Yang Liping's Rite of Spring. Photo courtesy EIF

4 End-of-Summer Performance Picks From Our Editors

It might seem like the majority of the American dance world moves to Vail or Jacob's Pillow for the month of August, but there's plenty to see elsewhere. From Royal Ballet dancers appearing in an intimate New York City theater to a new musical based on a Disney animated classic, here are the shows we plan to close out summer with.


Whispers of Witchcraft

Scottish Ballet in Helen Pickett's The Crucible

Nicola Selby, Courtesy EIF

EDINBURGH As Scottish Ballet continues its 50th-anniversary celebrations, what better place to debut a major full-length than the wild and wildly popular Edinburgh International Festival? In The Crucible, Helen Pickett transports audiences to 17th-century Salem, where secrets and accusations of witchcraft unravel the small village. The adaptation of Arthur Miller's iconic indictment of McCarthyism premieres Aug. 3–5, and will make its way to the Kennedy Center in May 2020. Also of note amongst EIF's dance offerings: Yang Liping's mesmerizing Rite of Spring, Aug. 22–24, which features original music by He Xuntian to bookend Stravinsky's legendary score; Birds of Paradise Theatre Company's Purposeless Movements, Aug. 19–24, a raw, funny dance theater work unpacking the performers' experiences of life with cerebral palsy; and Trisha Brown: In Plain Site, in which members of Brown's eponymous troupe reconceive her works for outdoor spaces. eif.co.uk.

London Calling

Edward Watson selected dances for his featured program.

Rick Guest, Courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates

NEW YORK CITY A British invasion has overtaken this year's iteration of The Joyce Theater's Ballet Festival, courtesy of The Royal Ballet. Director Kevin O'Hare curates four mixed-rep programs: one leaning into the company's roots with ballets by Sir Frederick Ashton and company choreographers, another hand-picked by Jean-Marc Puissant (a frequent designer for the company), and two others constructed to showcase homegrown principals Edward Watson and Lauren Cuthbertson. It's a rare chance to see members of the company on this side of the pond—not to mention in such an intimate theater. Aug. 6–18. joyce.org.

Dancing for a Legend

The Joffrey Ballet's Greig Matthews and Joanna Wozniak

Todd Rosenberg Photography, Courtesy Jill Chukerman

CHICAGO Dance for Life, which brings together Chicago's dance community for a one-night-only performance benefiting professionals facing HIV/AIDS and other critical health issues, will have an added level of poignancy this year. Robyn Mineko Williams will present a first look at a work in progress inspired by and in tribute to Hubbard Street Dance Chicago founding dancer Claire Bataille, who passed away last year. The work joins performances by Giordano Dance Chicago, Hubbard Street, The Joffrey Ballet, Chicago Dance Crash, Chicago Human Rhythm Project and Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. Aug. 17. chicagodancersunited.org.

Going the Distance

Chase Brock in rehearsal for a previous project

Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Rayn or Shine PR

NEW YORK CITY Who puts the "glad" in gladiator? This summer, at least, it's most definitely The Public Theater's Public Works musical adaptation of Hercules. For this live version of Disney's cheeky, animated take on Greek mythology, Alan Menken and David Zippel will add to their iconic songbook from the film, and choreographer Chase Brock will make moves for everyone from the Muses to Meg to the man himself. Aug. 31–Sept. 8. publictheater.org.

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Hayim Heron, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow

Why Three of the Biggest U.S. Summer Dance Festivals Pulled the Plug Months in Advance

March 31, 2020: It was the day the summer dance festivals died. Though the respective directors of Jacob's Pillow, American Dance Festival and Bates Dance Festival hadn't planned to announce the cancellations of their 2020 editions all on the same day, their decisions appeared in inboxes and on social media channels within hours of each other. This news—marking the first operational break for these three festivals in their combined 212-year history—stood out among the host of spring event cancellations for its prescience. Most summer dance programs were still waiting to make any announcements, in the hope that more time might allow for less drastic cuts to programming. (Vail Dance Festival, which had been scheduled to open July 31, did not announce its cancellation until mid-May.)

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