6 Fresh Festivals and Premieres We've Got Our Eyes On This Month

May 31, 2021

This month, festivals are unfolding in the Bay Area and thought-provoking premieres are making their debuts in New York City—and it’s all available to watch online. Meanwhile, across the pond, a show that got its start as a livestreamed event is being adapted for live, in-person audiences. Here’s what we have our eye on.

Drawing Audiences In

A woman clothed in bright pink and purple and a pale mask that matches her skin color tips her head to one side as she uses one palm to press her other hand down. Two other dancers mirror the motion in the blurred, shadowy background.

Rambert in Wim Vandekeybus’ Draw from Within

Camilla Greenwell, Courtesy Sadler’s Wells

Originally conceived of as a livestreamed performance in which cameras followed the performers around Rambert’s headquarters, Draw from Within has been reimagined for the proscenium. Sadler’s Wells plans to present the company in Wim Vandekeybus’ hyperphysical, dance-theater romp through atmospheric, ever-shifting dream­scapes to limited capacity, in-person audiences June 2–5. sadlerswells.com.

Summer in San Francisco

Six dancers dressed in shades of beige and gray sit in a row of red and black seats in a theater. All stare straight ahead, hands over their ears and elbows away from their torsos.

Catherine Galasso and Dave Cerf will present a film adapted from their 2018 Alone Together.

Robbie Sweeney, Courtesy John Hill PR

The ODC Theater Festival (formerly the Walking Distance Dance Festival) might be entirely virtual this year, but it’s not skimping on new works from Bay Area creatives. ODC Theater resident artist Antoine Hunter, Hope Mohr and Maxe Crandall, Garrett + Moulton Productions, Robert Moses’ Kin, Margaret Jenkins and Rinde Eckert, Jeremy Bannon-Neches, Nicole Maria Hoffschneider and Noah Wang will premiere eight new dance films. Other Bay Area mainstays, including ODC Dance and Monique Jenkinson (aka Fauxnique), will also make appearances over the course of the two-week festival. Festival passes for access to all livestreams and exclusive on-demand content are available, as are single tickets for livestreamed events. June 3–12. odc.dance.

Ad Astra

Three Black dancers wearing hoodies and sweatpants in bright colors, with patterns reminiscent of tie-dye, pose together on a blue and black stage. One balances meditatively on one leg; at the center, another raises her palms and eyes towards the rafters; a third kneels, looking up at the second as she lunges upstage.

Kyle Marshall’s STELLAR

Maria Baranova, Courtesy BAC

Described as a “dance of speculative fiction,” Kyle Marshall’s STELLAR takes inspiration from both jazz and Afro-futurism. The work grew out of a series of virtual improvisation sessions and was filmed at Baryshnikov Arts Center in March. The BAC commission will be free to stream June 7–21. bacnyc.org.

20 Years Fresh

The torsos of two topless dancers emerge from billowing crimson fabric, the color rich and bright against the scrubland and hazy blue sky behind them.Sean Dorsey Dance Shawna Virago, Courtesy Sean Dorsey


The 20th-anniversary bash of the Fresh Meat Festival has gone digital. The multidisciplinary event, directed by pioneering transgender choreographer Sean Dorsey, centers transgender and queer artists, and this year boasts a number of commissions. Dance artists appearing June 18–27 include Deaf choreographer Antoine Hunter, DANDY (Black artist-activist duo Randy Ford and David Rue), dance-theater ensemble Detour Dance, bachata duo Jahaira & Angelica, #kNOwShade Vogue Ensemble, multigender multihyphenate NEVE, disabled dancemaker Toby MacNutt, Vanessa Sanchez and La Mezcla (a music and dance ensemble rooted in Chicana, Latina and Indigenous traditions), and, of course, Sean Dorsey Dance. The festival is presented free of charge, though registration is required. freshmeatproductions.org.

Danced to Death

A dancer dressed in a flesh-tone leotard reminiscent of a corset balances precariously on relevu00e9, working leg in a parallel side attitude. They pull a long, flowing brown wig away from their scalp as they stare, wide-eyed and alarmed, at the camera.
Ballez’s Matthias Kodat as Giselle

M. Sharkey, Courtesy Richard Kornberg and Associates

One year after its intended premiere, Katy Pyle’s Giselle of Loneliness makes its long-awaited debut this month. As the dancers of Ballez audition for the titular role in the iconic ballet, with the audience as the judge, the work interrogates what is held up as the ideal of white femininity in ballet, the ways dancers who don’t conform to that ideal are tortured by the form itself, and how audiences are complicit. In continuing to queer ballet’s canon, Ballez asks how the art form can transform for a more inclusive future. The work will be livestreamed from New York City’s Joyce Theater on June 10, and will be available to view on demand through June 23. joyce.org.

Leading With Hope

Ghrai DeVore-Stokes balances in a forced arch parallel retiru00e9, gaze directed at her downstage arm curving overhead, fingers relaxed and palm upraised. Her upstage arm bends at the elbow as it crosses in front of her abdomen.
Ghrai DeVore-Stokes

Andrew Eccles, Courtesy AAADT

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater takes its spring gala virtual this year. Themed “Hope, Promise and the Future,” the evening will pay homage to Washington, DC, as an epicenter of potential social change. Company members Ghrai DeVore-Stokes, Chalvar Monteiro and Kanji Segawa premiere new commissions on their colleagues, drawing on the evening’s theme. The free-to-watch program will stream on June 24 at 7:30 pm ET. alvinailey.org.