A Fort Kent native who began her dance training in community theaters across southern Maine will become the new director of the Bates Dance Festival.

Shoshona “Shoni” Currier will begin her job Aug. 15, replacing longtime director Laura Faure. She will work alongside Faure until Faure’s term ends Nov. 30. Currier is now director of performing arts for the city of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, where she has worked since 2012 and manages a budget of about $1 million.

“I left Maine when I was 17 and have a deep desire to give my kids the kind of upbringing I had, with the wonder of the natural experience. To me, that means Maine,” said Currier, 36, who graduated from Windham High School in 1997.

Shoshona Currier

The Bates festival, which was expected to announce the change Friday, provides training for hundreds of young dancers, presents a series of public dance concerts throughout the summer on the Bates campus, and has an annual budget of about $850,000. In its 35 years, it has become a leading training ground for dancers and a popular summer teaching and performance destination for established dancers.

Faure, who announced last year that she would retire, welcomed the news of her replacement. “A fresh perspective is always a really good thing to introduce,” Faure said.

Among her recent jobs, Currier created multimedia theater pieces inspired by science and technology at the University of Chicago Institute for Molecular Engineering. She also worked as producer and co-curator of Dance New Amsterdam in New York City, as well as other arts organizations, theaters, festival and dance companies in New York and around the country.

“I am interested in young-artist and dancer training. There are a lot of changes happening in how we approach training and higher education,” she said. “I am interested in this festival not only because it trains young dancers, but also because it presents a really outstanding, rigorous, nationally recognized festival for the community. Those two elements intertwined make it a cohesive, holistic experience that I am excited to be a part of.”

Currier wasn’t familiar with the Bates festival growing up. She learned about it in New York, when she realized a common link among her favorite dancers was their training at Bates.

“They had all gone to the Bates Dance Festival, and I was so surprised that this one festival in Maine – my home state – was responsible for generations of dancers,” she said. “I said, ‘What is this place and what are they teaching?’ because they were clearly teaching the best of the best.”

Currier began dancing as a young girl and stopped around age 12. She received her early training at Maine State Ballet, and she cites her work at community theaters Schoolhouse Arts, Windham Center Stage Theater and Sanford Maine Stage as formative early experiences that helped lead her to a career in the arts.

She was born in Fort Kent and has family throughout Maine. She will move back to Maine this summer with her husband and three kids, 6-year-old Azure and 4-year-old twins, Owl and Beowulf.

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at:

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