12 Dance Shows We're Already Talking About Ahead of the 2017–18 Season
On the cusp of a new performance season, our calendars are chock full with shows we're dying to see. But it can be hard to know where to start with a season filled to bursting with promising premieres, tours and revivals. We've picked 12 shows that should definitely be on your radar.
A Striking Living Sculpture is Invading the U.S.
Like a murder of crows or a conspiracy of ravens, 20 multigenerational women dressed in black rhythmically yip, bay and caw with primal, ritualistic intensity, the front ties of their white head kerchiefs pecking up and down like beaks. Moroccan choreographer Bouchra Ouizguen created Corbeaux ("Ravens") as a one-off performance at the Marrakesh train station during the 2014 Biennale of Contemporary Art. (She may have had the invisibility of Muslim women in mind while making it.) But the controlled animalism and intentionality of the work have, in three short years, found resonance with audiences around the world. Presented in nontheatrical spaces by a combined cast of local performers and members of Ouizguen's Compagnie O, Corbeaux rivets viewers with the power of its nonverbal, unison percussive quality. It conveys the urgency of female experience en masse, while tapping into the ferocity that drives all attempts at greater individual agency. Time-Based Art Festival, Portland, Sept. 9–10. Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati, Sept. 16–17. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Sept. 23–24. French Institute Alliance Française, New York City, Oct. 1. bouchraouizguen.com. —Camille LeFevre
Two Iconic Pina Bausch Works Are Headed to BAM, and We Cannot Contain Our Excitement
Reprising the company's historic New York City debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1984, Tanztheater Wuppertal returns to the Howard Gilman Opera House as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival with two of Pina Bausch's most iconic works: Café Müller and The Rite of Spring. Café Müller, Bausch's autobiographical masterwork, takes us inside an abandoned café where a sleepwalking woman (originally danced by Bausch herself) staggers about as a series of characters play out a troubled, turbulent and occasionally whimsical narrative, all set to Henry Purcell's poignant arias. Bausch's Rite explodes with raw, sensual power as 32 dancers fiercely inhabit a dirt-covered stage, matching the blazing intensity of Stravinsky's revolutionary score. Sept. 14–17, 19–20, 22–24. bam.org. —Nancy Wozny
Ananya Dance Theatre Adds Its Voice to #theresistance
Ananya Dance Theatre in Ananya Chatterjea's Horidraa: Golden Healing. Photo by V. Paul Virtucio, Courtesy Ananya Dance Theatre.
To create Shyamali: Sprouting Words, Ananya Dance Theatre worked with women in diverse communities throughout the world to elicit their stories of resistance and resilience. The dancers also participated in social justice protests, forged school partnerships focusing on girls of color and led workshops with women refugees and immigrants. The resulting production grips viewers with an articulate, harrowing and ultimately uplifting choreographic conversation about the multidimensional ways in which women's dissent ultimately contributes to the world's life force. Following the St. Paul, Minnesota, premiere Sept. 15–16, the work travels to Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, Pittsburgh; University of Utah, Salt Lake City; Maui Arts & Cultural Center, Kahului, Hawaii; Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles; and Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia. ananyadancetheatre.org. —Camille LeFevre
Matthew Bourne Brought the Most Iconic Ballet Movie Ever Made to Life, and It's Touring to the U.S.
In the iconic dance movie The Red Shoes, Victoria Page wavers between the man she adores and her consuming passion for ballet, a conflict encapsulated by a pair of red satin pointe shoes that propel her to her fate. British choreographer/director Matthew Bourne has reimagined the lush 1948 film and Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale as pure, rapturous dance. The four-city U.S. tour opens in Los Angeles, Sept. 15–Oct. 1, with stops in Washington, DC, Oct. 10–15, and Charlotte, Oct. 17–22, before closing Oct. 26–Nov. 5 in New York City, where New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns guests in the lead role, alternating with New Adventures' Ashley Shaw. American Ballet Theatre's Marcelo Gomes joins the cast as a guest star for the tour. new-adventures.net. —Lisa Traiger
Bill T. Jones is Directing a New Opera
Bill T. Jones during a workshop for We Shall Not Be Moved. Photo by Dave DiRentis, Courtesy Opera Philadelphia.
Five teenage runaways take refuge in an abandoned house, where they encounter ghosts of an earlier resistance movement: That's the premise for We Shall Not Be Moved, a multidisciplinary work recalling a time when the city of Philadelphia faced off with black activist group MOVE—with deadly consequences. The piece puts Bill T. Jones at the helm as director, dramaturge and choreographer, alongside spoken-word artist Mark Bamuthi Joseph, violin-wielding composer Daniel Bernard Roumain, and assistant choreographer Raphael Xavier. Weaving a narrative for the four dancers and six singers, the collaborators fuse varied music traditions (including classical, R&B and jazz singing) with spoken word, video projections and a dance vocabulary that ranges from baroque forms to hip hop. The goal, Jones says in an online preview, is to "create a new language bridging the world of urban word and opera." Opera Philadelphia, Sept. 16–18, 21, 23–24. Apollo Theater, New York City, Oct. 6–8. Hackney Empire, London, Oct. 13–15, 18, 20–21. operaphila.org. —Rachel F. Elson
Carlos Acosta's New Company is Coming, and We're Crazy Curious About It
Acosta Danza has been a source of curiosity ever since Carlos Acosta founded the company in 2016, but other than tantalizing glimpses on the international scene this summer, the company has performed primarily in its native Cuba. British and American audiences will finally get the chance to see what all the hubbub is about this season when the company makes its official U.K. and U.S. debuts in London and New York City. Fingers crossed that Acosta, expected to perform during the U.K. tour, also finds his way onstage stateside. Sadler's Wells, London, Sept. 27–30. sadlerswells.com. New York City Center, April 25–27, 2018. nycitycenter.org. —Courtney Escoyne
An Alternate Rite of Spring, Featuring Contemporary African Dance
Germaine Acogny. Photo by François Stemmer, Courtesy Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Also presented by the Next Wave Festival, choreographer Olivier Dubois of Ballet du Nord offers a striking contrast to Pina Bausch's large-scale Rite of Spring just a few weeks later. The second installment of Dubois' Sacre series, Mon élue noire is a solo for the 73-year-old mother of contemporary African dance Germaine Acogny of Senegal. Her movement restricted atop a small, elevated platform, the regal Acogny is neither pure virgin nor sacrificial lamb; perhaps she is the caged soul of African history? This fall marks the U.S. premiere of the explosive 2015 solo. BAM Fisher, Oct. 4–7. bam.org. —Jen Peters
A MacMillan Feast for Ballet-Obsessed Anglophiles
The Royal Ballet's Ryoichi Hirano and Edward Watson in MacMillan's Gloria. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy ROH.
Sir Kenneth MacMillan is revered in the U.K. as one of the founding fathers of British ballet, and for the first time ever, six of the country's companies will join forces this fall to celebrate him. For the 25th anniversary of his death, the Royal Opera House is set to present eight short works by the master, as well as Wayne Eagling's MacMillan-inspired Jeux. The Royal Ballet will dance Jeux and The Judas Tree, while Birmingham Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Northern Ballet, Scottish Ballet and Yorke Dance Project join in with their own MacMillan productions. Rarities include Le Baiser de la Fée and Sea of Troubles, a 1988 work inspired by Hamlet, as well as a production of Elite Syncopations danced by members of several companies. There is much more to MacMillan than three-act blockbusters like Manon: This two-week season is a unique opportunity to delve into his varied repertoire, stretching over four decades. Royal Opera House, London, Oct. 18–Nov. 1. roh.org.uk. —Laura Cappelle
NYC's Met Museum: Come for the Art, Stay for the Dancing
Gallim Dance at the Temple of Dendur. Photo by Ani Collier, Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has found a sweet spot where dancing meets treasures of the past. When Andrea Miller showed a work in progress inspired by the Egyptian Temple of Dendur last year, the synergy between her visceral, rough-hewn choreography and the stone surfaces of the ancient temple was mesmerizing. The MetLiveArts series has now named Miller artist in residence for the 2017–18 season—the first choreographer to hold this position. Her first goal: to finish the piece started last year, now titled Stone Skipping, to be danced by her company Gallim Dance Oct. 28–29 at the Temple of Dendur. Other dance artists at the Met Museum this season include Congolese choreographer Faustin Linyekula, who performs in the Met's 16th-century Spanish courtyard Sept. 9–10, the Japanese-American maestra Eiko Otake , who brings her haunting series A Body in Places to three Met locations in November, and Monica Bill Barnes, whose Museum Workout returns for four weekends this fall. metmuseum.org. —Wendy Perron
Charlotte Ballet's Most Incredible Thing. (No, Really, That's the Title)
Perhaps the most incredible thing about Charlotte Ballet performing The Most Incredible Thing is that it hasn't yet been seen in the United States. The award-winning multimedia spectacle created by English synth-pop giants Pet Shop Boys features choreography by Javier de Frutos. Based on Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale about a king who holds a competition to determine who can do "the most incredible thing," the story ballet is not only a unique family-friendly theatrical experience, but also a lightning bolt illuminating where new artistic director Hope Muir is taking Charlotte Ballet. March 9–18, 2018. charlotteballet.org. —Steve Sucato
Another Lil Buck/Jon Boogz Team-Up? We're Sold.
Lil Buck and Jon Boogz. Photo by George Evan, Courtesy Helene Davis Public Relations.
When Jon Boogz's film Color of Reality went viral last year, it was only partly because of jooker Lil Buck's terrific dancing. It was also an ingenious way to illuminate the harrowing regularity of black youth falling victim to police brutality. The video, a collaboration with the visual artist Alexa Meade, was such a brilliant melding of art consciousness and social consciousness that it made us eager to see what else they would come up with. Love Heals All Wounds, under the banner of MAI (Movement Art Is), is coming to NYU's Skirball Center in New York City April 13–14, 2018. It's one of many intriguing shows planned by Skirball's new director Jay Wegman that demonstrates a bold new direction for its programming. nyuskirball.org. —Wendy Perron
NYCB is Dusting Off a Much-Debated Robbins/Bernstein Classic
Janie Taylor in Robbins' Dybbuk. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.
It was the last collaboration between two geniuses of the theater—Leonard Berstein and Jerome Robbins—and it was called Dybbuk, after S. Ansky's classic play of 1920, a Jewish ghost story about love, death and possession. The ballet was premiered on May 16, 1974, and although American dance writers didn't get it, British critics Richard Buckle and Clive Barnes thought it blazed with brilliance. Not trusting his creation, Robbins edited the hell out of it and Dybbuk disappeared. But in 2005 Helgi Tomasson and the San Francisco Ballet brought it back, and in 2007 it was again performed by the New York City Ballet. Stark, soaring, haunting, ecstatic, magnificent, Dybbuk returns to NYCB's repertoire in spring 2018 (May 4, 5, 8 and 20), part of the "Robbins 100" centennial celebration (May 3–20). See for yourself if those Brits weren't right. nycballet.com. —Laura Jacobs
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
By itself, a competition trophy won't really prepare you for professional life. Sometimes it is not even a plus. "Some directors are afraid that a kid who wins a lot of medals will come to their company with too many expectations," says Youth America Grand Prix artistic director Larissa Saveliev. "Directors want to mold young dancers to fit their company."
More valuable than taking home a title from a competition is the exposure you can get and the connections you can make while you're there. But how can you take advantage of the opportunity?
New York Live Arts opens its 2017-18 season with A Love Supreme, a revised work by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and collaborator Salva Sanchis. Known as a choreographer of pure form, pattern and musicality, De Keersmaeker can bring a visceral power to the stage without the use of narrative. She has taken this 2005 work to John Coltrane's famous jazz score of the same title and recast it for four young men of her company Rosas, giving it an infusion of new energy.
Photo by Anne Van Aerschot
Before too long, dancers and choreographers will get to create on the luxurious 170-acre property in rural Connecticut that is currently home to legendary visual artist Jasper Johns.
If you think that sounds far more glamorous than your average choreographic retreat, you're right. Though there are some seriously generous opportunities out there, this one seems particularly lavish.
Every dancer has learned—probably the hard way—that healthy feet are the foundation of a productive and happy day in the studio. As dancers, our most important asset has to carry the weight (literally) of everything we do. So it's not surprising that most professional dancers have foot care down to an art.
Three dancers shared their foot-care products they can't live without.
Dancers trying their hand at designing is nothing new. But they do tend to stick with studio or performance-wear (think Miami City Ballet's Ella Titus and her line of knit warm-ups or former NYCB dancer Janie Taylor and her ballet costumes). But several dancers at American Ballet Theatre—corps members Jamie Kopit, Erica Lall, Katie Boren, Katie Williams, Lauren Post, Zhong-Jing Fang and soloist Cassandra Trenary—are about to launch a fashion line that's built around designs that can be worn outside of the studio. Titled Company Cooperative, the luxe line of women's wear is handmade in New York City's garment district and designed by the dancers themselves.
Royal Ballet dancers Yasmine Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell recently got together for a different kind of performance: no decadent costumes, sets, stage makeup or lighting. Instead, the principal and first soloist danced choreography by principal character artist Kristen McNally in a stark studio.
The movement is crystal clear, and at the beginning, Naghdi and Stix-Brunell duck and weave around each other with near vacant stares. Do they even know they have a partner? And how should they interact? The situation raises a much larger question: How often do we see a female duet in ballet?
As a student, Milwaukee native John Neumeier appeared in an opera at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. As Hamburg Ballet's artistic director and one of the world's leading choreographers, Neumeier now returns to the Midwest to direct and choreograph a new version of Gluck's Orphée et Eurydice, a co-production of the Lyric Opera, LA Opera and Hamburg State Opera. Set to open in Chicago September 23 with the Joffrey Ballet, the ambitious work will see additional engagements in Los Angeles and Hamburg over the next two years.
How did you come to be involved with this collaboration?
It was initiated by the director of the Lyric Opera, Anthony Freud, but I had already been in contact with Ashley Wheater about a separate project with the Joffrey Ballet. The two things came together—and this was really interesting to me because Chicago was important at the start of my career. I was born in Milwaukee, but most of my training was in or near Chicago.
You've previously created version of Orpheus for Hamburg Ballet. What about this particular production caught your interest?
When I got this offer from Anthony, I just went back to the piece and tried to sense what it meant to me now. Gluck's Orphée was part of a push to reform opera and to make a complete work of art involving music, text and dance. What interests me—particularly in this French version we are doing—is that dance plays such an essential role. When Agnes de Mille choreographed Oklahoma!, it was considered a revolution in musical theater, because dance moved the plot along. In Orphée, we can see that the same idea had been realized several centuries ago: that dance would not be just a divertissement, but a theatrical element, literally "moving" the plot along and expressing in another form the emotion of each situation.
Another idea in Orphée which fascinates me is its directness in projecting profound human emotions—emotions not used as an excuse for vocal virtuosity, but expressed in simple and direct musical terms. In Orphée, we have a mythical subject which is related in an extremely relevant, familiar, human way.