Making a Splash

August 25, 2010

Vampires bare their fangs in the Carolinas, bayadères besiege Boston, and you can’t make a move without encountering a ballet set to Carmina Burana. The dancescape this autumn looks promising. At home, ballet companies favor narratives, some traditional, others original. The touring slate includes major expeditions from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Sankai Juku, and, as it celebrates its 30th anniversary, the Mark Morris Dance Group.


What’s different this autumn? American Ballet Theatre is missing from the boards (in order to concentrate on its new Nutcracker), but New Yorkers will have the opportunity to enjoy a fall season with New York City Ballet, the company’s first (at Lincoln Center, Sept. 14–Oct. 10). The Oct. 7 gala features a local premiere by the prolific Benjamin Millepied, and the fall run includes a revival of Peter Martins’ charming 1981 production of The Magic Flute. Several of the “Architecture of Dance” commissions (see “Reviews,” page 62) will be reprised.


A national rundown of the always popular story ballets must begin with Swan Lake. You can find our feathered friends at the Nashville Ballet Oct. 29. The Sleeping Beauty has inspired a new version (based on the Petipa original) from Oregon Ballet Theatre’s artistic director Christopher Stowell, completing his triptych of full-length Tchaikovsky ballets; the company unveils the production in Portland Oct. 9. More Petipa is due Nov. 4 from Boston Ballet in the guise of the exotic 1877 hit, La Bayadère. Former Paris Opéra Ballet étoile Florence Clerc assumes choreographic duties.


For Cinderella, you get a choice. In Toronto, The National Ballet of Canada reprises James Kudelka’s widely seen version Nov. 11. Texas Ballet Theater goes to the ball in Ben Stevenson’s version, set for both Dallas and Fort Worth. No fall season is complete without a Romeo and Juliet. For that, head to the Kennedy Center, where Septime Webre’s Washington Ballet staging receives a revival Nov. 3. At Ballet Arizona, Ib Andersen celebrates his 10th anniversary as artistic director with a revival of his Midsummer Night’s Dream; it opens in Phoenix Nov. 5.


Nobody living knows what Perrot’s original steps for the 1844 Esmeralda looked like, a fact that hasn’t stopped choreographers from attempting their own productions. The latest artistic director to take the plunge is the Milwaukee Ballet’s Michael Pink, whose staging of Esmeralda (inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) will recruit additional dancers from Milwaukee’s junior company for its premiere Oct. 28. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre opens its season Oct. 22 with a revival of André Prokovsky’s The Three Musketeers, with plot adapted from the Dumas novel and music borrowed from Verdi.


For the Halloween season, vampires are giving regional companies a transfusion at the box office. Mark Godden’s Dracula, an erstwhile hit at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, arrives at North Carolina Dance Theatre with music by Mahler. The piece launches the 40th-anniversary season Oct. 8 in Charlotte. In Raleigh on Oct. 14, Carolina Ballet serves up a premiere of its own romantic bloodsucker with choreography by Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Dracula will be preceded by artistic director Robert Weiss’ staging of Firebird, which opens the season in tandem with a premiere by principal dancer Timour Bourtasenkov. Also in Raleigh, Bruce Wells’ Pinocchio opens Nov. 24. Michael Pink’s Dracula will be imported by the Colorado Ballet in Denver starting Oct. 15, a highlight of the company’s 50th-anniversary season.


In the category of one-act narratives, few are as compelling or as enduring as Roland Petit’s Carmen. It forms the centerpiece of Pennsylvania Ballet’s season opener Oct. 21 in Philadelphia. Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco and a premiere by resident choreographer Matthew Neenan complete the evening. As for Carmina Burana, John Butler’s version of Carl Orff’s scenic cantata, which has achieved near-classic status, will be revived by Ballet West for its season opener in Salt Lake City Oct. 29. (Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments completes the program.) Not to be topped, Stephen Mills, the artistic director of Ballet Austin, offers his own take on the piece Sept. 24, partnered by the choreographer’s Kai, to music by John Cage.


The fall also abounds in major choreographer tributes. At the Kennedy Center Nov. 17, the resident Suzanne Farrell Ballet offers the former dancer’s stagings of Balanchine’s La Sonnambula and Monumentum Pro Gesualdo & Movements for Piano and Orchestra, as well as Robbins’ In Memory of… . Seattle’s Pacific Northwest Ballet delivers an all-Tharp bill (Opus 111, Afternoon Ball, Waterbaby Bagatelles) Nov. 5. Company premieres by Balanchine and Wheeldon fill the Joffrey Ballet’s opening bill Oct. 13 in Chicago.


Dancemakers will continue to seek outside inspiration for their work. For the bicentennial of the Ballets Russes, Alonzo King prepared his own version of Fokine’s Schéhérazade, not set to the original Rimsky-Korsakov, but to a reinterpretation of the music by classical Indian music legend Zakir Hussain. After performing it at the Monaco Dance Forum (see “Dance Matters,” July), LINES Ballet brings it to San Francisco Oct. 14.


Premieres and debuts are sprouting all over the map this fall. Start with Ralph Lemon’s full-evening creation, How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere? Described as a “speculative fiction epic,” and danced by Lemon’s Cross Performance troupe, this project involves a collaboration with Walter Carter, a 102-year-old ex-sharecropper, and references Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris. The work opens in San Francisco Oct. 7 and moves to the Brooklyn Academy of Music Oct. 13. Also coming to BAM are Angelin Preljocaj’s Cunningham-esque Empty moves Oct. 27; and—their first trip to the U.S. after Pina Bausch’s death—Tanztheater Wuppertal Sept. 29, with the U.S. premiere of Vollmond (Full Moon). (See more about Bausch’s company on the next page.)


The Mark Morris Dance Group promises a world premiere for the Celebrity Series of Boston Oct. 14. MMDG will also offer three West Coast premieres (Behemoth, Looky, Socrates) when it launches the Cal Performances dance programming in Berkeley Sept. 30.


The expanded Dance at the Music Center series in Los Angeles hosts the West Coast debut of Corella Ballet Castilla y León, which opens the season Nov. 5 with dances by Welch, Tippet, Wheeldon, and María Pagés’ charming duet for the Corella siblings Ángel and Carmen.


Substantial touring schedules loom this fall. The Paul Taylor Dance Company will be performing its glorious repertory in more than a dozen cities in October and November, including Philadelphia Oct. 21 and Minneapolis Nov. 30. Lucinda Childs takes the revival of her classic DANCE to White Bird in Portland, OR, Oct. 7. Hubbard Street Dance Chicago has announced an extensive traveling schedule; stops include Berkeley (Oct. 29), Cleveland (Nov. 6), Washington, DC (Nov. 12), Dallas (Nov. 19), and Miami (Dec. 11). The dances are by Duato, Kylián, and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo.


Among the most illustrious visitors this fall is the Japanese butoh troupe Sankai Juku, who will be touring with a pair of the slow-moving epics that have riveted audiences for decades. New York’s Joyce Theater (Oct. 5) gets director Ushio Amagatsu’s recent work Tobari. Most other places, which include Montreal (Sept. 30), Chicago (Oct. 20), and San Francisco (Nov. 11) will see the 1998 Hibiki—Resonance from Far Away. Less familiar to American audiences will be Mexico City’s visually stunning modernist Tania Pérez-Salas, who makes a major tour with her company this month. The troupe opens the Northrop dance season in Minneapolis Sept. 24, then launches the contemporary dance series at the Kennedy Center Sept. 28 before making a Miami debut Oct. 2.


Of all the touring events the next three months, perhaps the most unusual and unmissable may be “FLY: Five First Ladies of Dance.” They are Germaine Acogny, Carmen deLavallade, Dianne McIntyre, Bebe Miller, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar—all instrumental in shaping the modern dance landscape and all presenting solo work here. In their own way, they’re all legends. Catch “FLY” Nov. 2 at the Kennedy Center and Dec. 3 at Oberlin College, OH.



Allan Ulrich is a
Dance Magazine Senior Advising Editor.


Pictured: Pina Bausch’s
Vollmond to appaear at BAM’s Next Wave Festival. Photo by Laurent Phillippe, Courtesy BAM.