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The Fresh Sights of Fall
BodyCartography Project, coming to Walker Art Center in October. Photo by Gene Pittman, Courtesy WAC.
This fall, a vibrant mix of voices will be “heard” onstage through movement, memorials, and mile-markers. From an array of world premieres hitting theaters across the U.S., to tantalizing festivals celebrating major anniversaries, to a wealth of international work, autumn is the perfect season to cozy up in a dance theater—or venture out on a dance-viewing road trip!
One of the most interesting imports promises to be “Voices of Strength,” which brings together fierce women choreographers from across Africa and its diaspora. The program includes a duet by Kettly Noël (from Haiti and Mali) and Nelisiwe Xaba (from South Africa) that shares stories and reunions; a solo by Maria Helena Pinto of Mozambique with a large sculptural set; and works by Bouchra Ouizguen of Morocco and Nadia Beugré (formerly of Compagnie TchéTché) of Côte d’Ivoire. The project tours to the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago (Sept. 13–15), New York Live Arts (Sept. 18–22), Seattle Theatre Group (Sept. 28–29), the Kennedy Center (Oct. 4–5), the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (Oct. 10–13), and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the Bay Area (Oct. 19–20).
Hofesh Shechter’s choreographic voice is loud, in-your-face, and refreshing. Political Mother, his first full-length piece, is touring worldwide this year, including U.S. stops at BAM (Oct. 11–13) and a co-presentation by University of Minnesota’s Northrop Dance and the Walker Art Center (Nov. 13). The Israeli choreographer (and former drummer) describes the work as having the atmosphere of a rock concert, and critics have called it an “audiovisual marvel.”
BAM Next Wave 30th-anniversary season kicks off with multi-media maven Jonah Bokaer, whose collaboration with visual artist Anthony McCall, ECLIPSE, premieres Sept. 5–9 as the first work at BAM’s new Richard B. Fisher Building. The festival includes a slew of world, U.S., and New York premieres. Australian choreographer Lucy Guerin’s Untrained pairs two male dancers with two male nondancers and lets the chips fall where they may (Nov. 27–Dec. 1). Nora Chipaumire’s Miriam (Sept. 12–15) draws from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, interviews with Miriam Makeba, Christian prayers, and original text by Chipaumire. And Brazil’s hyperactive Grupo Corpo brings two pieces (Nov. 1–3). The festival offers a chance for artists to come home again too, like Garth Fagan Dance, returning to BAM for the first time in more than 20 years to premiere a new work with music by Wynton Marsalis (Sept. 27–30). Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch returns with Bausch’s final work, “…como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si…” (…like moss on a stone), which is the last of the “World Cities” series, made in Santiago, Chile (Oct. 18–21, 23–24, 26–27). BAM’s DanceMotion USA ambassador program gives space for a collaborative performance between Trey McIntyre Project and an Asian dance company to be selected from the company’s international tour. This work premieres Nov. 14–17 in the Fishman Space.
At right: BAM Next Wave Festival presents Pina Bausch’s last piece in the “World Cities” series, made in Santiago, Chile; shown here, Anna Wehsarg and Rainer Behr. Photo by Bo Lahola, Courtesy BAM.
“Judson Now,” the fall-season platform of the Danspace Project, marks 50 years since the start of Judson Dance Theater, that incubator of postmodern dance. It welcomes rebels-turned-masters Steve Paxton Sept. 8; David Gordon Oct. 25–27; Yvonne Rainer Nov. 1–3; and a work by Deborah Hay performed by Roz Warby and Jeanine Durning Nov. 29–Dec. 1.
New York Live Arts (formerly DTW), taking a page from Judson, is presenting dance artists with a wild streak. RoseAnne Spradlin’s beginning of something returns to NYC in all its naked-women glory Sept. 26–29; the outrageous Keith Hennessy brings “improvised happening and political theater” in his Turbulence Oct. 4–6; the always enigmatic Tere O’Connor give us a world premiere Nov. 27–Dec. 1.
For the third year, New York City Ballet has added a welcome fall season. Stretching from Sept. 18 through Oct. 14 at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center, it focuses on the groundbreaking Stravinsky/Balanchine collaboration. It also includes a premiere by corps member Justin Peck.
At left: NYCB’s Orpheus with Wendy Whelan and Ask la Cour. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.
Beyond NYC, audiences from Houston to Milwaukee and Boston to Seattle get to be the first to see the following world premieres: Michael Pink makes Milwaukee Ballet dancers the “unsung” heroes in his full-length ballet take on the Puccini opera, La Bohème (Oct. 18–21). St. Louis Ballet brings in NYC contemporary choreographer Pam Tanowitz to create a work on the company, which premieres on a mixed bill including premieres by local companies such as aTrek Dance Collective, MADCO, and Common Thread Contemporary Dance Company (Oct. 5–6). Jorma Elo, resident choreographer of Boston Ballet, makes his eighth work for the company Oct. 25 to Nov. 4. And in a program entitled Women@Art, Houston Ballet gives Aszure Barton’s light a chance to shine in the south with a world premiere. Barton’s cohorts for this program include Tharp’s The Brahms–Haydn Variations and Julia Adam’s Ketubah (Sept. 20–30).
The Minneapolis presenter Walker Art Center has commissioned Miguel Gutierrez’s And lose the name of action, an evening-length “séance” (Sept. 19–22); and the BodyCartography Project’s dance/performance/installation Super Nature (Oct. 25–27), an ecological melodrama. After participating in the Judson Now program at Danspace, Deborah Hay will have an encore at the Walker in “Hay Days: A Deborah Hay Celebration” Dec. 5–8.
Over in the Windy City, the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago showcases such artists as Kota Yamazaki/Fluid Hug-Hug in (glowing) Sept. 27–29 and Gallim Dance Oct. 11–13. At Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Marc Chagall’s America Windows stained-glass artwork will come to life in a world premiere by Alejandro Cerrudo Oct. 18–21. Later in the season, Hubbard Street will bring Mats Ek’s Casi-Casa, Aszure Barton’s Untouched, and Cerrudo’s Blank and PACOPEPEPLUTO Dec. 6–9.
At right: Meredith Dincolo of Hubbard Street in Untouched by Aszure Barton. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy HSDC.
Pacific Northwest Ballet turns the big 4-0 this year. To celebrate, their November programming features four world premieres. After opening the season in September with Kent Stowell’s beloved Cinderella Sept. 21–30 (and a special one-night-only performance of Circus Polka, with Patricia Barker as the Ringmaster, Sept. 21), PNB performs new works by company dancers Andrew Bartee, Kiyon Gaines, and Margaret Mullin alongside a premiere by Mark Morris (Nov. 2–11).
ODC Theater in the Bay Area is highlighting collaborations this fall. LEVY Dance has invited NYC choreographer Sidra Bell to spend eight weeks making a piece together, to premiere Nov. 15–18. The following week Garrett +Moulton Productions (Janice Garrett and Charlie Moulton) work with local musicians to come up with an evening of dance theater on “themes of wonder and enchantment.”
Paul Taylor will have his work seen as part of the Sarasota Ballet season. His company performs The Uncommitted as guest artists Oct. 26–28. Then Sarasota Ballet dances his Company B, along with Wheeldon’s There Where She Loved (Nov. 16–17). Miami City Ballet performs Taylor’s Piazzolla Caldera on a mixed bill that also includes Ashton’s Les Patineurs and Balanchine’s Apollo (Oct. 19–21, Oct. 26–28, and Nov. 30–Dec. 2).
For classic story ballets, there’s a spate of Giselles. Pennsylvania Ballet’s version goes up Oct. 18–28, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s is Oct. 26–28, and Ballet Arizona’s is Nov. 1–4. Nashville Ballet awakens The Sleeping Beauty Oct. 19–21. The nation’s capital will have a chance to escape election overload by diving into classics remade, like the Mariinsky Ballet in Ratmansky’s Cinderella at the Kennedy Center Oct. 16–21, and San Francisco Ballet in Helgi Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet Nov. 13–18.
At left: Mariinsky Ballet’s Daria Pavlenko in Cinderella. Photo by N. Razina, Courtesy Mariinsky.
Surely you can find something that speaks to you in this diverse lineup. Celebrate the new season by challenging yourself to see a style of dance you haven’t seen before.
Emily Macel Theys, a former associate editor of Dance Magazine, is the communications and development director for Dance Exchange in Washington, DC.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
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We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
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When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.