5 Performance Happenings to Kick Off the New Year

January 4, 2024

A pair of festivals, a pair of premieres, and a rare North American tour—the performances in this month’s lineup are well worth braving the cold weather to see.

Downtown Breakdown

A dancer climbs to the top of a see-through panel as it teeters forward, supported by a clump of seven dancers on either side of the panel.
Korea National Contemporary Dance Company in BreAking. Photo courtesy Polskin Arts.

NEW YORK CITY  The Perelman Performing Arts Center continues its inaugural season with the Motion/Matter: Street Dance Festival. Kia LaBeija premieres the commissioned P is For Pop and D is For Dip, honoring the legacy of voguing and ballroom culture, on a program with Korea National Contemporary Dance Company in Lee Kyungeun’s BreAking. It’s later joined by Nicolas Huchard’s The Barefoot Diva, after Oulouy and Supa Rich Kids present Afrikan Party for three evenings to open the festivities. In between is an all-styles dance battle, with Rennie­ Harris, Princess Lockerooo, Ken Swift, and Omari Wiles set to adjudicate, and a dance party deejayed by DJ Spinna and Rimarkable. Jan. 5–14. pacnyc.org.

Moving and Grooving

Archie Burnett stands with his hands on his hips and one foot popped, wearing bright yellow pants and a shiny top. Six dancers in black sit in two lines of three on either side of him, looking to him as they form an aisle. The ramp that curves around the Guggenheim Rotunda is dotted with audience members every five or six feet.
Archie Burnett and Ephrat Asherie Dance in UNDERSCORED. Photo by Erick Munari, courtesy Works & Process.

NEW YORK CITY  The return of the Works & Process Underground Uptown Dance Festival is studded with familiar names. After kicking off with Kayla Farrish’s still in process Put Away the Fire, dear (in conjunction with the Guggenheim’s “Going Dark” exhibition), double bills will showcase excerpts and complete works by Pontus Lidberg, Princess Lockerooo, Music From The Sole, and Francesca Harper as well as works in progress from Lloyd Knight, Stefanie Batten Bland, Taylor Stanley and Alec Knight, Preeti Vasudevan and Amar Ramasar, and Ryan McNamara. Ladies of Hip-Hop premieres SpeakMyMind ahead of a “Behind the Groove Rotunda Party” led by Kwikstep and Rokafella on Jan. 13. Plus, Works & Process takes over Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall the evening of Jan. 12 with social dancing, works by Ephrat Asherie, It’s Showtime NYC!, Les Ballet Afrik, and more, culminating in the late night Underground Uptown Ball. Jan. 10–16. worksandprocess.org.

Spanish Flair

The view of a pas de deux from the wings. A woman in pointe shoes raises one leg in side attitude, arms in a V by her head. A male dancer lunges toward her while leaning back, hands cradling her extended foot to his chest. Both wear turquoise, the man in a fitted unitard, the woman in a skirt that flows to just above her knees.
Joaquin De Luz’s Passengers Within. Photo by Albirú Muriel, courtesy Compañía Nacional de Danza.

ON TOUR  The Madrid-based Compañía Nacional de Danza, led by former New York City Ballet star Joaquín De Luz, starts a rare North American tour this month. After kicking off in Detroit with La Sylphide (Jan. 11–13), the company heads to New Orleans (Jan. 20), Seattle (Jan. 25–27), Chicago (Feb. 10), and Los Angeles (Feb. 15) with a triple bill of Nacho Duato’s White Darkness, Sol León and Paul Lightfoot’s Sad Case, and De Luz’s Passengers Within, and brings Johan Inger’s acclaimed reimagining of Carmen to Toronto (Feb. 1–3). cndanza.mcu.es.

Wish Upon a Star

Dancers in grey rehearsal gear and white masks that cover the top halves of their faces move together. They focus intently forward, twisting as they raise both hands to the right of their faces.
Rehearsal for Sofia Nappi’s Pupo. Photo by Jeanette Bak, courtesy Freie PR.

COLOGNE, GERMANY  In her new work, Pupo, choreographer Sofia Nappi takes a hard look at the story of Pinocchio, drawing on commedia dell’arte as she questions what the wooden doll really gives up by conforming to society’s norms in order to become a real boy. Jan. 13–14. tanz.koeln.

Objects of Power

Three dancers are photographed on a staircase lined with white stone and pillars. They are dressed in contemporized versions of old-fashioned Filipino costumes. One leans against a wall under a parasol, while another is captured midair, arms spread wide. The third is seat, hands splayed as though casting a spell.
Johan Casal, Frances Teves Sedayao, and Dre “Poko” Devis in AntingAnting Project. Photo by Wilfred Galila, courtesy KULARTS.

SAN FRANCISCO  KULARTS will give the culminating performance of Alleluia Panis’ AntingAnting Project at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco this month. Named for anting-anting, a talismanic occult practice that predates the Spanish colonization of the Philippines, the two-year project seeks to form a contemporary, community-centered framework—in part through this multidisciplinary ritual performance—for the objects that have lost the context of their traditional cultural practices by being held within a museum. Jan. 27–28. kularts-sf.org.