Choreographer Lida Winfield presents her piece “Imaginary” at the Bates Dance Festival. Photo courtesy of Bates Dance Festival

Don’t let the math fool you. The weekend is five days long.

The Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston will look and feel like an actual festival with five days of high-energy performances beginning Thursday. It’s the first of two back-to-back extended weekends of contemporary dance in Lewiston and Portland.

Rather than spreading performances out over many weeks, festival organizers decided to concentrate most performances over several days in many locations, so people can experience multiple events over a day or two, including afternoon performances. Previously, most performances were at night.

The festival “is a destination for dance,” said director Shoshona Currier. “We are hoping people will come from around the region and spend time at the festival and also explore the community.”

Many performers will make their first appearances at Bates Dance. Others are longtime favorites, returning to familiar turf. Some events are free, others require a ticket. In addition to tickets for individual shows, festival passes also are available.

Some highlights:


A contra dance with music by the fiddle band Stomp Rocket and lessons by Dela Murphy at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Historic Quad at College Street and Campus Avenue, free. Co-founder of Portland Intown Contra Dance, Murphy will teach the basics of contra dance and call a participatory dance.

Doug Varone and Dancers first performed at Bates in 1992, and return again this week. Photo courtesy of Bates Dance Festival

Doug Varone and Dancers, 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Schaeffer Theatre, $12 to $60. Varone first performed at the festival in 1992, and this year will present the New England premiere of a piece called “in the shelter of the fold/epilogue,” an ensemble work about public dialogue and discourse.

Lida Winfield, 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday, Gannett Theater; $12 to $20. A dancer, choreographer, spoken-word artist and educator, Winfield merges storytelling, dance and visual art. She’s a visiting professor from Middlebury College, and returns to Bates with a piece called “Imaginary” with five dancers and live music.

Choreographer Netta Yerushalmy and her 20-performer troupe perform “Paramodernities” at Bates Dance Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Noor Eemaan

Netta Yerushalmy, 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday, Schaeffer Theatre, $12 to $25. Raised in Israel and a resident of New York, Yerushalmy explores the idea of perception vs. reality, and challenges how meaning is attributed and constructed. At Bates, she offers the Maine premiere of her 20-performer “Paramodernities.” The piece introduces an important piece of choreography by the luminaries of dance, including Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Bob Fosse, George Balanchine and others. The piece incorporates a public discussion about dance within the context of the performance.

Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group, 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Schaeffer Theatre, $12 to $25. Wilson describes what he does as “post-African/Neo-Hoodoo Modern dances.” Wilson will perform “Introduction,” a solo piece, an excerpt from “Citizen” and “the duet.”

The Musicians’ Concert, 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 29, Gendron Franco Center, 46 Cedar St., Lewiston, $12 to $20. The evening of music by the composers who collaborate with the festival dancers has long been a festival highlight, with performances by multi-instrumentalists Jesse Manno and Terrence Karn, composer-pianists Peter Jones and Carl Landa, violinist Rob Flax and electronic musicians Adam Crawley and Albert Mathias.

Looking ahead, the festival continues with another 10 events Aug. 1-3 in Lewiston and Portland, including a First Friday Art Walk performance on Aug. 2 at Indigo Arts Alliance and Space by jumatatu m. poe and Jermone Donte Beacham, and the festival’s final Concert on the Quad at Bates with the Maine reggae band Stream.

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