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By Margaret Fuhrer, Wendy Perron, Kristin Schwab
Above: Ben Folds and Nashville Ballet’s Sadie Bo Harris
Ben Folds Joins the Ballet
It’s no surprise that in Nashville, aka “Music City,” Nashville Ballet has become known for its collaborations with musical artists. Pop star Ben Folds visits the company May 2–4 to accompany artistic director Paul Vasterling’s new Ben Folds Piano Concerto at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. The starry collaboration with Folds, one of the biggest celebrities to pair up with Nashville Ballet, may bring new audiences to Petite Mort (a company premiere) and Serenade, which complete the program. nashvilleballet.com.
NEW YORK CITY
These days, it seems like French contemporary dance has gone conceptual. But there’s a wide range, and we’re about to see a big slice of it. From May 1–18, under the banner DANSE: A French-American Festival of Performance & Ideas, 17 U.S. premieres will fill New York City theaters, from the Chocolate Factory to the Joyce. One highlight is the excellent Lyon Opera Ballet in Christian Rizzo’s dreamlike ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang at BAM. Another is the disturbingly bizarre Baron Samedi, a “choreographic opera” by the late Alain Buffard, at New York Live Arts. Look for familiar New York City dancers David Thomson and Will Rawls—and, from the Ivory Coast, the raw, awe-inspiring Nadia Beugré. frenchculture.org/DANSE.
Above: Lyon Opera Ballet in ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang
NEW YORK CITY
Danspace Project has deepened the way we look at choreography through its PLATFORM programming. Launched in 2010, the series refracts many ideas through a single theme or dance artist, spreading its offerings over a month. PLATFORM 2014: Diary of an Image delves into the work of DD Dorvillier, a supremely quirky dancer/choreographer. Nothing she does can be construed as graceful, yet her antics—be they austere or silly—draw you in. From May 19–June 14, Danspace presents two new works by Dorvillier, performances by her collaborators (including favorite downtown composer Zeena Parkins) and a publication that includes writings by some of her fellow explorers: Heather Kravas, Jennifer Lacey and Jennifer Monson. danspaceproject.org.
Above: DD Dorvillier in No Change or “freedom is a psycho-kinetic skill”
Twice as Nice
Geographically, the Netherlands may only be about the size of Maryland, but the tiny country has produced a disproportionate number of remarkable artists. Dutch National Ballet shows off that cultural abundance in Dutch Doubles, which matches up four Netherlands-based choreographers with fellow countrymen from the fields of fashion, music, photography and sculpture. Hans van Manen, one of the founding fathers of European contemporary dance, will work with renowned harpist Remy van Kesteren, 56 years van Manen’s junior; honorary Dutchman Jorma Elo (he’s Finnish, but danced with Nederlands Dans Theater for years) will pair his spiky pop culture–tinged choreography with fashion from red-hot design duo Viktor & Rolf. Rounding out the choreographic quartet are the acutely musical Ton Simons and rising star Juanjo Arqués. National Opera & Ballet, April 16–May 7. operaballet.nl.
Above: DNB’s Igone de Jongh (right) and Rink Sliphorst in Viktor & Rolf’s costumes
Romeo and Juliet Redux
It takes a sort of wild courage to reimagine a work as iconic as Romeo and Juliet. But beyond the name and score, it’s hard to make a side-by-side comparison between Krzysztof Pastor’s contemporary take on the story, which the Joffrey Ballet gives its U.S. premiere starting April 30, and the more traditional version by Kenneth MacMillan. Choreographed on the Scottish Ballet in 2008, Pastor’s ballet is set in three different decades of 20th-century Italy, following the country through fascism and war. In lieu of a set, a multimedia video backdrop allows Pastor to jump from era to era. The costuming is more pedestrian than Shakespearean, the choreography more confrontational than swoony. Roosevelt University, April 30–May 11. joffrey.org.
Above: Joffrey Ballet’s Alberto Velazquez and Mahallia Ward as Romeo and Juliet
Photos from top: ANTHONYMATULA, Courtesy Nashville Ballet; Michael Cavalca; Thomas Dunn; Petrovsky & Ramone, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet; Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet