Michela Arietti ’26: Enriching Contemporary Practices at the American Dance Festival
The daily masterclasses offered by renowned company members and choreographers allowed me to explore numerous techniques and methods daily.
About the Experience
Every morning from June 8th to July 8th at around 8.00am, I would ride my bike and head to my first class of the day at the Rubenstein Arts Center. This summer I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a month at the American Dance Festival (ADF) in Durham. On the first day of the Summer Intensive Program, around 200 dancers sat in White Lecture Hall. This year ADF had its 90th anniversary, celebrating Modern Dance, all its ensuing forms throughout the years, its founders, and modern-day choreographers. Students and faculty coming from all different corners of the US (and the world) gathered, ready to share this immersive experience together.
Having to pick my core classes before attending the program, I decided to focus on Contemporary Practices, since I find that style to be more suited to my quality of movement. Being a classically trained dancer, I was very nervous about the extent to which I could truly engage with the program. However, throughout the four and a half weeks, class after class, day after day, I always felt a sense of belonging and informed exploration. I was touched by every dancer I shared a space with, and every teacher I was guided by. Each person in the program was incredibly giving and appreciative of the art form, allowing me to feel comfortable expressing my own story through it. My main teacher, Jordan Lloyd, cultured an environment of mutual trust and connection, both inter and intrapersonally. This led to me not only deepening my contemporary technique, but also explore movements that felt comfortable and native to my body through improvisation.
Moreover, the daily masterclasses offered by renowned company members and choreographers allowed me to explore numerous techniques and methods daily, creating a vast vocabulary of techniques that I will treasure and investigate in my future work. After nearly 100 classes, 10 shows, and 1 afterparty, I left ADF with a fuller heart, refined technique, a new drive for contemporary exploration, and a new appreciation for Durham and all the forms of embodied expression that modern dance has created for dancers for almost 100 years.