What does it mean to be human? Well, many things. But if you were at the Dance Magazine Awards last night, you could argue that to be human is to dance. Speeches about the powerful humanity of our art form were backed up with performances by incredible dancers hailing from everywhere from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to Miami City Ballet.
Misty Copeland started off the celebration. A self-professed "Dance Magazine connoisseur from the age of 13," she not only spoke about how excited she was to be in a room full of dancers, but also—having just come from Dance Theatre of Harlem's memorial for Arthur Mitchell—what she saw as their duty: "We all in this room hold a responsibility to use this art for good," she said. "Dance unifies, so let's get to work."
That sentiment was repeated throughout the night.
She may not be the first choreographer to claim that movement is her first language, but when Crystal Pite says it, it's no caveat: She's as effective and nuanced a communicator as the writers who often inspire her dances.
Her globally popular Emergence, for instance, was provoked in part by science writer Steven Johnson's hypotheses; The Tempest Replica refracts and reimagines Shakespeare. Recently, her reading list includes essays by fellow Canadian Robert Bringhurst, likewise driven by a ravenous, wide-ranging curiosity.
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.
Today, we are thrilled to announce the honorees of the 2018 Dance Magazine Awards. A tradition dating back to 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards celebrate the living legends who have made a lasting impact on dance. This year's honorees include:
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New York, NY (September 2018) – Misty Copeland will open the 61st annual Dance Magazine Awards. The evening will honor Ronald K. Brown, Lourdes Lopez (presented by Darren Walker), Crystal Pite, and Michael Trusnovec (presented by Patrick Corbin). A special Leadership Award will be presented to Nigel Redden. Since 1954 the Dance Magazine Awards have recognized outstanding men and women whose contributions have left a lasting impact on dance. This year's Awards will take place on Monday, December 3, 2018 at The Ailey Citigroup Theater at 7:30 pm. Tickets start at $50 and can be purchased by emailing email@example.com.
A new award, The Harkness Promise Award, will shine a light on two emerging young artists for the promise of their artistic work. The inaugural awardees are Raja Feather Kelly and Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie. The Harkness Foundation For Dance received proceeds from last year's Dance Magazine Awards for this grant. The award showcases innovative thinking and how to be an effective artist-citizen who positively impacts dance and the broader community through performance, education, organization and activism. Proceeds from this year's Dance Magazine Awards will be applied to next year's Harkness Promise Awards.
"All of us at Dance Magazine are excited to partner with The Harkness Foundation For Dance for a second year and to benefit these two deserving artists. This year's Dance Magazine Awards has once again chosen a stellar group of honorees and we are thrilled to have Misty Copeland join us. We are confident that the 61st Dance Magazine Awards will be our best yet." – Frederic Seegal, CEO/Chairman Dance Media
"Ballet," said George Balanchine, "is woman." Throughout his long choreographic career, he placed the ballerina at the center of the action, and all eyes were on her. There are numerous examples, from Mozartiana to Theme and Variations, Square Dance and Chaconne.
In this sense, Balanchine was carrying on the tradition of Marius Petipa and other 19th-century choreographers whose story ballets, such as Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, featured vibrant ballerinas at the heart of their tales.
Crystal Pite is a busy woman.
While her company, Kidd Pivot, toured the globe recently performing Betroffenheit—its acclaimed collaboration with Jonathon Young and fellow Canadians Electric Company Theatre—Pite herself launched three productions at three of the world's foremost dance companies: Nederlands Dans Theater (The Statement, February 2016), the Paris Opéra Ballet (The Seasons' Canon, fall 2016), and London's Royal Ballet (Flight Pattern, spring 2017).
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As soon as we started putting together a list of the most influential people in dance today, we knew two things. By the very nature of the topic we were tackling, our final list was going to be:
1. Entirely subjective, and
2. By no means comprehensive.
We wanted to get your input and hear who else you felt should be on the list. So we asked you who we missed, and here's what you told us through email, Facebook and Twitter:
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.
Across the pond in London, dancers at The Royal Ballet are busy gearing up for an exciting new debut. For the first time ever, edgy and theatrical contemporary choreographer Crystal Pite is creating a work on the company. (This season, she's become even more of an "it girl," gaining ground in the ballet world with a premiere at the Paris Opéra Ballet in September.) Right now we don't know too much about her Royal creation, except that it will involve a large ensemble dancing to Henryk Górecki's popular contemporary classical work, "Symphony No. 3" (or the "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs").
Pite rehearsing with Paris Opéra Ballet dancers in the fall. Photo by Julien Benhamou, Courtesy POB.
But we're about to learn more: This afternoon at 2:15 EST, the Royal Opera House will present a livestream of the work in progress via their YouTube channel. Not only will we get to see Pite coaching the company through several sections of the ballet, but the online event will include an interview, hopefully shedding more light on Pite's creative process.
If you're having a snow day—like us in New York City—you've just found the perfect way to spend your afternoon.
For more on Crystal Pite's foray into ballet, see her profile in Dance Magazine's February issue.
Mondays can be a struggle. But thanks to 52 Portraits, a dance video series produced by Sadler's Wells, I get my #MondayMotivation courtesy of some of the coolest dancers and choreographers working today. Every Monday, the site posts a new video "portrait" of a dance artist; the plan is to release one for every Monday of 2016. The portraits are by turns funny, thought-provoking and poignant, but all are equally gripping for distinctly individual reasons.
The project is a collaboration between choreographer Jonathan Burrows, composer Matteo Fargion and videographer Hugo Glendinning. Each video is brief, some only a minute long, and features a dance artist at a table in front of a simple black backdrop. The choreography is primarily gestural, reflective of the subject's individual style and background; the lyrics are comprised of statements made by the subject during the filming process, set to the tune of existing songs. The result is a deeply personal glimpse of the dancer or choreographer at a moment in time.
Take, for example, this portrait of choreographer Crystal Pite.
Pite shows off her lighting-quick hands and arms, repeating small sets of frustrated, precise movements as the score describes her struggles with memory since having her child.
Or Zenaida Yanowsky, a longtime principal dancer with The Royal Ballet. Yanowsky subtly adjusts and readjusts her classical port de bras with a fluidity that suggests her portrayal of Odette. The quiet music says that this piece is partly about her dealing with the thought of retirement.
One of the strangest yet most mesmerizing videos is William Forsythe's. The lyrics report Forsythe's musings on creativity in the kitchen to his garden to the place of dance in the world, while the choreographer, wearing a mask and a hoodie, plays with the folding of his hands and wrists across and above the table. He settles his fists, then his elbows on the table and looks at the camera directly as we hear, "He says moving makes him curious."
I'm not familiar with the work of all of the artists on the site, but getting to know them through these portraits has resulted in some delightful surprises. Today's contribution from London-based choreographer Seke Chimutengwende, accompanied only by a recording of him "making a sound of the dance he is dancing," brought a smile to my face. His fully embodied movements seem to illustrate a creative thought process.
All of the previous portraits and the accompanying lyrics are available to view on the 52 Portraits website. I, for one, can't wait to see what inspiration they have in store for next week.
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.
Known for extraordinary movement invention and the darkly psychological aura of her works, Crystal Pite, 43, launched back into action last spring after taking a year off to spend time with her 3-year-old son. One of the most in-demand choreographers on the planet, she now directs her Vancouver-based company Kidd Pivot, while serving as associate choreographer for Nederlands Dans Theater and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. She's also an associate artist at Sadler's Wells, where she'll premiere a new work Oct. 30–Nov. 1.
Tell me about your new piece at Sadler's Wells.
It's for an evening of works by four choreographers to the music of the British composer Thomas Adès. I'm bringing my company to work with 60 students from London dance schools. I'm interested in working with emergent structures that appear in nature, like flocking and swarming, and also more urban images—traffic flows and that kind of thing.
How are you juggling Cedar Lake and NDT on top of your own company?
I'll be making a piece for NDT in April. I've been working with some of those dancers for nearly 10 years—we've built a lot of trust and understanding over time, and the work really grows because of that. For Cedar Lake, I have a new creation in the 2015–16 season. Also, I take care of the works I've already made for them. Every time a new cast member comes in, things change. You want to tailor the piece to suit the people in front of you, not try to hang on to old ideas.
Is there anything that all of these dancers have in common?
Yes, that's why I love working with these three companies. They're fast, they're fearless, they're open to trying new things. I'm always amazed at how quickly they can jump from one idea to another. They're very resourceful and intelligent in terms of taking movement and finding all of its possibilities, the extremes and subtleties. They have really strong technique that I can either work with or push against.
Does your son travel with you?
My son and my partner, Jay. Since Niko was born we've done everything together. And Jay is a set designer, so we work together on some projects.
Has anything changed since Niko came into the picture?
I don't have time to train anymore, so I don't demonstrate as much. I'm not creating vocabulary out of my own body, and I think that has been a good thing. I've had to pull movement out of other bodies, other minds, to find new pathways. Also, I have to be more efficient: Before Niko, I spent a lot more time preparing. Now I don't have time. You also have to let things go. That's been a hard lesson for me—letting something be good enough for now.
What was it like to come back after a year off?
The hunger to create new work came flooding back in. Before, I was enjoying what I was making, but I felt that I was always responding to deadlines with a sense of dread. Now I feel like I really want to make something, and it's a great feeling.
Ballet Hispanico in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Sombrerisimo. Photo by Paula Lobo, Courtesy Ballet Hispanico.
Anchored in the old, hungry for the new, contemporary ballet is a style that remains ambiguous. It allows the body to careen off balance and the stage relationships to shift. It’s less bent on creating masterworks, and more curious to be playing in a sandbox of possibilities. But is contemporary ballet any ballet being made today? Or is there a particular tone, approach or style that marks it as contemporary? Dance Magazine spoke to five choreographers attached to this label to learn what it means to them.
Annabelle Lopez Ochoa
Classical ballet was very much directed toward the audience. Neoclassical started to change the shapes but was still toward the audience. With contemporary ballet, you turn the room. The audience is asked to look at what is happening between the dancers. But it still uses the classical vocabulary and the aesthetic of a beautiful line.
For me, the woman in classical ballet is so feminine, and I try to change that frail thing so she’s not that 16-year-old princess. I want her to be a woman of our time. She’s stronger. When I use pointework, it’s lower: I have the girls hanging more with their hip, forward or back. I’m looking to use the fluidity of my contemporary work in pointe shoes. I also try to change the position of the female dancer in relation to the male. I make her more powerful and him more visible, so he’s not just lifting her up and down. I try to find tender moments from him toward her, so it’s not that he’s always strong and she has to be as light as possible.
Above: Ochoa rehearsing Sombrerisimo. Photo by Paula Lobo, Courtesy Ballet Hispanico.
Choreographer in residence, Atlanta Ballet
There’s a quandary about the definition of contemporary ballet that hovers over the ballet world. The term at times seems deliberately ambiguous, almost as though we don’t want to define this era, to stay loose about it so it doesn’t get fixed.
But we need to be clear so dancers can be clear. How do we define this for dancers going to auditions? With the dancers who come to contemporary ballet auditions, there isn’t that beautiful command of the pointe shoe where it’s malleable and looks like part of the foot, or that deconstructed torso, where energy bounces into the torso, then back out into the limbs.
Here’s a definition: Work where the dancer has an incredible sense of complex coordination, where the full body is contributing to the movement and not the pose. It’s that overt sense of épaulement. In Forsythe’s company, where I danced for 12 years, it was about the fully investigated body, absolute physical prowess, going to the end of a movement and asking, How does that take you to the next place?
The classical technique, the anchor, must be there so the riffs can happen. And perhaps the riff is the contemporary part of ballet. Like jazz riffs, like in a poetry jam, you have your anchor and then you go from there.
Right: Pickett in an Atlanta Ballet rehearsal. Photo by Charlie McCullers, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.
Artistic associate, The Royal Ballet
Associate artist, Sadler’s Wells
For me, contemporary ballet means any ballet choreography made today. I consider all of my ballets, story or abstract, to be contemporary ballet. The real question, I suppose, is, What defines a ballet? For me, the pointe shoe is one of the major factors that define a dance piece as a ballet rather than modern dance. However, my movement language comes from many influences, including modern dance.
Above: Wheeldon working on An American in Paris with Nathan Madden. Photo by Matt Trent, Courtesy Wheeldon.
Above: James Whiteside and Whitney Jensen in Elo’s Brake the Eyes. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
Resident choreographer, Boston Ballet
There should be some sort of investigating of movement that is not directly taken from the ballet book, something new so you’re not just repeating what the vocabulary has been for hundreds of years. For example, I base my knowledge of how to use the back from Cunningham and from Graham technique, as well as my Vaganova training. I use angles from the legs, from the arms, other parts of the body; I don’t isolate the spine. Some dancers more easily go into movement research. They are not afraid to be in situations that are unfamiliar; they are mentally more flexible.
Above: Elo setting work at Boston Ballet. Photo by Rosalie O’Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet.
Artistic director, Kidd Pivot
Associate choreographer, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater
Associate artist, Sadler’s Wells
It’s hard to find new language within classical ballet, but now there’s more openness to bringing in a new vocabulary and smashing it together with the ballet body. At the Paris Opéra Ballet, for example, there’s work by Emanuel Gat, Sasha Waltz, Jérôme Bel. Even though I danced with Forsythe, now when I work with a ballet company, I feel like I speak a different language. I think, How do I get back into pointe and do I want to? Emergence at National Ballet of Canada was about being otherworldly and alien and insect-like, and the pointe shoes really lent themselves to that strange creature-like state. But to use pointe shoes to try to get at other kinds of content, I don’t really have an interest in that.
Maybe the question is, What kind of training does a company do every morning? Are they at the barre, doing tendus? At Cedar Lake they do ballet every day, but they might do improv depending on who’s visiting. At Kidd Pivot, every once in a while we’ll do a quick-and-dirty barre. It’s healthy to be training in different ways. If ballet is in the mix, great. But it needs to be one part of a bigger picture.
Right: Pite rehearsing Emergence at NBOC. Photo by Sian Richards; Courtesy NBOC.
Wendy Perron, Dance Magazine editor at large, is author of Through the Eyes of a Dancer. Her website is wendyperron.com.
A Storm of Movement
Crystal Pite, that master of rigor and recklessness, kicks off the tour of her latest creation, The Tempest Replica, for Frankurt/Vancouver–based Kidd Pivot this month. Exploring the themes of revenge/forgiveness and reality/imagination that run through Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the piece engages a dual cast of characters: Dancers dressed in street clothes and the “replicas,” clothed in all white with covered faces. Replica appears at the Power Center in Ann Arbor, MI, Sept. 21–22 and Ottawa’s National Arts Centre Theatre Sept. 27–28, and will travel to Halifax, Nova Scotia; Montreal; Vancouver; and NYC through the fall. www.kiddpivot.org.
Eric Beauchesne with Peter Chu, Jiri Pokorny, Yannick Matthon, and Jermaine Maurice Spivey in The Tempest Replica. Photo by Jörg Baumann, Courtesy UMich.
A midsized company with big dreams, Tulsa Ballet opens its season with ambitious fare: the return of Jorma Elo’s furiously fast Slice to Sharp, the company premiere of Edwaard Liang’s Age of Innocence, inspired by the novels of Jane Austen, and Wayne McGregor’s PreSentient. The last, set to the music of Steve Reich, is a U.S. debut, with TB joining only a handful of stateside companies to which the choreographer has entrusted his overstretched, highly kinetic movement. Sept. 14–16. www.tulsaballet.org.
Alfonso Martin and Sofia Menteguiaga in Liang’s Age of Innocence. Photo by Julie Shelton, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet.
TBA in PDX
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Time-Based Art Festival celebrates its 10th anniversary of putting experimental art front and center. In the festival’s first year under the direction of Angela Mattox, a former curator at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, interdisciplinary performances will take over warehouses and streets, as well as theaters. TBA:12 welcomes back Faustin Linyekula and Miguel Gutierrez, while Nora Chipaumire makes her first appearance in Miriam, a world premiere that grapples with popular expectations of femininity. Another sociopolitical piece comes courtesy of Bay Area–based Keith Hennessy, with his Turbulence (A Dance About the Economy). Sept. 6–16. www.pica.org/tba.
Okwui Okpokwasili and Nora Chipaumire in Miriam. Photo by Antoine Tempé, Courtesy PICA.
New Choreo in Cincinnati
Cincinnati Ballet has commissioned three pieces from female dancemakers for its Kaplan New Works Series, all of whom have local roots as alumni of Cincy’s School for Creative and Performing Arts.Paige Cunningham Caldarella, assistant professor at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago and a former Cunningham dancer; Bay Area–based choreographer Amy Seiwert; and Heather Britt, on faculty at Northern Kentucky University will contribute the premieres, while Jessica Lang’s Baroque-influenced La Belle Danse rounds out the program. Sept. 6–16. www.cballet.org.
Joshua Bodden in Heather Britt’s Blind Man’s Map at the Kaplan New Works Series 2011. Photo by Peter Mueller, Courtesy CB.
Noémie Lafrance’s work, in which dancers have scaled buildings, performed in empty swimming pools, and “melted” while perched on a brick wall, evokes a visceral response. Her latest project, Choreography for Audiences, uses technology to incorporate the public into the performance. When reserving tickets to the concert (Sept. 15–16), individuals were given a secret website link with instructions about the roles they will play in the piece. Lafrance also plans to film the performances and distribute the footage online, adding another layer of audience members. www.sensproduction.org.
Noémie Lafrance’s The White Box Project. Photo by sens production, Courtesy Lafrance.
Into Living Rooms Across Philly
The annual Philadelphia Live Arts Festival has invited international guests, as well as local dancemakers, to perform a slew of shows that put the audience first. In Sylvain Émard Danse’s Le Grand Continental, more than 200 residents will take over the Benjamin Franklin Parkway with a combination of Émard’s contemporary movement and line dancing (the choreographer’s childhood love). Philly-based Brian Sanders’ JUNK (which often incorporates found objects) performs The Gate Reopened, in which the dancers scale a 20-foot-high octagon with moving parts, surrounded by the audience. Local troupe Headlong Dance Theater brings This Town Is a Mystery into the living rooms of four homes—with the residents as the performers. Sept. 7–22. www.livearts-fringe.org.
Sylvain Émard Danse’s Le Grand Continental. Photo by Robert Etcheverry, Courtesy PLA.
Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal’s home season at the Théâtre Maisonneuve is especially sweet this year, as the edgy company celebrates 40. The program includes Benjamin Millepied’s duet Closer with the luminous Céline Cassone and recent Juilliard grad Alexander Hille; Fuel, by Cayetano Soto; and a premiere by Barak Marshall for the full company (set to a mash-up of jazz, Israeli folk music, and traditional Québécois music). Sept. 27–29. The company will tour nationally and internationally this fall, including a run at the Joyce in New York beginning Oct. 30. www.bjmdanse.ca.
Alexandra Gerchman and Morgane Le Tiec in Fuel. Photo by Benjamin Von Wong, Courtesy Danse Danse.