For eighty years, the American Dance Festival (ADF) has been hosting dozens of premier international dance troupes and trained hundreds of the nation’s rising dancers. For the past 36 years, ADF has been hosting its classes and events in Durham, becoming a cultural and artistic asset in the surrounding community. And yet, ADF has never had its own space to use for classes, showcases or training—that is, until now.
Completed this August, ADF’s new 10,000 square foot facility is situated across the street from Duke’s East Campus, at 721 Broad Street. The space is sleek and modern; the studios are naturally lit, and the building is equipped with locker rooms and a yoga deck, as well as a shoe boutique, bakery and art gallery on the main floor.
Myra Scibetta, ADF’s Marketing and Audience Services Associate said that the program has never been able to have any classes or performances outside of their summer season, but the new venue will allow them to teach all ages and perform year-round.
“These classes are a great way for Duke students to stay connected to the art form and what’s happening,” Scibetta said.
The weekly classes (which vary from African dance to Contact Improvisation) will begin on Monday, September 10 and are open to everyone. ADF also welcomes drop-ins, offering rates of $15 per session or five- and ten-class passes. In terms of catering to busy students, Scibetta said that the administration is looking into ways to engage Duke students year-round, a new challenge considering that ADF used to be a summer-only event. Scibetta also mentioned that ADF is looking into discounts or special classes to involve the student community, saying that “we’re just getting our feet wet, there’s a lot to come.” Moreover, ADF has offered students and faculty discounts for performances in the past and has hosted events for Duke alumni to get involved with festival. The American Dance Festival normally solely operates in June and July, bringing various dance troupes from around the world and arranging performances at venues such as DPAC, Reynolds Theater and other Duke spaces. Last year ADF hosted 18 companies, with dancers form Israel, New York, Japan, France and Taiwan, among others.
In addition, ADF offers a 6-week program for dancers age 16 and up. With about 50-60 faculty and live musicians, the 300 students reside on East Campus or in surrounding apartments and practice various dance forms/pieces for six hours a day. The 2013 festival will be their first opportunity to have their own dance venue; in the past, students have practiced and performed in Brodie Gym, the Ark, West Campus and even Smith Warehouse. The majority of chosen students are experienced dancers, but ADF has leveled classes and gives out scholarships for certain students that go through an audition process.
ADF Director Jodee Nimerichter, echoes the importance of having a brick-and-mortar location attached to such an established organization.
“For the first time in history, we are owners of property,” Nimerichter said. “People will be able to come to us on a year-round basis.”
With Durham’s increasing prominence as an artistic hub, the new dance facility is, as Scibetta said, “a whole other limb” for Durham’s vibrant performing arts scene.
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