What Wendy's Watching
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Shelter addresses homelessness. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Ailey

Just in time for its summer season at Lincoln Center, the dancers and management of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater have settled their issues surrounding the performers' union contracts. Now that they've reached a new collective bargaining agreement, the dancers can sail into this weeklong season of nine ballets. (Well, maybe not sail, since this is some of the hardest repertory on earth.)


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Rennie Harris Puremovement's Joshua Culbreath. Photo by J. Harris, Courtesy New Victory Theater

The grand master of transforming street dance for the stage (and 2017 Dance Magazine Award recipient), Rennie Harris returns to the New Victory Theater with the multimedia Funkedified. This world premiere, with dancers of Rennie Harris Puremovement as well as guest artists from The Hood Lockers, looks back on African-American culture of the 1970s. A video montage evokes that tumultuous era, and a live band celebrates the unique funk sound. June 1–10. newvictory.org.

What Wendy's Watching
PC Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.


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Wayne McGregor in rehearsal at The Royal Ballet, where he is resident choreographer. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy Royal Opera House

Many choreographers have been defeated by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. However, one dancemaker whose stridency, rhythmic daring and sheer inventiveness could possibly match Stravinsky's is Wayne McGregor. For his first commission from American Ballet Theatre, McGregor has taken on this earth-cracking music in AFTERITE, to premiere at ABT's Spring Gala. Also on the May 21 gala program are excerpts from Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of the comic ballet Harlequinade, the full version of which will premiere next month, and a pièce d'occasion by tapper Michelle Dorrance. May 21–26. abt.org.

What Wendy's Watching
Photo by Brook Trisolini

You can count on Mark Dendy to create a wild and crazy piece that eventually cuts to the heart of the matter. In this case, his New York premiere, Elvis Everywhere, is about our obsession with celebrities.

The piece was inspired by a monologue Dendy happened to see from when Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, met Elvis Presley. He captures the absurdity of the moment and then some. Commissioned by American Dance Festival with further development at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and UC Santa Barbara, Elvis Everywhere is a collaboration with Dendy's longtime performer, designer and filmmaker, Stephen Donovan.

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Meg Stuart's Until Our Hearts Stop. Photo by Iris Janke, Courtesy Helene Davis Public Relations

American choreographer Meg Stuart, who is based in Brussels and Berlin, brings her wildly unpredictable choreography to the Skirball Center. For this production, Until Our Hearts Stop (2015), the international cast of six dancers and three musicians aims to recapture a sense of free play. But Stuart's version of "play" contains as much struggle and strangeness as delight. The dancers in her company, Damaged Goods, get tangled in a physical intimacy that can be either sensitive or bizarre. May 4–5. nyuskirball.org.

What Wendy's Watching
Photo by Scott Shaw

Gina Gibney runs two enormous dance spaces in New York City: Together they contain 23 studios, five performance spaces, a gallery, a conference room, a media lab and more. Gibney is now probably the largest dance center in the country. It's not surprising that Dance Magazine named Gina Gibney one of the most influential people in dance today.

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Lar Lubovitch's Men's Stories: A Concerto in Ruin. Photo by Phyllis A. McCabe, Courtesy Lar Lubovitch Dance Company

Lar Lubovitch has made more than 110 dances for his troupe, the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company. For the celebration of its 50th anniversary, the choreographer has programmed his bracing Men's Stories: A Concerto in Ruin (2000) as well as a premiere titled Something About Night, set to choral music by Schubert. The inclusion on the program of The Joffrey Ballet in a quartet from his Othello (1997) and the Martha Graham Dance Company in Legend of Ten (2010) testifies to Lubovitch's command of both ballet and modern dance idioms. Young choreographers would do well to study his craft and passion. April 17–22. joyce.org.

What Wendy's Watching
Five dancers and a hologram in Co-Natural. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

These days, more and more museums are inviting dancers to liven up the art that's on the walls and pedestals. The New Museum, on the border of SoHo and the Lower East Side, has designated a special room for live events called the South Galleries. Every day for two months, ending April 15, this gallery is home to Co-natural, a mesmerizing performance exhibition by Romanian choreographer Alexandra Pirici (pronounced Pireech). She is acclaimed in Europe and makes her U. S. debut with this exhibit. Included is a life-size hologram that really looks like another person. If you spend some time wandering around in the gallery, you start to see congruencies between the gestures of the live performers and the not-quite-live hologram. And you start to wonder about the stamina of the dancers, who are there, as moving sculpture, all day long (with a few breaks).


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Jane Comfort's S/He. Photo by Arthur Elgort, Courtesy Comfort

What do choreographers Mark Dendy, David Neumann and Edisa Weeks have in common? They all cut their dancing-and-talking teeth with Jane Comfort and Company. This month, they, along with 20 other former Comfort dancers, return for the company's 40th Anniversary Retrospective. In excerpts from 12 works that draw on Comfort's political and gender satire and her signature rhythmic complexity, the tone ranges from haunting to ribald. High points in this Lumberyard production will surely include Four Screaming Women (1982), Underground River (1998), Faith Healing (1993) and S/He (1995). April 5–8. lamama.org.

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Kotze and her collaborators in rehearsal. Photo by Carolyn Silverman, Courtesy NYLA

Joanna Kotze can twist and lurch in surprising ways. Her rigorous, vigorous, juicy and slightly zany choreography has been gaining attention in recent years. For What will we be like when we get there, she collaborates with dancer Netta Yerushalmy, visual artist Jonathan Allen and composer Ryan Seaton to explore intimacy and all its accompanying fantasies and flaws. New York Live Arts, March 28–31. newyorklivearts.org.

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