Compagnie Hervé KOUBI will perform Barbarian Nights at Fall for Dance. Photo by Pierangela Flisi, Courtesy New York City Center

Editor Approved: 7 Dance Shows to Catch This October

As the fall performance season kicks into high gear, we've been cramming as much excellent dance on our calendars as possible. But if you're feeling overwhelmed by all the options, we've got you covered: From rare U.S. appearances by one of our 2018 "25 to Watch" to an autumn mainstay for New Yorkers, Romeo and Juliet to The Handmaid's Tale, here's what caught our eye.


Intimacy and Insight

A.I.M will perform Kyle Abraham's Dearest Home at The Joyce Theater during NY Quadrille. Photo by Carrie Schneider, Courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates

NEW YORK CITY The good sight lines at The Joyce Theater are ideal for dance, but in 2016 Lar Lubovitch decided the theater needed a change. He created NY Quadrille, a series in which the Joyce space was transformed from a traditional proscenium into a four-sided stage that allowed us to see—literally—more sides to each participating choreographer. Taking part this year: John Jasperse, Kyle Abraham, Beth Gill, Donna Uchizono and Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener. All have tested the boundaries of intimacy in their work, so it will be fascinating to see how each handles this more exposed performance setup. Sept. 24–Oct. 13. joyce.org. —Wendy Perron

Flamenco's New Flame

Eduardo Guerrero. Photo by Marjon Broeks, Courtesy Columbia Artists Management

U.S. TOUR Eduardo Guerrero blazed his way onto our "25 to Watch" list earlier this year with his breathtaking flamenco technique and edgy contemporary sensibility. Now, the boundary-pushing dancer-choreographer is touring the U.S. with his Compania Flamenca Eduardo Guerrero, presenting Flamenco Pasion, an evening-length program of shorter group and solo works. The tour will hit 17 stops beginning Sept. 30 in South Carolina and concluding Nov. 2 in Arizona. eduardo-guerrero.com. —Courtney Escoyne

Take Me Out to the Fall Game

NEW YORK CITY For only $15 a throw, Fall for Dance is a populist's dream. Dance lovers from every neighborhood come to New York City Center and show their appreciation with hoots and hollers. For its 15th year, the festival sprinkles commissions from six choreographers over the two-week, 20-company festival: American Ballet Theatre's Gemma Bond, international favorite Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, New York City Ballet's resident choreographer Justin Peck, commercial powerhouse Sonya Tayeh, tap diva Caleb Teicher, and Jennifer Weber, who is creating a work for Tiler Peck and Lil Buck set to Stravinsky's Petrushka. For extra celebratory fizz, come early on Oct. 1, when audience members are invited for a champagne toast, archive exhibit and pop-up performances. Oct. 1–13. nycitycenter.org. —WP

Out at Sea

Oregon Ballet Theatre performed the third act of Napoli in 2015. Photo by James McGrew, Courtesy OBT

PORTLAND, OR Boy meets girl, girl insists on marrying boy despite parental disapproval, girl is lost at sea, loses her memory and becomes a sea nymph, but is ultimately reunited with boy for a third-act wedding. The plot of August Bournonville's Napoli traces familiar (if zany) contours, but the 1842 ballet, long a classic in Denmark, is largely absent from American stages. Oregon Ballet Theatre becomes the first U.S. company to stage a complete production this month. With former Royal Danish Ballet artistic director Frank Andersen at the helm, Napoli will offer a rare glimpse at the nuanced Bournonville style so rarely seen in the U.S. Oct. 6–13. obt.org. —CE

Nasty Women

Works inspired by radical, revered writings from female authors

extreme lyric I

Hope Mohr's extreme lyric I. Photo by Margo Moritz, Courtesy John Hill PR

SAN FRANCISCO The poet Sappho's unparalleled, incomplete musings on female desire feature in Hope Mohr's latest work, extreme lyric I. Anne Carson's translations are interwoven with an original text exploring questions of gender identity and narrative, delivered by transgender writer Maxe Crandall. Oct. 4–6. hopemohr.org. —CE

The Handmaid's Tale

Lila York's The Handmaid's Tale. Photo by David Cooper, Courtesy Royal Winnipeg Ballet

WINNIPEG Royal Winnipeg Ballet wades into the #MeToo movement with a revival of The Handmaid's Tale, Lila York's 2013 adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel. Through a series of vignettes, audiences follow Offred's struggle to survive in a brutally patriarchal society. Oct. 10–14. rwb.org. —CE

Two Households, Both Alike in Dignity

L.A. Dance Project. Photo by Laurent Philippe, Courtesy Los Angeles Philharmonic

LOS ANGELES The Los Angeles Philharmonic continues its recent streak of intriguing collaborations with dance artists this month with performances of Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet. L.A. Dance Project will animate the cinematic score with choreography by artistic director Benjamin Millepied, including the iconic balcony scene. Oct. 18–21. laphil.com. —CE

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Courtesy Harlequin

What Does It Take to Make a Safe Outdoor Stage for Dance?

Warmer weather is just around the corner, and with it comes a light at the end of a hibernation tunnel for many dance organizations: a chance to perform again. While social distancing and mask-wearing remain essential to gathering safely, the great outdoors has become an often-preferred performance venue.

But, of course, nature likes to throw its curveballs. What does it take to successfully pull off an alfresco show?

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Dwight Rhodens "Ave Maria," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Keeping dancers safe outside requires the same intentional flooring as you have in the studio—but it also needs to be hearty enough to withstand the weather. With so many factors to consider, two ballet companies consulted with Harlequin Floors to find the perfect floor for their unique circumstances.

Last fall, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invested in a mobile stage that allowed the dancers to perform live for socially distanced audiences. "But we didn't have an outdoor resilient floor, so we quickly realized that if we had any rain, we were going to be in big trouble—it would have rotted," says artistic director Susan Jaffe.

The company purchased the lightweight, waterproof Harlequin's AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and the heavy-duty Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl, which is manufactured with BioCote® Antimicrobial Protection to help with the prevention of bacteria and mold. After an indoor test run while filming Nutcracker ("It felt exactly like our regular floor," says Jaffe), the company will debut the new setup this May in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park during a two-week series of performances shared with other local arts organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air Series last fall. The company plans to roll out their new Harlequin AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl floor for more outdoor performances this spring.

Harris Ferris, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

In addition to the possibility of rain, a range of temperatures also has to be taken into account. When the State Ballet of Rhode Island received a grant from the state to upgrade its 15-year-old stage, executive director Ana Fox chose the Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in the lighter gray color "so that it would be cooler if it's reflecting sunlight during daytime performances," she says.

However, for the civic ballet company's first performance on its new 24-by-48–foot stage on November 22, heat was less of a concern than the Northeastern cold. Fortunately, Fox says the surface never got icy or too stiff. "It felt warm to the feel," she says. "You could see the dancers didn't hesitate to run or step into arabesque." (The Harlequin Cascade floor is known for providing a good grip.)

"To have a safe floor for dancers not to worry about shin splints or something of that nature, that's everything," she says. "The dancers have to feel secure."

State Ballet of Rhode Island first rolled out their new Harlequin Cascade™ flooring for an outdoor performance last November.

Courtesy of Harlequin

Of course, the elements need to be considered even when dancers aren't actively performing. Although Harlequin's AeroDeck is waterproof, both PBT and SBRI have tarps to cover their stages to keep any water out. SBRI also does damp mopping before performances to get pollen off the surface. Additionally, the company is building a shed to safely store the floor long-term when it's not in use. "Of course, it's heavy, but laying down the floor and putting it away was not an issue at all," says Fox, adding that both were easy to accomplish with a crew of four people.

Since the Harlequin Cascade surface is versatile enough to support a wide range of dance styles—and even opera and theater sets—both PBT and SBRI are partnering with other local arts organizations to put their outdoor stages to use as much as possible. Because audiences are hungry for art right now.

"In September, I made our outdoor performance shorter so we wouldn't have to worry about intermission or bathrooms, but when it was over, they just sat there," says Jaffe, with a laugh. "People were so grateful and so happy to see us perform. We just got an overwhelming response of love and gratitude."

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Susan Jaffes "Carmina Terra," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

February 2021