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The Fresh Sights of Fall
BodyCartography Project, coming to Walker Art Center in October. Photo by Gene Pittman, Courtesy WAC.
This fall, a vibrant mix of voices will be “heard” onstage through movement, memorials, and mile-markers. From an array of world premieres hitting theaters across the U.S., to tantalizing festivals celebrating major anniversaries, to a wealth of international work, autumn is the perfect season to cozy up in a dance theater—or venture out on a dance-viewing road trip!
One of the most interesting imports promises to be “Voices of Strength,” which brings together fierce women choreographers from across Africa and its diaspora. The program includes a duet by Kettly Noël (from Haiti and Mali) and Nelisiwe Xaba (from South Africa) that shares stories and reunions; a solo by Maria Helena Pinto of Mozambique with a large sculptural set; and works by Bouchra Ouizguen of Morocco and Nadia Beugré (formerly of Compagnie TchéTché) of Côte d’Ivoire. The project tours to the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago (Sept. 13–15), New York Live Arts (Sept. 18–22), Seattle Theatre Group (Sept. 28–29), the Kennedy Center (Oct. 4–5), the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (Oct. 10–13), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the Bay Area (Oct. 19–20).
Hofesh Shechter’s choreographic voice is loud, in-your-face, and refreshing. Political Mother, his first full-length piece, is touring worldwide this year, including U.S. stops at BAM (Oct. 11–13) and a co-presentation by University of Minnesota’s Northrop Dance and the Walker Art Center (Nov. 13). The Israeli choreographer (and former drummer) describes the work as having the atmosphere of a rock concert, and critics have called it an “audiovisual marvel.”
BAM Next Wave 30th-anniversary season kicks off with multi-media maven Jonah Bokaer, whose collaboration with visual artist Anthony McCall, ECLIPSE, premieres Sept. 5–9 as the first work at BAM’s new Richard B. Fisher Building. The festival includes a slew of world, U.S., and New York premieres. Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin’s Untrained pairs two male dancers with two male nondancers and lets the chips fall where they may (Nov. 27–Dec. 1). Nora Chipaumire’s Miriam (Sept. 12–15) draws from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, interviews with Miriam Makeba, Christian prayers, and original text by Chipaumire. And Brazil’s hyperactive Grupo Corpo brings two pieces (Nov. 1–3). The festival offers a chance for artists to come home again too, like Garth Fagan Dance, returning to BAM for the first time in more than 20 years to premiere a new work with music by Wynton Marsalis (Sept. 27–30). Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch returns with Bausch’s final work, “…como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si…” (…like moss on a stone), which is the last of the “World Cities” series, made in Santiago, Chile (Oct. 18–21, 23–24, 26–27). BAM’s DanceMotion USA ambassador program gives space for a collaborative performance between Trey McIntyre Project and an Asian dance company to be selected from the company’s international tour. This work premieres Nov. 14–17 in the Fishman Space.
At right: BAM Next Wave Festival presents Pina Bausch’s last piece in the “World Cities” series, made in Santiago, Chile; shown here, Anna Wehsarg and Rainer Behr. Photo by Bo Lahola, Courtesy BAM.
“Judson Now,” the fall-season platform of the Danspace Project, marks 50 years since the start of Judson Dance Theater, that incubator of postmodern dance. It welcomes rebels-turned-masters Steve Paxton Sept. 8; David Gordon Oct. 25–27; Yvonne Rainer Nov. 1–3; and a work by Deborah Hay performed by Roz Warby and Jeanine Durning Nov. 29–Dec. 1.
New York Live Arts (formerly DTW), taking a page from Judson, is presenting dance artists with a wild streak. RoseAnne Spradlin’s beginning of something returns to NYC in all its naked-women glory Sept. 26–29; the outrageous Keith Hennessy brings “improvised happening and political theater” in his Turbulence Oct. 4–6; the always enigmatic Tere O’Connor give us a world premiere Nov. 27–Dec. 1.
For the third year, New York City Ballet has added a welcome fall season. Stretching from Sept. 18 through Oct. 14 at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center, it focuses on the groundbreaking Stravinsky/Balanchine collaboration. It also includes a premiere by corps member Justin Peck.
At left: NYCB’s Orpheus with Wendy Whelan and Ask la Cour. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.
Beyond NYC, audiences from Houston to Milwaukee and Boston to Seattle get to be the first to see the following world premieres: Michael Pink makes Milwaukee Ballet dancers the “unsung” heroes in his full-length ballet take on the Puccini opera, La Bohème (Oct. 18–21). St. Louis Ballet brings in NYC contemporary choreographer Pam Tanowitz to create a work on the company, which premieres on a mixed bill including premieres by local companies such as aTrek Dance Collective, MADCO, and Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company (Oct. 5–6). Jorma Elo, resident choreographer of Boston Ballet, makes his eighth work for the company Oct. 25 to Nov. 4. And in a program entitled Women@Art, Houston Ballet gives Aszure Barton’s light a chance to shine in the south with a world premiere. Barton’s cohorts for this program include Tharp’s The Brahms–Haydn Variations and Julia Adam’s Ketubah (Sept. 20–30).
The Minneapolis presenter Walker Art Center has commissioned Miguel Gutierrez’s And lose the name of action, an evening-length “séance” (Sept. 19–22); and the BodyCartography Project’s dance/performance/installation Super Nature (Oct. 25–27), an ecological melodrama. After participating in the Judson Now program at Danspace, Deborah Hay will have an encore at the Walker in “Hay Days: A Deborah Hay Celebration” Dec. 5–8.
Over in the Windy City, the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago showcases such artists as Kota Yamazaki/Fluid Hug-Hug in (glowing) Sept. 27–29 and Gallim Dance Oct. 11–13. At Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Marc Chagall’s America Windows stained-glass artwork will come to life in a world premiere by Alejandro Cerrudo Oct. 18–21. Later in the season, Hubbard Street will bring Mats Ek’s Casi-Casa, Aszure Barton’s Untouched, and Cerrudo’s Blank and PACOPEPEPLUTO Dec. 6–9.
At right: Meredith Dincolo of Hubbard Street in Untouched by Aszure Barton. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy HSDC.
Pacific Northwest Ballet turns the big 4-0 this year. To celebrate, their November programming features four world premieres. After opening the season in September with Kent Stowell’s beloved Cinderella Sept. 21–30 (and a special one-night-only performance of Circus Polka, with Patricia Barker as the Ringmaster, Sept. 21), PNB performs new works by company dancers Andrew Bartee, Kiyon Gaines, and Margaret Mullin alongside a premiere by Mark Morris (Nov. 2–11).
ODC Theater in the Bay Area is highlighting collaborations this fall. LEVY Dance has invited NYC choreographer Sidra Bell to spend eight weeks making a piece together, to premiere Nov. 15–18. The following week Garrett +Moulton Productions (Janice Garrett and Charlie Moulton) work with local musicians to come up with an evening of dance theater on “themes of wonder and enchantment.”
Paul Taylor will have his work seen as part of the Sarasota Ballet season. His company performs The Uncommitted as guest artists Oct. 26–28. Then Sarasota Ballet dances his Company B, along with Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved (Nov. 16–17). Miami City Ballet performs Taylor’s Piazzolla Caldera on a mixed bill that also includes Ashton’s Les Patineurs and Balanchine’s Apollo (Oct. 19–21, Oct. 26–28, and Nov. 30–Dec. 2).
For classic story ballets, there’s a spate of Giselles. Pennsylvania Ballet’s version goes up Oct. 18–28, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s is Oct. 26–28, and Ballet Arizona’s is Nov. 1–4. Nashville Ballet awakens The Sleeping Beauty Oct. 19–21. The nation’s capital will have a chance to escape election overload by diving into classics remade, like the Mariinsky Ballet in Ratmansky’s Cinderella at the Kennedy Center Oct. 16–21, and San Francisco Ballet in Helgi Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet Nov. 13–18.
At left: Mariinsky Ballet’s Daria Pavlenko in Cinderella. Photo by N. Razina, Courtesy Mariinsky.
Surely you can find something that speaks to you in this diverse lineup. Celebrate the new season by challenging yourself to see a style of dance you haven’t seen before.
Emily Macel Theys, a former associate editor of Dance Magazine, is the communications and development director for Dance Exchange in Washington, DC.
Mash-ups aren't uncommon in the dance world: Performers of varying styles have been known to share the stage, from ballerina Tiler Peck and famed clown Bill Irwin to Michelle Dorrance, who's mixed tappers and break-dancers. Likewise, collaborations between choreographers and artists from seemingly mismatched disciplines have produced magical creations, such as Alexei Ratmansky's Whipped Cream, featuring Mark Ryden's whimsical and even grotesque designs and costumes.
But the Israeli troupe Ka'et Contemporary Dance Ensemble has found success in one of the most unlikely partnerships: Secular contemporary choreographer Ronen Itzhaki creates movement for a group of rabbis.
While undoubtedly best known for her dancing, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston has also been getting noticed for her style by Allure and Vogue—and with good reason. Her Instagram feed features a mix of on-trend athleisure wear and detailed dresses from runway designers like Valentino and Anna Sui, none of which would be complete without the makeup and hair to match. With a penchant for skin care and an ever-growing lipstick collection, Boylston talked us through some of her beauty must-haves on and off the stage.
Photo by Jayme Thornton
Before she became the 20th century's most revered ballet pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova was a frustrated ballerina. "I was not progressing and that was a terrible thing to realize," she wrote in a rough draft of her memoirs.
She retired from the Imperial Ballet stage in 1916, and for the next 30-plus years, devoted herself to creating a "science of ballet." Her new, dynamic teaching method produced stars like Rudolf Nureyev, Alla Osipenko, and Galina Ulanova and later Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And her approach continues to influence how we think about ballet training to this day.
But is the ballet class due for an update? Demands and aesthetics have changed. So should the way dancers train change too?
For many dancers, a "warmup" consists of sitting on the floor stretching their legs in various positions. But this strategy only reduces your muscles' ability to work properly—it negatively affects your strength, endurance, balance and speed for up to an hour.
Save your flexibility training for the end of the day. Instead, follow a warmup that will actually help prevent injury and improve your body's performance.
According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, a smart warmup has four parts: "a gentle pulse-raising section, a joint mobilization section, a muscle lengthening section and a strength/balance building section."
DanceBreak came roaring back to life on Monday after seven years on hiatus, and six choreographers now have the opportunity to be the next Andy Blankenbuehler. Or Joshua Bergasse, Kelly Devine, Casey Nicholaw, Josh Prince or Josh Rhodes. These stellar Broadway choreographers all got their first big shows after Melinda Atwood's musical-theater launching pad let them show the industry what they could do.
Since 2002, DanceBreak has been a sort of "So You Think You Can Choreograph" for Broadway. Although not everyone goes straight there—Mandy Moore and Mia Michaels are alumni, too—the program is meant to funnel talented choreographers to the Broadway stage by providing a platform for their work. Prince, who introduced Atwood to the cheering crowd, has paid DanceBreak the ultimate compliment, creating his own non-profit incubator for theater choreographers, Broadway Dance Lab. On Monday, he recalled the story of how he was offered the role of choreographer on Broadway's Shrek just days after its director saw the 2007 edition.
When caring for your feet or trying to make them look good, it's tempting to seek shortcuts. Bad ideas—like dangerous stretches that promise perfect lines or ointments that were never meant to go on your toes—catch on all too easily backstage.
We asked podiatrists who've seen their dance clients try it all share the habits they'd like to see gone for good.
My dance coach wants my word that I'll keep competing under his school's name for the next year and not audition. I'm 18 years old and already doing lead roles and winning medals. I love his teaching, but shouldn't I be ready to go out and get a job?
—Gil, Las Vegas, NV
How do we make ballet, a traditionally homogeneous art form, relevant to and reflective of an increasingly diverse and globalized era? While established companies are shifting slowly, Richard Siegal/Ballet of Difference, though less than 2 years old, has something of a head start. The guiding force of the company, which is based in Germany, is bringing differences together in the same room and, ultimately, on the same stage.
Claude Debussy's only completed opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, emphasizes clarity and subtlety over high-flung drama as a deadly love triangle unfolds. Opera Vlaanderen and Royal Ballet of Flanders are commemorating the 100th anniversary of the composer's death with a new production of the landmark opera that is sure to be anything but traditional: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Damien Jalet are choreographing and directing, while boundary-pushing performance artist Marina Abramović collaborates on the design. Antwerp, Feb. 2–13. Ghent, Feb. 23–March 4. operaballet.be/en.
Black History Month offers a time to reflect on the artists who have shaped the dance field as we know it today. But equally important is celebrating the black artists who represent the next generation. These seven up-and-comers are making waves across all kinds of styles and across the country: