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DanceNOW showcase to kick off 2017 Bates Dance Festival

Christal Brown’s company INSPIRIT will perform “The Opulence of Integrity,” a forceful multimedia work that adapts the story of Muhammad Ali to explore the struggle for identity of men of color in the U.S. (Photo by Robert Adam Mayer)

A showcase of dynamic new works by New England dance artists will open the Bates Dance Festival’s 2017 performance series and 35th season. Titled DanceNOW, the performances will take place Friday and Saturday, July 7 and 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Bates College’s air-conditioned Schaeffer Theatre at 329 College Street in Lewiston.

Friday’s program will feature Vermont-based performance artist Lida Winfield and the pairing of Betsy Miller and Matthew Cumbie. In her poignant and hilarious solo “In Search of Air,” Winfield chronicles growing up dyslexic. Through a seamless blend of text and music, she shares the gifts and heartache that accompanied her struggle to learn to read – in her early 20s.

Betsy Miller, choreographer and assistant professor of dance at Salem State University, and Matthew Cumbie, associate artistic director of Dance Exchange in Tahoma Park, MD, will perform a whimsical new duet, “The (still perfectly fine) Adventures of Unicorn Hair + Dragon Heartstring.” The pair challenges assumptions of postmodern dance with heart, humor and just the right amount of quirkiness, exploring fresh possibilities for virtuosity in performance and presence.

On Saturday, Christal Brown, assistant professor of dance and chair of the dance program at Middlebury College, will present her company, INSPIRIT. The troupe will perform Brown’s acclaimed “The Opulence of Integrity.” This forceful multimedia work adapts the story of Muhammad Ali to explore the struggle for identity of men of color in the U.S. and examine social, economic and spiritual conditions that inhibit freedom.

“To say that there is a purpose that we all have, and to live that out, is an opulence. It’s an opulent privilege,” says Brown. “And to do that, in a way that doesn’t divide you as a person, that’s the integrity.”

Admission is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $12 for students. Tickets are available at For more information, call the box office at 786-6161 or see the festival website at

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