6 March Performance Picks From Our Editors
A feast of Forsythe, a surfeit of Dorrance Dance, a challenge to how we perceive refugees. Our editors' performance picks this month run the gamut.
Boston's Mixtape Master
BOSTON Halfway into his five-year partnership with Boston Ballet, William Forsythe is gifting East Coast audiences with his first new work for an American company since 1992. Playlist (EP) expands on ideas from Playlist (Track 1, 2), a short work he created for English National Ballet last spring. Also on Boston Ballet's Full on Forsythe program: the U.S. premiere of Blake Works I, the 2016 debut of which was hailed by The New York Times as "a moment as important as the premiere of Mr. Forsythe's 'In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated,' " and a reprisal of his Pas/Parts 2018. March 7–17. bostonballet.org. —Courtney Escoyne
Fleeing Made Visible
Zahra Saleki, Courtesy Jaberi Dance Theatre
PETERBOROUGH AND TORONTO We hear about the growing number of refugees, but most of us do not see them or the lives they lead. Iranian-Canadian choreographer Roshanak Jaberi and her Toronto-based interdisciplinary group Jaberi Dance Theatre delve into refugee women's lives in No Woman's Land, showing us their hardships and their strengths. March 9–10, Market Hall Theatre in Peterborough; March 14–16, Harbourfront Centre Theatre in Toronto. jaberidt.com. —Wendy Perron
Two By Eight
Regina Brocke, Courtesy Freie PR
STUTTGART What's a company to do if it wants to commission eight new works, but the choreographers are too busy to come to the company? Gauthier Dance's answer: Send the dancers to the dancemakers. Nacho Duato, Marco Goecke, Mauro Bigonzetti, Richard Siegal, Rui Horta, Ed Wubbe, Roni Haver and Guy Weizman, and Barak Marshall all contributed new pas de deux to Deuces. After being created all over Europe, the program comes together at Gauthier Dance's home, Theaterhaus Stuttgart, March 16–24. theaterhaus.com. —CE
Queering the Kingdom
The NWA Project in Oba Qween Baba King Baba, Excerpt #1
Ian Douglas, Courtesy Danspace Project
NEW YORK CITY Gender nonconforming dancemaker Ni'Ja Whitson's Oba Qween Baba King Baba interrogates masculinity and how it impacts our perception of religion. This interdisciplinary work takes inspiration from the stories of queer and transgender children of preachers. On March 23, Danspace Project will host a free preview of the work for self-identified queer and transgender people of color. March 28–30. danspaceproject.org. —CE
A Match Made in Heaven
Mearns in a Bergasse-choreographed piece at Fire Island Dance Festival
Whitney Browne, Courtesy KPM Associates
NEW YORK CITY When Vera Zorina starred in the original 1938 production of I Married an Angel—Rodgers and Hart's musical comedy about a wealthy banker who weds a guileless angel—the choreography was handled by none other than her then-husband George Balanchine. Who better, then, to headline and choreograph New York City Center's revival than newlywed super couple Sara Mearns and Joshua Bergasse? March 20–24. nycitycenter.org. —CE
A Heaping Dose of Dorrance Dance
Dorrance Dance in Michelle Dorrance's Jungle Blues
Dana Lynn Pleasant, Courtesy New York City Center
NEW YORK CITY A surfeit of Dorrance Dance is coming our way, with three programs at New York City Center. Michelle Dorrance's innovative works, old and new, will be interspersed with contributions from guest artists. Master tap dancer Brenda Bufalino brings her jazzy Jump Monk. A premiere by America's greatest tapping clown, Bill Irwin, is bound to be the most fun Harlequin & Pantalone you've ever seen. March 28–30. nycitycenter.org. —WP
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Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.
My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.
In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."
An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.
"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.
With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.