Mark Your Calendars: October's Must-See Shows, According to Our Editors

September 29, 2019

From an indie rock collaboration to major anniversary celebrations to yet another retelling of the Orpheus myth, the fall performance season has fully hit its stride. Here are the six shows we have on our calendars.

Orchestrating the Underworld

Dancers in rehearsal clothes sit in a circle, listening to a man crouching at the center of a white studio, pointing with two fingers at a point on the floor as he gives direction. Three others stand slightly behind him, looking intently at the notebooks or tablets held in their hands.
Wayne McGregor and his company in rehearsal

Camilla Greenwell, Courtesy McGregor

Wayne McGregor will be spending a lot of time in the underworld this season. Inferno, the first act of his next full-length for The Royal Ballet, based on Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, debuted this summer in Los Angeles. (The complete ballet will premiere next spring.) This fall, he follows another piece of literature beneath the earth: the Greek myth of Orpheus, who descends to the underworld to rescue his wife, Eurydice. McGregor will be directing and choreographing English National Opera’s new production of Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice. Thirteen dancers from Company Wayne McGregor join the cast. The production is part of ENO’s Orpheus Series, featuring four different operas interpreting the myth. Oct. 1–Nov. 19. —Caroline Shadle

Delight and Decay

A white woman dressed in bright orange shirt and pants sits in a dusty blue and brown chair. Her legs are crossed at the knee and raised toward her chest, sending her feet pointing in opposite directions. Her hands clutch flowers. She looks questioningly at the camera.
Kate Wallich

Agustin Hernandez, Courtesy Wallich

Choreographer Kate Wallich is known for stripping down the saccharine sweetness of pop culture. Indie rock musician Mike Hadreas (aka Perfume Genius) has a penchant for giving physical expression to the emotional veracity of his songs through experimental movement. Together with Wallich’s company The YC, they’ve created The Sun Still Burns Here, an exploration of spiritual unraveling and redemption. To Hadreas’ original score, bodies and voices descend into decay and lift toward transcendence. Premieres in Seattle Oct. 4–5, before touring to New York City, Minneapolis and Boston. —Camille LeFevre

Chicago Salutes Lubovitch

In the foreground a male and female dancer, both wearing white, have their backs to the camera. They stand in pliu00e9, with their right foot to the side in forced arch. They lean to their right, their right elbows bending gently at the elbow as their left stretches on diagonal upwards to complete the line. Blurry int he background, seven similarly dressed dancers stand with their feet together, facing the downstage diagonals, outside arms raised to eye level.

Ballet Austin in Lar Lubovitch’s Dvořák Serenade

Anne Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Harris Theater

The lineup for A Celebration of Lar Lubovitch at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance is reminiscent of the now-defunct Chicago Dancing Festival—fitting, since Lubovitch helped found it. Dancers from The Joffrey Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, Ballet Austin, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company come together for a program saluting the choreographer’s 50-year career. Oct. 5–6. —Courtney Escoyne

Modern Romance

A woman with long, dark hair contorts her face in either a laugh or a grimace. She is in a crowd of out-of-focus, but similarly affected dancers. All are bathed in a mixture of purple and green light.

GöteborgsOperans Danskompani in Ohad Naharin’s Decadance Gothenburg

Mats Backer, Courtesy GöteborgsOperans Danskompani

Roni Haver and Guy Weizman have long had a knack for taking unlikely source material and spinning it into offbeat, ecstatic works of dance theater. Their latest creation, Love, takes inspiration from Wim Wenders’ near-universally panned film The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez as it examines the paradox of love in the millennial generation. Also on GöteborgsOperans Danskompani’s Virus/Love program is the company premiere of Naharin’s Virus, marking the first time Ohad Naharin has allowed it to be performed by a troupe other than Batsheva. Oct. 11, 15, 24, 27 and 29; Nov. 2, 10 and 14. —CE

A Toast to Herman

On an otherwise empty, darkened stage, a man balances on his right leg on relevu00e9. His left leg is bent at the knee, and his left hand grasps it just at the top of his shin. His right arm reaches open-palmed straight up. His gaze is directed toward his raised knee.

Herman Cornejo in Alexei Ratmansky’s Serenade After Plato’s Symposium

Rosalie O’Connor, Courtesy ABT

American Ballet Theatre’s Oct. 26 performance will be a salute to its most senior male principal, Herman Cornejo. To celebrate his 20th anniversary with the company, he’ll dance Balanchine’s Apollo and a featured role in a premiere by Twyla Tharp (set to debut Oct. 16 at the fall gala). Catch the indomitable technician throughout ABT’s fall season Oct. 16–27, which also includes former corps member Gemma Bond’s first ballet created for ABT and the New York debuts of Jessica Lang’s Let Me Sing Forevermore, created for soloists Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell’s entry into the Erik Bruhn Competition earlier this year, and principal James Whiteside’s New American Romance, transplanted from this summer’s Vail Dance Festival. —CE

Curiouser and Curiouser

A woman with a blue ribbon in her dark hair pokes her head out of an opening in a cardboard box made to be shaped like a house, her right arm peeking out of another window to press against the floor, a booted foot stretching out of the back to show over the roof. The box has messages scrawled in black that read, "Please help. I am stranded. Trying to get back home. Also hungry." Another, smaller cardboard house is seen in the background, and a third flies through the air to the right.

AXIS Dance Company in Arthur Pita’s Alice in Californiland

David DeSilva, Courtesy AXIS

SAN FRANCISCO The wildly imaginative London-based choreographer Arthur Pita is not known for his subtlety. But his sensitivity will come to the fore in Alice in Californiland, a new work for Oakland’s physically integrated AXIS Dance Company that reflects on the extreme homelessness in the Bay Area. When Pita and AXIS artistic director Marc Brew volunteered with San Francisco’s Martin de Porres House of Hospitality and the Coalition on Homelessness last spring, the choreographer sensed a parallel between Alice’s surreal experiences in Wonderland and the distress of living without shelter. “We will try to delicately find our way into both those portholes with these characters,” says Pita. “I see it as a psychedelic tragedy.” The program also includes a new piece by Jennifer Archibald and Robert Dekkers’ Flutter. Oct. 25–27. —Claudia Bauer