7 Shows Worth Penciling in This February

January 31, 2023

New takes on familiar tales and multigenerational reflections on common struggles seize center stage this month. Here’s what has us intrigued.

A Profoundly Ukrainian Giselle

Christine Shevchenko balances en pointe with a leg extended high in front, arching back so her head tips toward her partner and the audience with a delighted smile. Oleksii Tiutiunnyk kneels beside and behind her, supporting her at the waist as he smiles adoringly up at her. A backdrop of trees and boulders suggest the outskirts of a village.
Guest artist Christine Shevchenko and United Ukrainian Ballet’s Oleksii Tiutiunnyk in Alexei Ratmansky’s Giselle. Photo by Mark Senior, courtesy Kennedy Center.

WASHINGTON, DC  The Giselle arriving at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts this month promises to be a particularly emotional one. It will mark the U.S. debut of the nascent United Ukrainian Ballet, the Netherlands-based company of refugee ballet dancers who fled the invasion of Ukraine last year. Alexei Ratmansky (himself a citizen of Ukraine) specially crafted the production for the company. American Ballet Theatre principal Christine Shevchenko, also Ukrainian, is slated to guest during the engagement. Feb. 1–5. kennedy-center.org. —Courtney Escoyne

Seeding Revival

Johnnie Cruise Mercer majestically gazes over his left shoulder. His right arm creates 90 degree angles as it raises in front of him as though delicately placing something on a shelf, while his left elbow draws back, wrist draping alongside his hip. He is outside, forest and greenery rising up a hill in the background. A quartet of spectators, blurry, look on.
Johnnie Cruise Mercer. Photo by Tony Turner, courtesy 92NY.

NEW YORK CITY  For the third edition of Revival, Johnnie Cruise Mercer offers to those who have seed in the ground. Inspired by William McDowell’s album Sounds of Revival, the Feb. 2 event brings together two generations of artists to move through “meta-physical practices rooted in Black spiritual tradition” in pursuit of a collective inner will. A recording of the performance will be available digitally for 72 hours, starting Feb. 3. 92ny.org. —CE

Brought to a Boil

Four women stand behind a kitchen counter where a worn blue kettle rests. Their hands are covered by yellow rubber gloves and are blurred as they move through the shape of a box. The women wear patterned blouses; they gaze at the camera, mouths open mid-speech or song.
MoToR/dance’s Water in the Kettle. Photo by Dean Bosche/Outdoor Film, courtesy MoToR/dance.

ALAMEDA, CA  Percussive dance company MoToR/dance is set to debut its first evening-length work this month. For Water in the Kettle, artistic director Evie Ladin brings together an all-female, multigenerational ensemble to illuminate the recurrent struggles faced by women in the U.S. across generations, turning Rhythmix Cultural Works into a sort of contemporary village square filled with communal story and song. Feb. 3–4. rhythmix.org. —CE

Spirits of Nashville’s Past

In a rehearsal studio, Paul Vasterling brushes a foot forward, gaze down as he explains a note to the pair of dancers watching behind him. All wear face masks.
Paul Vasterling rehearsing Anthology. Photo by Heather Thorne, courtesy Nashville Ballet.

NASHVILLE  Nashville Ballet’s Attitude: Anthology employs a graveyard setting to introduce audiences to lesser-known stories of important individuals in the city’s history. “The stories that make it into the history books aren’t the only stories of why we live the lives we do,” says artistic director Paul Vasterling, who conceived the new production in the mold of the company’s nationally acclaimed Lucy Negro Redux. Choreographed by Vasterling with contributions from Sidra Bell, Windship Boyd, Mollie Sansone and Shabaz Ujima, the multimedia work is set to original music composed and performed live by local alternative/indie singer morgxn. Feb. 10–12. nashvilleballet.com. —Steve Sucato

Hamburg Ballet in the Windy City

A male dancer stands in profile to the viewer, arching back so his head is parallel with the floor. A ballerina wraps around his back. She is upside down, her legs stretching into a split that is parallel to the floor. Her arms wrap around her partner's torso, while he braces one arm behind her back, the other beneath her back leg. A small lit candelabra sits upstage.
Hamburg Ballet in John Neumeier’s The Glass Menagerie. Photo by Kiran West, courtesy Harris Theater.

CHICAGO  Before he was artistic director of Hamburg Ballet, John Neumeier grew up in Milwaukee and spent his early dance career in Chicago. It seems only fitting, then, that the company should tour to the Windy City in the midst of its 50th (and penultimate) season under his direction. On tap is Neumeier’s The Glass Menagerie, with international ballet star Alina Cojocaru, for whom the principal role was made, joining the company for the Harris Theater engagement. Feb. 23–25. harristheaterchicago.org. —CE

Glass Slippers

Two new productions of Cinderella debut.

Oklahoma City Ballet

A composite image shows DaYoung Jung as Cinderella before and after her transformation for the ball. She sweeps the floor, looking wistfully off into the distance in one shot, while in the other she balances en pointe in a golden gown and tiara, hands covering her heart, smiling in delight.
Oklahoma City Ballet’s DaYoung Jung as Cinderella. Photo by Shevaun Williams, courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet.

OKLAHOMA CITY  Ryan Jolicoeur-Nye choreographs the evening-length fairy tale, his second since being appointed­ artistic director of Okla­homa City Ballet in October. Feb. 10–12. okcballet.org. —CE

Tulsa Ballet

In a rehearsal studio, a ballerina moves through fourth arabesque fondu, her downstage arm extended long, hand placed in her partner's, who lunges to meet and support her.
Tulsa Ballet’s Jun Masuda and Nao Ota rehearsing Cinderella. Photo by Jessica Hanun, courtesy Tulsa Ballet.

TULSA  Following two shorter works for Tulsa Ballet—2021’s What If? and last spring’s Celestial Bodies—British choreographer Andrew McNicol returns to tackle his first full-length. Feb. 9–12. tulsaballet.org. —CE