7 Performances Sure to Be a Treat This December

November 29, 2022

New works, well-known music and—of course—The Nutcracker: There are plenty of performances to choose from as the winter holidays approach. Here are seven that caught our eye this month.

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

A half dozen dancers are in view, most from the bottom halves of their faces to their knees. They wear or hold colorful, disparate layers of clothing; some are half undressed. One holds his hand partially in front of his mouth, as though about to impart a secret.
Emanuel Gat Dance in LOVETRAIN2020. Photo by Julia Gat, courtesy BAM.

NEW YORK CITY  For the final production of this year’s Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music presents the U.S. premiere of Emanuel Gat’s LOVETRAIN2020. Created during the pandemic, the work sets a cast of 14 dancing to—and sometimes singing along with—songs by Tears for Fears in an eccentric, intensely physical celebration of togetherness. Dec. 1–3. bam.org. —Courtney Escoyne

Mixing Up Medea

Ben Duke, a lean, white man with salt-and-pepper hair, is shown in profile, smiling widely as he leans toward a dancer in the center of a loose circle. Her arms are raised so her elbows are level with her temples, fingers splayed towards the floor as her head tips up. Everyone whose face is in view is smiling.
Ben Duke (right) during a 2019 Lost Dog residency. Photo courtesy Lost Dog.

LONDON  Lost Dog artistic director Ben Duke is no stranger to classic literature. He’s adapted Milton’s Paradise Lost, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities into shows blending theater, dance and comedy. His recent Cerberus, for Rambert, a meta and comical yet sentimental meditation on death, marked a shift for Duke from his usual stomping ground of the English literary canon to more ancient matters. For his latest work, Ruination, he reimagines the myth of Greek sorceress Medea, challenging the narrative that she killed her children to wreak revenge on her husband. Premiering at The Royal Opera House’s Linbury Theatre this month, it’s being billed as a humorous, festive alternative for those who have seen The Nutcracker one too many times—a transformative take on the notoriously bloody and murderous myth. Dec. 1–31. roh.org.uk. —Emily May

Hands, Touching Hands

Will Swenson stands onstage in front of a microphone in a wide stance as he strums a white guitar with red accents. His costume is red and shiny. In the background, a pyramid of male and female dancers in shiny gold costumes gesture in mirrored unison.
Will Swenson in A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy DKC/O&M.

NEW YORK CITY  When Neil Diamond started singing, no one knew that the Brooklyn songwriter would ride hits like “Cherry, Cherry” to 50 years of gold and platinum recordings, sold-out arenas and the phenomenon that is “Sweet Caroline.” But 130 million album sales later, a Broadway show was inevitable. A Beautiful Noise: The Neil Diamond Musical stars Will Swenson, who performs the music while an older Diamond recounts his life to a therapist. Reports from the Boston tryout suggest that Steven Hoggett has provided his usual deft choreography, and those who saw American Idiot also saw that he and director Michael Mayer know how to elevate jukebox musicals. The Broadway opening is set for Dec. 4 at the Broadhurst Theatre. abeautifulnoisethemusical.com. —Sylviane Gold

Stream of Consciousness

A cluster of seven dancers is shown from above as they cluster and sprawl, interconnected, on a dark marley floor.
Tere O’Connor’s Rivulets. Photo by Maria Baranova, courtesy Baryshnikov Arts Center.

NEW YORK CITY  Tere O’Connor Dance gives its first New York City performances since 2018 this month. On tap is the premiere of Rivulets, in which the philosophically minded, cerebral choreographer, in collaboration with a cast of eight dancers, examines the unruly nature of consciousness, set to a musical score created by O’Connor. Co-commissioned by Baryshnikov Arts Center and Danspace Project, the work appears­ at BAC Dec. 7–10 and 14–17. bacnyc.org—CE

Back to the Future

A black and white image of two dancers in an indistinct white space. One balances on relevé in parallel, one hand pressed to his sternum as he hinges forward. The other is caught midair, a flexed foot flying toward the camera, bottom foot only loosely pointed.
Stephen Petronio Company in Steve Paxton’s Jag vill gärna telefonera (I Would Like to Make a Phone Call). Photo by Sarah Silver, courtesy Danspace Project.

NEW YORK CITY  Stephen Petronio Company brings its Bloodlines/Bloodlines(future) initiative to Danspace Project. Petronio’s RE New New Prayer For Now and a reconstruction of Steve Paxton’s 1982 Jag vill gärna telefonera (I Would Like to Make a Phone Call) join a trio of new works: The Adventures of Mr. Left Brain and Ms. Right, from Tendayi Kuumba and Greg Purnell (aka UFly Mothership), Davalois Fearon’s Finding Herstory and Johnnie Cruise Mercer’s Process memoir 7 (Vol 8): ‘back to love.’ Dec. 8–10. danspaceproject.org. —CE

Bharatanatyam and Belonging

Nadhi Thekkek gazes serenely at the camera. She is a brown skinned woman with her dark hair in loose waves and a dark bindi at the center of her forehead. One of her hands is closed in a fist, palm toward her chest; the other seems to gesture, palm up, toward it, her fourth finger and pink curling lightly upward.
Nava Dance Theatre artistic director Nadhi Thekkek. Photo by Lara Kaur, courtesy John Hill PR.

SAN FRANCISCO  What does it mean to belong in America? Bharatanatyam company Nava Dance Theatre digs into this question through the lens of the labor of South Asian women immigrants in artistic director Nadhi Thekkek’s Rogue Gestures/Foreign Bodies, which premieres at ODC Theater Dec. 9–11. odc.dance. —CE

An Afternoon Nutcracker

A dancer in a white dress with a knee-length tulle skirt balances in a high arabesque en pointe, a male partner wearing a red tunic helping her balance with one hand holding hers. A Christmas tree and a painted set of snow-dusted evergreens are in the background.
State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine in The Nutcracker. Photo courtesy State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine.

NEWARK, NJ  State Ballet Theatre of Ukraine interrupts touring of its Sleeping Beauty to bring The Nutcracker—a production that debuted in Dnipro, Ukraine, in 2020—to New Jersey Performing Arts Center. Dec. 18. njpac.org. —CE