Xin Ying and Jacob Larsen in Martha Graham's Maple Leaf Rag

Brigid Pierce, Courtesy Janet Stapleton

3 Shows We're Hoping to Catch This Month

From an ongoing project manipulating motion capture technology to a Giselle with Spanish flair, here are three performances we've penciled into our calendars this month.

Hitting the Punchline

Two shirtless men balance on a narrow cot. One is in an inversion, one foot bending over his head. The other lunges facing away from him, holding the other man's foot behind his head.

Ben Schultz and Lorenzo Pagano in Annie-B Parson's I used to love you

Brigid Pierce, Courtesy Janet Stapleton

ONLINE The Martha Graham Dance Company's programming this month highlights an aspect of its founder's personality that often goes overlooked: her sense of humor. Martha Matinee events on Dec. 2 and 5 pair archival footage of Graham's Punch and the Judy, starring Graham, Erick Hawkins and Merce Cunningham, with the 2017 Annie-B Parson work it inspired, I used to love you. On Dec. 8, the company presents its holiday program, subtitled "She Had a Sense of Humor." Planned programming includes a livestreamed rehearsal of the 1932 solo Satyric Festival Song, photos and videos of Danny Kaye, Robin Williams, Sally Rand and others, and footage of a 1990 performance of Graham's final work, Maple Leaf Rag. Martha Matinees will be free to stream on YouTube for one month following release, while other events are available to Patreon supporters.

Spanish Romanticism

A dancer in a white romantic tutu poses in tendu back with her wrists crossed in front of her ribcage, head bowed, in the midst of a misty forest.

Alba Muriel, Courtesy Compañía Nacional de Danza

MADRID Compañía Nacional de Danza plans to premiere a new Giselle with a distinctly Spanish sensibility this month. Taking inspiration from the poetry of Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, artistic director Joaquín de Luz shifts the action to the Moncayo mountains, transforming Albrecht into a foreign traveler and adding elements from bolero and other Spanish traditions. Dec. 9–22.

Programming Black Liberation

An avatar rendered in Unreal Engine for Antidote

Courtesy The Cooperation

ONLINE Choreographer Marguerite Hemmings and technologist LaJuné McMillan question how digital and embodied technologies—think virtual and augmented reality—can become tools of Black liberation in their ongoing collaborative effort, working title Antidote. Abrons Arts Center and Pioneer Works co-present the first phase of the project, a video work developed from their research using motion-capture technology, Dec. 11. Phase two will be a live performance at Abrons, currently slated for 2021.

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Photo by Ernest Gregory, Courtesy Fleming

How This Tap-Dancer-Turned-Composer Stays True to His Jazz Roots

From Riverdance to HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," tap dancer DeWitt Fleming Jr. has proved to be a triple threat on the stage and screen. He's also an entrepreneur, selling his own line of wireless microphones, DeW It Right Tap Mics. Last year, he added "composer" to his resumé with the release of Sax and Taps INTERSPLOSION!, the first tap dance and jazz album recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club. One of the songs, co-written with jazz saxophonist Erica von Kleist, was a finalist for last year's Unsigned Only music competition.

"When you're invited to dance with a jazz band, it's always assumed that, as a tap dancer, you're going to be a feature. If you go all the way back to New Orleans' Congo Square, and even before then, dance was a part of the music. I wanted to stick to those roots and create an album where everything was intertwined."

He recently spoke with Dance Magazine about his collaboration with von Kleist and the creation of their album.

January 2021