American Dance Festival
The American Dance Festival (ADF) is a six and four-week school for dance and a six-week summer festival of modern dance performances, currently held at Duke University and the Durham Performing Arts Center in Durham, North Carolina.
The precursor to today’s American Dance Festival began in 1934 as the Bennington Festival, a summer program at Bennington College where modern dance pioneers Hanya Holm, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman came together to teach dance technique and perform new works. For one year, in 1939, Bennington moved the program to Mills College in Oakland, California, but it was back in Vermont by 1940. It ceased to exist after the summer of 1942.
In 1948, a program based on the Bennington model was established at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut and called the New York University – Connecticut College School of Dance / American Dance Festival. In 1969, newly appointed director Charles Reinhart shortened the name to, simply, the American Dance Festival. After 30 years at the Connecticut College campus, the festival moved, in 1978, to the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
Modern dance choreographers and companies including José Limón, Pearl Lang, Bella Lewitzky, Sophie Maslow, Alwin Nikolais, Merce Cunningham, Ruth Currier, Erick Hawkins, Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, Eiko & Koma, Seán Curran, Maguy Marin, Pilobolus and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker have all given performances there.
Numerous dance works have premiered at the American Dance Festival, many of them commissioned by ADF. The largest theater in the Carolinas, the Durham Performing Arts Center, was built partly as a showcase for the festival.
- Anderson, Jack: The American Dance Festival. Duke University Press, Durham 1987.(ISBN 0-8223-0683-2).
ADF has issued a series of humanities publications, including Philosophical Essays on Dance (1981), The Aesthetic and Cultural Significance of Modern Dance (1984), The Black Tradition in American Modern Dance (1988), its sequel, African American Genius In Modern Dance (1993), Dancing Across Cultures (1995), Reflections on the Home of an Art Form (1998), and Modern Dance, Jazz Music and American Culture (2000). In 2008, the ADF published a book by Dr. Gerald Myers, titled Who’s Not Afraid of Martha Graham?