NEA Grantee of the Day - American Dance Festival

(Part of an ongoing series that demonstrates how some of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Direct Grantees have influenced Monkeyhouse's growth.)

by Karen Krolak

American Dance Festival, Inc./Durham, NC/$50,000 - In 1992 I spent 6 sweat soaked weeks at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC. Our days were crammed full of technique and conditioning classes taught by legendary performers and some exciting emerging artists. After a day and a half of auditons, I landed in a Modern class with Dianne McIntyre, an Advanced Jazz class with Bernard Johnson, a Music Theory tutorial by Carman Moore, and a Pilobolus style partnering intensive with Carol Parker and Jack Arnold. Seventeen years later, I still use cherished tidbits from those classes when I teach. Monkeyhouse's Firk II particularly draws on partnering skills that I acquired at ADF.

All the technique classes were accompanied by live musicians, an exquisite luxury that far too few studios can afford these days. Most of the accompanists still work at the festival and either played drums or piano. One week in Dianne McIntyre's class, however, we were treated A Capella improvisations by Toby Twining. I was so intrigued by his startling range of vocalizations that I purchased his CD, Shaman. My 1998 piece, Idolum/Invisible to the Eyes (see photo above, was set to track 1, Hymn, from that CD. (Thanks again, Mr Twining, for giving this virtually unknown artist in 1998 permission to use it.)

Evenings revolved around rehearsals and attending performances by luminaries of the dance world including, Pilobolus, Paul Taylor, Donald McKayle, and Liz Lerman. On a few rare occasions when there was a gap in my schedule, I observed Daniel Nagrin's choreography class.

The summer program also introduced me to artists, such as Ron K Brown, Donald Byrd, and Mark Dendy, whose work was just begining to attract national attention. As it happens, one of the only students that I really remember from ADF was a striking male dancer with a pierced eyebrow (it was 1992 and tattoos were still taboo in the dance world) named Miguel Gutierrez. It has been thrilling to watch his remarkable artistic trajectory.

Thanks to everyone at the American Dance Festival for six weeks that continue to spur my creative endevours. Thanks also to my parents who encouraged me to attend.

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