LEWISTON — The Bates Dance Festival has been a focal point for world-class performers, productions, compositions and dance education throughout its 30-year history — and this year the spotlight shines on some extraordinary collaborations.
A highlight of the six-week festival is the return of Rennie Harris, one of the world’s leading ambassadors of hip-hop dance. Harris will present his legendary “Puremovement” at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, July 13-14, in Schaeffer Theatre, 305 College St.
“We are putting a lens up to our substantial work with artists,” festival director Laura Faure said. Harris is one of those artists whose association with Bates goes back 20 years.
The “Puremovement” program features recent works “Breath,“ “Nina” and “Three B-Boys and a Girl,” showcasing stunning female dancers. The show includes excerpts from signature works “P-Funk,“ “Students of the Asphalt Jungle” and “Rome & Jewels.”
Faure said a number of original “Puremovement” members are back at Bates to celebrate the company’s 20th anniversary season.
Harris has been compared to 20th-century dance legends Alvin Ailey and Bob Fosse. One of hip-hop’s leading ambassadors, Harris is a powerful spokesperson for the significance of street origins in dance.
He has been recognized with a medal from the Kennedy Center as a master of African-American choreography and was voted one of the most influential people in the last 100 years of Philadelphia history.
Harris will share the history and culture of B-boying through stories and movement at a free lecture/demonstration at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at Schaeffer Theatre. B-boying and B-girling is now the accepted term for break dancing, which has become an out-of-favor name for the genre.
Faure called attention to another major Bates Dance Festival performance, “Abraham.in.Motion,” at 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday, July 19 and 21, also at Schaeffer Theatre.
Choreographer Kyle Abraham, a Pittsburgh native and rising star on the New York dance scene, will bring his company to Bates with his latest work, “Live! The Realest MC.” In 2009, Dance Magazine named Abraham as one of the “25 to Watch.”
Hailed as “the best and brightest creative talent to emerge in New York City in the age of Obama” by Out Magazine, Abraham makes dance that probes the complex relationships between identity and personal history.
Abraham and his dancers will offer insights into “Live! The Realest MC” and two other works, “The Radio Show" and “Boyz in the Hood," at a lecture/demonstration at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at Schaeffer Theatre.
As part of the festival, a dance photo exhibition can be viewed at Bate's Chase Hall Gallery through Aug. 11. For the last six summers, Peaks Island photographer Arthur Fink has photographed festival dancers, warming up, taking classes and rehearsing. He also captured images of the festival's acclaimed artists-in-residence. Exhibit hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Tickets for performances by the Harris and Abraham dance companies at $24 for adults, $18 for seniors and $12 for students. Call 786-6161 or visit www.batesdancefestival.org.