Our Top Picks

August 31, 2014

Ten must-see performances coming to a theater near you this fall



Jo Kreiter’s Flyaway Productions

The world premiere of Jo Kreiter’s Multiple Mary and Invisible Jane will send her Flyaway Productions dancers up a wall once again, this time on the exterior of the four-story UC Hastings College of the Law building in downtown San Francisco. The work attempts to give voice to the homeless women living in the adjacent Tenderloin neighborhood, whose lives have become more difficult because of San Francisco’s rapid gentrification. Kreiter’s richly expressive movement language, which integrates dance with aerial/apparatus work, draws on her female dancers’ upper body strength. Her installation pieces explore challenges of height, speed and gravity and imbue a distinct feminist perspective. Kreiter’s subjects are often marginalized citizens who fall through the cracks because of gender, health issues, poverty or unemployment. Multiple promises to be another emotionally resonant work communicating a socially committed perspective. UC Hastings College of the Law, San Francisco, Sept. 12–20. flyawayproductions.com. —Rita Felciano


Above: Sam Luckey in Jo Kreiter’s
WALL BALL/Throw Yourself In. Photo by Rapt Productions, Courtesy Flyaway Productions.



Michael Clark Company

This fall, the Michael Clark Company brings its British rabble-rousing sensibilities to the United States. Clark, a virtuosic mover who famously turned down his place in The Royal Ballet to dance with Ballet Rambert before forming his own company in 1984, has crafted a style that uniquely marries his ballet training with counterculture. His work covers everything from sexuality to politics, stirring imagination and controversy along the way. The tour brings Clark’s come, been and gone, set mostly to the music of David Bowie. “Rock [music] is my rock,” says Clark on his company website. “It has been vital to me at a personal level; it has shaped me as an individual as well as an artist.” Audiences are assured a wild, challenging and sometimes sexual performance. Irvine Barclay Theatre, Irvine, CA, Oct. 11–12; Newmark Theater, Portland, OR, Oct. 16–18; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Oct. 25–27; Byham Theater, Pittsburgh, Nov. 1. michaelclarkcompany.com. —Kathleen McGuire


Right: Michael Clark. Photo by Jake Walters, Courtesy Michael Clark Company.



Martha Clarke’s Chéri

When Martha Clarke’s Chéri comes to the Kennedy Center this October, ballet fans will have a rare opportunity to see two exceptional stars—Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo—in roles that tap their greatest strengths. Clarke’s dramatic reimagining of Colette’s celebrated novellas Chéri and The Last of Chéri distills into a brief 65 minutes the author’s unflinching exploration of desire, loss and the passing of time. Set in the Paris of a century ago, the two dancers create a world of intimacy and abandon. As Lea, the sensual yet worldly survivor of the Paris demimonde, Ferri has never seemed more at ease, drifting across the stage in a pink negligee, curling around her partner or gently pushing him away. Cornejo brings willfulness and vigor to Chéri, the spoiled young roué who expects to have his way and cannot accept a world that does not accommodate it. Watching their duets, the intensity of their passion seems palpable, as does its inevitable end. The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, Oct. 1–4. kennedy-center.org. —Hanna Rubin


Above: Herman Cornejo and Alessandra Ferri in
Chéri. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy The Kennedy Center.



Batsheva Dance Company

For those of us who crave watching the rawness of Batsheva Dance Company’s dancers, we’re in luck. On its 50th-anniversary tour, the Israeli group is bringing the U.S. premiere of Ohad Naharin’s acclaimed Sadeh21, made up of 21 movement studies. No other group of dancers can be as luscious and agitated, or drastic and tender, in almost the same moment. Naharin’s sequences crash through every expectation to reveal something new about rhythm or relationship. As a leader of contemporary dance, his influence has spread far and wide—as has the popularity of Gaga, his movement language. Good news for dance students and professionals: The tour includes Gaga sessions taught by company members in some cities. UCLA, Nov. 1–2; The Arlington Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA, Nov. 4; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, CA, Nov. 6–8; Brooklyn Academy of Music, Nov. 12–15; The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC, Nov. 18–19; Carolina Performing Arts, Chapel Hill, NC, Nov. 21. batsheva.co.il/en. —Wendy Perron


Above: Batsheva Dance Company in
Sadeh21. Photo by Gadi Dagon, Courtesy BAM.



Amy O’Neal

B-boys are all about machismo, right? Getting your swagger on, showing that you’re tougher than the next guy, grabbing your crotch. Wrong, according to Seattle-based choreographer Amy O’Neal. Her new work, Opposing Forces, challenges gender stereotypes in street dance. While creating the piece with five of the country’s best b-boys—including Fever One of Rock Steady Crew and Brysen “Just Be” Angeles of The Massive Monkees crew—she’s asking questions like, Does “hard” movement have to be masculine, and “soft” movement feminine? “The men in this cast are nurturers,” says O’Neal. “They’re emotionally intelligent and they respect women.” Her plan is to take the audience through three terrains of hip hop: the battle, commercial dance and ciphers (free-styling inside a circle). On the Boards, Seattle, Oct. 23–26. amyoneal.com or ontheboards.org. —WP


Above: From left: Brysen “Just Be” Angeles, Alfredo “Free” Vergara and Mosez Lateef Saleem rehearsing at Velocity Dance Center. Photo by Bruce Clayton Tom, Courtesy Amy O’Neal.



Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Combining street dance with modern and ballet is all the rage, but very few choreographers can really master this mash-up. One of them is Montreal’s Victor Quijada, who is making a new work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago this fall. When he brought his own company, RUBBERBANDance Group, to the U.S. last season, the choreography was fascinating in its stealthiness, creating the illusion that his dancers were animated by some mysteriously shrinking and expanding energy. It will be interesting to see HSDC’s versatile performers take on these challenges. Quijada’s longtime musical collaborator, Jasper Gahunia (aka DJ Lil’ Jaz), equally adept at mashing up genres, comes on board for the HSDC work, too. Sharing the program are new works by Kyle Abraham and HSDC alum Robyn Mineko Williams. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Dec. 4–14. hubbardstreetdance.com. —WP


Above: HSDC‘s Jason Hortin, Jessica Tong and former member Penny Saunders in Victor Quijada’s
PHYSIKAL LINGUISTICKS. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Hubbard Street Dance Chicago.



The Joffrey Ballet

The Joffrey Ballet, riding the success of Krzystof Pastor’s modern retelling of Romeo and Juliet last season, is bringing another reimagined classic to Chicago this fall: Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake, created for Pennsylvania Ballet in 2004. Set in an 1870s, Degas-era rehearsal studio of the Paris Opéra Ballet—the same decade Tchaikovsky was writing the score—Wheeldon’s story blurs fantasy with reality. Dancers and wealthy patrons take the place of peasants and royalty, enacting a ballet within a ballet as the company rehearses Swan Lake—and the dancer learning Siegfried loses himself in his role. The $1.5 million production’s lavish set designs by Adrianne Lobel and costumes by Jean-Marc Puissant re-create Degas’ grainy, impressionistic world. While keeping much of Petipa’s original choreography, Wheeldon re-crafted certain scenes, such as the Act III divertissement (which takes place in a cabaret). Whether or not you’re a Swan Lake purist, Wheeldon’s version is a visual and theatrical stunner. Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, Oct. 15–26. joffrey.org. —Amy Brandt


Above: Joffrey Ballet’s Dylan Gutierrez and Jeraldine Mendoza. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.



Russell Maliphant Company

Lighting design is rarely a performance’s ultimate draw, but in the case of Russell Maliphant’s Still Current program at the Joyce Theater this December, frequent collaborator (and fellow Brit) Michael Hulls’ magical illuminations take the spotlight. Over a series of solos, duets and trios performed by Maliphant and members of his eponymous company, Hulls uses lighting to alternately obscure and reveal, expertly muddling movement with stillness. The duet Still locks its dancers in pulsing, strobe-like slats; Afterlight (Part One), inspired by photographs of Nijinsky, contrasts a coolly dappled stage with Erik Satie’s haunting music and Maliphant’s liquid, limpid choreography; Two—once a vehicle for Maliphant’s longtime muse Sylvie Guillem, now danced by Carys Staton—takes place entirely in a yellow box of light. See it, and prepare to be illuminated. The Joyce Theater, New York City, Dec. 10–14. russellmaliphant.com. —Rachel Rizzuto


Right: Thomasin Gülgeç in
Still Current. Photo by Hugo Glendinning, Courtesy Richard Kornberg and Associates.



New York City Ballet

With premieres by three world-class choreographers, New York City Ballet’s fall season has generated anticipation similar to that of the George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins era. Works by Royal Ballet artist in residence Liam Scarlett, whose Acheron was hailed last winter, and NYCB soloist and resident choreographer Justin Peck (see cover story) grace the September 23 opening-night gala. Globe-trotting superstar Alexei Ratmansky weighs in October 2 with a world premiere to Modest Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition.” The music, written for solo piano, describes a casual promenade among 10 eccentric works by artist Viktor Hartmann, portraying baby chicks performing a ballet while still in their shells, a witch’s hut running around on the legs of giant fowl, the Great Gate of Kiev majestically, resplendently closing. Should Ratmansky need further inspiration, NYCB’s dancers can supply it. David H. Koch Theater, New York City, Sept. 23–Oct. 19. nycballet.com. —Harris Green


Above: Alexei Ratmansky rehearsing with NYCB dancers. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy New York City Ballet.



Mikhailovsky Ballet

St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Ballet is set to introduce itself with a bang in November. For its very first U.S. tour, the Russian company will visit both coasts, with an extended New York season and a short stop in California.

Once the poor cousin of the Mariinsky Ballet, the 140-strong company has come a long way under businessman Vladimir Kekhman, appointed general director in 2007. It arrives with a spruced-up repertoire and a roster of young stars lured from the Vaganova Ballet Academy or Moscow; alongside the indefatigable Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, Angelina Vorontsova and Viktor Lebedev will be looking to impress in their U.S. debuts. With four programs in New York, the Mikhailovsky is laying out all its cards. Mikhail Messerer’s outstanding reconstruction of The Flames of Paris, new last year, will provide revolutionary fire alongside the company’s well-liked productions of Giselle and Don Quixote. A short work by former artistic director Nacho Duato, who remains the Mikhailovsky’s resident choreographer, will also be shown in a triple bill with a Petipa rarity, The Cavalry Halt. David H. Koch Theater, New York City, Nov. 11–23, davidhkochtheater.com; Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA, Nov. 28–30, scfta.org. —Laura Cappelle


Right: Mikhailovsky Ballet in
Giselle. Photo courtesy Mikhailovsky Ballet.