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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Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.