Vital Signs

January 24, 2010




River Runs Midwest

St. Louis welcomes River North Chicago Dance Company Feb. 26­–27. After three stops in Pennsylvania at the beginning of the month and RN’s annual Valentine’s Day weekend of performances in Chicago, this jazz-based contemporary dance company brings a mixed bill of works, including artistic director Frank Chaves’ Forbidden Boundaries, to the Gateway City. See


Pippi in Providence

The freckle-faced, red-haired troublemaker of yore bounds onstage this month as Festival Ballet Providence brings this children’s production to its Black Box Theater on Feb. 7 and 14. Following each performance, kids in the audience will get a chance to take photos with the characters, who’ve stepped out of the pages of Astrid Lindgren’s classic book, Pippi Longstocking. See


Flamenco for February

Gypsy choreographer Mario Maya lives on in the next generation of Sevillian talent, which comes to the New York Flamenco Festival Feb. 11–14 and the Flamenco Festival Miami Feb. 13–18. Israel & Pastora Galván, brother and sister soloists, are known for their wild postmodern take on flamenco. Belén López & Rocío Molina perform beside Maya’s daughter, Belén. And María Pagés, known for her endless arms and fiery energy, may be familiar from her stints with Riverdance. See and


Across the Pond

The British Dance Edition, a biennial four-day showcase that connects the British dance community with presenters, lands in Birming­ham this month. Performances, open both to delegates and the general public, include God’s Garden, a world premiere by London-based choreographer Arthur Pita that relocates the Prodigal Son parable to Porto Moniz, Madeira, a village in Portugal known as “God’s Garden.” Feb. 3–6. See


A Collision of Cultures

Akram Khan’s ingenious and moving bahok, performed by his international London-based company, comes to the MCA Stage in Chicago Feb. 26–28. It takes place in an airport under some kind of unstated disastrous conditions. Although Khan denies that it’s “fusion,” or even “multicultural,” he says the piece is based on an insight he had when an elevator full of people of different cultures got stuck: “In a moment of crisis, everybody has to come together no matter what language and culture. Everything goes out the window, human being gets in the window—the human connection.” Bahok also appears in Southern California Feb. 9, 12, 16; in S.F. Feb. 18–20; at the Music Hall Center in Detroit Feb. 24; and in Minneapolis Mar. 3. See


An American Original

With an exuberantly handsome gas station attendant Mac in the lead and an ensemble cast of tourists, gangsters, and a state trooper, Lew Christensen’s Filling Station is all-Americana. Nashville Ballet’s reconstruction of the 1938 ballet, accomplished with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts’ American Masterpieces initiative, has funded remakes of Paul Cadmus’ original set and costumes. (Jacques d’Amboise wore the see-through coveralls in New York City Ballet’s 1953 revival, which helped launch his film career.) One of the first ballets created and danced solely by Americans—Lincoln Kirstein was the librettist, Virgil Thomson the composer—Filling Station was made for Ballet Caravan, a NYCB predecessor. NB’s American Originals program also includes Awaiting Redemption by artistic director Paul Vasterling and Balanchine’s Who Cares? Feb. 12–14. See


Tap It to Texas

Houston hosts the city’s first tap festival in 20 years this month. Coming to the state’s largest city for three rhythm-filled days, the Space City Tap Festival boasts more than 25 classes in all levels. Renowned tappers and teachers include Chloe Arnold and Jason Samuels Smith, who was honored by Dance Magazine in November. The festival concludes with a student-faculty perfor­mance, open to the public, to recognize Acia Gray’s efforts to keep tap alive, kicking, and in the heart of Texas. Feb. 26–28. See


Gatsby Goes to Washington

Septime Webre’s The Great Gatsby debuts at the Kennedy Center this month. Based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal novel that focuses on the excesses of the rich, the new production for The Washington Ballet harkens back to the Jazz Age (a term coined by Fitzgerald). With a score by Billy Novick, the ballet runs from Feb. 24­–28. See



Pictured: River North Chicago Dance Company. Photo by Cheryl Mann, courtesy River North