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For a dance artist/dance writer based in North Carolina like myself, the American Dance Festival (ADF) is like Christmas in June. But it doesn’t really matter to what present-baring holiday it is compared – the ADF has mass appeal. For these six weeks, representatives from across the world join forces in Durham to celebrate the  universal language that is dance, and local dance patrons reap the benefits.

This year’s season, the festival’s 79th, includes 46 performances; this number includes 18 companies/choreographers, 8 ADF company debuts, 7 world premieres, 7 ADF commissions and 2 U.S. premieres – and that is just onstage!

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The School at the ADF hosts 426 students this year – an incredible melange of dance experience and talent with representatives from 18 countries and 42 U.S. States. ADF student participants take dance technique, improvisation and composition classes in addition to attending lectures, performances and other events at the festival. Students can also audition for repertory pieces that perform at the festival’s Footprints concert at the end of the season (July 23-25).

This year’s ADF season is dedicated to Mary Regan, former NC Arts Council Executive Director and longtime ADF supporter. The season dedication was presented to Regan last night, June 14, preceding an unbeatable opening night performance by Doug Elkins and Friends. Regan graciously accepted the honor but noted that she could not have succeeded alone.

After experiencing last night’s incredible energy, I look forward to all that this season has to bring – keep an eye out for my reviews of Doug Elkins and Friends, Stephen Petronio Company, Keigwin + Company, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Monica Bill Barnes & Company and Ragamala Dance. I’ll also be participating in as many festival events as possible – and you should too! Check out ADF’s website to see how you can get involved!

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