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Recent heavy snows and cold weather have many of us looking forward to the summer months. But dancers may be looking forward to more than just warmer weather.

The summer holds a wealth of opportunities in the form of dance festivals and conferences for those in the professional dance world; whether dance artists participate in these events as students, interns or employees, dance festivals and conferences often prove to be educational, unforgettable experiences for all involved.

I’ve listed information about a few major dance festivals and conferences that I’ve attended below to give you an idea of what they are like. In the next installment of this series, I will profile a few well-respected festivals that I haven’t personally experienced.

A shot from Mark Dendy's site-specific work at ADF 2009. Look familiar?

The American Dance Festival – Durham, NC // June 14- July 28, 2012

The American Dance Festival was founded in July 1934 in Bennington, VT, by Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, as The Bennington School of Dance. The Festival remained in Bennington until 1942, moved to Connecticut, MA, in 1947, and was rechristened as the American Dance Festival by Charles L. Reinhart in 1969. The fall of 1977 brought ADF to the Duke University campus in Durham, NC, and it has been held there ever since. This year, ADF has a new director – Jodee Nimerichter.

The ADF now includes more than 400 students and boasts a 50-person faculty of renowned performing artists. The ADF school curriculum includes a variety of technique classes,  repertory and composition, in addition to courses in dance medicine and body therapies. ADF also offers professional workshops in teaching and performance, and a special program for younger dance students.

The ADF performance series lasts 6 weeks and features two performing companies per week. ADF favorites include Shen Wei Dance Arts, Pilobolus, Paul Taylor Dance CompanyEiko and Koma, and many others.

Learn more details about ADF here: ADF at a Glance

My team at the ADF in 2009

If dancers are interested in arts administration but still want to dance, internships and seasonal positions at the ADF are a great choice. I served as an ADF Marketing and Communications intern in 2009, so if you have any questions about what it’s like, send your questions my way!

Learn more about ADF seasonal employment and internships here.

White Mountain Summer Dance Festival – Bronxville, NY // July 7 – July 28, 2012

The White Mountain Summer Dance Festival celebrates its 32nd year this summer, which will be its fifth summer on the campus of Sarah Lawrence College. WMSDF offers more than 12 hours of instruction daily – a rigorous schedule that includes modern and ballet technique classes, yoga instruction twice daily, anatomy classes, Laban Movement Analysis classes and repertory sessions.

Ten faculty members teach a maximum of 40 resident students to ensure a four-to-one student-to-faculty ratio. Students may choose to attend all classes at the festival, or to taper their experiences to focus on specific learning tracks.

Learn more about the WMSDF curriculum here.

Taking class with Paul Dennis at WMSDF 2008. Can you find me?

As a 2008 student at WMSDF, I can testify that the program is rigorous but completely worth the money. The teachers at WMSDF are incredibly knowledgeable and very personable, and the small size of the festival creates a tight-knit community in a short period of time. I’m happy to answer any questions about this festival, so leave ’em below if you’ve got ’em! 

Dance Critics Association Annual Conference – New York, NY // June 22-24, 2012

The DCA was founded in 1973 and was formally established in 1974 as an organization that represents working dance critics. Since the DCA’s first annual convention in 1974, the group has grown to include almost 300 members – both freelance and full-time – who write for publications across the US, Europe and Asia. Members of the DCA convene every year to discuss major issues that impact the professional dance world, and specifically the art form of dance criticism, over a period of three days.

The DCA offers two scholarships of $500 for emerging or experienced writers to attend the annual conference. The deadline to apply for the Gary Parks Scholarship is Monday, April 2, 2012.

This year’s conference will be held at the Alvin Ailey Dance Center in New York City, June 22-24, 2012.

Learn more about the conference here.

Group shot from the 2011 DCA Conference in Seattle, WA

As a new member of the DCA, I highly encourage young dance writers to get involved in this organization. There is an incredible opportunity for young DCA members to receive mentoring in the field of dance writing, and also to help the organization adapt to an evolving media environment. If you have any questions about the DCA, leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to answer it!

Part 2 provides information about the Bates Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival and Dance New Amsterdam (not a festival, but a great resource!)


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