By Charlotte Savino
June 21, 2011

Dancers have descended on Durham, NC for this summer’s American Dance Festival—a multi-venue six-week event that brings master-classes and modern dance troupes from across the globe.

The festival runs from June 9th through July 23rd and features thirteen dance companies including Bill T Jones, Pilobolus, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Begun in 1934 in Bennington, VT with Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Doris Humphrey, and Charles Weidman among the first participants, the American Dance Festival (then known as the Bennington School of Dance), was a bastion of avant guarde movement and accessible dance training. In 1977 the festival moved to Durham and has been a cultural institution here ever since.

In addition to professional performances, part of the draw to this 34-year Durham tradition is the opportunity for amateur dancers to work with professional choreographers during an intensive six-week session. And I mean intense—three two-hour classes a day! This year’s students may audition for the the Past/Forward dance program choreographed by an as yet determined guest and perform on the main stage at Duke University’s Reynolds Theater—adding another three practice hours to their rigorous student schedules.

To maintain the spirit of accessibility, ADF tickets start at $20 per show with free programming each month.

For more information and ticket sales, visit

Charlotte Savino is an online listings editor for Travel + Leisure.