Thodos Dance Chicago against Gang’s architecture. Photo by Katie Graves, Courtesy Thodos Dance.
CHICAGO Merce Cunningham, George Balanchine, Wayne McGregor—choreographers past and present have long collaborated with architects to add grandeur to their work. But Thodos Dance Chicago’s Melissa Thodos is taking that a step further, commissioning a set design that is integral to her dance’s concept. With University of Chicago physicists and local architect Jeanne Gang, her new piece explores “jamming”—when physical stress alters a substance’s density. “At its most basic,” says Thodos, “think of the solid to liquid-like change that happens when you take a vacuum-packed bag of coffee beans and cut it open.” To explore that idea, Gang’s sets will morph as the dancers manipulate them. Feb. 22 at the North Shore Center; March 8–9 at the Harris Theater. northshorecenter.org and harristheaterchicago.org.
Bracing for Eyes and Ears
NEW YORK CITY For some, her work is a breath of fresh air. For others, her style clings too closely to Cunningham’s verticality and crisp shapes. Either way, Pam Tanowitz’s choreography, stark and geometric, fills the stage. Two premieres during her company’s first-ever performances at The Joyce Theater (Feb. 4–6) promise live music. FLUX Quartet will play Conlon Nancarrow string quartets in Heaven on One’s Head, and a John Zorn score played by Pauline Kim Harris will accompany Passagen. Best of all, Melissa Toogood, the sensual and athletic former Cunningham dancer, is one of Tanowitz’s eight performers. joyce.org.
Above: Dylan Crossman and Melissa Toogood. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy the Joyce.
A New Take on an Old Tale
ON TOUR Fresh and full of theatrics, John Neumeier’s Liliom is a ballet with 21st-century touches: Its sets are fit for Broadway and its classical vocabulary is, at times, delightfully jazzy or pedestrian. The Hamburg Ballet production, based on Ferenc Molnár’s 1909 play, follows moody heartbreaker Liliom and his devoted lover Julie, danced by international ballerina Alina Cojocaru, who originated the role. (Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, Feb. 7–9.) The company’s U.S. tour continues to San Francisco (Feb. 12–13) and Chicago (Feb. 19–20), performing A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Third Symphony by Gustav Mahler, respectively. hamburgballett.de.
Above: Carsten Jung and Alina Cojocaru in Liliom. Photo by Holger Badekow, Courtesy Hamburg Ballet.
Packing In the Performances
DRESDEN, GERMANY The fourth Dance Education Biennale offers a chance to conquer several must-see performances in one week, with ticket prices starting at under $15. Daytime roundtables allow pre-professionals and college students to chat with prominent dance professionals. By night, the Semperoper Ballett dances Stijn Celis’ modern day Romeo und Julia and mixed rep including David Dawson’s award-winning The Grey Area. Also on the boards: The Forsythe Company’s new fort-building frenzy, Sider. Feb. 15–23 at Palucca Hochschule für Tanz Dresden. biennale-tanzausbildung.de.
Above: Semperoper Ballett will also perform Jirí Kylián’s Bella Figura. Costin Radu, Courtesy Semperoper Ballett.
Bringing Brazil to NYC
NEW YORK CITY Fiercely physical, capoeira’s driving music and movement have caught the attention of dancers everywhere. The style is a mainstay of the muscular DanceBrazil, one of four companies in the Joyce’s three-week Brazil Festival. Also on the lineup: Sonia Destri Lie’s Companhia Urbana de Dança, sure to grab attention with its hybrid postmodern, hip hop and jazz; Focus Cia de Dança, which uses gestural choreography to great dramatic effect; and Mimulus, from which we can expect sensuality and humor. Feb. 26–March 16. joyce.org.
Left: DanceBrazil in Fé do Sertão. Photo by Sharen Bradford, Courtesy the Joyce.
Every year the Thunderbird American Indian Dancers hold a rousing powwow on the Lower East Side. A New York troupe founded in 1963 by a group of Native Americans, the Thunderbird dancers represent a variety of nations descended from Mohawk, Hopi, Winnebago, and San Blas peoples. They are not professional, but they’ve handed their dances down from generation to generation. There’s the Caribou Dance (from the Inuits of Alaska), the Buffalo Dance (from the Hopi of the Southwest), and a Jingle Dress Dance (from the Northern Plains). Come see how softly and rhythmically these dancers tread on the earth. Theater for the New City, Jan. 25 to Feb. 3. See www.theaterforthenewcity.net/programs. —Wendy Perron
Raymond Two Feathers (Cherokee) in an Eagle Dance. Photo by Lee Wexler, Courtesy TNC.
Celebrating American choreographers, Gotham Arts Exchange brings a slew of groups to the Skirball this month. They include the NYC companies of Larry Keigwin, Kate Weare, Pam Tanowitz, Karole Armitage, Aszure Barton, and David Parsons, as well as non-NYC companies Ballet Memphis, Aspen Sante Fe Ballet, Chicago’s Lucky Plush, and L.A.’s BODYTRAFFIC (see “25 to Watch,” page 48). Find out more at nyuskirball.org. And in a related marathon, Gotham presents the second annual Focus Dance, which includes Camille A. Brown, Rosie Hererra, Jodi Melnick, Eiko and Koma, and John Jasperse (see “Quick Q&A,” page 40) at the Joyce, Jan. 8–13. See www.joyce.org. —W. P.
Mora-Amina Parker of Camille A. Brown & Dancers. Photo by Matthew Karas, Courtesy Gotham.
2 from Tokyo and 1 from Taipei
Japanese contemporary dance can range from Pokemon-cute to butoh- drastic. This month’s 15th Annual Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan & East Asia features a variety of dance. The Makotocluv dance company from Tokyo offers a “post-butoh” piece entitled Misshitsu: Secret Honey Room, co-created by founder Makoto Enda and former Dairakudakan dancer Kumotaro Mukai. The choreographer/singer KENTARO!!, also from Tokyo, brings his singing-and-dancing hip-hop group Tokyo Electrock Stairs in Send it, Mr. Monster. And from Taipei, Chieh-hua Hsieh’s Seventh Sense, for his company Anarchy Dance Theatre, promises to be high-tech and interactive—and hopefully anarchic. Jan. 11–12 at Japan Society. www.japansociety.org. —Kathleen Dalton
Seventh Sense by Chieh-hua Hsieh. Photo by Shou-Cheng Lin, Courtesy Japan Society.