6 Shows That Should Be On Your Radar This October

October 10, 2023

Check out the performances our contributors are most looking forward to this month, from historic recreations to brand new works.

Way Back Balanchine

Unity Phelan balances in attitude front on pointe, gaze downcast, one hand resting on her partner's extended arm. Alec Knight stands behind her, helping her balance with an arm around her waist. Upstage around them, dancers in white tutus kneel facing toward the center.
New York City Ballet’s Unity Phelan and Alec Knight in Symphony in C. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy NYCB.

NEW YORK CITY On October 11, 1948, New York City Ballet gave its first performance. As part of the company’s anniversary celebrations, it will re-create that program exactly 75 years later with performances of founder George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, Orpheus, and Symphony in C. Other programs in the company’s fall season (through Oct. 15) focus on Balanchine’s choreography—including the return of Bourrée Fantasque, last seen at NYCB in 1994—with the annual Fall Fashion Gala on Oct. 5 featuring new costumes for Balanchine’s Who Cares?, along with founding choreographer Jerome Robbins’ Glass Pieces. nycballet.com. —Courtney Escoyne

Panning for Gold

A dancer turns her gaze defiantly upward as she leans against a wall. Her shadow looms above her, while bright, speckled projections dance over the wall and the dancer's light colored clothing.
Erin Coyne in Aurum. Photo by Robbie Sweeny, courtesy John Hill PR.

SAN FRANCISCO Kinetech Arts investigates its home city of San Francisco’s tech boom through the lens of the city’s roots in the mid-19th-century gold rush with Aurum. Has humanity learned from the ecological and human tolls of the greed and exploitation of 1849? The multimedia project premieres Oct. 13–15 at ODC Theater. kinetecharts.org. —CE

Follow the White Rabbit

Three dancers in black suits, white shirts, and dark sunglasses lean back in opposite directions from a straight line. It is reminiscent of the bullet-dodging effects in the movie The Matrix.
Free Your Mind. Photo by Jeremy Coysten, courtesy Factory International.

MANCHESTER, UK Red pill or blue pill? Science fiction blockbuster The Matrix erupts into a large-scale immersive performance with Free Your Mind, the opening production of Factory International’s new space, Aviva Studios. After collaborating for the opening ceremony at the 2012 London Olympics, director Danny Boyle teams up once more with choreographer Kenrick “H2O” Sandy and composer Michael “Mikey J” Asante (the co-founders of lauded London-based hip-hop troupe Boy Blue) to re-create iconic moments from the film and show audiences just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Oct. 13–Nov. 5. factoryinternational.org. —CE

Five on Five

A man in a dark blue t-shirt and burgundy sweatpants lunges to the side while a woman in dark blue pants and black top arches back leaning on the side of the man.
Anna Rogovoy and Oluwadamilare “Dare” Ayorinde rehearsing Merce Cunningham’s Suite for Five. Photo courtesy Cunningham-Caldarella/Zephyr Dance.

CHICAGO With its S45 program, Chicago’s experimental Zephyr Dance offers new perspectives on a Merce Cunningham classic. David Sundry’s uniquely designed SITE/less space provides multiple audience vantage points for a restaging of Cunningham’s 1956 Suite for Five, which is joined by the premiere of a five-part Cunningham-inspired work. Zephyr director Michelle Kranicke created one section and gathered veteran choreographers Paige Cunningham-Caldarella, Darrell Jones, Roxane D’Orléans Juste, and Kota Yamazaki for the others. The prompt for each: Lean into their own aesthetic (everything from butoh to voguing), with Suite for Five as a springboard. Oct. 19–22. zephyrdance.com. —Maureen Janson

Hidden in the Spotlight

A female dancer turns against a dark backdrop on pointe, raised foot in retiré back, a diaphanous green skirt flaring around her hips and thighs. Her arms reach behind her as she looks over one shoulder, silver hair flying.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s Jessica McCann. Photo by Rieder Photography, courtesy PBT.

PITTSBURGH Jennifer Archibald’s new ballet for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Sounds of the Sun, centers a complex historical heroine. Florence Waren was born Sadie Rigal in South Africa in 1917 to a Jewish family. A celebrated performer in France and Germany during World War II, she hid her identity from the Nazis as she worked undercover as a resistance agent. “I am committed to creating stories that I think the world needs to see and learn from,” says Archibald. The ballet headlines PBT’s Light in the Dark program, which also includes works by Sasha Janes, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Barak Marshall. Oct. 27–29. pbt.org. —Steve Sucato

Take a Chance, Roll the Dice

Dancer in the foreground is in an attitude front while another dancer elevates their feet in the background.
BalletCollective’s Mary Thomas MacKinnon. Photo by Meyrem Bulucek, courtesy BalletCollective.

NEW YORK CITY For its Imminent Chance program, BalletCollective explores themes of probability. Artistic director and New York City Ballet soloist Troy Schumacher has nabbed electronic composer Phong Tran for his new ballet, driven by a tabletop role-playing game custom-designed for the premiere by Samantha Leigh. Schumacher also rolls the dice on queer Puertorriqueño choreographer Omar Román De Jesús, known for his gritty, wry commentaries on social interaction. He’ll create a work to an original composition for chamber ensemble by Robert Honstein with haunting floral visual art by Kathrin Linkersdorff. Seven NYCB dancers will perform the works at Trinity Commons in lower Manhattan. Oct. 31–Nov. 2. balletcollective.com. —Joseph Carman