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Summer dance means fresh air and fresh ideas in motion

Outdoor highlights include American Dance Festival, Chicago SummerDance, Jacob’s Pillow and Bard SummerScape

The Limón Dance Company is set to perform at Jacob's Pillow Festival, which runs June 22 through Aug. 28. (Kelly Puleio)
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There’s something about an outdoor setting that kicks the pleasure of a dance performance up a notch. Maybe it’s the sense of physical and even spiritual release, inherent in dance, that becomes amplified in the open air. Freedom feels ever more tangible when there are no walls around you, the artists have escaped the proscenium frame, and set design is left up to the sun, sky and birds. Your imagination supplies the rest. Here, in roughly chronological order, are some dance pleasures for the coming months, mostly outside events and festivals with a mix of venues.

Summer for the City

With the theme “Rejoice, reclaim, remember,” Lincoln Center’s Summer for the City presents outdoor social dance all summer, including “Ultra Pride!” on June 23, with Ultra Naté, Bright Light Bright Light and DJ Rissa Garcia, and featuring live music and dance lessons. Through Aug. 14 at Lincoln Center, New York.

American Dance Festival

The long-running American Dance Festival in Durham, N.C., features Pilobolus with a world premiere, the witty Monica Bill Barnes and Company, and Rennie Harris Puremovement, celebrating its 30th anniversary and performing “Lifted: A Gospel House Musical.” June 3-July 20 at various venues, Durham, N.C.

Kaatsbaan festivals

In a rural Hudson Valley, N.Y., setting, the Kaatsbaan Cultural Park stages dance performances on its outdoor Mountain Stage. On June 5, the “Live Arts Global” program concludes with new works from choreographers Danielle Agami, Jessica Castro and Kristin Sudeikis, to music by the Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse and others. Dance is also featured on the “Rising Stars” program June 11-12, and at the community event commemorating Juneteenth on June 19. Through June 19 at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, 120 Broadway, Tivoli, N.Y.

Jacob’s Pillow Festival

This is the 90th anniversary season of Jacob’s Pillow Festival, the historic dance lover’s oasis on a tranquil, leafy mountainside in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, where it’s all dance, and only dance, all summer. Performances take place in the newly renovated main theater as well as on an outdoor stage, and site-based work unfolds throughout the extensive grounds. Performers include Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Limón Dance Company, New Zealand-based Black Grace, and former D.C.-based choreographer Liz Lerman and dancers, with “Wicked Bodies,” a new work — which could not be more timely — on age-old battles over female anatomy. June 22-Aug. 28, 358 George Carter Rd., Becket, Mass.

Bard SummerScape

Just in time for Independence Day, the free-spirited, always-interesting choreographer Pam Tanowitz premieres a dance interpretation of the erotic, playful and mysterious biblical “Song of Songs.” It features new music from Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang, performed live, at Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley. July 1-3 at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.

Chicago SummerDance

Among the classes and public dance parties at Chicago SummerDance is a free performance by the salsa specialists of Mayambo Dance Company, and a country and western night featuring Wild Earp & the Free for Alls. Select dates July 6-Sept. 17 at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan Ave., and in other Chicago parks.

Vail Dance Festival

Vail Dance Festival’s artistic director is Damian Woetzel, the former New York City Ballet principal dancer who heads the Juilliard School. He has a sharp appetite for collaborations and, with his wide field of contacts, brings the best together. For instance, ballet choreographer Justin Peck is pairing up on a new work with bluegrass musician Chris Thile. And Bobbi Jene Smith, formerly a member of Tel Aviv-based Batsheva Dance Company, is set to premiere a piece danced by the ever-adventurous NYCB principal Sara Mearns. July 29-Aug. 9 at various venues in Avon, Colo.

Washington Ballet at Chautauqua

The Washington Ballet is in residence in August at the Chautauqua Festival in Upstate New York, offering classes, discussions and talkbacks, and culminating in a performance Aug. 13. The program includes Jessica Lang’s “Beethoven Serenade,” the world premiere of Silas Farley’s “Dowland Dances” and Balanchine’s “Apollo,” with the Chatauqua Symphony Orchestra. Aug. 1-14 at Chatauqua Institution, 1 Ames Ave., Chautauqua, N.Y.