7 Outdoor Shows to Close Out the Summer

August 31, 2021

As we head into August, here are seven outdoor festivals, series and shows bringing summer to a close with a bang.

Calvin Royal III poses bare chested and barefoot on a river bank. He balances in sous-sus, arms regally pressing the sky away above his head. He gazes cooly at the camera.

American Ballet Theatre’s Calvin Royal III
Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail Dance Festival

VIPs in the Valley

Vail Dance Festival returns, headlined by a comfortingly familiar cast of characters. As the festival’s artist in residence, American Ballet Theatre principal Calvin Royal III will dance in new works created for him by Tiler Peck and Jamar Roberts. Other premieres on the docket include choreography by Michelle Dorrance, Lil Buck with Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck (for Tiler Peck and Herman Cornejo), Cleo Parker Robinson (danced by her eponymous company, which recently concluded its 50th season) and James Whiteside. BalletX performs as company in residence, while New York City Ballet MOVES makes its first Vail appearance since the touring company’s debut there in 2011, opening the festival with Jerome Robbins’ Dances at a Gathering. July 30–Aug. 9. vaildance.org.

Two dancers wearing bright blue lipstick and beige clothing that matches the backdrop pose together, contracting towards their centers. One's elbow awkwardly hooks the other's, their hips knocking together as they gaze mistrustfully around.

Scott Simock, Courtesy Long Beach Opera

Outdoor Opera

Danielle Agami directs and choreographs Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire, a dreamy operatic melodrama written to be sung by a single female soloist. Singer Kiera Duffy will be joined by the dancers of Agami’s Ate9 for the work on a double bill presented by Long Beach Opera at The Ford. Aug. 14–15. theford.com.

A dancer in a diaphanous skirt hinges toward the ground, legs in a wide fourth and back parallel to the floor. The backdrop and dancer are washed in a vivid red.

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Jessica Tong
Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy JAC Communications

Chicago Comes Together

Dance for Life, Chicago Dancers United’s annual fundraiser for The Dancers’ Fund, plans to make its return to live, in-person performance at Millennium Park with, for the first time in its history, free admission. The 30th-anniversary performance will feature DanceWorks Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Movement Revolution Dance Crew, PARA.MAR Dance Theatre, South Chicago Dance Theatre, Trinity Irish Dance Company and Visceral Dance Chicago, plus a film by Winifred Haun and a special finale choreographed by Randy Duncan. Aug. 26. chicagodancersunited.org.

Empire State of Mind

New York City closes out the summer with a spate of outdoor performances.

Kayla Farrish gazes above the camera, her arms pressing together in front of her as though offering her nearly closed palms to the camera. Brick walls encroach around her.

Kayla Farrish
Macarena De Noia, Courtesy Janet Stapleton

Open Air

Open Air, a summer performance series from four/four presents pairing choreographers and composers, continues at the Bushwick Playground Basketball Courts in Brooklyn. Dancer-choreographer Kayla Farrish and experimental-jazz musician Melanie Charles will debut a site-specific collaborative work after a 30-minute set from Charles and a 15-minute excerpt of Farrish’s choreography. The performance is free to attend (though ticket reservation is required) and will be livestreamed on Instagram. Aug. 8. fourfourpresents.com.

Update: This performance has been postponed to Sept. 12.

Eight female dancers wearing face masks, silky bra tops and voluminous shorts, and black stockings pose before a white stone building. They gaze at their upraised hands, sitting into their hips.

Courtesy GreenHouse Publicity

Picnic Performances

Picnic Performances is back in midtown Manhattan’s Bryant Park. The dance programming includes double bills pairing Limón Dance Company with Leonardo Sandoval and Gregory Richardson’s Music from the Sole; Paul Taylor Dance Company with EMERGE125 (formerly Elisa Monte Dance); and Ballet Hispánico with Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet. Events are free to attend, though advance registration may be required; livestreams of most performances will also be available online. Aug. 16, 20, 27. bryantpark.org.

Against a pale blue sky, a dancer in a flowy dress, pink tights, and pointe shoes is lifted overhead by a male dancer. Her extended front leg passes in front of a red wall. She is arched back, arms overhead.

American Ballet Theatre’s Hee Seo and Cory Stearns
Patrick Fraser, Courtesy Michelle Tabnick Public Relations

BAAND Together Dance Festival

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Hispánico, Dance Theatre of Harlem and New York City Ballet will team up for the first time for the BAAND Together Dance Festival. Held on Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts’ transformed outdoor campus as part of the Restart Stages initiative, a different mixed bill, collaboratively curated by the companies’ directors, will be presented nightly Aug. 17–21. Performances are free, but tickets raffled through the TodayTix Lottery will be required for entry. lincolncenter.org.

Seven dancers in translucent bronze costumes and black undergarments pose in a line on a beach. Their backs are to the camera as they stand in second position, right arms grasping the waist of the dancer in front of them.

Madeline Hollander’s
at Beach Sessions in 2018
Elena Mudd, Courtesy Beach Sessions Dance Series

Beach Sessions

After pivoting to TikTok last summer, the annual Beach Sessions Dance Series plans to return to Queens’ Rockaway Beach with Moriah Evans’ REPOSE. Twenty dancers will travel along 1.4 miles of beach in the course of a six-hour performance, drawing attention to the behaviors typical of beachgoing while being influenced by chance encounters. Aug. 29. beachsessionsdanceseries.com.