7 Must-See Performance Picks Hitting Stages This Month

April 5, 2023

A long-awaited world premiere, a festival filled with experiments, two New York City mainstays and a trio of new works tackling environmental issues head-on—there are a lot of performances to be excited about this month, and our top picks are just the tip of the iceberg.

A Change in the Weather

A tangle of limbs, bodies, and clothes. One dancer leans her head back, eyes closed, someone else's bare foot coming to rest on her hip.. Another's head is tucked beneath another arm, reaching across to a bent elbow.
Faye Driscoll’s Weathering in rehearsal. Photo by Maria Baranova, courtesy New York Live Arts.

NEW YORK CITY  In Faye Driscoll’s latest, a cast of 10—dancers, singers, crew—create an ever-morphing sculpture from bodies, sounds and scents, slowly shifting as a raft-like stage, too small to contain them and embanked by the audience, moves beneath them. Weathering, named for the process by which weather conditions cause the physical disintegration of features on the earth’s surface over time, draws attention to the subtleties of touch while investigating the ways events larger than ourselves impact and move through us. Commissioned through New York Live Arts’ Randjelović/Stryker Resident Commissioned Artist program, the work’s debut runs April 6–8 and 13–15. newyorklivearts.org. —Courtney Escoyne

Movers and Shakers

A massive spray of grey powder flies into the air as a male dancer throws a bag to the ground, kneeling over it. Other dancers on the periphery watch or flinch away from the motion.
Bobbi Jene Smith’s Broken Theater. Photo by Josh S. Rose, courtesy Janet Stapleton.

NEW YORK CITY  This year’s delightfully busy edition of La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival offers disparate visions of what contemporary dance can be. Norwegian choreographer Kari Hoaas premieres Shadowland, a response to the instability of the world after the start of the pandemic. Nela H. Kornetová’s Forced Beauty, which explores power structures and violent aesthetics, gets its U.S. premiere, while Bobbi Jene Smith’s Broken Theater, developed at La MaMa and featuring a cast of a dozen contemporary dance who’s whos probing the lines between who they are as performers and as people, makes its New York debut. Also on the docket: a shared evening of three Arab American choreographers (Nora Alami, Jadd Tank and Leyya Mona Tawil), Dance Magazine editor at large Wendy Perron’s recent collaboration with Morgan Griffin (Wendy Perron: The Daily Mirror; 1976/2022), and works by Kayla Farrish and Baye & Asa. April 6–30. lamama.org. —CE

Caves, Comedians and Commissions

A male dancer climbs a whimsical, curving tower of thick green and gold stripes, four orange-red rods extending straight to the side. He rests the heel of a cupped hand on one of these rods as he gazes down at a dancer in yellow seated at the base of the tower. She holds a red fan as she reclines on one elbow, the other elbow jabbing upward.
Lorenzo Pagano and Leslie Andrea Williams in Martha Graham’s Embattled Garden. Photo by Melissa Sherwood, courtesy Martha Graham Dance Company.

NEW YORK CITY  Martha Graham Dance Company returns to The Joyce Theater with a slate of programming mixing the old with the new. Premieres by hard-hitting dance theater duo Baye & Asa and Gaga-influenced dancemaker Annie Rigney rub elbows with Graham classics—Cave of the Heart, Embattled Garden, Dark Meadow Suite, Every Soul Is a Circus—and more recent endeavors, like last year’s eight-choreographer reimagining of Canticle for Innocent Comedians (led by Sonya Tayeh) and Hofesh Shechter’s­ nightlife-inspired CAVE. April 18–30. joyce.org. —CE

Harlem Heads to Midtown

A female dancer is lifted from below her shoulders, head arcing back toward the ceiling and both legs raised in attitude back. A half-dozen other dancers are visible upstage, keeping up a beat as they clap and dance with each other. All wear white dresses or shirts and trousers that evoke the mid-twentieth century. The women's pointe shoes are dyed to match their skin tones.
Dance Theatre of Harlem in Tiffany Rea-Fisher’s Sounds of Hazel. Photo by Jeff Cravotta, courtesy Richard Kornberg and Associates.

NEW YORK CITY  Dance Theatre of Harlem brings a pair of major new works home for their New York debuts: Tiffany Rea-Fisher’s Sounds of Hazel, a celebration of jazz icon Hazel Scott that premiered in Washington, DC, in October, and William Forsythe’s latest entry in his Barre Project, Blake Works IV, which debuted in January at Penn Live Arts. Joining those ballets for the New York City Center engagement are a revival of Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Christopher Wheeldon’s This Bitter Earth, while a second program offers existing repertory by Helen Pickett, Stanton Welch, Nacho Duato and artistic director designate Robert Garland. April 19–23. nycitycenter.org. —CE

Think Green

Choreographers turn their attention to urgent environmental concerns.

The Future Is Now

A dancer hoists herself onto the back of her partner as he curves forward with bent knees. Both wear business casual attire; a couple of jackets are visible on a coat rack that is in the shadows upstage.
Daniel Charon’s Now or Never. Photo by Stuart Ruckman, courtesy Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company.

SALT LAKE CITY  Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company artistic director Daniel Charon collaborates with theater director Alexandra Harbold for a new evening-length work. To See Beyond Our Time takes climate change and humanity’s necessary reckoning with the clear and present danger it presents as its subject, inspired by the impact of diminishing water levels in the Great Salt Lake on the area’s ecosystem. April 13–15. ririewoodbury.com. —CE

Nor Any Drop to Drink

A man in a bright yellow raincoat and matching hat despondently holds nets filled with empty plastic water bottles.
Nathan Keepers in The fisherman, the butterfly, eve & her lover – a parable. Photo by Frank Walsh, courtesy Corningworks.

PITTSBURGH  Corningworks artistic director Beth Corning concocts masterful dance-theater explorations that draw from the conundrums of human existence. She provokes us with questions, but says, “I don’t have the answers.” The fisherman, the butterfly, eve & her lover – a parable, created for her award-winning­ Glue Factory Projects series, which features artists over age 45, boasts a cast of four savvy performers alongside water, turf and 7.5 tons of sand. With her latest evening-length opus, Corning dives into the global climate crisis and takes the 50-member audience with her to ponder “How much do our little personal efforts really matter?” April 15–23. corningworks.org. —Karen Dacko

Naming the Lost

Five dancers in beige tank tops and black trousers manipulate the skeleton of a quadripedal animal. The backdrop calls to mind meteors streaking through the sky, while an orange and red glow from the bottom of the scrim evokes an erupting volcano.
Crystal Pite and Simon McBurney’s Figures in Extinction [1.0]. Photo by Rahi Rezvani, courtesy Sadler’s Wells.

LONDON  Nederlands Dans Theater tours to Sadler’s Wells, bringing the UK premiere of Crystal Pite’s latest creation for the company, Figures in Extinction [1.0]. The work, which touches on melting polar ice caps and extinct animal species as it questions whether humanity can truly name all that is being lost in this age of extinction, debuted last year and is the first of a planned trio of premieres created in collaboration with theater director Simon McBurney. Rounding out the triple bill are Jiří Kylián’s “unfinished” 100th work, Gods and Dogs, and Gabriela Carrizo’s disconcertingly dreamlike La Ruta. April 19–22. sadlerswells.com. —CE