American Dance Festival 2018: Interview with Jodee Nimerichter

By Dilip Barman

The 85th annual American Dance Festival (ADF), the oldest and largest festival dedicated to modern dance in the country, runs through July 21, 2018, in Durham, NC. Among the dancers is the return of Aparna Ramaswamy, as I described in the April 2018 issue of Saathee. In early June, I had an opportunity to talk with Jodee Nimerichter. Jodee was Co-Director of ADF from 2007 until 2012 and has been its Director since then.

Dilip: Jodee, thank you for taking time to share about the 85th anniversary season of American Dance Festival with our readers.

Jodee: Dilip, it is a pleasure to share my excitement about our programming with your readers. Thank you.

Dilip: I see that there will be 53 performances by 26 different companies. Many favorite regulars, like Paul Taylor Dance Company, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and Pilobolus will be performing. Can you tell us a bit about some of the new choreographers, such as Anne Plamondon's solo The Same Eyes as Yours on mental illness, Murielle Elizeon's Brown on vulnerability and resilience, and L-E-V, Sharon Eyal, and Gai Behar and their OCD Love dance?

Jodee: Anne is a virtuosic performer and her choreography and her movement style makes the story of her father suffering from mental illness come to life so strongly. I had discussed with her the idea of coming to ADF in 2019 but she was very direct and asked to come this year as she was “not sure how much longer I can dance like this". I'm excited to include Murielle, a local choreographer, in the season. In her solo, she uses personal history to explore heritage, violence against women, loss, vulnerability, and resilience.

I added L-E-V to the season after I thought I had it already locked and set. When I saw the work, I was so entranced by the movement and sensuality of the work. It is hot!

Dilip: I've enjoyed in the past discussing with you the breadth of modern dance. What sets this season apart from other ones?

Jodee: I think this season continues to celebrate the breadth of work being made. And while ADF has always celebrated and supported female choreographers, more than half of the works being presented are made by women. There are many talented female artists making strong work. I am excited to share some of them with audiences this summer. I am also excited to continue to present works in various locations that will best represent the work and give audiences new experiences.

Dilip: An important part of ADF is the educational aspect. Can you tell us more about this year's ADF School? How many students do you expect, what ages are they, and where are they coming from?

Jodee: We will have more camps then ever at our year-round studios and continue to offer pre-professional training programs for ages 13+. We also provide Dance Professional Workshops for dancers, choreographers, and teachers looking to continue to nurture their own development. We will have over 300 students in all of these programs coming from across the U.S. and around the world.

Dilip: Dance is a universal language, certainly, but, do you have any special invitation to the South Asian community besides coming out to see Aparna Ramaswamy and the other Wondrous Women July 13 & 14?

Jodee: We welcome everyone to experience ADF and modern dance. If you haven't come, please try a performance. If you experience a performance and love it, please come back for more. If you see a show that you didn't understand or connect with, please come back and try another performance. Art is about experiences and making us see things in other ways as well as transporting us. We have welcomed participants from over 90 countries… I think that sums it up well!

Dilip: Thank you so much, Jodee, and best wishes for another stellar season.

Jodee: We are excited to launch the season and appreciate your sharing details with your readers. Thank you, Dilip!

ADF tickets are on sale. Full details on tickets (including some attractive discounts), as well as all things ADF, are available at www.americandancefestival.org.

Note: Photographs and American Dance Festival logo and schedule courtesy of American Dance Festival and used with permission. Photographs are, respectively, Jodee Nimerichter, Shen Wei Dance Arts (by Stephanie Berger), Nicole Wolcott and Larry Keigwin (by Whitney Browne), and Dan Ruttenberg Dance Group (by Zohar Ralt).