The Summer Dance Festival Programming to See This Season

Much of the dance world is at—or headed to—a summer festival right now. It’s impossible to catch it all, but if we could be in multiple places at once, here’s what we’d be hoping to see.

American Dance Festival

AIM by Kyle Abraham’s Tamisha A. Guy and Claude “CJ” Johnson in An Untitled Love. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy ADF.

DURHAM AND RALEIGH, NC ADF’s first full season since 2019 continues this month after June appearances by AIM by Kyle Abraham and Rennie Harris Puremovement, and premieres of commissions from Pilobolus and five North Carolina-based dancemakers. July’s lineup includes solo shows like Sara Juli’s searing Burnt-Out Wife and Janis Brenner’s deeply personal Inheritance: A Litanyas well as Ragamala Dance Company’s first ADF appearance in a decade with the evening-length Fires of Varanasi: Dance of the Eternal Pilgrim. A late-summer offshoot will bring Micaela Taylor’s TL Collective (its ADF debut), Limón Dance Company (premiering an ADF commission), PHILADANCO! and Luke Hickey to perform outdoors at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Durham, June 3–July 20; Raleigh, Sept. 8–11. americandancefestival.org.

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival

An array of dancers extend a leg just above 90 degrees to the side with flexed feet as their torsos tip in the opposite direction.  Arms extend, almost dangling, straight down at their sides.  The dancers are costumed in shades of gray, yellow, and pink.  The layering of the dancers gives the impression of cross-hatching.
Dance Heginbotham in Easy Win, a collaboration between John Heginbotham and Ethan Iverson. Photo by Amber Star Merkens, courtesy Jacob’s Pillow.

BECKET, MA After two pandemic-pinched summers, the Pillow’s 90th-anniversary season promises to be comfortingly full. Among the highlights are Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence premiering The Equality of Night and DayLimón Dance Company belatedly celebrating its 75th year with a Pillow commission by Olivier Taparga, new works by starry choreographers for Taylor Stanley, Dance Heginbotham premiering two new balletic collaborations between John Heginbotham and jazz composer Ethan Iverson, Liz Lerman’s witchy Wicked Bodies finally making its Pillow debut, and no less than 20 one-night-only outdoor performances. June 22–Aug. 28. jacobspillow.org.

Kiandanda Dance Theater at San Francisco International Arts Festival Summer Series

A group of four Black performers pose on a street corner, stop signs on either side.  They wear brimmed hats and different combinations of colorfully patterned pieces of suits.  Three carry old-fashioned suitcases, while a forth holds an umbrella.
Kiandanda Dance Theater’s Latanya d. Tigner, Shawn Hawkins, LaKiesha Golden and Byb Chanel Bibene. Photo by Kanukai Chigamba, courtesy SFIAF.

SAN FRANCISCO Kiandanda Dance Theater closes the San Francisco International Arts Festival Summer Series with the premiere of Religion Kitendi: Dress Code. Artistic director Byb Chanel Bibene draws inspiration from Congolese sapeurs—ordinary folks who dress in haute couture in response and resistance to the legacy of European colonization, as well as to find healing and joy—to illustrate the layers of sociopolitical meaning that can exist inside of “dressing up.” July 1–2. sfiaf.org.

Bates Dance Festival

A dancer is lifted parallel to the floor, her torso wrapped around another's back while a third supports her legs in her arms.  The lifted dancer's head droops, eyes closed.  The two carrying her appear weary.  Their costumes are dirtied, in places worn or threadbare.
Company SBB in Embarqued: Stories of Soil. Photo by Emmanuel Bastien, courtesy BDF.

LEWISTON, ME Bates begins its performance season with two works by Reggie Wilson’s Fist & Heel Performance Group and closes with David Dorfman Dance’s latest, (A)Way Out of My Body. In between are a double bill featuring dancer–musical artist duos Shura Baryshnikov with Adrienne Taylor and Aretha Aoki with Ryan MacDonald; Stefanie Batten Bland’s Embarqued: Stories of Soil; Rennie Harris Puremovement celebrating its 30th anniversary with a revival of the seminal Rome & Jewels; and Miguel Gutierrez’s collaborative duet with Laila Franklin, I as another. July 11–Aug. 6. batesdancefestival.org.

Shobana Jeyasingh Dance at the Grange Festival

A cloudy orange and black background gives the impression of fire and ash.  A fight between two characters.  A female dancer in purple dress and headscarf raises a fist as she drifts parallel to the ground, supported by a foot pressed into her hip by the male dancer lying prone beneath her.
Shobana Jeyasingh Dance’s Jemima Brown and Jonathan Goddard in Clorinda Agonistes (Clorinda the Warrior). Photo by Chris Nash, courtesy Martha Oakes PR.

HAMPSHIRE, UK Shobana Jeyasingh puts a time-traveling twist on a Baroque operatic cantata in Clorinda Agonistes (Clorinda the Warrior). The first act sees the titular Muslim heroine battle a Crusader in medieval Jerusalem (refuting what has traditionally been interpreted as a love story) before the action is transferred to today’s conflict, where the character reclaims the telling of her own story. It premieres at the Grange Festival, sharing a double bill with New English Ballet Theater in Jenna Lee’s The Four Seasons, ahead of a London debut (planned for September) and tour. July 13–14. thegrangefestival.co.uk.

Vail Dance Festival

Melissa Toogood leans forward, hair and arms swinging as she taps at the center of a nature-backed stage.  Circling around her are seven other dancers in tap shoes, smiling and clapping, as well as a violinist watching as he plays.
Melissa Toogood in Michelle Dorrance’s New to the Session, which premiered at the 2021 Vail Dance Festival. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy Vail Dance Festival.

VAIL, CO The usual panoply of stars will be joined by Ephrat Asherie Dance and the Limón Dance Company, both making their festival debuts. Artist in residence Roman Mejia will perform with the latter in Limon’s Chaconne, as well as in a new work by fellow artist in residence Caili Quan. Additional premieres by Quan, Bobbi Jene Smith, Claudia Schreier, Pam Tanowitz, Jodi Melnick and Justin Peck—the 100th premiere commissioned by Vail under Damian Woetzel’s leadership—join performances of existing repertory by the still-new Dance Aspen, New York City Ballet Moves and the alchemical cross-company pairings of Vail’s signature International Evenings of Dance. July 29–Aug. 9. vaildance.org.

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