LaTasha Barnes presents “The Jazz Continuum,” to be performed at the 2023 Bates Dance Festival July 21, 22 and 23. Photo by Steven Pisano

This year, the Bates Dance Festival will finally be able to present performances that were in the planning stages before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Organizers hoped to host contemporary dance company A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham in 2021, but wanted to wait until they could safely bring “An Untitled Love” indoors again. Vanessa Anspaugh developed “mourning after mornings” with the support of coronavirus relief funds and performed an abridged version outside two years ago at the festival, but she’ll bring the full piece to the stage at Bates this summer.

“It’s really special to be able to present some of this work that we’ve been talking about for a long time,” said Shoni Currier, director of the Bates Dance Festival. “We have these performances that are finally coming to fruition.”

The Bates Dance Festival brings 300 students to the Lewiston college campus over five weeks every summer. There are intensive training programs for high schoolers and for professionals, plus a day camp for local youth ages 6-17. Currier said the short time period makes the festival feel “magical.”

“It creates its own space and time and dynamic and energy,” she said. “That’s what I’ve always loved about festivals, that they can be whatever they want to be. There’s something about coming together around a purpose – and in this case, an artistic purpose – and having it be limited in time. It just feels essential.”

The festival will offer four main-stage performances by national artists at the college’s Schaeffer Theatre this summer, as well as a series of free outdoor concerts where guests can learn a new dance style and listen to live music.


“Audience members up here are happy that at one point during the year they don’t maybe have to go to Portland,” she said. “Some of these companies play New York, and they play here, and they don’t go anywhere in between. This is the opportunity to see some of these shows, and that’s really special.”

The first performance is “An Untitled Love” (July 7-9). The A.I.M. work by Kyle Abraham celebrates self love and Black love. Then “Not About Race Dance” by the company Geraldcaseldance (July 14-15) responds to the racial dynamics in postmodern dance. “The Jazz Continuum” (July 21-23), presented by artist LaTasha Barnes, celebrates jazz music and dance throughout the last century. And Anspaugh’s “mourning after mornings” (July 28-29) explores communal loss and grieving.

“There’s a contemporary and postmodern bedrock here in a lot of ways,” Currier said. “And then we always want to include and highlight Black social dances. We want to highlight hip-hop and street styles. We want to bring in forms that are not always fully recognized on concert dance stages. That has really been an impulse here for the last three years.”

Tickets to performances are either $5 or $25 and go on sale June 1. For more information and a full schedule, visit


Local contemporary dance company Little House Dance will be among those performing June 1 at the University of Southern Maine’s Hannaford Hall in Portland for Portland Ovations’ season launch. The event is free to attend, but reservations are required. For more information, visit

Vivid Motion will mark its 20th anniversary this summer with a show of favorites from the company’s history. The nonprofit aims to offer dance opportunities for anyone who is interested, no matter age or experience. “Vivid Motion’s Greatest Hits” will be Aug. 4-6 at St. Lawrence Arts in Portland. Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children under 13 years old. For more information, visit

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