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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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Choreographer Peter DiMuro teaches dance movement workshop
Teacher/choreographer/performer Peter DiMuro works with Barbara Joseph in ADF community outreach program, 1999. Photo: Bruce R. Feeley

American Dance Festival

Since its founding in 1934, the mission of the American Dance Festival has been to encourage and support the creation of modern dance by both established and emerging choreographers; to provide a sound scientific/aesthetic base for professional education and training of young dancers, and a forum for improved dance education; to preserve our modern dance heritage by presenting classic works and by archival activities; to build national and international audiences for modern dance; and to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the art form and its cultural and historical significance. ADF's wide range of programs currently include dance performances, educational programs and classes, archival preservation, community outreach, and media projects. New choreographic works are supported both by commission and professional performance. The nationally renowned festival has been the scene of over 500 premieres since 1934. Since its move to Durham, North Carolina in 1978, ADF has had an ongoing collaboration with Duke University, but it is not solely a university project. In the words of Terry Sanford, former governor and now president of Duke, "a North Carolina project." Its mission is provide for the cultural enrichment of the entire state.

Although ADF is most visible during its annual six-and-a-half-week festival of performances, classes, workshops, humanities panels, archival exhibits, it has a year-round presence in Durham, sponsoring an extensive array of regional, national, and international programming. Performances by professional dance companies, from the most established to the most experimental, are ADF's centerpiece, presenting works by Martha Graham, José Limón, Merce Cunningham, Alvin Ailey, Twyla Tharp, and others. ADF is also America's most prestigious training site for young modern dancers. ADF's six-week school for students has grown to 450 from all over the world. More than 60 classes are offered each day, and the faculty of 50 teachers is the most accomplished and professional in the world. The first faculty chair in dance, the Balasaraswati/Joy Ann Dewey Beinecke Chair for Distinguished Teaching, was established in 1991.

In 1984, on ADF's 50th anniversary, Newsweek magazine reported that, due in part of ADF's influence, modern dance is no long strictly an American phenomenon. ADF has chosen to champion the international aspect of modern dance, has imported many foreign troupes to perform, and has brought 13 choreographers from locations worldwide to study. The 1984 season featured ADF's First International Modern Dance Festival; that same year, ADF teachers helped establish the first modern dance program in the People's Republic of China.

Other ADF projects include "mini-ADFs," established in Japan, Korea, Utah, and Russia, that offer classes, workshops, and dance performances by world-renowned dance companies and faculty; community outreach activities aimed at taking dance into the communities; and "Dancing for the Camera," which provides a survey of current trends and practices in video dance. And under the direction of ADF's Philosopher in Residence, Dr. Gerald E. Myers, the intellectual dimensions and ramifications of modern dance are being explored and arts/humanities connections are being developed. The first Dance Critics Conference was established in 1970 for the purpose of advancing the study and criticism of modern dance. In addition, ADF's archives date back to the 1930s and represent an important historical repository of materials chronicling the history and development of modern dance.

The project is documented with an eight-page report, ten 8 x 10 photographs with accompanying descriptions (1996-1999), press clippings (1978-1999), a press kit (1999), a 65th anniversary publication entitled Reflections on the Home of an Art Form, booklets entitled A Decade of Dance (1958), The Aesthetic and Cultural Significance of Modern Dance (1984), The Black Tradition in American Modern Dance (1998), African-American Genius in Modern Dance (1993), The First 15 (1992), Dancing Across Cultures (1995), season brochures (1997-1999), season reports (1994-1999), playbills (1996-1999), school catalogs (1997-2000), and videotape produced in 1995 entitled "ADF - Generations."

Originally submitted by: Jesse Helms, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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