What Wendy's Watching

Lots of college groups do stepping—a form of body percussion based on slapping, tapping and stomping—but Step Afrika! is the first professional dance company to do it. They are currently at New York City's New Victory Theater, presenting The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, a show based on the painting series by Harlem Renaissance artist Jacob Lawrence about The Great Migration of the 1900s, when millions of African Americans fled the Jim Crow South and traveled by train to the North for a better life. The Great Migration transformed the demographics of the country, and Jacob Lawrence's paintings became famous for their bold color and evocative power.

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What Wendy's Watching
Eiko at Met Breuer, with projected photo, PC Paula Lobo

Eiko Otake has been half of the famed duo Eiko & Koma for many years. They created other-worldly, slow-motion dreamscapes, for which they received a 2006 Dance Magazine Award.

Recently Eiko has embarked on a solo project, A Body in Places, which landed on my Best of 2016 list (scroll down to "miscellaneous bests.") Now she is bringing this haunting performance/installation to the Metropolitan Museum of Art under its MetLiveArts program. Eiko has already visited the Met's two other venues: The Cloisters in Upper Manhattan and the Met Breuer on the Upper East Side. This Sunday, she will be in Lehman Court at the Met Fifth Avenue all day. Come witness A Body in Places. Click here for more information.

What Wendy's Watching
David Dorfman Dance in Aroundtown, PC Adam Campos

David Dorfman's choreography asks, How can we all get along? In his new piece, Aroundtown at the BAM Harvey Theater, he shows how hostility within a community can turn to tenderness. He and his wife, Lisa Race, have a long embrace in the corner of the stage. It's almost like saying that enduring love doesn't always happen center stage.

In my 2013 "Choreography in Focus" with Dorfman, he says he likes his work to reflect "the mess of life." And you will see some of that mess in this piece, captured with compassion, craft and humor.

Aroundtown, which is part of the Next Wave Festival at Brooklyn Academy of Music, is at the BAM Harvey Theater from Nov. 8 to 11.

What Wendy's Watching
Ashley Shaw as Victoria Page, PC Johan Persson

We are back at New York City Center for The Red Shoes. Matthew Bourne's sumptuous version sticks with the story told in the wildly popular 1948 film. I have to admit I'm not crazy about the idea that Victoria Page, a beautiful young dancer, must choose between work and love. Plus, it uses ballet, once again in popular culture, as a destructive force. But this production is by Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, so the sets and costumes are (ahem) to die for.

For New Yorkers, a special indulgence: On select nights, New York City Ballet's Sara Mearns plays Victoria Page, and American Ballet Theatre's Marcelo Gomes (a 2015 Dance Magazine Awardee) plays the composer who falls for her.

The Red Shoes is up at NY City Center until Nov. 5. Click here for more information.

News
Maguy Marin's BiT. Photo by Herve Deroo, Courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates.

Maguy Marin, one of France's major choreographers, has a knack for taking us right up to the brink of cruelty. When she brought her startling—and at times bizarre—Umwelt to the Joyce in 2009, some audience members couldn't take it and walked out. Stoked by a pounding electronic score and accelerating rhythmic steps, in BiT the six dancers of Compagnie Maguy Marin work themselves into a frenzy. This new work may go beyond the brink, judging from the warning that has been issued: "This performance contains depictions of sexual violence." Proceed at your own risk. Oct. 25–29. joyce.org.

What Wendy's Watching
Arolyn Williams and Chase O'Connell in Fox on the Doorstep, PC Beau Pearson

Last week Ballet West breezed into New York City's Joyce Theater from Salt Lake City. The dancers are excellent—especially the women (what else is new). The company brought five pieces including works by Gerald Arpino, Val Caniparoli and resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte.

Arpino's last work, made in 2004, is a duet called RUTH, Ricordi per Due ("remembrance for two"). It's about a man haunted by the memory of the woman he loved. Christopher Ruud is strong and sensitive as the man, and Arolyn Williams is riveting as the ghost of his beloved.

Val Caniparoli energizes his dancers with juicy movement, and always sticks to his theme. (He doesn't ramble, and let's face it, long rambling choreography is a problem these days.) In his premiere for Ballet West, Dances for Lou, he takes on the music of Lou Harrison, a composer known for his Eastern sounds and rhythms.

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News
Simone Forti. Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy Danspace.

When Simone Forti moved from California to New York City in 1960, she brought with her the improvisational approach of Anna Halprin. As one of the first five students in Robert Dunn's John Cage–inspired composition course (that led to Judson Dance Theater), she was a magnet for two others in that class: Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton. This month the three reunite for Tea for Three, an evening of moving and talking at Danspace Project, Oct. 26–28. It's a chance to see how dance mavericks grow and change and mellow. Forti will also give "Body Mind World" workshops Oct. 19–20. danspaceproject.org.

What Wendy's Watching

I was knocked out by three things this fall season at New York City Ballet.

First: Tiler Peck's debut in Swan Lake. Her expressiveness as an impulsive, trapped creature and her dazzling technique combined to create a onstage grandeur. She gave us an Odette of great depth, and an Odile of sharp drama and crazy good fouettés. This was a world-class performance by one of our recent Dance Magazine Awardees.

Second: Gianna Reisen's new work, Composer's Holiday, signaled to all present that a choreographer is born. At 18, this young American apprentice with Dresden Semperoper Ballett, came home to NYC to make a fresh, witty ballet that showed an original way of breaking up space. Reisen just graduated from the School of American Ballet, so the corps dancers she worked with were mostly her former classmates. She was obviously completely at home while making this scintillating work.

Third: Principal Lauren Lovette, in her second ballet for the company, included a dramatic male-male duet. This isn't just incidental, but a main part of Not Our Fate. Danced by the wondrous principal Taylor Stanley and corps dancer Preston Chamblee, this duet looks to me like they are falling in love. I don't have to tell you that seeing two men in a romantic duet is a rarity on the ballet stage.

A triple bravo for an exciting season at NYCB!

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