Creating Collaborative Sound

By | 2015 Young Dancers in Motion | No Comments

Upon walking into the sunny studio for their placement class, the Young Dancers Workshop participants were greeted by not one, but four world-class dance accompanists prepared to play for them.

Albert Mathias, Shamou, Peter Jones, and Carl Landa have been regular members of the BDF staff over many years and are each considered experts in their fields. The quartet spent their day improvising as a group to create music for the ballet, modern, and jazz combinations that comprised the placement classes. These classes are the first time the young dancers experienced all the musicians playing together during the three-week program.

I sat down with multi-disciplinary musician, Albert Mathias to talk about the experience of improvising with his long-time colleagues and friends.

Mathias began by saying, “I know them very well,” before continuing on to explain that both the familiarity with his fellow musicians and level of expertise shared by the group made improvising together very easy.

“The musicians here are some of the best in the world at what they do. They all have something to bring, and each person led a little bit,” he said.

Drawing upon similarities between dance and music, Mathias said he mostly thinks about listening and being in a collective environment when he is improvising with multiple musicians.

“It is just like dancing with other people. Music and dance are very similar, especially when you are doing it with other people. […] It’s also about having a good time.”

During their placement classes, the dancers demonstrated this similarity by navigating a smaller space with lots of other dancers.

For this particular round of improvisation the musicians prepared by talking a little bit beforehand. Mathias said each member shared which instruments they thought they might bring to the studio, but not much else. The musicians did the rest of the work on the spot.

“You never know what someone is going to play, really,” said Mathias, “There is such a vast variety of stuff.”

Mathias said there is also simplicity to the work. “In that vast variety of stuff, there are actually very few things. There are low sounds, high sounds, mid sounds, and there’s rhythm,” Mathias said, “but you’re always finding this little stuff in between.”

Mathias said this year he has the same goals as when he has attended BDF in the past, to produce clear, fitting music for the classes he accompanies, and contribute to the encouraging, daring, and sincere class environment we strive to cultivate here at BDF.

The four musicians will come together once again next Friday, July 10th, to teach a master class for the young dancers.

Check out some of the class’s music:

Ballet combination

Modern combination

Jazz combination


Photo by Martin Gavica

2015 Spring Newsletter

By | BDF Newsletters | No Comments

2015 Season Preview

The Festival kicks off its 2015 Performance Series, July 10 & 11 with DanceNOW featuring fresh voices from a new generation of Festival faculty and alumni. Next up, Sean Dorsey Dance breaks ground with “The Missing Generation,” a dance-theater work exploring the impact of the 1980’s AIDS crisis.

Another season highlight is the New England debut of Delfos Danza Contemporanea Mexico’s leading contemporary company performing “When Disguises Are Hung Up,” a reflection on appearances and the loss and rediscovery of the self. Read More

ICEhot Nordic Dance Platform

By | 2014 Director's Notes | No Comments

The dance going began in earnest Wednesday night with the opening performance of ICEhot by Heine Avdal & Yukiko Shinozaki in the Dansens Hus conveniently located behind our hotel.  Artists and presenter from 28 countries are here to experience works from Iceland, Finland, Denmark. Norway and Sweden.  The bar was bustling before the show with a confab of international festival goers. This first work was elaborate with miles of silver fabric curtains suspended from giant helium physio ball type balloons. The curtains did much of the dancing throughout the 60+ minutes while creating a beautiful shimmering effect. There was much technical wizardry on display with self propelled balloons and curtains floating over our heads.

Dansens Hus

Dansens Hus

Each morning began with a info session, More More More, in which five choreographers talk about their work and showed video excerpts.  This was a valuable component of the festival for those of us looking to learn more about emerging artists. Along with several U.S. colleagues, I have invited here to identify a Nordic artist to bring to BDF for a creative residency.

Among our group are seven U.S. artists including Zoe Scofield who I got to catch up with over a splendid breakfast (included with our room at the hotel). Foodie that I am, I was in heaven with the delicious and plentiful spread of lox, smoked fish, cheeses, breads, fruit and on and on.  This is our real meal of the day since everything here is so wildly expensive — $40 for a hamburger and beer, $5 for coffee and so forth — and we are running from one performance to the next all day long.

Over the course of four days I have seen 16 shows. Its been a rapid fire education on the state of Nordic dance or at least those selected to present at this platform. Several elements seemed to recur… smoke is very popular, the use of a hip hop vocabulary either woven through a contemporary sensibility or straight up, durational work quite often too long, electronic scores (everyone is using them–what ever happened to natural sound?), a fascination with awkward, clumsy movement, and terrific dancers.

Oslo Opera House

Oslo Opera House

Among the many performances there were four that stood out for me (all art being subjective). Zero Visibility Corp from Norway presented “Terra O Motel”  a 90- minute extravaganza complete with a mini 40’s type motel and neon sign as well as a variety set pieces, from a makeshift kitchen to bowls of potatoes and sleeping pads and pillows. This piece created a world of distinct characters living out their peculiar lives and quite grew on me as it progressed.

Tentacle Tribe of Sweden & Canada offered “Nobody Likes A Pixelated Squid” a  beautifully executed, but too long duet a la Victor Quijada of Rubberbandance  with whom they both danced. Gorgeous, sinewy partner work in a smoothed out hip hop style.

Ima Iduozee from Finland presented “This is the Title” a stunning solo incorporating hip hop with really skillful floor work, fine precision and luscious flow that reminded me of Omar Carrum’s Mobile Floor class.

Aloun Marchal from Sweden performed “Gerro, Minos and Him” a trio I dubbed, The Three Stooges Without Pants. A comic journey into the absurd–these three nutcases had a boatload of  physical comedy skills and a go for broke daring. One dancer, in particular, had that rare gift of comic timing that kept many in the audience laughing throughout the 47 minute work. Whether this was one’s cup of tea or not, no one fell asleep during this show!

National Academy of the Arts

National Academy of the Arts

It has been a pleasure to be in attendance at ICEhot as it was so finely organized and we have been well taken care of. Buses carried us around to the distant venues but several were close enough to walk to. Many are in renovated industrial buildings like to National Academy of the Arts, a spectacular re-purposing. The neighborhood surrounding this building is charming and I enjoyed several lunches with colleagues from around the globe. Now its time to go home and ponder the experience!

2014 Fall Newsletter, Volume 17

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In the Works

Jennifer Nugent by Arthur Fink

Jennifer Nugent by Arthur Fink

BDF is teaming up with New York City-based Gibney Dance and The Playground to host a BDF+Gibney Connect, a daylong dance immersion on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 at Gibney Dance, 280 Broadway, NYC. The day will feature technique classes by Kendra Portier, member of David Dorfman Dance and founder of bandPortier,  Jennifer Nugent former member of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company,  Amy Miller, Associate Artistic Director of Gibney Dance, and Gregory Dolbashian, Co-Director of The Playground.  BDF accompanist Glen Fittin will play for Kendra and Jen. Focused around inspired dancing and creative exchange, the day is designed for intermediate and advanced dancers. A reception will conclude the day. The all-inclusive fee is $35 with pre-registration or $42 day of. Registration Info available soon at:

Read More

BDF Internships: Dancing to Success

By | 2014 Professional Program in Motion | No Comments

As the festival draws to a bittersweet end, it’s about time to go behind-the-scenes. More specifically, let’s give a round of cyberspace applause for our interns! BDF offers elite internships in technical production, video/media, arts administration, and dance education. These individuals gain irreplaceable contacts and in-depth knowledge of dance as a field. We interviewed some of our interns and posed the following questions:

  • What is your role as a BDF intern?
  • How will you apply this internship to your reality outside of BDF?

Check out what they had to say:


Kristen Bernier

An an office intern this summer at Bates, I have numerous administrative responsibilities, some of which include managing and updating the database, organizing the schedules and appointments for the amazing body-workers on site, coordinating the keys for all festival participants, and planning for the arrivals and departures of students throughout the three programs. The staff has gone above and beyond to ensure that my experience is most educational and fulfilling, through their collaborative nature and eagerness to share. In addition to working the festival, I have the opportunity to participate in the classes provided by the awe-inspiring faculty. With dual insights into the festival, my experience as an intern has been incredibly enlightening and humbling. After Bates Dance Festival, I will be moving to New York City where I will pursue a career in the arts and administration, working on personal artistic ventures and for MAPP International Productions as their Administrative Manager. My experience as an intern has facilitated my growth in both realms of art and business immensely, shedding light on the interchangeability between creativity and administration. BDF is unique in the way that it is more intimate and communal, fostering an environment in which obtaining connections and knowledge in the dance world and beyond is organic. It is clear through its growing lineage, that the relationships created at BDF are long withstanding. The experience I have gained at the Festival has prepared me to take the next step in my career with enthusiasm and has supplied me with an incredible knowledge of the field at large.


Calvin Franke 

As an Arts Administration Intern at BDF, I am responsible for day to day tasks in the office as well as the Young Choreographers/New Works Showcase at the end of the festival.  It’s a great experience to be able to head a project and see it from beginning to end.  I have set office hours during the day when I am not in class and every day is different and exciting in a new way. After BDF, I go back to working on a collaborative research project with my professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire that I have been involved with since the beginning of June.  This internship has exposed me to so many amazing people that it is almost impossible to not make a BDF connection wherever I go.  Being able to see the behind-the-scenes work that goes into this festival is incredible and a valuable opportunity for anyone wanting to enter this field.


Stephanie Grover

At BDF this summer, my main role as one of the arts administrative interns is to manage the merchandise store and its sales. In addition, we assist Laura Faure and Meredith Lyons in the office by answering the phones, creating informational packets for each of the participants, as well as the faculty, that they receive as they arrive, and working to keep everyone updated and informed about the various events, programs, and workshops that are offered throughout the festival. I also help at the performances by selling concessions or working will call as needed. After BDF, I am looking forward to staying in contact with these new amazing individuals I have met here at the festival. This welcoming, talented, open-minded community at this festival has been unlike any other I have ever been a part of. BDF has inspired me to continue working hard to fully support this industry that I have always loved and believed in, and now, I have even more people to share ideas with/collaborate with in the future. I have learned to value what I can bring to the table, and it will be exciting to see where my life will bring me upon returning to my brand new apartment in NY. The options are endless!

tori lawrence photo

Tori Lawrence

As a video intern, I have the pleasure of working alongside videographers Peter Richards, Lindsay LaPointe, Ellen Maynard, and Renato Vacub Cimi.  Our video team is a closely knit, talented group of people who are responsible for filming all of BDF’s performances, classes, faculty interviews, and other showings.  We typically film each day and then take two classes when we’re not busy in the editing studio.  This year, I’ve been given the task of creating a mini-documentary of the Young Dancers Workshop as well as creating two interview videos on artists Jennifer Nugent and Omar Carrum.  This internship has given me the time, resources, and mentorship to truly craft my own voice as a filmmaker. I’m a Philadelphia-based choreographer who specializes in creating dance on films and large site-specific installations (, so this internship opportunity has not only allowed me to delve further into the field of film, but it has helped me establish connections with some of the world’s top artists. I’m heading to the University of Iowa to get my MFA in Choreography this Fall, so I’ve been lucky to have spent my summer here fine-tuning my camera/editing techniques and taking dance classes with some of the best artists out there.

Video still from Local Natives' City of Music Video for "Bowery".

Video still from Local Natives’ City of Music Video for “Bowery”.

Ashley R.T. Yergens

Likes, follows, retweets, and favorites are the social currency of my generation and younger. As the BDF Social Media Intern, my responsibility is to utilize this social currency for the greater good of dance. I am a storyteller. I want to make dance accessible and understandable for the general public. For me, social media allows us to foster and maintain relationships and stories until we can be in the same room together. Also, with the ever-changing landscape of dance, I believe that it’s a good practice for our BDF choreographers, teachers, and movers to keep up with the pace of technology. Dance can survive if we can become the programmers instead of the programmed. After BDF, I will apply this internship experience to my new position as the Impact Coordinator for the Arts at the Boys & Girls Club in Rochester, Minnesota. Additionally, I will be showing Is this more ladylike? at Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The work explores the social construction of what it means to be “ladylike” in contemporary performance. Last but not least, I am proud to announce that I have been selected as a Zenon Dance Zone Choreographer for the Fall 2014 Zone session. For more information, visit

For more information, visit the “internships” section of our website here.

This post was written by Ashley Yergens. Ashley is the BDF Social Media Intern for the 2014 summer.


Get to Know Arthur Fink: Resident Photographer

By | 2011 Works-in-Progress | No Comments
A fun take on self-portraiture. Featuring Deborah Goff at BDF 2011.

A fun take on self-portraiture. Featuring Deborah Goff at BDF in 2011. Photo by Arthur Fink.

1. How does photography affect/influence/reiterate the story of dance Still photographs help us see the poses, the postures, the juxtapositions, and the patterns that are part of any dance.  While video lets us see the movement again and again, the fleeting moments of dance are represented as just that — fleeting moments.  In a still photograph I can hold those moments.  Indeed, many dance photographs hold iconic moments, which might otherwise be deeply buried in a moving picture story.

By giving us easy access to some of those special moments, dance photographs can help photographers learn about, understand, and remember aspects of dance that can inspire new ideas and new moments.

2. What can a photographer learn from working with and/or witnessing a dancer? I’ve learned lessons about mental and spiritual agility, about reverence, compassion, and sustainability, about balance, weight, and form, about intention and opportunity, and about so much more.  By intensely watching any creative artist, I can learn about creativity, surprise, about something that shouldn’t be called “failure” but is about things not working the way we wanted or expected.  And as I watch great teachers in the dance studio, I’ve learned about how to teach essence, without having the details of a particular practice crowd out what’s really most important.

3. What can a dancer learn from working with and/or witnessing a photographer? I practice watching dance beyond the details of each movement, typically as I search for what images to photograph.  This is a way of testing and translating my understanding of a particular dance piece.  And I believe that dancers and choreographers can learn and benefit from the same practice.  Those who have taken my workshops on, “Seeing dance like a photographer” confirm that this is true.

4. Why do you photograph the Bates Dance Festival? What makes BDF so special to you? Laura Faure, director of the Bates Dance Festival, has clearly established BDF as, “An international community of choreographers, dancers, educators, and students learning, creating, and performing together”. Along side the often competitive dance world, BDF is a cooperative endeavor.  That’s nourishing for me, as I’m at BDF to learn as much as anybody. And, while dancers are glad to see my images, they are not expecting or hoping that I’ll showcase their artistry or virtuosity in the competitive dance world.

I certainly learn from every class, rehearsal, or choreographic session that I witness.  But I learn at least as much by living, eating, playing with the dance community here.  That aspect of sharing our lives in a creative community is much of what makes BDF so special for me.

5. How does/can dance photography benefit our society? Dance matters, and I celebrate, and seek to add some coherent visibility, to the dance that is all around us here at BDF.  If my photographs simply say, “Look at this . . . this dance step or pose or move”, and people do look, I do believe the world can become a better place.  Dance teaches us all that our very weight that holds us down can be the force that sets us free to move.  And, in that metaphor of finding ways to move together — not always in unison, but always in deep respect — we can build a better world.

6. Any other pressing items? I’m sad to see dance photography being forgotten as an art form or expressive medium, as incredibly high quality video equipment is becoming so common, and as video becomes an important part of every dance department curriculum.  I’d like to see both forms of image recording celebrated, and well used.

I’m interested in seeing still images become not just a way to document dance, but an integral part of more dance itself.  That’s the subject for another whole dialogue . . . that I’d love to inspire or create.

This post was written by Ashley Yergens. Ashley is the BDF Social Media Intern for the 2014 summer.


Q&A: Business of Dance

By | 2014 Professional Program in Motion | One Comment


With a varied background in the arts as a presenter, arts manager, and administrator, Kim Konikow brings rich perspectives into our “Business of Dance” course. I was interested in joining the class dialogue. So, I interviewed two of Konikow’s students. Here’s what Chelsea and Maddie had to say:

CHELSEA’s Interview

1. What is your greatest fear in terms of running a business/arts management/arts administration? How is this class teaching you to address that fear? I am afraid that I won’t get to work with a company that is the perfect fit, but this class is teaching me many networking methods.

2. Why should dancers take a course like “Business of Dance”? This class teaches the logistics of going into the dance profession. Dancers should know everything that this course covers; like where to move, what banking forms to use, and how to make connections.

3. How are artists and traditional marketers like-minded? We are all trying to make a living and a happy life.

4. What is one mind-blowing thing that you’ve learned so far? It’s possible to do what I love with my life! It’s not easy but I am more familiar with the steps required to get there than I was before taking this class.

5. How will you apply this course to your “real” life? The final project for this course is to work on something that I want to do/create in real life–so that’s how (at least in the immediate future). I also am working on improving my resume and website.

6. Anything else? I don’t consider myself a “business-minded” person, but I do like to make connections with people who have similar ideals and goals, and that is my new view of business in the field of dance.

MADDIE’s Interview

1. Why should dancers take a course like “Business of Dance”? I think it’s incredibly important for a dancer to take a course like Business of Dance if they have any interest in becoming a professional dancer. It’s a really difficult time right now for artists and especially dancers, so knowing how to conduct yourself as a professional and be smart in the field is one of the things that could set you apart from other dancers. I think that it is a career that should be approached just like any other job–with the same level of seriousness, professionalism, and preparation. Knowing how to express your art is extremely important but knowing how to manage yourself and your career logistics at this level is also extremely important in this day and age. We all want to live out our passions, be happy, and have enough money to get ourselves by. This class is teaching me how to do just that.

2.What is one mind-blowing thing that you’ve learned so far? One mind-blowing thing I’ve learned so far is that deciding to have a family can affect your career as a performer. I’ve always seen myself as eventually being a mom and having a family, but didn’t think at all about how this would work in tandem with the lifestyle of a professional dancer. There are sacrifices and choices to be made, but it’s exhilarating to think about dance in a way this candid and real. Every faculty member that has come to share with us has been very honest, which is something I greatly respect and appreciate, because that kind of honesty is exactly what we all need as we pursue this path of an artist.

3. How will you apply this course to your “real” life? Going into my junior year at the Ohio State University, I feel that this class is really important for me at this particular phase in my life. I’m realizing that it’s time to switch my mindset from “Someday I’ll be a dancer!” to acknowledging that hopefully it’s about to be my reality and learning how I can best prepare for this drastic transition into the tough yet rewarding world of being a professional dancer. I’m learning skills such as managing my finances once out of college, networking, choosing a city to live in post-grad, marketing, fundraising, and formatting a resume that is both clear and representative of me and my personality. These are skills I can start to think about and implement now while still in school in order to be more comfortable with by the time I’m out on my own.

Description of Course: “The practical aspects of the dance profession are examined in this seminar. This includes career options, creating an ‘image’ in print and online, growing dance audiences, financial administration and raising funds creatively, among many other topics. Guests from the Festival faculty will join us with informative presentations based on personal experience. A resume (yours) will be created or reviewed and you will participate in the creation of a hands-on plan to assist in your own future dance project. By the end of the course, participants will be better prepared to perform the business tasks expected of dance professionals and have a more holistic understanding of the field and personal dance community.”

This post was written by Ashley Yergens. Ashley is the BDF Social Media Intern for the 2014 summer.

Abby Zbikowski: Notes from an Emerging Artist in Residence at the Bates Dance Festival

By | 2011 Works-in-Progress | No Comments

It’s amazing how my brain has been continuously flooded by thoughts about asserting and defining my approach/mentality/aesthetic in regards to dance when surrounded by so much new information in the past two weeks here at the Bates Dance Festival. Both in casual conversation and rehearsals with students I’ve experienced the need to further give context to my perspective and in doing so I’ve unearthed what I currently hold most important during the conceiving of a new work in a new place. The following is a bulleted list of obsessions/assertions I’ve been compiling…

Temperament in form—(depression/mania/rebellion/anger) influences on sense of time and impulse of movement

Deconstruct and reconstruct components of dance in order to highlight and create appreciation for less visible elements

Simultaneous Minimalist and Extremist physicalities

Divulging the many virtuosic elements of the dance

I’m interested in the statement and perspective in chosen form/how ideas are presented

My aesthetic choices in creating a dance are closely related to punk and hip hop musical aesthetics at their points of origin in that they are a re-evaluation of form–>the end product being a reflection of cultural sensibilities/outlooks/goals

What happens when we break things down to examine their parts equally? Put everything on the surface

An obsession with what is being constructed in a space and an awareness of what is out of our control

An overarching theme of intrinsic value of: moving/dancing/working(psychological/emotional/physical)

How many of these things can be layered into a single moment in time/movement/phrase/event?

The DNA of form

Decomposition composed

Inspiration from forms within subcultural movements that have a clearly identifiable style/image that has been absorbed into mainstream society; attempting to bring function to the surface instead of just image