The 5 Shows Our Editors Are Most Excited to See This December

December 5, 2019

Supplement your visit to the Land of the Sweets with these editor-approved, (mostly) non-Nutcracker shows onstage this month.

Power Struggle

A man with a puzzled look dressed in a gray, fur-like jumpsuit, complete with monkey ears and a red fez, crouches atop two red blocks. His upper arms rest on his bent knees as his hands come to his temples.

Russell Lepley in costume for Ursula

Kate Sweeney, Courtesy FluxFlow Dance Project

FluxFlow Dance Project’s Ursula was inspired by a cautionary tale: a Joanna Newsom song about a circus bear and her monkey companion. Performed to an original soundscape by choreographer and FluxFlow co-founder Russell Lepley, the hourlong, multimedia dance-theater work is a fable of deception, betrayal and the power dynamics of freedom, set within the world of a fictional circus. Dec. 5–8. —Steve Sucato

A Legacy Lingers

What began as a collaboration between Robyn Mineko Williams and her mentor has become a tribute. Echo Mine is an homage to the late Claire Bataille, who began work on the piece before she passed away at the end of 2018. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago alum Meredith Dincolo and current member Jacqueline Burnett join Williams onstage for this exploration of the power of artistic lineage and the nature of legacy. It makes its debut as a special one-night-only performance at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance. Dec. 7. —Courtney Escoyne

‘Tis the Season

Three shows getting us in the holiday spirit, sans Sugar Plum:

‘Twas the Night Before…

A digital rendering shows an audience watching a snowy vortex onstage, where a small girl and a house appear to fly through the air as five silhouetted dancers perform.

A production rendering of ‘Twas the Night Before…

Courtesy Madison Square Garden Company

Cirque du Soleil has created nearly 50 shows, but the juggernaut entertainment empire has never had a holiday-themed production—until now. It’s teamed with the Madison Square Garden Company (the folks behind the Rockettes) to create ‘Twas the Night Before…, which promises to tell the story of what really happened before Santa dropped in. Opens in Chicago Nov. 29–Dec. 8 before moving to New York City Dec. 12–29. —CE

The Snow Queen

A male dancer dips a female ballet dancer over his thigh, arms supporting her at her lower and upper back. Her downstage arm is in high fifth, and her legs are in a neat pointed fifth. The pair smile at one another.

Scottish Ballet in rehearsal for The Snow Queen

Rimbaud Patron, Courtesy Scottish Ballet

The Hans Christian Andersen tale that inspired Frozen forms the basis for Scottish Ballet’s new full-length. With choreography by Christopher Hampson and designs by Lez Brotherston, The Snow Queen weaves together a tale of an icy monarch, mirrors that reflect only the bad in the world, and the redemptive warmth of friendship and love. The company closes its 50th-anniversary season with the opening run, Dec. 7–29, in Edinburgh, before touring to Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Newcastle in the new year. —CE

Dorrance Dance

A dark skinned woman in silver, heeled tap shoes, a deconstructed, papery tutu, a shiny top, black gloves and a fancy black hat grins as she poses atop a silver surface floating on a bright pink background, arms flung into the air.
Dorrance Dance’s Josette Wiggan

Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates

Watching Dorrance Dance is always a joyous occasion. But the premiere of Michelle Dorrance’s latest work, set to Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s groovy interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite, promises to make the company’s three-week residency at New York City’s Joyce Theater its most festive yet. Energy should remain high with the New York premiere of the satirical All Good Things Come to an End rounding out the program. Dec. 15–Jan. 5. —CE