The renowned Bates Dance Festival returns in full force this summer with a 40th anniversary celebration showcasing student-dancers, international faculty, and dozens of performances from legendary artists.The festival, which runs July 11-Aug. 6, will also include a “BDFête” honoring the retirement of longtime Bates College Director of Dance Carol Dilley, who has been a major contributor to the festival throughout her nearly 20 years of teaching at Bates.

Tickets for the Bates Dance Festival are on sale, with a sliding scale to make performance accessible to all. And the 40th anniversary lineup features an abundance of talent, from Rennie Harris to David Dorfman Dance and collaborations between dancer-choreographer Shura Baryshnikov and cellist Adrienne Taylor as well as Maine-based choreographer Aretha Aoki and sound and visual designer Ryan MacDonald.

“We have so many amazing artists coming to the Bates Dance Festival this summer,” says director Shoshona Currier. “It’s a confluence of astounding talent. We feel so lucky to be welcoming so many students and artists for the first time since 2019. Our dancer training programs are totally full!”

The pandemic caused the festival to be canceled in 2020 and scaled back in 2021. Multiple projects intended for the 2020 BDF, were put on hold, explains Currier. When the festival returned in
2021, performances were limited to outdoor venues, and whereas typically 200 dancers would be enrolled in the Professional Training Program, the festival was only able to host 35 due to COVID
safety protocols.

This summer BDF will welcome back a full student body and programming worthy of a major anniversary. One of the artists who was supposed to perform last year, Miguel Gutierrez, shifted gears
in response to the challenges of remounting a show two years after it was originally scheduled. He’ll be performing a new work, “I as another,” an intimate duet with Laila Franklin, “mostly inspired by Willie Colon, Stevie Nicks, and the all consuming sadness that envelops everything.” Gutierrez met Franklin at the festival in 2021, when she took part in the training program.

Reggie Wilson’s Fist & Heel Performance Group is another group that had been slated to appear at BDF but was derailed by the pandemic in 2020. The Brooklyn-based dance company, which
investigates the intersections of cultural anthropology and movement practices, will perform at Lake Andrews on July 11, in collaboration with festival students and faculty members, as well as community members from Lewiston, inspired by several dances from the company’s Shaker-inspired work “Power.” Then the company will deliver full performances of its “Power” on July 15 and 17 in Schaeffer Theatre on the Bates College campus.

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“We’re so excited to be able to make good on these previous commitments,” Currier said. “And in the case of Reggie Wilson, to actually expand upon it, thanks to our partnership with Indigo Arts Alliance as well as significant relief grants. We’re thrilled to involve community members in this project, as well as our Young Dancers. I think that is going to be truly spectacular.”

The festival, in partnership with L/A Arts, is also celebrating the work of photographer Arthur Fink, who from 2006 to 2017 lovingly chronicled the festival with soulful curiosity and a reverence not just for performance, but for the practice and process of dance. Fink died on April 21, 2021, leaving behind a remarkable collection of still photography from the festival. The retrospective features more than 40 images of dancers at work and play and will be on display at L/A Arts in the Hartley Block, 155 Lisbon St., June 25-August 16, with special events including an opening reception from 5 to 7 p.m on June 24.

As an institution, the Bates Dance Festival made a decision to carry forward a pricing change it had adapted during the pandemic. Tickets will now be either $5 or $25. “It’s up to the ticket buyer,” Currier says. “We hope people who are able will buy a full-price $25 ticket but we understand what a barrier that can be for some. The $5 option makes this festival more accessible for our community. We need art during challenging times, and these have been very challenging times for all. As we reach the milestone of our 40th anniversary, we want to welcome all audiences to celebrate with us.”

For a full schedule, please visit batesdancefestival.org. In person ticket sales at the box office (Pettigrew Hall, 1st floor, Room 200, Bates College, 305 College St., Lewiston) are available starting June 28, Tuesday-Saturday, 1–5 p.m. For more information, email [email protected] or call 207-786-6161.


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