Sanaa Stewart, right and London Christian “battle” during their Voguing class July 8 during the second week of the Young Dancers Intensive, part of the Bates Dance Festival at Bates College in Lewiston. Dancers take 5 classes a day across a wide variety of dance styles and forms, engage in artist talks and showings, and receive direct mentorship from dance professionals. The professional workshops begin next week. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The Bates Dance Festival returns for its 42nd season this summer with three mainstage programs at the Schaeffer Theatre along with free concerts, works in progress, artist talks, panel discussions and for the first time, a dance competition, the Summer Battle 2024, featuring three genres of Black dance. The renowned festival will run from July 12-Aug. 2 on the campus of Bates College in Lewiston.

“Every year we offer a platform for world class performance at Bates,” said Director Shoshona Currier. ”And our three mainstage performers, Aretha Aoki & Ryan MacDonald, who are based in Maine, Sean Dorsey Dance, a festival favorite, and TRIBE, led by Shamel Pitts, who is also teaching Gaga during the Professional Training Program, will bring their extraordinary vision and artistry to the Lewiston/Auburn community. New this year is a collaboration with two long-time BDF faculty members, Shakia Barron and Duane Lee Holland Jr., to shake things up with an invitational dance competition.”

The Summer Battle 2024, slated for the last weekend in July, is “about uplifting the virtuosity and lineage of Black American Artistry,” Currier said. It’s hosted with CRĀV (Cultivating Revolutionary Artistic Virtuosity), a collaborative dance program co-founded by professional dancers Shakia “The Key” Barron, an assistant professor of dance at Mount Holyoke and Holland Jr., who is on the dance faculty at UMass-Amherst.

“We’ll have pioneers and ambassadors of the culture serving as panelists, judges, emcees and master teachers for an incredible weekend of dance, community and battles in three genres, Breakin’, Hip Hop and House,” Currier said.

The finals and exhibition will be a ticketed event on Saturday. “We’ve never done a dance competition before, but we expect this to be an electric experience,” Currier added. “Registration for the Battle is open through May 6 so we’re incredibly excited to see who enters, not to mention who the winners are on July 27.” That weekend will also feature a panel discussion, “The Continuum of Black American Artistry” and conclude on Sunday with a community master class taught by Barron.

Mainstage performances

July 12 & 14 at 7:30 p.m. || Aretha Aoki & Ryan MacDonald IzumonookunI (World premiere)
IzumonookunI is a multidisciplinary and multigenerational dance inspired by Izumo no Okuni, 17th century founder of the Japanese dance-drama form, kabuki. Choreographer Aretha Aoki and sound and visual designer Ryan MacDonald, joined by their 7-year-old daughter, Frankie Mayfield, are re-imagining Okuni in conversation with a live synthesizer, digital design, dance, and an all-women taiko group from Canada, Sawagi Taiko.


July 19 & 20 at 7:30 pm || Sean Dorsey Dance: The Lost Art of Dreaming (Maine premiere)
Emmy award-winning, trailblazing, transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey has created The Lost Art Of Dreaming as an invitation to reconnect with longing, embrace imagination, connect with joy and pleasure, and propel ourselves toward loving futures. The piece comes to Bates Dance Festival as part of an international tour with more than a dozen stops. This is Sean’s fourth presentation at BDF.

July 26–28 || BDF X CRĀV Summer Battle 2024
Friday, July 26 at 7:30 p.m.: “The Continuum of Black American Artistry” panel discussion moderated by CRĀV Directors Shakia Barron and Duane Lee Holland Jr.
Saturday, July 27 at 2 p.m.: Preliminaries
Registration for the one-on-one battles in Hip Hop, House, and Breakin’ is open through May 6. Judges include: Michele “Ladybyrd” Byrd-McPhee, Anthony “YNOT” Denaro, and Emilio “Buddha Stretch” Austin Jr., Emcee Jackie “Miss Funk” Lopez, and DeeJay Daniel “DJ DP One” Pinero.
Saturday, July 27 at 7:30 p.m.: Finals & Exhibition.
Sunday, July 28: Community master class with Shakia “The Key” Barron

August 1 & 2 at 7:30 p.m. || TRIBE: BLACK HOLE – Trilogy And Triathlon (Maine premiere)
BLACK HOLE – Trilogy And Triathlon is a multidisciplinary performance choreographed by 2020 Guggenheim Fellow and 2021 Bessie Award winner, Shamel Pitts. In BLACK HOLE, the final installment in Pitts’ “Black Series” triptych, a trio of Black performers shares the stage in a narrative of unity, vigor, and unrelenting advancement.

Tickets are available with pricing from $5–$35 to make performance accessible to all. Adults tickets are $35; Students, seniors and educators $15. There will be a limited number of $5 tickets available to every performance. The Bates Dance Festival box office opens on June 28 and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 1–5 p.m. and is located in Pettigrew Hall, Room 200, Bates College, 305 College St., Lewiston. The box office can be reached by email at or by phone at 207-786-6161. For more information, visit

Check out other upcoming entertainment events!

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.