Season Preview: Your Guide to the Hottest Dance Tickets of 2018–19
We might have gotten a little bit carried away with this year's "Season Preview"—but with the 2018–19 season packing so many buzzy shows, how could we not? Here are over two dozen tours, premieres and revivals that have us drooling.
A Night of Natalia Osipova—With David Hallberg
David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova have a rare, extraordinary partnership. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT
Like chemical elements combusting, something extraordinary happens when David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova are combined. Dancing together, they push each other to new heights—they seem to get lost in one another, forgetting the audience in the best possible way. This fall will see the first duet created on the pair, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. With his reputation for mining the hidden idiosyncrasies of his muses, he is likely to shed new light on this rare partnership.
Co-commissioned by Sadler's Wells and New York City Center, the duet is part of a program called Natalia Osipova—Pure Dance. The evening also includes Antony Tudor's The Leaves Are Fading, plus dancers Jonathan Goddard and Jason Kittelberger in works like Roy Assaf's Six Years Later and a premiere by Iván Pérez. In London Sept. 12–16 and New York April 4–7. sadlerswells.com and nycitycenter.org. —Jennifer Stahl
Mad Max Meets Ballet
The rock ballet FURY takes as its subject a post-apocalyptic action movie. Photo by Alex Reneff-Olson, Courtesy Duhamel
Action movies and ballet may not seem like a natural fit, but that's not stopping producer and filmmaker Kate Duhamel from creating FURY, a rock ballet inspired by the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road. FURY is an immersive experience, performed in music clubs, with audience members surrounding the stage. To bring this post-apocalyptic tale to life, Duhamel enlisted choreographer Danielle Rowe and eclectic musical group YASSOU. The musicians and some of the Bay Area's most exciting dancers—Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Adji Cissoko and Babatunji, and San Francisco Ballet's Dores André, Ulrik Birkkjaer, Frances Chung, Luke Ingham and Jennifer Stahl—portray characters fighting to survive. Projections of landscapes, explosions and more, designed by Luke Acret and animated by Brandon McFarland, ground audiences in FURY's dangerous, desolate world. In San Francisco Sept. 14 at The Chapel and Sept. 15 at The Midway. furyshow.com. —Chava Lansky
A Ted Shawn Rarity
Weinert's ensemble performs Ted Shawn's Dance of the Ages. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow
One of Ted Shawn's final works for The Men Dancers, Dance of the Ages (1938) hasn't been seen since the company disbanded in 1940—until now. This fall, Adam H. Weinert and Jacob's Pillow will take audiences back in time with a unique reconstruction in the original Bakalar Studio, incorporating historic production elements, including an authentic tea reception in the garden. But however accurate Weinert's recreation may be, his work is spun with a modern-day thread—the inclusion of black dancers onstage. Sept. 21–23. The piece will also be adapted for a Third Thursday festival in Pittsfield, MA, on Sept. 20. jacobspillow.org. —Jen Peters
Ballet Companies Branch Out
American Ballet Theatre's Erica Lall in Michelle Dorrance's Praedicere. Photo by Marty Sohl, Courtesy ABT
When Michelle Dorrance's pièce d'occasion hit American Ballet Theatre's gala this spring, a bolt of fresh air blew through the Metropolitan Opera House. With rhythm as the main event, the dancers looked like real people of the current millennium rather than rarities from the last one. The company will perform another world premiere by Dorrance Oct. 17.
ABT is not the only classical company reaching outside the ballet circle for new choreography this season. We're hotly anticipating premieres by MacArthur "genius" Kyle Abraham (Sept. 27) and commercial-dance darling Emma Portner (Jan. 31) for New York City Ballet; Gaga-inspired Andrea Miller at Pennsylvania Ballet (Nov. 8); and Broadway maestro Andy Blankenbuehler at Tulsa Ballet (May 9). abt.org, nycballet.com, paballet.org and tulsaballet.org. —Wendy Perron
Must-See Musical Theater
Photo courtesy The Prom
On Broadway: The Prom
Having deftly maneuvered the Mean Girls of North Shore High from screen to stage, Casey Nicholaw transfers to another school this season with The Prom. Featuring a number called "It's Time to Dance," and a zany plot that sends four Broadway egomaniacs storming into small-town Indiana to save a canceled prom, the show promises some high-powered hoofing and hilarity. A hit at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2016, it begins previews on Broadway Oct. 23 at the Longacre Theatre. theprommusical.com. —Sylviane Gold
Oklahoma! at Bard SummerScape in 2015. Photo by Cory Weaver, Courtesy St. Ann's Warehouse
Seventy-five years after Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! first wowed Broadway audiences, director Daniel Fish strips the classic bare in an immersive production reimagined for the modern day. Focused on the darker roots of the plot, Oklahoma! features choreography by John Heginbotham for 10 dancers to a new, pared-down arrangement of the famous score. In a theater designed to look like an old-fashioned community hall, audience members and actors gather during intermission to share pots of chili. Opens Sept. 27 at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. stannswarehouse.org. —CL
Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, Courtesy DM Archives
A Chorus Line Takes City Center
Broadway's singular sensation is back. New York City Center presents seven performances of the beloved, poignant production that puts dancers and their stories center stage. From complicated family dynamics to sexual awakenings, the ensemble divulges the moments that define them—and all of us. Original co-choreographer Bob Avian will direct, and Baayork Lee, the first Connie, will choreograph after Michael Bennett's iconic moves. Oh, God, we need this show. Nov. 14–18. nycitycenter.org. —Madeline Schrock
A Graveyard Duet
T. Lang will perform her newest work in a community cemetery. Photo by Malika DeShon, Courtesy T. Lang
T. Lang Dance has a reputation for works that are revolutionary, yet deeply rooted in the historical context of American culture. True to form, choreographer T. Lang, in collaboration with Michelle Hite, is presenting a new site-specific work in response to the highly politicized tone of human rights in America today, drawing inspiration from issues like the closing of Planned Parenthood clinics, the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the proposed border wall. In the wake of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, A Graveyard Duet of the Past Now explores life-affirming questions of compassion, togetherness and humanity against the backdrop of a community cemetery. Westobou Festival, Augusta, GA, Oct. 4. tlangdance.com. —Shate' L. Edwards
New Works From William Forsythe
William Forsythe may no longer have a company of his own, but he remains one of the busiest men in the dance world. Oct. 4–6 will see the premiere of A Quiet Evening of Dance at Sadler's Wells in London. Designed with seven long-time performers of his work, it will then tour internationally. Meanwhile, Boston Ballet, where Forsythe is in the middle of a five-year residency, is set to unveil a world premiere—his first creation for a U.S. company in over 25 years. It will be performed March 7–17 alongside Pas/Parts 2018 and the U.S. premiere of Blake Works I, created for the Paris Opéra Ballet. Boston will also get a taste of Forsythe's installations, a side passion of his, as the Institute of Contemporary Art hosts his Choreographic Objects, a series of environments, sculptures and films designed to stimulate interaction and movement, Oct. 31–Feb. 24. sadlerswells.com, bostonballet.org and icaboston.org. —Laura Cappelle
Peter DiMuro's dancers rehearse at the Gardner. Photo by Hai Dang Nguyen, Courtesy DiMuro
Peter DiMuro at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
More than 100 years after Ruth St. Denis performed at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, dance is still a part of Boston's venerable house of treasures. Peter DiMuro, the inaugural choreographer in residence and his company, Public Displays of Motion, along with community members, will present The House of Accumulated Beauties (soundscore by Beau Kenyon) Oct. 11–25. Dance-infused tours will take place in the galleries, and a different version will be shown in the new wing's Calderwood Hall on Oct. 18. gardnermuseum.org. —Iris Fanger
Sarah Michelson's Daylight (for Minneapolis) at the Walker. Photo by Gene Pittman, Courtesy Walker Art Center
Sarah Michelson at Walker Art Center
Sarah Michelson returns to the Walker Art Center with October /\ 2018, her fourth Walker commission and the latest in her new international cycle of works, which are inspired by her history with the places in which they're created. As always, she's keeping all intel under wraps, ensuring audiences come to the work—which will be, no doubt, fresh, electric, disruptive and surprising—with the fewest preconceptions possible. Oct. 19–21. walkerart.org. —Camille LeFevre
Silas Farley leads rehearsal at the Met Museum. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art
Silas Farley at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
For his first major choreography commission, New York City Ballet dancer Silas Farley is exploring what it means to be in exile. The score intersperses traditional spirituals with songs composed by San Quentin State Prison inmates. Fellow NYCB dancers and Farley's wife, Cassia Farley, will perform Songs from the Spirit in three different galleries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. March 8–10. metmuseum.org. —JS
A Brazilian Spectacle From Deborah Colker
Deborah Colker's Cão Sem Plumas (Dog Without Feathers). Photo courtesy Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker
Melding the fearless derring-do of Elizabeth Streb with the primal theatricality of Pina Bausch, Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker builds imaginative worlds filled with physical challenges and architectural add-ons. Her Cão Sem Plumas (Dog Without Feathers) marks her first entirely Brazil-inspired work, using poetry of João Cabral de Melo Neto. The piece, like the poem, follows the Capibaribe River through dried riverbeds, drought-infested former farms and impoverished favelas. Combining video shot on cracked earth and muddy ponds with live dancers onstage, the work's harsh images reflect the unforgiving toll humans have taken on the once-verdant environment. Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker performs the work's U.S. premiere Oct. 13 in Pittsburgh, and in Washington, DC, Oct. 18–20. ciadeborahcolker.com.br. —Lisa Traiger
Akram Khan Heads Stateside
This season brings a triple sighting of the extraordinary London-based dance artist Akram Khan. Lincoln Center's White Light Festival will import Xenos, Khan's last full-length solo, Oct. 31–Nov. 1. In a devastatingly beautiful ode to those who fought in World War I, Khan conjures the mind of a shell-shocked Indian soldier. With his mesmerizing blend of kathak and postmodern fury, and with his knack for astonishing imagery, it's no surprise that the solo was called "riveting" and "epic" when it appeared at Sadler's Wells last spring. We'll get a second dose of Khan when English National Ballet brings his cinematic Giselle to the Harris Theater in Chicago, Feb. 28–March 2, marking ENB's first trip to the U.S. in more than 30 years. And when Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise comes to The Shed in New York City in 2019, with songs by Sia, the flying and floating will be choreographed by none other than Khan. lincolncenter.org, ballet.org.uk and theshed.org. —WP
8 Companies, 1 Balanchine Festival
Mariinsky Ballet in Balanchine's Apollo. Photo by Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre
After founding New York City Ballet alongside Lincoln Kirstein at New York City Center in 1948, George Balanchine (and NYCB) would call the theater home until their move to Lincoln Center in 1964. As part of its 75th-anniversary season, City Center will celebrate one of its most iconic choreographers with Balanchine: The City Center Years. An international cast of dancers from American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, The Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet will join NYCB for an event comprising six programs and 13 of the choreographer's most renowned works, like Serenade and Symphony in C. Oct. 31–Nov. 4. nycitycenter.org. —Marissa DeSantis
Embodying Indigenous Stories
Rosy Simas creates work through a Native feminist lens. Photo by Uche Iroegbu, Courtesy Intermedia Arts 2016
For Weave, Rosy Simas wraps the audience in a singular, shared experience of Indigenous sensibility by threading together rigorous movement, mesmerizing film and cascading quadraphonic sound. Simas (Seneca, Heron Clan) and her Native/Indigenous/POC collaborators have created the work from their experiences engaging with the local Native communities at the sites where it will be performed. The multidisciplinary experience, created through Simas' Native feminist lens, reflects the dynamic nature of each performance venue, the place's land and water, and the community. Premieres Jan. 12, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul, MN. Subsequent performances: Allegany Seneca Territory in Salamanca, NY; Birmingham, AL; Washington, DC; Maui; Oahu and Philadelphia. rosysimas.com. —Camille LeFevre
The Bard's Mysterious Lovers
Nashville Ballet's Kayla Rowser. Photo by Chad Driver, Courtesy Nashville Ballet
The "Dark Lady" and the "Fair Youth" are the subjects of many of Shakespeare's sonnets—but what if, in reality, the two were a black woman and a young male lover? This controversial notion forms the thesis of Nashville poet Caroline Randall Williams' book Lucy Negro, Redux and Nashville Ballet's new contemporary ballet. With an original score written and performed live by Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens, Attitude: Lucy Negro Redux explores Williams' premise in a nonlinear story centering on two present-day and three historical characters. Says choreographer and artistic director Paul Vasterling, "The story ultimately becomes about finding your own beauty and worthiness to be loved." Feb. 8–10. nashvilleballet.com. —Steve Sucato
Crystal Pite's Latest: Revisor
Even well-received productions of contemporary dance-theater can disappear after a handful of performances, never to be seen again. Not so for Betroffenheit, the 2015 collaboration between Crystal Pite's Kidd Pivot and director-playwright Jonathon Young, which toured extensively for three years, collecting awards as it went. They've reunited for Revisor, a new work for eight dancers who embody voiceovers recorded by celebrated actors—a conceit not dissimilar to that of Pite and Young's darkly political The Statement, created for Nederlands Dans Theater in 2016. Farce and wit will leaven the work's timely themes of duplicity and greed; early source material included The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol's 1836 play satirizing corruption in Imperial Russia. Premieres in Vancouver, Feb. 20–23, followed by tour engagements in Ottawa, Toronto, Chapel Hill, NC, and Montreal. kiddpivot.org. —Zachary Whittenburg
Cunningham at 100
Merce Cunningham's Quartet (1982). Photo by JoAnn Baker, Courtesy DM Archives
Merce Cunningham changed the way we make and watch dance by introducing chance procedures to choreography and shifting the focus from center stage to wherever the audience wished to look. To mark the centennial of his birth—April 16, 2019—a total of 100 dancers, 25 each in New York City, Los Angeles, London and Paris, will perform some of his seminal solos in Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event. It's the high point of more than a year's worth of worldwide events. More than two dozen ballet and modern companies will dance the iconoclastic choreographer's work in their seasons. Film screenings in NYC, L.A. and Barcelona, among others, highlight his penchant for experimenting with film and technology. Can't make it to one of the venues? Night of 100 Solos will be live-streamed. mercecunningham.org. —LT
Mats Ek Returns
Paris Opéra Ballet has drawn Mats Ek out of retirement. Photo by Ann Ray, Courtesy POB
Mats Ek's retirement didn't last long. In 2016, the Swedish choreographer announced that he would stop making new work and gradually withdraw his entire repertoire. Two years on, however, he is back, and not just with revivals: the Paris Opéra Ballet has convinced him to create two new pieces. One, Another Place, will be set to Liszt; the other is a new version of Ravel's Bolero. The double bill is a coup for POB director Aurélie Dupont, and renews Ek's longstanding association with the French company. It looks like the pull of the stage was just too strong, and fans who mourned Ek's departure will likely give him a hero's welcome. June 22–July 14. operadeparis.fr. —LC
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In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.