5 Non-Nutcracker Shows We Have Our Eyes on This December

November 30, 2021

Delayed debuts, triumphant returns, onstage reunions—there’s loads to celebrate across the December performance landscape. Here are five offerings we don’t want to miss.

Way Back Wednesday

In a red lit space, two dancers in sneakers meet at the center, leaning forward as they bring their cupped hands together. Four other dancers are in motion around them, gesturing over their heads as they walk or run.
the feath3r theory in rehearsal for WEDNESDAY; Kate Enman, Courtesy New York Live Arts

The 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon dramatizes the events of a bank robbery gone wrong and the ensuing police standoff. One of the men attempting this robbery was motivated by needing money to fund gender-affirming surgery for his partner, Elizabeth Eden. In WEDNESDAY, Raja Feather Kelly dismantles the film to center his relationship to Eden, interrogating the motivations and outcomes of the robbery while questioning whose identities have a place in popular culture—and whose still do not. Following pandemic delays, the feath3r theory debuts the dance theater “speculative documentary” at New York Live Arts. Dec. 1–4, 8–11. newyorklivearts.org. —Courtney Escoyne

All About Ailey

A dancer lunges in the center of an open-sided box, one hand pressing towards borders. Four dancers, dressed in similarly white, shiny pants and shirts, stand at each corner of the box, holding it steady. The stage is lit blue.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Jamar Roberts’ Holding Space Christopher Duggan, Courtesy AAADT

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater makes a triumphant return to New York City Center for its annual winter engagement. There are milestones to toast, from the 50th anniversary of Ailey’s iconic Cry—celebrated in a special program on Dec. 4 and 15—to artistic director (and 2021 Dance Magazine Award recipient) Robert Battle’s decade helming the company—marked by an evening of his own works, including a new production of Unfold, Dec. 7, 11 and 17. There’s a bittersweet departure to honor, as star performer Jamar Roberts bids farewell to the stage on Dec. 9. (He’ll continue as the company’s resident choreographer.) There are digital dance pieces to see in person for the first time—Roberts’ Holding Space and Battle’s For Four—alongside new productions and revivals of existing works. There is, in short, much to look forward to in the packed three-week season—a very fitting welcome home for Ailey. Dec. 1–19. alvinailey.org. —CE

For the Future

TV & ONLINE Oona Doherty takes the lead for this year’s iteration of Fly the Flag, an annual celebration in the UK of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Focused on teenagers living in a post-Brexit UK, a new film will give voice to their perspectives on the future, featuring dance crafted by Doherty in collaboration with crews from around the UK responding to the principle of freedom of expression. The film will debut on Sky Arts Dec. 10. flytheflag.org.uk. —CE

Something Old, Something New

MIAMI Dance NOW! Miami’s Masterpiece in Motion programs connect the company’s original repertory with history-making choreographies. Stories for the Holidays promises a fresh encounter with the restless spirit of Isadora Duncan thanks to scholar Andrea Mantell-Seidel’s restagings of the early-20th-century pioneer’s work. From Harp Étude and the cradling tenderness of Ave Maria to the defiance of Varshavianka and Dubinushka, the lineup embraces devotional solace and resolute solidarity. Three Moments in Time and Die Frauen, by founding directors Diego Salterini and Hannah Baumgarten, respectively, and Jon Lehrer’s Solstice join these Duncan offerings. Dec. 11. dancenowmiami.org. —Guillermo Perez

Dorrance and Dormeshia Reunite

Two photos appear side by side. On the left, Dormeshia poses in silver heeled tap shoes, looking over her shoulder as one arm raises overhead. On the right, Michelle Dorrance's hair flies to cover her face, arms upraised as she leans toward the camera, but her wide smile is still visible.
Dormeshia and Michelle Dorrance; From left: Courtesy 92Y; Matthew Murphy, Courtesy 92Y

It’s been 10 years since Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia (a 2021 Dance Magazine Award recipient) first collaborated to put together a program at Danspace. Now, the brilliant tap artists are teaming up again, this time at 92Y, for Michelle Dorrance, Dormeshia & Guests, a slate of tap dance that is sure to be every bit as effervescent, delightful and surprising as its hosts and curators. Tickets are available for both in-person attendance and livestream viewing. Dec. 16–17. 92y.org. —CE