While you might think of dance as a primarily visual art form, performances engage us on multiple levels. Our ears take in the score, the artists' breathing patterns, fellow audience members' reactions, and the physical percussion made by the dancers' footfalls and partnering. All of this information is available to audience members with limited to no vision, and when it comes to providing them with the rest, there are multiple approaches being refined by experts in the field generally referred to as "audience accessibility."
Last week, I attended a show I'd been eagerly anticipating: Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise at The Shed, a brand-new performance venue in New York City. Not only was I looking forward to Akram Khan's choreography (not to mention a sword-wielding PeiJu Chien-Pott and remixes of Sia's music), but I was anxious to get a taste of The Shed's ambitious inaugural season.
Despite the slick marketing and big names involved, Dragon Spring fell short, with its cheesy dialogue, disjointed pacing and problematic narrative.
But something that evening bothered me far more than what was happening onstage.
Akram Khan loves to dive into genres he is unfamiliar with. While his own movement vocabulary is a hybrid of kathak and contemporary dance, he has choreographed a new Giselle for English National Ballet, collaborated with flamenco artist Israel Galván and made a dance theater duet with film star Juliette Binoche. Now, in between touring Xenos, his final full-length solo, and several other projects, he's found time to tackle kung fu. Khan is part of the collaborative team behind Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, a blockbuster musical based on themes of migration and the fight for survival, running June 22–July 27. Directed by Chen Shi-Zheng and featuring a score that remixes songs by Sia, it's part of the inaugural season of The Shed,
a new venue in New York City.
In the six years since taking over as artistic director at English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo, 44, has been lauded for revitalizing the company. She has presented classics danced with gusto alongside contemporary commissions, including a radical reworking of Giselle by contemporary/kathak choreographer Akram Khan, setting the story in a community of migrant factory workers. ENB brings Khan's Giselle to Chicago's Harris Theater, Feb. 28–March 2, the company's first trip to the U.S. in 30 years.
When dancers kick their legs, they typically try to avoid hitting their colleagues. But the performers in the upcoming show Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise, choreographed by Akram Khan, have had to train to do just the opposite.
"It's not a grand battement. You're kicking someone's face. It has to have intention," says Martha Graham Dance Company star PeiJu Chien-Pott, who plays the role of Xiao Lian, a mother fighting to protect her family.
We might have gotten a little bit carried away with this year's "Season Preview"—but with the 2018–19 season packing so many buzzy shows, how could we not? Here are over two dozen tours, premieres and revivals that have us drooling.
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Summer's end is in sight, and while it might seem like everyone is on layoff (or at Jacob's Pillow or Vail), there's still plenty of dance to see before the fall season starts in earnest. Here are our top five performance picks for August.
Akram Khan and Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine) is not a pairing we ever would have dreamt up. But now that the music video for "Big God" has dropped, with choreography attributed to Khan and Welch, it seems that we just weren't dreaming big enough.
In the video, Welch leads a group of women standing in an eerily reflective pool of water. They seem untouchable, until they begin shedding their colorful veils, movements morphing to become animalistic and aggressive as the song progresses.
It might not have a U.S. tour on the books (yet), but we have to admit that we're getting exceptionally excited for Akram Khan's Xenos to premiere.
Kidnapped and dishonored on the day of her wedding, Princess Amba swears vengeance on the man responsible and is reborn as the gender-shifting Shikhandi, granting her the opportunity to defeat him in battle. This is the legend behind Akram Khan's Until the Lions, his full-length work based on Karthika Naïr's poetic reinterpretation of the Mahabharata which approaches the epic from the perspective of its female characters. Performed in the round, the critically lauded work makes its U.S. debut in Los Angeles at The Music Center on Location, marking the only 2017 stateside performances of Khan. Oct. 18–21. musiccenter.org. The company also brings the piece to Stanford, Oct. 27–28, but Khan will not perform. live.standford.edu.
Each year, the Benois de la Danse selects the best male and female ballet dancer and a top choreographer from an impressive group of international artists. But just because it draws on a worldwide talent pool doesn't mean the names are all unrecognizable. This year's Moscow-based awards highlight the performances of many Dance Magazine favorites—and no less than three former cover stars. Plus, American Ballet Theatre received a nomination in each of the three categories.
The Olivier Awards were this weekend, and (though you might not have noticed with all of the hubbub over Harry Potter and the Cursed Child practically sweeping) three of our dance world faves snagged well-deserved awards for some very diverse programming.
Akram Khan is everywhere. Known for his invigorating fusion (he prefers the term “confusion") of kathak and contemporary dance, he is one of the most sought-after choreographers on the international scene. A truly global citizen of the dance world, his intricate, whiplash dancing has led him on journeys far from his stylistic home base. In addition to stunning solo works and intriguing choreography on his own company, Khan has collaborated with ballet superstar Sylvie Guillem, boundary-pushing Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and flamenco wizard Israel Galván. He choreographed for last year's movie Desert Dancer, about a young man with a passion to dance despite the repressive Iranian regime, and this year's Big Dance Pledge, an anybody-can-dance type of project culminating in a massive performance in London's Trafalgar Square. Now, he's become the latest choreographer to tackle a new version of Giselle.
The new project is the brainchild of Tamara Rojo, maverick artistic director of the 70-member English National Ballet. She had admired Khan's work for a long time, and invited him to make a work when ENB produced Lest We Forget in 2014, a program marking the 100th anniversary of World War I. According to Rojo's out-of-the-box thinking, he is the perfect person to create a Giselle for the 21st century. She has said that he has “both the knowledge of tradition and creativity necessary for this task." Her commitment to the new Giselle includes bringing in his award-winning collaborative team: designer Tim Yip, composer Ben Frost, and dramaturg Ruth Little. Khan, 42, recently spoke with Dance Magazine about approaching his first full-length ballet.
What did you learn about ballet from working with Sylvie Guillem?
It's very close to Indian classical dance in its philosophy and training. It's a very technical and physical rigor, very much about repetition, about training the body toward perfection. But Sylvie also had huge amounts of contemporary experience. She worked with Mats Ek and Béjart. The real test for me was with ENB when I created Dust. I found it fascinating. I based it on women, which I tend to do a lot these days. Tamara was one of my main characters.
What was it like working with her?
She's highly intelligent. What was interesting was to transform her from a literal way of being emotional to a more ambiguous way of being emotional. In both classical Indian dance and ballet, we are trained to be extremely clear emotionally. There are codes, for instance, a way of being to express sadness, and I wanted to take it more toward the truth of being—not to be literal or romantic about it. Tamara adapted so quickly. It was a great joy to work with her.
What existing version of Giselle do you admire?
The best I've ever seen is Mats Ek's version. He questions the essence and then transforms it. It's a masterpiece.
Didn't he set it in an insane asylum? I think there's a video of Ana Laguna as Giselle.
Yes. She's unbelievable. Like Tamara and Sylvie, these artists are unique. You know what I love—to work with dancers who think. I don't necessarily always enjoy thinkers who dance.
English National Ballet's Tamara Rojo and James Streeter in Khan's Dust. Photo by ASH, Courtesy ENB.
Will you use the Adolphe Adam music?
Yes and no. The music is not my favorite—the second half I really like, the first half I don't like so much. The original score is being treated and tampered with by Ben Frost. What I can't figure out is, What makes it Giselle? Is it the story? Is it the music. What is it? Once I figure that out, things will be easier.
The story deals with the physical world but also the spiritual realm.
I think that's why Tamara approached me with Giselle. I started to realize that it's about spirituality in the second half. That's something she felt I can connect with, and I do.
In the traditional Giselle, when she's a Wili, her spirituality is expressed by lightness and airiness; she's so light she hardly ever comes down from her jumps. Is that something that you will try to do, or do you have another way to express her spirituality?
I would like to use that, of course, because that is such a special illusion. It's just beautiful, that sense of floating. I have to see what I can do with it that belongs to me, but at the same time using that quality of floating.
You've described how your process takes a long time: gathering material, rehearsing, then whittling it down. Are you going to have the time you need, working with ENB?
Yes, Tamara has organized it to be the most advantageous process for me. I asked for five or six dancers to work with me to generate a lot of the research and material on their bodies before I work with the whole company.
Will the movement be influenced by kathak?
I think it's always there. It's quite circular, my movement. I always see it through a kathak eye; I cannot not see it that way.
You have two very young children. Have they changed the way you dance, or look at dance?
The way I look at dance, yes. I think part of Chotto Desh came out of having a baby girl. It's an adapted version of DESH that's become so successful that it's touring the world; we have two years of bookings.
What projects have you got cooking after Giselle?
My solo will start in 2017 and premiere in 2018 and will be the last full-length solo of my career. (I will still dance but not full-length solos.) It's based on something in Greek mythology. I've done a lot of preparation, but then I stopped completely for Giselle. I'm terrified and super-excited about Giselle. This is my first full-length ballet, god help me. What's scary is, How do I make something that speaks to you for two hours? The essence of it is about love, betrayal and forgiveness. How do I get that across without losing the intensity?
Wendy Perron is Dance Magazine's editor at large.
To kick off 2015, we asked 15 leading choreographers working in the U.S. to choose what they see as the most influential work of the past 15 years. Their selections highlight a slice of the creativity witnessed in the past decade and a half—and offer insight into what drives their own artistic choices.
Julie Tolentino in Raised by Wolves. Photo by Yongho Kim, Courtesy Tolentino.
Julie Tolentino’s Raised by Wolves, 2013
In a virtuosic tour-de-force that included choreography, improvisation and vocal incantations, Tolentino created an intimacy so potent that it was both frightening and exhilarating. This installation included a solo performed 50 times over a few weeks for an audience of no more than five in the Commonwealth & Council gallery in Los Angeles. It influenced me not just on how to make dances, but how to be an artist. It was a reminder of why I do what I do: to takes risks, to speak directly about the most complex issues of the human condition, and to try to do so in a wholly original way.
Bel in Cédric Andrieux, Photo by Marco Caselli Nirmal, Courtesy Bel.
Jérôme Bel’s Cédric Andrieux, 2009
The end had me in tears as Cédric sang along with The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” I felt so seen and understood as a dancer throughout the piece. I wanted to continually stand up and say, “See, this is what it is like!” And at the end, when Cédric looked at all of us, with no dancer gaze, just as a human being, I thought, This is exactly why I make dances: So I can get to this moment.
Ordinary Witnesses, Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy NYLA.
Rachid Ouramdane’s Ordinary Witnesses, 2009
This rare, powerful work attempts to bear witness to events of human suffering in history. But it also achieves an aesthetic coup by using understated and intelligent staging in a documentary form of dance theater. I feel Rachid is posing an existential question: Can dance and choreography even have the criteria to address these issues? This work tilts the conversation of choreographic content, quite radically, into new directions.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company in 2011’s Park Avenue Armory Events, Photo by Stephanie Berger, Courtesy Park Avenue Armory.
Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s farewell performance, 2011
The final shows of the Cunningham company at the Park Avenue Armory, which included his 2009 Nearly Ninety, were a profound reminder that artists can keep forever growing through all points of their creative journey, regardless of age. The scope/size of the space and the amount of dance vocabulary being shared from the several stages set up—and the magnitude of importance of Merce’s work—was beyond anything I have witnessed.
Urban Bush Women in Walking with Pearl...Southern Diaries, Photo by Ayano Hisa, Courtesy UBW.
Jawole Willa Jo Zollar’s Walking with Pearl suite (Africa Diaries, 2004; Southern Diaries, 2005)
In this piece, Jawole Zollar mined histories of dance, a people and a place. Using collective and personal narratives with dancing that’s both fierce and intimate, she’s influenced generations of artists. She’s made a refuge in the form of a company, a network and an institute for choreographers of color, and has raised her voice for all women in the field.
Cedar Lake in Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue. Photo by Paula Lobo, Courtesy Cedar Lake.
Crystal Pite’s Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, 2008
This work very literally explores what the title expresses. Yet it is so fully realized that the choreography transcends its own specificity into a totally riveting experience of sheer physical magnificence. She reveals the fragility in human emotion and beauty without an ounce of irony.
Alvin Ailey performs Grace. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy AAADT.
Ronald K. Brown’s Grace, 1999
This piece makes me want to shout, holler and cry…and give witness. Witness to a culture where dance works as an exalter of pain, frustration and loneliness. The themes still resonate, 15 years later, as a powerful celebration of the lives deeply embedded into club culture that have passed on. I’ve always viewed it as a dedication to those who’ve sought dance and club culture as the ultimate healer.
Mark Haim’s This Land Is Your Land. Photo by Tim Summers, Courtesy Haim.
Monica Bill Barnes
Mark Haim’s This Land Is Your Land, 2010
This was one of the most powerful, moving works I have ever seen. Mark is a riveting performer who blends a down-to-earth real-person quality with perfectly executed technical movement choices, and he was able to transfer these qualities to a large group of both dancers and non-dancers. It was profoundly beautiful and joyful and heartbreaking. I feel like this is the best example of the belief that some ideas and emotions can only be expressed through movement.
Liam Mower as Billy. Photo by David Scheinmann, Courtesy Billy Elliot.
Peter Darling’s Billy Elliot, 2005
I was so intrigued by the beautiful imagery that Peter Darling brought to the “Grandma’s Song,” a vocal solo, through a slow-moving wave of choreography that passed from one side of the stage to the other. It was a perfect example of how stylized ensemble choreography can function as an impressionistic surround, illuminating the subtext and complexity of a narrative solo.
You Got Served. Photo © Columbia Pictures’ Screen Gems.
Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo
You Got Served, 2004
This was the first time that the crew-based mentality style of hip hop was seen on the big screen. Dave Scott’s work is incredible, and really started a whole dance crew craze.
Atlanta Ballet in 1st Flash. Photo by Charlie McCullers, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.
Jorma Elo’s 1st Flash, 2003
I remember being in awe of this piece. I told everyone I knew that Jorma had reignited the conversation between classical and contemporary dance, in a new way that invited gesture and idiosyncrasy back to the table. After its premiere, Jorma was called to choreograph for major classical and contemporary companies everywhere. He has since clearly influenced the dance world and, to my eyes, 1st Flash was the beginning of it.
Non Griffiths in Dover Beach. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy The Kitchen.
Sarah Michelson’s Dover Beach, 2009
Through an accumulation of highly original and powerfully athletic dances, exemplified well by Dover Beach, Sarah Michelson re-legitimized the type of technical/formalist dance language as a vehicle for avant-garde expression that had formerly become anathema to downtown dancemakers in general. Her dances oppose the rejection of all artifice (associated with the Judson Church aesthetic) with a theatricalism that nonetheless retains high-art bona fides poised on the border between dance and gallery-worthy visual art.
Mark Morris Dance Group in V. Photo by Robbie Jack, Courtesy MMDG.
Mark Morris’ V, 2001
The intelligence, craft, structure, musicality, mathematical patterns, the unavoidable humanity—this piece is timeless. It inspired me by demonstrating that a choreographer is responsible for creating everything that happens on the stage. Nothing is haphazard about its construction, indicating a strong singular voice from Mr. Morris that is brought to life through his beautiful dancers.
Akram Khan’s ma. Photo Courtesy Akram Khan Company.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Akram Khan’s ma, 2004
I was humbled by ma. It combined philosophy, poetry, intricacy and humor. I felt that everything had been said. Nothing more could be added choreographically.
Paxton in The Beast. Photo by Julieta Cervantes, Courtesy BAC.
Steve Paxton’s The Beast, 2010
Through this profoundly gripping study of small spinal manipulations and shifts of energy, Paxton somehow suspends time. The dark, disorienting palette of action confirms the belief that imagination is the only limit to innovation, and that the prerequisite of youth in dance is an illusion: Paxton, still an extraordinary innovator at age 75, accomplishes what younger dancers can’t begin to do.
From All the Earth’s Corners
The global reach of this year’s Edinburgh International Festival is awe-inspiring. At the top of the dance agenda is the beguiling union of kathak/postmodern wizard Akram Khan and powerful Taiwanese modern dancer Fang-Yi Sheu. Their collaboration Gnosis is based on an ancient story about a blind king whose wife blindfolds herself for life to share in his journey. Other offerings include I AM, by New Zealand choreographer Lemi Ponifasio; Sweet Mambo, one of Pina Bausch’s last works; and Rambert Dance Company director Mark Baldwin’s Inala, to be performed alongside the South African choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo. August 8–31. eif.co.uk/2014.
Above: Akram Khan in Gnosis. Photo by Richard Haughton, Courtesy Akram Khan Company.
Ballet’s Little Great Britain
Will Tuckett has made a career of storytelling, both as a Royal Ballet principal character artist and a choreographer whipping up whimsical fantasies. This month, the Sarasota Ballet—already well praised for its dancing of Ashton’s English classics—will premiere Tuckett’s full-length The Secret Garden. Based on Frances Hodgson Burnett’s beloved novel, which has been adapted for the screen several times, Tuckett’s ballet will feature oversized puppets and a narrator—dreamlike elements fit for a fable. August 8–16 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. sarasotaballet.org.
At right: Tuckett in rehearsal with Sarasota Ballet. Photo Courtesy Sarasota Ballet.
New and Classic, Outdoors and Free
Kyle Abraham’s world premiere for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is only one of the reasons why we’re excited about this year’s Chicago Dancing Festival. The Joffrey Ballet will perform Tharp’s Nine Sinatra Songs and an excerpt from Bells by Yuri Possokhov, San Francisco Ballet’s masterful (and under-recognized) resident choreographer. The Juilliard School will dance Eliot Feld’s delightfully zany The Jig Is Up and Pam Tanowitz will bring her Cunningham-esque Passagen. A great sampler of genre-spanning classics awaits: Rennie Harris Puremovement in Students of the Asphalt Jungle; Robbins’ Fancy Free danced by Daniel Ulbricht’s Stars of American Ballet; Martha Graham’s Errand into the Maze; and The Washington Ballet’s stunning Brooklyn Mack and Maki Onuki in an excerpt of Le Corsaire. August 20–23. chicagodancingfestival.com.
At left: Joffrey Ballet’s Fabrice Calmels and April Daly in Bells. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey.
Many dancers say that the stage is where they reveal the most about themselves, that it’s where they feel most vulnerable. But the members of Oregon Ballet Theatre may argue otherwise. The company’s annual OBT Exposed event offers audiences a chance to peer into the dancers’ very first week of the rehearsal season. This year, they’ll share the process of working with choreographer Nicolo Fonte on his third commission for the company, to premiere on the OBT 25 program in October. The free event will be held outdoors at Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square, August 25–28. For rehearsal hours, see obt.org.
At right: Alison Roper and Lucas Threefoot at a previous OBT Exposed. Photo by Renata Kostina, Courtesy OBT.
Powerful, energized and politically driven, the work Lloyd Newson has choreographed for his company DV8 Physical Theatre doesn’t shy away from bold topics. This time around, he’s interviewed 50 men to tell the stories of “life, love, solitude and male sexuality,” for John, which premieres at ImPulsTanz Vienna International Dance Festival, August 5–9. Newson, who studied psychology and social work before finding his way to dance, has created a piece that is “for grown-ups, about grown-ups and with grown-up issues, using blunt language and an unmasked physique.” Hint: Leave the kids at home. impulstanz.com.
At left: DV8 in rehearsal for John. Photo by Ben Hopper, Courtesy DV8.
All photos by Matthew Murphy
Above: Akram Khan
Not many grown men can say “Catch the butterfly” and still maintain their street cred. Yet Akram Khan effortlessly balances guru-like sincerity with gritty downtown coolness. “Catch the butterfly, turn it around, pop the chest,” he calls in his soft London accent, demonstrating with tightly coiled energy. A few dancers try to imitate him, but they lack his precise articulation. “Before my body attacks a movement, I always retract,” he suggests. “It creates more power.” They try again, this time nailing the dynamics.
Above: Cedar Lake company members learn movement from Khan's upcoming duet with Israel Galván.
Khan doesn’t typically give master classes. But during the New York stop of DESH, his solo show about his Bangladeshi heritage, he spent an afternoon with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. “I wanted to be in touch with dancers again,” he explains. “I have my own company, but I hardly see them. It’s nice to have energy, to exchange movements with people other than myself.” The choreographer—known for mixing his kathak and contemporary backgrounds to create grand, poetic pieces—has been on tour since 2011 (though the stops have become less frequent since the birth of his daughter 10 months ago).
Seated on chairs, the Cedar Lake dancers stomp out flamenco rhythms that Khan has adapted for an upcoming duet with flamenco icon Israel Galván. “Da kee da da dee da dee,” Khan counts, trying to help them tackle the intricate patterns that sound like tongue twisters for the feet. “Sometimes even musicians can’t figure out what we’re doing,” he says with a grin. “I love when that happens.”
The dancers are by turn grimacing and laughing, and begging Khan to let them do it one more time. Even though this group includes some of the country’s top contemporary dance talent, none make it all the way through without mistakes, and the challenge is tantalizing. Before moving on to a phrase from DESH, a handful spend their 10-minute break obsessively repeating the sequence.
The DESH material isn’t any easier: It’s counted in a 10, split up by threes. In the show, this phrase comes just after Khan visits his father’s grave. (“He was a bit upset at first when I told him he was going to be dead in DESH—until he realized the show was all about him.”)
Above: Vânia Doutel Vaz and Guillaume Quéau
Almost every step Khan gives comes with a piece of imagery: “Your arm moves with the weight of a roller coaster—emphasize the down and then once it’s taken off, it’s soft.” For him, the point of dancing is to say something, and no phrase exists without meaning. “I’m always looking for stories,” he says. “For me, nothing is abstract. To ask a human being to have no emotion is an emotion in itself. Even if it’s just lines, you’re telling a story.”
Billy Bell, Acacia Schachte, Ebony Williams and Jason Kittelberger
We've Been Waiting for This
ON TOUR: When Akram Khan premiered DESH in England two years ago, our reviewer, Donald Hutera, wrote that “Khan’s stunning production feels like a culmination of everything this gifted British-Bangladeshi choreographer has been striving for.” Fascinating for his kathak-infused movement, whether helicopter-fast or mesmerizingly slow, Khan time-travels in this solo through his life from being a rebellious young man to becoming the global artist he is today. With striking visuals by Tim Yip, DESH comes to Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival Nov. 6–7, then goes to Canada’s National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Nov. 14–16. www.lincolncenter.org or www.nac-cna.ca/en/dance.
Akram Khan in a scene from his solo DESH. Photo by Tim Yip, Courtesy Khan.
From Farm to Stage
ATLANTA: Tanz Farm, a performance series co-curated by glo, under director Lauri Stallings, and the Goat Farm Arts Center, Atlanta’s hip artist community sitting on a 12-acre property, begins its second year of programming with Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor. The Israeli artists perform their Two Room Apartment from Nov. 1–3 at Goat Farm’s Goodson Yard Performance Hall, a converted factory space. As partners in art and life, Sheinfeld and Laor’s interpretation of this seminal 1987 work by Liat Dror and Nir Ben Gal explores personal and artistic boundaries on a neatly divided stage. The pair will also give a free workshop on Nov. 2. A free talk—what Tanz Farm dubs a TanzFEED—titled “If we had a conversation about performance, what would it look like,” kicks things off on Oct. 29. www.tanzfarm.com.
Virginia Coleman in Stallings' Hippodrome at Goodson Yard. Photo by John Ramspott, Courtesy Tanz Farm.
A Cornucopia from ABT
NEW YORK CITY: American Ballet Theatre’s fall season at the Koch Theater in Lincoln Center is packed to the brim with a varied rep. Alexei Ratmansky is premiering The Tempest with Marcelo Gomes, Daniil Simkin, and Herman Cornejo in lead roles. Tharp’s Bach Partita (1983), a lovingly complex ballet, is being revived for Polina Semionova, Gillian Murphy, and Stella Abrera. For those of us who adore Fokine’s dreamy Les Sylphides, it is coming back into the rep with debuts for Hee Seo, Isabella Boylston, Sarah Lane, Cory Stearns, and Semionova. National Ballet of Canada’s romantic lead Guillaume Coté (we loved his Romeo), will guest with the company, partnering Julie Kent in Ashton’s A Month in the Country. As if that’s not enough, Stanton Welch’s bracing Clear, Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, Mark Morris’ Gong, and Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane complete the two-week season. Oct. 30–Nov. 10. www.abt.org.
Stanton Welch's Clear. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT.
CHICAGO: On Nov. 16, Chicago Dancemakers Forum celebrates its 10th anniversary with a big homecoming bash at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Thirty choreographers who have received support from CDF, including Carrie Hanson (The Seldoms), Margi Cole (The Dance COLEctive), and current CDF Lab Artist—and 2013 “25 to Watch”—Victor Alexander, will show pieces or films throughout the museum all day. At that evening’s benefit performance, alumni such as Jan Bartoszek of Hedwig Dances, Darrell Jones, and Lucky Plush’s Julia Rhoads, who recently became one of the few choreographers in the heartland to receive the Alpert Award, present their work. Here’s to another 10 years of helping Chicago’s incredible dancemakers create on! www.chicagodancemakers.org.
Cassandra Porter and Benjamin Wardell in CDF alumna Julia Rhoads' Cinderbox 2.0. Photo by Benjamin Wardell, Courtesy Lucky Plush.
Light from a Dark One
NEW YORK CITY: Hofesh Shechter’s work is so raw and brutal that one doesn’t usually think of it as sunny. But his new piece, Sun, promises to bring “light from chaos.” With its rock-concert lighting and Shechter’s own percussive sound score, it’s bound to have all the signatures of this Israeli choreographer’s work. Sun comes to BAM’s Next Wave Festival after its world premiere at the Melbourne Festival in October. The company also offers a master class at the Mark Morris Dance Center the morning after the opening. Nov. 14–16. www.bam.org
Political Mother, Shechter's previous piece at BAM. Photo by Julieta Cervantes, Courtesy BAM.
East Meets West
LONDON: Though Yuan Yuan Tan hails from Shanghai and Fang-Yi Sheu from Taiwan, these two Asian women couldn’t be more different. Tan’s ethereality makes the San Francisco Ballet principal one of the world’s most breathtaking ballerinas, while Sheu is all grounded Graham power. From Nov. 14–16, audiences can see their gifts side by side at Sadler’s Wells, in pieces by Sadler’s Wells’ associate artists Russell Maliphant (Two x Two) and Christopher Wheeldon (Five Movements, Three Repeats). The evening also includes a duet for Tan and SFB’s Damian Smith by Edwaard Liang, a solo for Sheu by Maliphant, and Wheeldon’s contemporary classic After the Rain. www.sadlerswells.com.
Fang-Yi Sheu and Yuan Yuan Tan in Maliphant's Two x Two. Photo by Belinda Lawley, Courtesy Sadler's Wells.
PALM DESERT, CA: The McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA, which has hosted an annual choreography competition for 15 years, expands its dance offerings with the first Palm Desert International Dance Festival Nov. 9–16. Hip-hop crew I.aM.mE (as seen on the late "America’s Best Dance Crew"), Lula Washington Dance Theatre, and Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal will each give one-night-only performances. As part of the choreography competition, the legendary Jacques d’Amboise, now the indefatigable director of the National Dance Institute and author of I Was a Dancer, will receive a lifetime achievement award. www.mccallumtheatre.com.
Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal in Cayetano Soto's Fuel. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong, Courtesy PDIDF.
Does Paradis Belong to the Downtrodden?
NEW YORK CITY: No one deconstructs stereotypes as hilariously as Patricia Hoffbauer. A Brazilian-born, NYU-trained dance tinkerer, she can boomerang any racial or gender profiling. In Para-Dice (Stage 2) she “instructs” five straitlaced white dancers in white clothes (the colonists) with an overbearing grin, à la the Joker. Two people of color (the colonized) enact lounging in the sun or hiding out in a favela-like shack. One of them is Hoffbauer’s longtime collaborator, George Emilio Sanchez, who knows how to flaunt glorious bad taste in performance. (He also contributed to the writing.) The duality of white vs. color is echoed in the duality of restraint vs. pleasure. Nov. 21–23 at Danspace. www.danspaceproject.org.
Hoffbauer with Peggy Gould in front of image of Balanchine and Arthur Mitchell. Photo by Bryan Foxx, Courtesy Hoffbauer.
SAN FRANCISCO: SF-based Flyaway Productions is back with another death-defying performance in Give a Woman a Lift. With an all-female cast, the politically charged work, created by choreographer Jo Kreiter and visual designer Sean Riley, looks at determination and self-sufficiency. For Lift, Kreiter, who has choreographed dances that swing through space on building sides, giant ramps, fire escapes, and billboards, works with Riley’s steel creations and moving light elements to make a piece both highly physical and aesthetically formal. Kreiter doesn’t just talk the talk about women moving up, she does something about it: For Lift, she is using an original score by Jewlia Eisenberg, the company’s 20th collaboration with a female composer. Nov. 8–9, 13–16. www.flyawayproductions.com.
Christine Cali. Photo by Nathan Weyland, Courtesy Flyaway