6 Premieres and Programs on Our Editors' Must-See List This Month
A Broadway luminary and a postmodern darling bring their talents to ballet, a music video maven turns to the concert stage, and a contemporary choreographer gets soulful with Aretha Franklin. Our editors' must-sees this May are all about the unexpected.
A Late Commission
Tanowitz in rehearsal at NYCB
Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB
NEW YORK CITY When it was announced that Pam Tanowitz would be creating a new work for New York City Ballet (to replace an on-hold commission from Emma Portner), the reaction was largely: It's about time! Tanowitz has long been a critical darling for her intellectually rigorous, postmodern application of the classical vocabulary. So what can she do with seven women and four men from NYCB at her disposal? The new work is set to Bartok (expanding upon a piece she workshopped with American Ballet Theatre in 2017) and features costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung. It debuts on May 2 at the company's spring gala, on a program with Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 and an additional premiere by Justin Peck. Catch it again May 4, 9, 11 and 12. nycballet.com. —Courtney Escoyne
Blankenbuehler at the Ballet
TULSA Tulsa Ballet's artistic director, Marcello Angelini, says he offered Andy Blankenbuehler a commission "before he became so famous." With Hamilton beckoning, Blankenbuehler gave him a rain check. This month Angelini cashes it in, presenting Blankenbuehler's first-ever ballet, set on a submarine during World War II. Remember Our Song runs May 9–12 at Tulsa's Lorton Performance Center, in a Ballet to Broadway triple bill with Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free and George Balanchine's Who Cares? tulsaballet.org. —Sylviane Gold
Must Love Dogs
ODC/Dance in Kimi Okada's Canine Comfort
Yvonne M. Portra, Courtesy John Hill PR
SAN FRANCISCO A cast of four-legged friends will join the dancers of ODC/Dance during this year's Walking Distance Dance Festival. Kimi Okada's Canine Comfort celebrates the peace found in nature, family and, yes, the love of dogs. During the weeklong festival, audiences can also catch works by Barak Marshall (performed by students at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance) and d. Sabela grimes, tune in to the dancers' heartbeats in Kinetech Arts' immersive Resonant Frequencies, and follow Mary Armentrout Dance Theater around the Mission neighborhood for the meditative listening creates an opening. May 12–19. odc.dance. —CE
On the Come Up
Nicholas Guttridge and Benoit Swan Pouffer, Courtesy Rambert
LONDON Asking Marion Motin, who is best known for choreographing music videos for Christine and the Queens and Dua Lipa, to create a concert work for Britain's oldest contemporary dance company could be seen as a risk. But it's just the sort of smart, envelope-pushing choice that's always characterized Benoit Swan Pouffer as a director. Rambert's newly installed artistic leader programmed the French choreographer's premiere alongside revivals of Wayne McGregor's 2002 PreSentient and Hofesh Shechter's 2007 In your rooms—works that presaged those choreographers' ascent to international prominence. May 14–18. sadlerswells.com. —CE
A Natural Woman
NEW YORK CITY Trey McIntyre has something of a magic touch with jukebox ballets; Big Ones, his Amy Winehouse tribute created for BalletX, is a standout example. For his latest, he's going even bigger, turning to the songbook of the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. In Eight Women, the cast of male and female dancers all portray women—not for the sake of camp, but as a statement of equality. The work gets its U.S. premiere during Parsons Dance's Joyce season this month, May 14–26, alongside classic rep by David Parsons. joyce.org. —CE
I've Got No Strings
National Ballet of Canada in Will Tuckett's Pinocchio
Aleksandar Antonijevic, Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater
DALLAS AND FT. WORTH The wild adventures of a wooden puppet who wishes to be a real boy are familiar to any Disney aficionado. But the creative team behind the Will Tuckett–choreographed Pinocchio are quick to point to the darker undertones of the original tale. The full-length ballet, which debuted at National Ballet of Canada in 2017, journeys stateside for the first time this month under the stewardship of Texas Ballet Theater. Winspear Opera House, Dallas, May 17–19; Bass Performance Hall, Ft. Worth, May 24–26. texasballettheater.org. —CE
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In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"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.