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6 Can't-Miss Shows This November, Chosen By DM Editors

Bill Shannon's Touch Update makes its way to Washington, DC, and New York City this month. Photo courtesy Dance Place

The fall performance season continues at breakneck speed with everything from an international ballet company making its U.S. debut to a retrospective on one of New York City's most iconic dancemakers—not to mention more than a few intriguing new works. Here's what we've got pencilled in.


Have Your Cake

Hans van Manen's Trois Gnossiennes. Photo by Peter Rakossy, Courtesy Ellen Jacobs Associates

NEW YORK CITY Hungarian National Ballet is putting its best foot forward for its American debut at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater. Following a Nov. 4 gala, the company presents recent stagings of full-length staples Swan Lake (Nov. 6–8) and Don Quixote (Nov. 9–10). To close the engagement, Trois Gnossiennes, 5 Tangos and Black Cake, a trio of Hans van Manen works programmed together last year in celebration of the venerable choreographer's 85th birthday, will be performed twice on Nov. 11. opera.hu. —Courtney Escoyne

Blood Memory

Red Clay Dance Company's Destine Young. Photo by Raymond Jerome, Courtesy Red Clay Dance Company

CHICAGO Red Clay Dance Company's ongoing cultural exchange project with Uganda's Keiga Dance Company has resulted in a new work: EKILI MUNDA|What Lies Within. Created to open the Afro-contemporary troupe's 10th-anniversary season, the piece, by artistic director Vershawn Sanders-Ward and Keiga artistic director Jonas Byaruhanga, investigates the body as an archive for cultural history. Nov. 8–10. redclaydance.com. —CE

Heuristic History

Emily Coates. Photo by Anna Lee Campbell, Courtesy Danspace Project

NEW YORK CITY Emmanuèle Phuon and Emily Coates share an evening at Danspace Project that promises smart, thought-provoking new dances. Phuon's Bits & Pieces (Choreographic Donations) looks back on her eclectic, continent-spanning career with contributions from Patricia Hoffbauer, David Thomson, Elisa Monte, Yvonne Rainer and Vincent Dunoyer. A History of Light, in collaboration with artist Josiah McElheny, dives into Coates' investigation of the intersections of dance and science through the lens of the women who have advanced art and technology throughout history. Nov. 8–10. danspaceproject.org. —CE

Update in Progress

Bill Shannon. Photo by Garrett Jones, Courtesy Dance Place

WASHINGTON, DC, AND NEW YORK CITY Ballet dancers have their pointe shoes, tap dancers have their tap shoes, Spanish dancers have their castanets—and Bill Shannon has his crutches. Since childhood, he has lived with a condition in his hips that makes it hard for him to bear weight. He's created a technique of gliding, swiveling, spinning and floating with his crutches, earning him a place in New York City's underground club scene. Recently, he's taken the idea of necessary body extensions into technology. In his new Touch Update, which was developed at the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography and premiered in May in Pittsburgh, Shannon has devised wearable video masks and video sculptures that seem to dismantle the human body. Performers include the couple slowdanger (2018 "25 to Watch") and Pittsburgh hip-hop crew Get Down Gang. Ultimately, Shannon is looking at the human potential for change. Dance Place, Nov. 10–11. New York Live Arts, Nov. 14–18. whatiswhat.com. —Wendy Perron

Early Twyla

Twyla Tharp in her Eight Jelly Rolls. Photo courtesy DM Archives

NEW YORK CITY Before Twyla Tharp choreographed highly technical and propulsive ballets like In the Upper Room, she made a slew of dances with a minimalist edge. Some of them were silent and austere, but when she started to use music—whoa! What a feast of sly musicality and slippery movement. Her latest program Minimalism and Me ranges from the simplicity of her first time out—Tank Dive (1965), all angles and diagonals with a yo-yo trick thrown in—to her lusciously loose, vaudeville-inspired classic, Eight Jelly Rolls (1971), with music by jazz composer Jelly Roll Morton. Our question: Who will perform Twyla's outrageously sloppy/precise drunk solo? The program comes to the Joyce Nov. 14–Dec. 9. joyce.org. —WP

Marginalia

Karen L. Charles' Sacred Feminine is one work included in Femthology. Photo by Bill Cameron, Courtesy AQUA Public Relations

ST. PAUL, MN In the Margins, a program presented by Threads Dance Project at The O'Shaughnessy this month, aims to foster empathy for communities that are often relegated to liminal spaces in society. Karen L. Charles' To Hear Like Me utilizes American Sign Language, music visualization and silence as it interrogates implicit bias against the deaf/hard-of-hearing community. Joining it is Femthology, comprising excerpts from already-existing works that explore the female experience, newly reimagined to be equally accessible to hearing and deaf/hard-of-hearing audiences. Nov. 16–17. threadsdance.org. —CE

Broadway

We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.

But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)

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Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

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:

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Cover Story
Jayme Thornton

It's a much-repeated part of Francesca Hayward's origin story that she discovered ballet at age 3, when her grandparents bought a video of The Nutcracker to keep her occupied and she immediately started dancing around the room. What's less well-known is that there was another video lined up next to The Nutcracker that Hayward liked to dance along to: Cats. "I really just did the White Cat bit and fast-forwarded the rest," she remembers. "I'd make my friends who came around be the other cats."

Twenty-four years later, she's not only become a Royal Ballet principal, but has been cast as Victoria the White Cat in Tom Hooper's new movie adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, out in theaters on December 20. "I remember the director telling me I'd got the part: 'Just to let you know you're the lead in a Hollywood film,' he said." Hayward laughs. "This is crazy!"

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"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.

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