7 Performance Picks We Don’t Want to Miss This June

June 1, 2022

Summer is heating up, with major premieres, triumphant returns and exciting mixed-company lineups happening from coast-to-coast and across the pond. Here’s what caught our eye.

Play Date

Four Black women stand shoulder-to-shoulder, all leaning their torsos to their right as their arms tuck against their chests, resisting gravity. All four wear different brightly colored and patterned loose trousers and tops; their hair is left natural.
MK Abadoo’s MKArts. Photo by C. Stanley Photography, courtesy John Hill PR.

SAN FRANCISCO  ODC Theater’s annual summer festival is back with a new name: State of Play. Co-curated by Amara Tabor-Smith and Charles Slender-White with a focus on queer and BIPOC artists, the performance lineup (live and later via livestream) includes works by Riley Watts and Heather Stewart, MK Abadoo, SAMMAY Peñaflor Dizon, Rosanna Tavarez, Megan Lowe Dances, Erin Yen | Dragons Dance, Nicole Peisl, Kim Ip and Bianca Cabrera. Works-in-progress showings and discussions, debates, and panels are also on offer. June 2–11. odc.dance. —Courtney Escoyne

Update: Rosanna Tavarez’s performances have been postponed to Nov. 11–13.

Book to Ballet

Marcelino Sambé and Francesca Hayward intertwine midair, eyes closed, as they wrap their arms around each other's torsos. Their legs and feet are beautifully, classically shaped. Their bare feet and minimal costuming gives the impression of nudity.
The Royal Ballet‘s Marcelino Sambé and Francesca Hayward in Christopher Wheeldon’s Like Water for Chocolate. Photo by Rick Guest, courtesy Royal Opera House.

LONDON  Laura Esquivel’s novel Like Water for Chocolate tells the story of a young woman with the power to magically infuse her emotions into her cooking, and the drama that ensues when she is unable to be with the man she loves. Christopher Wheeldon collaborated with the author to bring a full-length ballet adaptation to life, set to premiere at The Royal Ballet this month. A co-production with American Ballet Theatre, the ballet reunites the choreographer with composer Joby Talbot and designer Bob Crowley, the team behind literary blockbusters Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale. June 2–17. roh.org.uk. —Julia Mary Register

Hometown Tour

DeMarco Sleeper grasps the wheels of his chair, staring stoically forward as Sara Lawrence-Sucato appears to yell in his ear, standing in a light lunge with her downstage hand splayed to bridge the distance between her mouth and his head.
DeMarco Sleeper and Sara Lawrence-Sucato in Catherine Meredith’s Incommunicado for Dancing Wheels Company. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy Dancing Wheels Company.

ON TOUR  Dancers with and without disabilities come together in the three-company, three-city National Physically Integrated Dance Festival: Beyond Barriers, Boundaries & Belief! On offer are premieres by Donald Byrd, Mark Tomasic and Brian Murphy for Cleveland’s Dancing Wheels Company, a new work by Heidi Latsky for her eponymous, New York City–based troupe, and Miami’s Karen Peterson and Dancers in an excerpt from founder Karen Peterson Corash’s 2021 Lost and Found. The festival was conceived by Dancing Wheels founding artistic director Mary Verdi-Fletcher, who says, “I felt it was important that our nation recognize the distinct talents of artists that participate in physically integrated dance.” The tour begins in Cleveland, June 10, followed by New York City, June 14, and Miami, June 25. dancingwheels.org. —Steve Sucato

ABT Comes Home

Aran Bell lifts Catherine Hurlin at his waist as her back leg extends in arabesque, the other tucked up beneath her long skirt. Their noses touch as she smiles down at him, arms around his shoulders. In the background, dancers in Grecian dress watch and appear to quietly converse.
Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell in Alexei Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage. Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy ABT. 

NEW YORK CITY  American Ballet Theatre returns to the Metropolitan Opera House for the first time since 2019, kicking off the season with a Don Quixote featuring a starry triple cast of leads on June 13. In addition to its usual panoply of full-lengths, the company will present the New York premieres of Alexei Ratmansky’s evening-length Of Love and Rage (postponed from 2020) and Alonzo King’s recent Single Eye, and celebrate the 75th anniversary of George Balanchine’s seminal Theme and Variations. June 13–July 16. abt.org. —CE

Closer to Taylor

Two dancers balance in a yogic dancer pose, their extended arms reaching to each other and connecting at the wrist. Between them on the floor, a spoke and wheel.
Rei Akazawa-Smith and Jake Vincent in Paul Taylor’s Tracer. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy Paul Taylor Dance Company.

NEW YORK CITY  Paul Taylor Dance Company takes a break from the grandiosity of Lincoln Center to moonlight at the more intimate Joyce Theater. Curated by artistic director Michael Novak, the programming for the company’s Joyce debut demonstrates the connection between its origins and future, pairing early Taylor pieces, like Events II (1957), Fibers(1961) and Tracer (1962), with a new work from Michelle Manzanales and the New York premiere of Peter Chu’s A Call for Softer Landings. June 14–19. joyce.org—JMR

Ballet Is Black

A female dancer is lifted in arabesque on an upstage diagonal, pointing up. One dancer is in the process of tossing her to another. A cluster of dancers arrayed around them turn their gazes up, arms rising as they lung back, away from the lifted dancer.
Dance Theatre of Harlem in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Balamouk. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob’s Pillow.

WASHINGTON, DC  Black ballet dancers and choreographers are front and center during the Kennedy Center’s Reframing the Narrative week. Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ballethnic Dance Company and Collage Dance Collective perform in two programs curated by Denise Saunders Thompson and Theresa Ruth Howard, showcasing classical excerpts alongside works from the company’s leaders and commissions from recent years by Amy Hall Garner and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The centerpiece of both programs is a Kennedy Center commission by Donald Byrd, featuring a dozen Black dancers from companies worldwide (including Precious Adams, Katlyn Addison, Jenelle Figgins and Ashley Murphy-Wilson) and a new score by Carlos Simon. June 14–19. kennedy-center.org. —CE

Liberation Meditation

Chanon Judson lunges to the side, one hand resting on her knee as the other splays open, an offered hand to whatever she is gazing intently at off-camera.
Chanon Judson. Photo by Gennia Cui, courtesy The Flea Theater.

NEW YORK CITY  As part of The Flea Theater’s Juneteenth programming, Urban Bush Women artistic director Chanon Judson has crafted Time’s Up! A Liberation Ritual, a public performance meditation undertaken by Judson and community participants. June 19. theflea.org. —CE