Athletic yet artistic Famous dancers, choreograghers return to the stage to help celebrate Bates Dance Festival’s 25th anniversary

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Physical daring. Vivid musicality. Virtuosic, athletic speed.

Attendees of the 2007 Bates Dance Festival’s 25th Anniversary Gala Concert can expect this and more when innovative dancers/choreographers who have earned international renown showcase their visionary works Saturday, July 28.

Featured will be intergenerational dance pioneer Liz Lerman, winner of the MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellowship; hip-hop legend Rennie Harris, voted one of the most influential people in the last 100 years in Philadelphia; and Obie Award-winning choreographer Doug Varone, acclaimed for his work in theater, opera, television and film.

Also: four-time Bessie Award winner Bebe Miller, known for her virtuosic works exploring the human condition; Barrymore Award winner David Dorfman, recognized for his collaborative community projects; acclaimed theater, opera and dance choreographer and former STOMP cast member Seán Curran; and jazz master and Broadway veteran Danny Buraczeski.

Capping the night will be community/site artists PearsonWidrig DanceTheater, performing an excerpt from their moving portrait, “Katrina Katrina: Love Letter to New Orleans.”

The gala concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the Lewiston Middle School Auditorium, 75 Russell St., Lewiston. Tickets, $25/$12 for students and seniors, may be purchased by calling 786-6161.

For the past 25 years, these seminal artists have graced the stage of the Bates Dance Festival, developing and showcasing their works. Each artist will perform a new or restaged solo work in celebration of the festival’s 25th anniversary.

Described by The Washington Post as “the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art,” Lerman and her dance/theater works have been seen throughout the United States and abroad. Her aesthetic approach spans the range from abstract to personal to political, while her working process emphasizes research, translation between artistic media, and intensive collaboration with dancers and communities. She founded Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in 1976 and has cultivated the company’s unique multigenerational ensemble, with dancers whose ages span five decades, into a leading force in contemporary dance.

In 1992, Harris founded Rennie Harris Puremovement, a hip-hop dance company dedicated to preserving and disseminating hip-hop culture through workshops, residencies and public performances. Harris has been compared to 20th-century dance legends Alvin Ailey and Bob Fosse. Nominated for a Lawrence Olivier Award in the Untied Kingdom, he received three Bessie New York Dance and Performance awards, two Alvin Ailey Black Choreographers awards, an Ethnic Dance award and the Alpert Award in the Arts for choreography.

Varone creates dances for the concert stage, as well as opera, Broadway, regional theater, film, and television. He founded Doug Varone and Dancers in 1986 to explore and process his particular choreographic vision. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Bessie for Sustained Achievement in Choreography and, most recently, a 2006 OBIE Award. His work has been singled out for its extraordinary physical daring and genius for capturing through movement the nuances of true human interaction. The company has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, South America and Asia, performing regularly at pre-eminent venues and festivals.

Creating dances for more than 20 years, Miller formed Bebe Miller Company in 1985. Known for a mix of virtuosic, athletic speed and fundamental humanity, the company has performed at major dance centers throughout the United States and abroad. Besides ongoing work with her ensemble, Miller has received commissions from the Boston Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and Philadanco. She has collaborated with artists in film and digital media and has received a John Simon Guggenheim fellowship and four Bessie New York Dance and Performance awards for choreography.

Dorfman founded his company, David Dorfman Dance, in 1985 and has performed extensively in New York City and throughout North and South America, Great Britain and Europe. His work has been commissioned widely in the United States and Europe. In 2003, he won a Barrymore Award for best choreography at Philadelphia’s Prince Music Theater for the original musical “Green Violin.” Dorman has been honored with four fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, three from the New York Foundation for the Arts, an American Choreographer’s Award and a 1996 Bessie New York Dance and Performance award for his community-based project “Familiar Movements (The Family Project).” Most recently, he received a Guggenheim fellowship for his work on “underground.”

After a career on Broadway appearing in such musicals as “Mame” with Angela Lansbury and “The Act” with Liza Minnelli, Buraczeski formed the original New York City-based JAZZDANCE in 1979. Based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul since 1992, the company performed at leading concert halls and festivals throughout the United Sates and in Europe, Russia and the Caribbean. In April of 2005, JAZZDANCE closed its doors with a 25-year retrospective concert at the Southern Theater in Minneapolis. Many of Buraczeski’s works for JAZZDANCE were commissioned by presenters around the country, including the Library of Congress, whose 1997 support of “Among These Cares” was this institution’s first dance commission in more than 50 years. He was named Artist of the Year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2000.

Curran first made his mark on the dance world as a leading dancer with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. An original member of the New York City cast of the Off-Broadway percussion extravaganza “Stomp,” he performed in the show for four years. Seán Curran Company, founded in 1997, has toured throughout the United States and has performed in festivals in France and Germany. Curran has choreographed for the New York City and Metropolitan operas, Playwrights Horizons and the Shakespeare in the Park; and for Broadway in James Joyce’s “The Dead.” Irish American Magazine selected Curran as one of its Top 100 in the year 2000.

Pearson and Widrig, artistic directors of PEARSONWIDRIG DANCETHEATER, have gained an international following for dance theater work that transforms the familiar into the mysterious and the intimate. Called “dance theater at its funniest and most compelling” by the leading Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, they have been touring extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America, India, Korea, Japan and New Zealand since 1987. Besides their concert stage work, their site installations and community performance residencies combining dance, music, text and video have taken them from rowboats in New York City’s Central Park to the Great Lawn at Jacob’s Pillow, to the Eiun-in Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.

For more information, log on to the dance festival’s Web site, http://abacus.bates.edu/dancefest/performseason.php.

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