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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 listed information yesterday about a few major dance festivals and conferences that I’ve attended; today I profiled a few well-respected festivals that I haven’t personally experienced. Read more below!

Bates Dance Festival – Lewiston, ME // June 29 – August 12, 2012

Founded by Bates College Professor of Dance Emeritus Marcy Plavin in 1982, the Bates Dance Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary this summer.  The Festival offers a three-week summer program of dance training for adults in addition to a three-week Young Dancers Workshop for teens ages 14-18. These professional training programs occur alongside the main-stage performance series, which features renowned dance artists from across the world; the Youth Arts Program, which provides youths ages 6-17 with dance and music training; and the Community Dance Project, which encourages local residents to participate in a collaboration with a choreographer and Festival dancers.

Bates is well-known for having a noncompetitive, community spirit; no auditions are required to attend the festival, but applicants must have studied modern and one other dance discipline continuously for four or more years.  In addition, shared dormitory lodging and dining areas allow resident artists and students to quickly build a sense of community.

In addition to dance technique and composition classes, the Bates Dance Festival includes workshops, jams, discussions, informal showings and performances.

Head to the Bates Dance Festival’s website to learn more.

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival – Berkshires, MA // June 16 – August 26, 2012

Founded by modern dance legend Ted Shawn in 1933, Jacob’s Pillow celebrates its 80th Anniversary at this summer’s festival. The Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival boasts a full schedule that includes free talks, outdoor performances, exhibits and tours in addition to dance technique programs in ballet, contemporary, jazz/musical theater and tap. These vigorous training programs last for varying amounts of time; more information is available here.

In 2003, Jacob’s Pillow was named as a National Historic Landmark for its importance in America’s culture and history, making it the country’s first and only Landmark dance institution, and in 2011, President Barack Obama honored the Pillow with the National Medal of Arts.

This year’s festival will feature performances by Mimulus (Brazil), Circa (Austrailia), Kidd Pivot (Germany), Vertigo Dance Company (Israel), Luna Negra Dance Theater (U.S.), Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company (U.S.), and Doug Elkins and Friends (U.S.), among many others. For a complete listing of this year’s performance season, click here.

If you love the Sound of Music and you also appreciate a good laugh, allow me to recommend Doug Elkins and Friends’ Fraulein Maria. This piece was performed at the American Dance Festival in the summer of 2009 and it was incredible! 

Learn more about the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival here.


Dance New Amsterdam – New York, NY // Year-round

Dance New Amsterdam, or DNA, as it is more commonly called, was founded in 1984 and has since become a haven of high quality dance education, choreographic exploration and performance innovation. DNA caters to all members of the dance community – which includes aspiring, emerging and established artists – by providing technique classes, certification courses, artistic residencies, and studio and administrative office subsidies.

DNA also commissions new choreographic works and presents a year-round performance season. Past performances have showcased the work of groundbreaking dance artists such as Ronald K. Brown, Mark Morris, Monica Bill Barnes and David Dorfman.

Though DNA is not a dance festival, it is an excellent facility for anyone looking to continue his or her dance practice during the summer months. Learn more about all DNA has to offer on its website.

Is there a noteworthy dance festival or conference that I left out? Leave me a comment and let me know! And if you haven’t already, be sure to check out Part 1!

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