I love dancers' parties. The floor's full and no one's drunk, with every style and move you can think of unleashed, celebrated, spun, from electric boogaloo to sixties go-go to glam jazz to the running man.
Opening night for the Footprints concert at Duke's Reynolds Industries Theater feels like convocation: the house is packed and buzzing with ADF students ready to applaud their friends. When the lights go out, everyone leans forward.
Why the diversity? Because modern dance encourages it, for one thing. If classical ballet still inclines toward symmetrical rows of swans, in other types of Western dance the pendulum's swung towards a gathering of individuals, varied in look and movement background.
"The ground is shifting." Students hurly-burly across the dance floor, legs flying out from under them. "Birds are diving," the tall woman at the center of the whirlwind calls out. Hands shield the students' heads; they duck and skitter.
"I'm interested in how the mind works," Dr. Ruth Day says. She has the enviable title of ADF Cognitive Scientist in Residence -- which makes her, so far as she knows, the only cognitive scientist in residence at any dance festival.
If the mention of a summer dance festival and school conjures up Fame-like visions for you -- long-legged lovelies stretching in crowded halls, ragged leg warmers, bare shoulders and naked ambition -- getting to know the American Dance Festival may take a little adjustment.