The American Dance Festival (ADF) and the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) have partnered to present Together We Dance, an outdoor festival in the Joseph M. Bryan, Jr., Theater in the Museum Park from September 9 to 16.

“After a difficult year and a half, we are thrilled to bring the community together again at our first-ever outdoor festival for eight performances by some of the finest dance companies dazzling audiences today,” said Jodee Nimerichter, executive director of ADF. “And we couldn’t ask for a better partner than the North Carolina Museum of Art.”

In reimagining a dance festival in a post-COVID-19 world, ADF looked to bring performances outside so audiences could spread out in fresh air. The award-winning Museum Park Theater of the state’s art museum, which has hosted orchestras, puppet shows, movies, and bluegrass, pop, and rock acts for more than 20 years, was the perfect local venue. While smaller dance events, including ADF performances, have been hosted inside the museum galleries and in the Museum Park, a festival of this scale has not taken place at the NCMA before. Presale tickets for ADF and NCMA members go on sale Wednesday, August 4; nonmember and general public tickets go on sale Thursday, August 5. Performances last approximately 60 minutes with no intermission. “We are honored to host American Dance Festival’s annual season through this exciting activation of the Museum Park Theater,” said Valerie Hillings, NCMA director. “We’re bringing together art, nature, and people through dance.”

See the full schedule and details below:

Thursday, September 9, 7:30 pm
A.I.M by Kyle Abraham

A.I.M by Kyle Abraham is a Black-led contemporary dance company whose work is informed by and made in conjunction with artists across a range of disciplines and entwines a sensual and provocative vocabulary with a strong emphasis on music, text, video, and visual art. The company will present Big Rings, an A.I.M commissioned dynamic, team-based group work choreographed by company member Keerati Jinakunwiphat. The premiere of Nina Simone Suite (working title) is a new ADF commissioned ensemble work composed of a series of solos and duets set to some of Nina Simone’s most intimate songs. Drive is a high energy, propulsive work created in 2017 for eight dancers, set to thumping club beats.

Friday, September 10 and Saturday, September 11, 7:30 pm

Pilobolus, the remarkable company that secured an iconic place in American culture in the early 1970s, is still wowing audiences with its irresistible mix of wit, sensuality, and stunning physical acumen. The company performs Megawatt (2004), made in the last decade of founder and choreographer Jonathan Wolken’s life. This revival of the work, made possible in part by ADF, is updated to expand its unfettered exuberance and frenetic expression of life-affirming creative drives and resistance to stagnation by casting dancers in roles that gently subvert stereotypical gender-associated movement vocabulary. Shizen (1978) means nature, and this dance explores coupling as a biomorphic reflection of the natural world. The shakuhachi music was composed by renowned flutist Riley Lee. Walklyndon (1971), one of Pilobolus’s very first works, is a silent dance owing much of its physical humor to slapstick and vaudeville. In the solo from The Empty Suitor (1980), a man flummoxed by seduction comically attempts to regain his footing in life. Nothing seems to go right for the hapless, hopeful beau as he tries to win the affections of a calculating femme fatale.

Sunday, September 12, 3:30pm and 7:30pm
State of Darkness

Originally commissioned by ADF in 1988, Molissa Fenley’s State of Darkness challenges Stravinsky’s cacophonous Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) with an intense 35-minute solo performance of relentless fervency, technical precision, and fearless abandon. Fenley reimagined the commanding score as the sonic landscape for a solo journey rather than the usual ensemble interpretations. Annique Roberts of Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE performs the solo at 3:30 pm and Michael Trusnovec of the Paul Taylor Dance Company performs at 7:30 pm. Each program is followed by a Q and A with Molissa Fenley and the artist.

Tuesday, September 14, 7:30 pm
Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group

Brooklyn-based dance company Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group’s works display rigor, structure, and craft in a postmodern dance vernacular. The company presents CITIZEN (excerpt), a series of solos that asks: What does it mean to belong and what does it mean to NOT want to belong? INTRODUCTION (a solo performed by Reggie Wilson) is a contemporary experimental performance theater work in which Wilson shares a very personal account about his experience of the Spiritual Baptist religion in Trinidad and Tobago. The dance the duet is a seemingly more traditional contemporary work where Wilson weaves an interesting story while playing with and investigating more deeply the idea of duets.

Wednesday, September 15, 7:30 pm
BODYTRAFFIC (pictured)

Internationally acclaimed for its “wonderfully precise dancers” (New York Times), BODYTRAFFIC returns to ADF with a program highlighting the artistry of three of today’s most engaging contemporary dance choreographers. On tap is the world premiere of a duet by Brian Brooks, created during his recent residency, that is certain to reveal his characteristic “kinetic thrill and visual power” (Washington Post). Also featured is Matthew Neenan’s A Million Voices, a piece set to the nostalgic songs of the great Peggy Lee that explores eternal notions about life, love, and war. Rounding out the program is Micaela Taylor’s engaging SNAP, a piece capturing her take on the Los Angeles experience that urges us to “snap out of” the social pressure to conform.

Thursday, September 16, 7:30 pm
Paul Taylor Dance Company

The Paul Taylor Dance Company closes out ADF’s season at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Founded in 1954 the company remains one of the most famous and dynamic modern dance ensembles of our time. The program includes A Field of Grass (1993), with songs sung by Harry Nilsson, a dance evoking America in the 1960s where a central character experiences love, drugs, rebellion, and hope through his counterculture community. Duet (1964), last performed by the Taylor Company in 1992 and made after Taylor’s lyrical 1962 masterpiece Aureole, is a testament to his craft with simplicity, beauty, purity, and gentleness. Esplanade (1975), the definitive Paul Taylor work, is at once playful, somber, romantic, and explosive—a pillar of modern dance that instantly affirms Paul Taylor as one of history’s greatest choreographers.


American Dance Festival Sponsors ADF’s Together We Dance outdoor festival is made possible with support from SHS Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, North Carolina Arts Council, City of Durham, North Carolina Museum of Art, Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Durham Arts Council, Fox Family Foundation, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Jody and John Arnhold/Arnhold Foundation, and Duke Health.

A.I.M by Kyle Abraham Nina Simone Suite (working title) by Kyle Abraham is commissioned by ADF with support from Doris Duke/ SHS Foundations Award for New Works.

Pilobolus The restaging of Megawatt by Pilobolus is supported by SHS Foundation and in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

BODYTRAFFIC New Work by Brian Brooks is commissioned by ADF with support from Doris Duke/SHS Foundations Award for New Works and in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The presentation of SNAP by Micaela Taylor is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Molissa Fenley

The presentation of State of Darkness by Molissa Fenley is supported in part by Ann and Lex Alexander. NCMA Presenting Sponsor: First Citizens Bank