Uniquely uplifting Bates Dance Festival moves into its 25th season, drawing performers of international renown

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LEWISTON – Victor Quijada’s Montreal-based Rubberbandance Group is a collection of world-class dancers from contemporary and break dance backgrounds.

They come together to explore human relationships through an innovative mix of hip hop dynamics and contemporary classicism.

And they will kick off the Bates Dance Festival’s 25th anniversary season, at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 14, with an evening of new works in Schaeffer Theatre at 305 College St. on the Bates College campus.

Other highlights of the five-week festival include PearsonWidrig DanceTheater performing with singers, musicians, and youth and community members and using sound, light, movement and inventive set pieces -including a stage built on Lake Andrews – to enliven the night environment.

Also, the return of David Dorfman Dance performing Dorfman’s most recent work, “underground,” a provocative exploration of political activism (see sidebar on this page); and Bridgman Packer Dance exploring the concept of “video partnering” in its latest work, “Trilogy,” featuring live music by cellist Robert Een, soxophonist Ken Field and Grammy Award-winning percussionist Glen Velez.

A 25th Anniversary Gala Concert will showcase performances by Dorfman; dance pioneer Liz Lerman; hip-hop legend Rennie Harris; Obie Award-winning choreographer Doug Varone; four-time Bessie Award winner Bebe Miller; acclaimed theater, opera and dance choreographer and former STOMP cast member Sean Curran; and jazz master and Broadway veteran Danny Buraczeski.

The works of choreographers from the United States, Africa and Latic America will take center stage in the annual Different Voices concert; the Musician’s Concert will feature an ecclectic mix of music from around the globe performed by musicians/composets in residence; and the Festival Finale will shine the spotlight on dancers of all ages and abilities performing modern and jazz dance works by Buraczeski, Dorfman and Marianela Boan.

Rubberbandance Group offers fresh and inventive works that marry explosive hip-hop physicality with the subtlety of contemporary storytelling. The music is Baroque, Prokofiev, tango, riff or rap, while the choreography blends ballet, contemporary and hip-hop dance styles.

Group founder and director Quijada discovered dance on the streets of California, where he began break dancing at age 8. After completing more formal dance training at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, he spent two years working with his mentor Rudy Perez’ Performance Ensemble. Quijada went on to work with Twyla Tharp Dance and Eliot Feld Ballet in New York City and in the summer of 2000 moved to Montreal to join Les Grands Ballet Canadiens. After years of exploring dance and theater from urban, classical and contemporary angles, he formed Rubberbandance Group in 2002.

A year later, Quijada received both the Bonnie Bird North American Award and the Peter Darrell Choreography Award in the United Kingdom. He has created work for the Peter Boal & Company (New York City), Transitions Dance Company (London), Chamber Dance Project (New York City) and Self Observation Without Judgment for Scottish Dance Theatre, which won the 2004 National Dance Award for Best Modern Repertory.

A finalist in the 2004 American Choreography Awards for “Hasta La Proxima,” his work was featured in the K-OS music video “Man I Used To Be,” winning the 2005 Much Music Video Award for Best Rap Video.

Since its inception, RBDG has been a coveted guest at both hip-hop and contemporary dance festivals throughout North America, Europe and Japan, where Rubberbandance represented Canada at EXPO 2005.

A well-known member of the Montreal dance community and resident company at Usine C in 2003 and 2004, the group is best known for the innovative site-specific work “Slicing Static,” called Best Dance Production of 2004 by the Montreal Mirror. Other highlights include performances at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Bumbershoot Music and Arts Festival, the Fall for Dance Festival at City Center in New York City, Breakin’ Convention at Sadler’s Wells in London, ACT Festival 2004 at the Rotterdamse Schouwsberg in Holland and URB Festivaali at Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland.

This year, Victor Quijada and Anne Plamondon were named artists-in-residence at Montreal’s Place des Artes.

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