren Kraizer, courtesy of Assaf

As a child—with no formal dance training—Roy Assaf knew the transformative power of an audience. Starting from the age of 5, he would prepare dances for family gatherings. "I remember that all the guests would form a circle around me," he says, "and I would execute what I had prepared for that event." Now, as one of the most exciting and wholly original choreographic voices today, Assaf has harnessed that ability to transfix onlookers by creating straight-from-the-gut, highly physical dances that intimate complex inner narratives. The bodies in his Israel-based company weave, rebound, change direction, pant heavily and always move with purpose.

His newest work premiered December 6–10 in New York City. This time, instead of choreographing on his core company of a handful of dancers, he created a work on all 24 of the Juilliard third-year dancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Thinkstock

Q: I'm looking to hire new instructors. How can I create a competitive job listing?

A: We've found the best way to attract qualified applicants for teaching positions at our studio is to be as specific as possible with our expectations, while communicating what makes our studio a great place to work.

Here's an example of a job description we've used when seeking teachers:

Lead Dance Instructor: Tap/Jazz/Contemporary; Choreography for Dance Teams.

Kathy Blake Dance Studios is seeking new instructors to join our faculty. Our performing arts school, located in the Souhegan Valley of New Hampshire, has an emphasis on excellence and love for the art of dance, with a student base aged 2 to adult. We pride ourselves on paying our teachers well, offering a professionally managed front office and fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration among our staff.

We have an immediate opening for a dance instructor whose specialty is teaching intermediate to advanced tap, jazz and/or contemporary, as well as choreographing for competitive dance teams. We are seeking a creative, forward-thinking teacher who brings out the best in dancers. Schedule of 5 to 10-plus classes a week, based on availability. Position begins in August (or sooner, based on teacher availability). The school year runs from September through June. Pay is competitive and commensurate with experience and credentials.

Interested instructors: Please e-mail or reply to this ad with a current resumé and phone number, as well as what you love about teaching and what matters most to you in working for a dance studio.

Can't teach on our regular schedule? Please let us know if you'd like to be considered for our guest-artist master-class events.

Kathy Blake (Kathy Blake Dance Studios in Amherst, New Hampshire) and Suzanne Blake Gerety co-founded DanceStudioOwner.com.

popular
Thinkstock

These four holiday dance videos are the break you need from the madness of the season. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll be recharged enough to dive back into another night of Nutcracker performances. (Yikes—hang in there guys!) Check 'em out, and share your favorite funny holiday dance videos with us on our Facebook page.

XOXO

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored