The Etcetera Preview: Upcoming Conferences & Festivals

By Julie Potter


Summer offerings for dance professionals don’t end with training intensives and seasonal performances. From the rigorous and scholarly to the imaginative and whimsical, conferences, symposiums and festivals serve as exciting springboards for continuing education. Here’s a peek at some of the upcoming gatherings for sharing hot topics, best practices, creative visions and national perspectives related to the performing arts.

With a handful of dance conferences hitting during summer months, keep in mind you can often register to attend for single days, gleaning the experiences you choose while meeting the needs of your schedule and budget. If you can’t make it out of town, you can still go online to view virtual conference activity and streaming sessions, often available just a few hours or days after the meetings.

Dance Critics Association Annual Conference, June 9-12, Seattle, WA
The Dance Critics Association returns to the West Coast this year focused on reconstruction: re-staging, re-visioning, and re-working. Hosted by Pacific Northwest Ballet, whose new production of Giselle, incorporates materials from original movement and music sources, the discussions will include topics of authenticity and identity, as well as pragmatic issues facing dance writers who grapple with works bridging past and present.

Americans for the Arts 2011 Annual Convention, June 16-18, San Diego, CA
Focusing on local arts development, advancement, and policy, American for the Arts connects community leaders, foundation and corporate professionals, as well as artists, educators, advocates, and elected officials. With speakers including Steven Tepper, Andrew Taylor and Ben Cameron among the many presenters, sessions address issues such as creative placemaking, cultural tourism, digital entrepreneurship, sustainable new models, current research, partnerships, innovation and creativity. Bringing all arts disciplines into the conversation, delegates can gain a better sense of the overall cultural ecosystem.

Society of Dance History Scholars Annual Conference, June 23-26, Toronto, Canada
Here’s a place to let the inner dance nerd shine. The conference theme, Dance Dramaturgy: Catalyst, Perspective and Memory, brings together an international body of scholars and artists to discuss the growing impact of the discipline, history and potential of dance dramaturgy. In conjunction with York University’s Masters of Fine Arts Graduate Program in Dance, the Graduate Centre for Study of Drama, UC Drama at the University of Toronto, and Toronto-based companies Dancemakers, Series 8:08 and Nightswimming, SDHS applies dance scholarship and practiced-based research to this year’s topic. Attendees will investigate how both the independent and company-based dance dramaturg may be called upon to fulfill the roles of navigator, facilitator, curator and documenter, potentially catalyzing choreographic invention, dance preservation and audience appreciation.

Dance/USA 2011 Annual Conference, July 13-16, Chicago, IL
From executive directors, artistic directors and company managers to choreographers, artists, and development and marketing professionals, attendees of Dance/USA’s annual conference are headed to the Midwest this year for immersion in one of the nation’s dance hotspots. Four areas guide programming for the 2011 conference: management, artistry, technology and audience engagement. Author Pico Iyer will give the keynote address and among the list of dynamic break-out session speakers are Margaret Jenkins and Rob Bailis from the Bay Area. Delegates are invited to events at venues including the Harris Theater in Millennium Park and the Dance Center at Columbia College Chicago, some of the community’s most exciting dance theaters.

Looking ahead to June 26-30 of 2012, San Francisco hosts the Dance/USA Conference, showcasing the area’s dance community as hundreds of industry professionals visit the bay. Preparations are underway for a gathering that will feature San Francisco’s distinct and robust cultural scene.

More than just performance platforms, summer festivals incorporate opportunities for discussion, networking, lectures, symposia and research.

American Dance Festival, June 9-July 23, Durham, NC
Descending on the campus of Duke University, ADF hosts companies including Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rosas, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Yossi Berg & Oded Graf, Rosie Herrera, Emanuel Gat Dance, and Eiko and Koma during the 2011 season. This summer marks Charles Reinhart’s last season as director of the creative laboratory dedicated to nurturing and sustaining modern dance, since 1934. Watch from near or far on the ADF Video Blog, May We Have This CyberDance?, which highlights the events taking place through daily online coverage of classes, rehearsals, performances, as well as interviews with choreographers, faculty, scholars, and other happenings.

International Festival of Arts and Ideas, June 11-25, New Haven, CT
If you are a fan of TED talks, you’re probably going to enjoy this gathering of artists, thinkers and leaders, which stirs a mix of serious, controversial, and whimsical topics to inspire new ways of thinking. 2011’s schedule includes visits from Bill T. Jones, Susan Marshall and Yo-Yo Ma, and programming ranges from performances, creativity workshops and idea-based lectures, to culture and food-themed walking and bike tours. Various sites throughout the city of New Haven host the festival programs, including the picturesque courtyards of Yale University.

Jacob’s Pillow Dance, June 18-August 28, Becket, MA
The dance village in the Berkshires hosts a dizzying number of companies, offering a robust season of performances with talks and events throughout the summer on the historic campus. The 2011 season includes David Neumann and Jodi Melnick, Mark Morris Dance Group, Big Dance Theater, Jonah Bokaer, Trisha Brown Dance Company and Carte Blanche. Many of the activities, like the outdoor Inside/Out series, are free and extensive dance archives supply ongoing exhibitions for a dose of dance history. Also, keep the Virtual Pillow in mind, featuring both video and interactive online resources to channel the festival from anywhere.

Bates Dance Festival, July 4-August 13, Lewiston, ME
The 2011 festival at Bates College hosts creative residencies, workshops and performances by Camille A. Brown and Dancers, Nicholas Leichter Dance, Zoe|Juniper, and David Dorfman Dance. Known for its noncompetitive community spirit, Bates offers free events such as the Global Exchange and Inside Dance panels and talks.

PICA Time Based Arts Festival, September 8-18, Portland, OR
Deemed “a constellation of today’s most rigorous and creative art-makers,” the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art’s Time Based Arts Festival features ten days of performances, exhibits, films, artist conversations, lectures, and late-night entertainment celebrating artists across and in-between all mediums. Past presentations include performances by the John Jasperse Company and Jérôme Bel, as well as conversations on topics such as performativity and the impact of Merce Cunningham. With the festival just up the coast, don’t count out rideshares as a way to get to Oregon for this one-of-a-kind gathering of contemporary performance, dance, music, new media, and visual arts projects.

This article appeared in the May 2011 issue of In Dance.

Julie Potter is a public practice specialist, performance curator and writer based in San Francisco. As the Director of ODC Theater, she provides artistic and administrative leadership including season programming, artist residencies and public engagement. Potter was previously the Creative Ecosystem Senior Program Manager at YBCA and completed her M.A. in 2016 at Wesleyan’s Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance.