4 End-of-Summer Performance Picks From Our Editors

August 1, 2019

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

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

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

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

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.