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6 Shows This Month Worth Braving the Cold to See

The Joffrey Ballet's Victoria Jaiani and Alberto Velazquez in Anna Karenina. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet

Unexpected collaborations, celebrations of culture, literary classics that take a turn for the tragic—it might be freezing outside, but the new season is just heating up. Here are six shows we'd happily brave the winter weather for this month.


Criss-Crossing Culture Zones

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Colin Dunne. Photo by Koen Broos, Courtesy Eastman

RENNES, FRANCE Throw two wondrous dancers from different cultures together, give them a couple of musicians, stir the pot and what do you get? With Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and Irish step master Colin Dunne, a whole lot. Both are fascinating performers who have journeyed way outside their comfort zones with humor and generosity. Now they come together at Théâtre National de Bretagne to play with sight, sound and motion in Session. Feb. 1–8. east-man.be. —Wendy Perron

An Excellent Hair Day

NEW YORK CITY When Urban Bush Women premiered Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's HairStories in 2001, the performance was raucous, giddy, culturally revelatory and sheer communal fun. The recent revision and expansion, Hair & Other Stories, with choreography by associate artistic directors Chanon Judson and Samantha Speis, has been touring the country and now comes back to its home in Brooklyn. This dance theater work investigates questions about beauty, identity and race with UBW's signature sass and full-out dancing. Jan. 31–Feb. 2 and Feb. 7–9. bricartsmedia.org. —WP

Out of the Shadows

TORONTO What are we when no one is around to see? In who we are in the dark, seven dancers weather intimacy and betrayal in the wake of shifting identities and relationships. Violinist Sarah Neufeld and drummer Jeremy Gara of indie rock band Arcade Fire join Peggy Baker Dance Projects for its latest work, which premieres at Fall for Dance North Feb. 21–24 before traveling to other Canadian venues. peggybakerdance.com. —Courtney Escoyne

When in Doubt, Go to the Library

Dance's love affair with classic literature continues this month with three stories, each "unhappy in its own way."

Anna Karenina

CHICAGO It seemed inevitable that Yuri Possokhov (and his go-to composer, Ilya Demutsky) would adapt Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina for the stage. The seminal Russian novel is replete with courtly intrigue, aristocratic posturing and illicit romantic entanglements—and that's just Anna's storyline. The Joffrey Ballet will present the doomed heroine's passion-fueled fall from grace Feb. 13–24 before co-producer The Australian Ballet takes it into its repertoire next spring. joffrey.org. —CE

The Great Gatsby

PITTSBURGH Obsession, adultery, vehicular homicide and murder/suicide—just in time for Valentine's Day. Tragic romance ensues amid the shifting mores of the Roaring Twenties in Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's latest interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby. Choreographer Jorden Morris crafts his two-act version—with classical ballet vocabulary, period social dances and theatrical elements including (of course) Gatsby's car—to Carl Davis' original score. Feb. 8–17. pbt.org. —Karen Dacko

Hamlet

TEXAS AND NORTH CAROLINA Shakespeare's epic story of revenge and self-doubt gets a new spin with Beijing Dance Theater's otherworldly Hamlet. Artistic director Wang Yuanyuan works in broad and bold strokes, distilling the central characters to the Ghost, the New King, the Queen, the Prince and the Floral Spirit. The ensemble mirrors the intensity of the play's existential questions and psychological dilemmas. Dallas, Feb. 8; Houston, Feb. 22; Wilmington, NC, Feb. 27. attpac.org, spahouston.org and cfcc.edu/capefearstage. —Nancy Wozny

Day in the Life

Most people may know Derek Dunn for his impeccable turns and alluring onstage charisma. But the Boston Ballet principal dancer is just as charming offstage, whether he's playing with his 3-year-old miniature labradoodle or working in the studio. Dance Magazine recently spent the day with Dunn as he prepared for his debut as Albrecht in the company's upcoming run of Giselle.

Dance Training
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group

You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.

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The USC Kaufman graduating class with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gus Ruelas/USC

Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.

Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:

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In Memoriam
Ross Parkes, right, teaching in Shanghai in 1983. Lan-Lan Wang is at left. Courtesy Lan-Lan Wang.

Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."

About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."

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