Vital Signs

July 26, 2010

Rock Star Status

Back for its fourth year, the Chicago Dancing Festival brings international dance free to a huge, enthusiastic, and diverse public. This year’s lineup includes Mark Morris Dance Group, Ballet West, and The Royal Ballet’s Leanne Benjamin and Edward Watson, along with the local Joffrey Ballet and Trinity Irish Dance Company. After performances in the Harris Theater and the Museum of Contemporary Art, the action moves to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. With the Chicago skyline providing a backdrop, the outdoor pavilion can seat over 11,000 people and is equipped with giant video screens. As festival cofounder Lar Lubovitch puts it, “The dancers feel like rock stars.” Aug. 26–28. See



The Perfect Storm

Imagine sounds so cataclysmic that your seat is vibrating. Imagine a monumental wall that slowly, ominously gets stained red. Imagine a group of men scurrying and gesticulating with quiet urgency. This is the world of Tempest: Without a Body, the mixed-media creation of Samoan choreographer Lemi Ponifasio that will be performed at the Edinburgh International Festival, which runs from Aug. 13 to Sept. 5. Ponifasio, with his company MAU, will also bring a world premiere titled Birds with Skymirrors. If you’re anywhere in Europe, go see it. See



Trey Cool

The bar was set high for Trey McIntyre’s Ma Maison, his NOBA-commissioned work about jazz and New Orleans. “It meant a great deal to me to treat the subject matter with reverence,” says McIntyre. “People there will cry foul against inauthenticity in a second.” Ma Maison uses music by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, which, like McIntyre, updates a classical vocabulary for a contemporary audience. On Aug. 18, the Trey McIntyre Project performs the 2008 piece at the Hollywood Bowl, the largest natural outdoor amphitheater in the U.S., with the band. Both scary and funny, Ma Maison revels in the traditions of New Orleans with McIntyre’s intricate and sassy choreography. See



If the Shoe Fits

It may be a pointe shoe instead of a glass slipper that gets left behind, but English National Ballet’s Cinderella retains all the enchantment of the original fairy tale. To celebrate ENB’s Diamond Jubilee (60th anniversary), director Wayne Eagling decided to revive Michael Corder’s version of the ballet, created for the company in 1996. Set to Prokofiev’s dramatic score, Corder’s ballet has earned a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Dance Production (1997). London Coliseum, Aug. 11–15. See



Festival of Sound

STEPOLOGY’s annual Bay Area Tap Festival returns for its eighth year with a week of workshops and a two-night performance event at Herbst Theatre. In addition to music director Channing Cook Holmes, festival director John Kloss, and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, making their festival debuts are juggler/tapper Lukas Weiss and Jason Rodgers of Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. Aug. 16–22. See



Boléro on Repeat

Get the refrain stuck in your head—Sweden’s Göteborg Ballet makes its U.S. debut at Jacob’s Pillow with three takes inspired by the familiar Ravel music. Led by Johannes Öhman, the modern dance company has evolved from its classical roots over the last decade. Choreographers Johan Inger, Kenneth Kvarnström, and Alexander Ekman share their visions for (more or less) the Ravel score. Aug. 18–21. See



Stepping up to 3-D

From choreographer/producer Adam Shankman (So You Think You Can Dance and the film version of Hairspray) and director Jon M. Chu (Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) on Aug. 6 comes the third installment in the Step Up series: Step Up 3-D. While the plot predictably revolves around a crew of street dancers who have to band together to battle a more experienced crew, the film gets the 3-D treatment—a first for a dance flick. Shot entirely in NYC and choreographed by Hi-Hat, among others, there are plenty of SYTYCD and LXD alums who get onscreen time, including Stephen “Twitch” Boss and Harry Shum Jr.


Worth 1,000 Words & $4,000

Martha Swope captured the dance greats on film for decades; she was the official photographer of New York City Ballet, Martha Graham Dance Company, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Many of her photos graced the pages of DM. At the Diane Von Furstenberg studio last April, she was honored with an exhibit and auctioned off some of her most iconic shots. Her photo of Natalia Makarova, Jerome Robbins, and Mikhail Baryshnikov rehearsing Robbins’  (1976) sold for $4,000, and the proceeds went to a cause close to her heart: the Humane Society of New York.



Pictured: Lemi Ponifasio’s
Birds with Skymirrors.