Ten of the most tantalizing dance performances this fall
Dancers at a Tree of Codes rehearsal at the Palais Garnier. Photo by Ann Ray, courtesy Resnicow & Associates.
Wayne McGregor’s Tree of Codes
Fresh off the heels of last spring’s Woolf Works, Wayne McGregor is plunging into another literary inspiration: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes. Foer’s novel is itself a work of art. He took Polish author Bruno Schulz’s collection of short stories, The Street of Crocodiles, and used die-cutting techniques to literally carve a new story out of its pages—the result is a highly filigreed narrative about one man’s last day of life. In the same vein, McGregor transforms Foer’s book into a site-specific stage production, distorting perceptions of space and time through manipulations of sound, light and movement. The stellar cast is made up of leading dancers from the Paris Opéra Ballet (including étoiles Marie-Agnès Gillot and Jérémie Bélingard), as well as from McGregor’s own company. Created in collaboration with visual artist Olafur Eliasson and music producer Jamie xx, Tree of Codes, which premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July, comes to New York City’s cavernous Park Avenue Armory, Sept. 14–21. armoryonpark.org.
Whelan captivates in Hagoromo. Photo by David Michalek, courtesy BAM.
Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto in Hagoromo
As an angel dances, her celestial garment falls to earth, landing on the banks of a river. A poor fisherman finds it. What happens next? It doesn’t really matter if the angel is Wendy Whelan and the fisherman is Jock Soto. Their acclaimed partnership blossomed when they were both principals at New York City Ballet, chosen as muses by a budding choreographer named Christopher Wheeldon. Now filmmaker/photographer David Michalek (Whelan’s husband) has cast the duo in his re-envisioning of the ancient Noh drama Hagoromo, along with opera singers, puppets, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), Brooklyn Youth Chorus and choreography by the ever intriguing David Neumann. The Whelan/Soto chemistry is sure to infuse this production with a certain extrasensory mystery. Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn, New York, Nov. 5–8. bam.org. —Wendy Perron
Shechter's Political Mother: The Choreographer's Cut. Photo by Gabriele Zucca, courtesy Hofesh Shechter Company.
Hofesh Shechter’s #HOFEST
It may seem cheeky to prematurely hashtag your event, assuming it will be much talked about. But for the London-based Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, that’s a fair bet. With a six-week season comprising four separate, large-scale productions across London that showcase his notoriously tempestuous work, #HOFEST earns its all-caps boldness. First up is Orphée et Eurydice, Shechter’s opera debut for The Royal Opera, co-directed with John Fulljames (Royal Opera House, Sept. 14–Oct. 3). Next is deGeneration, a program of Shechter’s earlier works performed by Shechter Junior, his new second company of dancers ages 18 to 25 (East London Dance, Oct. 1–2). The following week sees the return of Political Mother: The Choreographer’s Cut, Shechter’s thrillingly immersive dance-concert-meets-rock-concert extravaganza performed by Hofesh Shechter Company (O2 Academy Brixton, Oct. 7–8). The marathon concludes with barbarians, a trilogy of new works, also for the main company (Sadler’s Wells, Oct. 18–25). That show is a meditation on intimacy and love, but given the name, and knowing Shechter, assume that this love hurts. hofesh.co.uk. —Brian Schaefer
Katherine Disenhof cozies up with an old Mac in Mainframe. Photo by Ben Hersh, courtesy Hawthorne.
Katharine Hawthorne’s Mainframe
How does our daily dialogue with technology shape our perception? Choreographer Katharine Hawthorne’s latest examination of this question looks at how computers—particularly their diminishing size—can influence a person’s sense of physical self. “Computers have been made in our image,” she says. “I’m curious about the reverse: How has this process of integrating them into our lives changed how we see our bodies?” Supported by one of the first Young Alumni Arts Grants from Stanford University, where she studied physics and dance, Hawthorne has gathered a group of spitfire performers to embody her powerful, sinuous movement. Audiences can expect literal takes on human-computer interaction (duets with original Macintosh monitors, for example), as well as more fanciful riffs (dancers directed to move as though pixelated) for a fascinating experiment. ODC Theater, San Francisco, Dec. 3–5. khawthorne.net. —Josie G. Sadan
Sylvie Guillem Says Adieu
Guillem in Bye. Photo by Bill Cooper, courtesy New York City Center.
A trendsetter throughout her extraordinary career, Sylvie Guillem has chosen to say good-bye on her own terms. More than three decades after she first claimed the spotlight at the Paris Opéra Ballet, the ballet icon who transitioned seamlessly into contemporary dance is touring the world with her own farewell program, Life in Progress. The evening features two creations, Akram Khan’s technê and Russell Maliphant’s duet Here & After, danced with La Scala dancer Emanuela Montanari, and fittingly ends with Bye, a solo Mats Ek choreographed for Guillem in 2011. Early reviewers were underwhelmed by the choreography, but it’s the last chance to witness the unparalleled lines and presence of the former “Mademoiselle Non,” as she was nicknamed in London. The only U.S. stop will be at New York’s City Center; the worldwide tour ends on December 20 in Japan, where Guillem has a large and adoring fan base. Birmingham Hippodrome, Birmingham, UK, Sept. 8–9; Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Paris, France, Sept. 17–20; National Theatre, Taipei, Taiwan, Oct. 3–4; New York City Center, Nov. 12–14; Festspielhaus, St. Pölten, Austria, Dec. 2; NBS, Tokyo, Japan, Dec. 17–20. sadlerswells.com. —Laura Cappelle
Corella prepping Pennsylvania Ballet in company class. Photo by Jim Lafferty.
Angel Corella is bringing in some heavy hitters for the first season he’s programmed at Pennsylvania Ballet. First up in October is an evening of Wayne McGregor’s Chroma and Christopher Wheeldon’s DGV: Danse à Grande Vitesse alongside Concerto Barocco, the iconic Balanchine ballet that Pennsylvania Ballet performed at the company’s debut in 1963. It’s a lineup that shows a promising vision for PAB’s future. Without abandoning the company’s Balanchine roots, Corella is leveraging his connections to make a statement: Today’s best ballet choreography can now be seen in Philadelphia. Productions later in the season include company premieres by Nacho Duato, Justin Peck, Liam Scarlett and even Trisha Brown. Academy of Music, Philadelphia. Oct. 22–25. paballet.org.
Urban Bush Women in Walking with 'Trane. Photo by Rick McCollough, courtesy American Dance Institute.
American Dance Institute
Contemporary dance works don’t often have their world premieres in the suburbs. But American Dance Institute, a Metro ride from Washington, DC, in Rockville, Maryland, is offering up a season of cutting-edge modern dance. What was once primarily a ballet studio, ADI is now investing in provocative dancemakers as they develop and fine-tune experimental choreography. Its recently revamped Incubator program brings in companies for weeklong residencies, and the stay concludes with a work-in-progress or a world premiere in ADI’s black-box theater.
Jillian Peña’s Polly Pocket: Expansion Pack opens the season with an epic dance drama inspired by ballet, psychoanalysis, queer theory, Marxism and the doll aisle at Toys “R” Us (Sept. 11–12). Urban Bush Women’s Jawole Willa Jo Zollar continues her meditative Walking with ‘Trane, based on the life and artistry of jazz great John Coltrane, Sept. 25–26. Chris Schlichting’s revealing Strip Tease takes the stage Oct. 2–3. Hagoromo features former New York City Ballet principals Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto and incubates at ADI before its work-in-progress showing Oct. 23–24. The season continues with world premieres by Big Dance Theater (Nov. 6–8) and Palissimo’s Custodians of Beauty (Nov. 20–21). americandance.org. —Lisa Traiger
Aakash Odedra’s Rising
Aakash Odedra’s hypnotic infusion of classical Indian and contemporary dance have made him a swiftly rising star. Audiences can catch a glimpse this fall in the British-based dancer/choreographer’s Rising. A collection of solos for Odedra by Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Akram Khan and Odedra himself range from ethereal to animalistic. The whirling turns of Odedra’s Nritta are entrancing, and the work exemplifies his mastery of kathak. In Cherkaoui’s Constellation, Odedra dances through and around suspended light bulbs, playing with perceptions of distance and dimensionality. Maliphant amplifies Odedra’s classical Indian expertise by having him move in a contained cone of light, challenging freedom and form in Cut. And in Khan’s haunting In The Shadow Of Man, Odedra dives deep into earthy, carnal movements. Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, Nov. 6. Aakash Odedra Company will also perform the U.S. premieres of Inked and Murmur at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, NYC, Oct. 22–24. aakashodedra.com. —Emily Macel Theys
The Winter’s Tale
The Royal Ballet's Steven McRae in The Winter's Tale. Photo by Johan Persson, courtesy National Ballet of Canada.
Judging by the glowing reviews that greeted The Winter’s Tale’s world premiere by The Royal Ballet in London, North American audiences have much to look forward to when Christopher Wheeldon’s Shakespearean adaptation opens the National Ballet of Canada’s season this November. In tackling Shakespeare’s “problem play”—an elusive, enigmatic tale of jealousy, forgiveness and redemption—Wheeldon moves confidently and adeptly through the plot’s many complexities. He translates the play’s psychological underpinnings into some of his most eloquent and ravishingly beautiful choreography and in the process cements his reputation as one of today’s most compelling dance storytellers. As with his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, an earlier National Ballet/Royal Ballet co-production, The Winter’s Tale is designed by Bob Crowley and set to an original orchestral score by Joby Talbot. Four Seasons Centre, Toronto, Nov. 14–22. national.ballet.ca. —Michael Crabb
The Apollo Theater in Harlem has been revving up its dance game recently. This fall, it will once again present the Breakin’ Convention, an international array of urban dance organized by London’s dynamic hip-hop maven, Jonzi D. One of the most glamorous performers is Antoinette Gomis, who has developed her own brand of classy, liquid house dancing in Paris. With a global-inflected style, Gomis combines a sassy upper body with soft, complex legwork. She’s won street battles all over Europe, done commercial work for Nike, Adidas and Puma, and danced in the musical Kirikou et Karaba with choreography by Wayne McGregor. Also on the program are groups from Brooklyn, Los Angeles, the UK, France and Argentina, and Holland, and a world premiere from Rennie Harris Puremovement. Apollo Theater, Oct. 16–18. apollotheater.org. Some acts will also appear at the Levine Center for the Arts, Charlotte, NC, Oct. 9–10. —Wendy Perron
Antoinette Gomis is one of the many dynamic performers at the Breakin' Convention. Photo by Belinda Lawley, courtesy Resnicow & Associates.
When Miami City Ballet's fiery principal soloist Nathalia Arja is onstage, it's impossible to look away. So it comes as little surprise that if Arja weren't a dancer, she'd probably want to be a comedian or an anchorwoman—both careers that demand the effortless charisma that Arja exudes onstage and off.
Her buoyant jump, playful attack and spirited stage presence have made her one of MCB's fastest-rising up-and-comers. But it hasn't gone to her head–Arja still revels in being "the clown of the group," and taking the challenges of the ballet world a day at a time.
We caught up with Arja for the first iteration of our new online series, "In the Spotlight."
"I'm like, a notch down from Beyoncé," says Tayla Solomon, a member of the Lethal Ladies of Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (LLOB) step team. "Because I do still mess up."
That confident-yet-real attitude pretty much sums up why we're obsessed with the dancers of LLOB—and the new documentary about them, Step. The film follows the team as they navigate applying to college, practicing for the first place title that has eluded them throughout the years and dealing with their often-challenging family lives.
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.