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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

Dance in Pop Culture
Via @lizzo on Twitter

On August 20, pop goddess Lizzo tweeted, "Someone do a ballet routine to truth hurts pls," referring to the anthem that's been top on everyone's playlists this summer. Lizzo might not know it yet, but ballet dancers are not known for shying away from a challenge. In the past two days, the internet has exploded which responses, with dancers like Houston Ballet's Harper Watters and American Ballet Theatre's Erica Lall tagging the singer in submissions.

Below are a few of our favorites so far, but we're guessing that this is just the beginning. Ballet world, consider yourselves officially challenged! (Use #LizzoBalletChallenge so we know what you're up to.)

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UA Dance Ensemble members Candice Barth and Gregory Taylor in Jessica Lang's "Among the Stars." Photo by Ed Flores, courtesy University of Arizona

If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.

The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:

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Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.

We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.

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Career Advice
Kate Torline via Unsplash

New York City–based choreographer and director Jennifer Weber once worked on a project with a strict social media policy: " 'Hire no one with less than 10K, period'—and that was a few years ago," she says. "Ten thousand is a very small number now, especially on Instagram."

The commercial dance world is in a period of transition, where social media handles and follower counts are increasingly requested by casting directors, but rarely offered by dancers up front. "I can see it starting to show up on resumés, though, alongside a dancer's height and hair color," predicts Weber.

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