Vital Signs

May 8, 2011

At the Finnish Line

Both local and international companies make their debuts at the 42nd annual Kuopio Dance Festival in Finland. Performers range from the Korean Byuk-Pah Dance Research Society to the Belgian Compagnie Thor, from Finnish contemporary folk dance troupe Rimpparemmi to the American companies Ailey II and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. The weeklong festival includes over a hundred courses, seminars, and shows (a fringe festival for local and emerging artists accompanies the main lineup). June 16–22. See


A Smorgasbord of Traditions

In a testament to the dazzling diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area, 50 local companies take part in the 2011 SF Ethnic Dance Festival—the most in its 33-year history. The performances span 30 traditions from five continents, including capoeira, Cambodian, Irish, West African, and Japanese dance. In partnership with Ohlone Profiles Project, the festival opens with a special ceremony to honor Ohlone Native Americans, including Ohlone dancers and musicians. Members of the tribe, which is native to the San Francisco area, will join in what may be the Ohlone’s largest gathering in 200 years. June 3–July 3. See


A New (Old)

Pacific Northwest Ballet premieres a restaging of Giselle at McCaw Hall this month. Artistic director Peter Boal, with help from dance scholars Doug Fullington and Marian Smith, used surviving Stepanov notation to reconstruct lost choreography. The sold-out Works & Process show at the Guggenheim earlier this year gave fans a glimpse of this mime-rich version. Scheduled to dance Giselle is the vibrant Carla Körbes, retracing the airy steps and countless arabesques of Carlotta Grisi’s original Giselle—170 years later. See


Cabriole en Colombia

From June 5–12, a slew of international talent assembles at the V Festival Internacional de Ballet in Cali, Colombia. Hosted by the Instituto Colombiano de Ballet Clásico, this year’s edition presents dancers from 17 companies for 40 performances—most free to the public. The Trey McIntyre Project is one of the U.S. delegates, while Nederlands Dans Theater and Brazil’s Grupo Corpo also bring a contemporary feel. Hong Kong Ballet, Ballet Nacional de Cuba, and Ballet Santiago de Chile offer a more classical tradition. See


Montreal Modern

Two of the most intense experimental choreographers are Montreal-bound for Festival TransAmériques: Spain’s Israel Galván and Vancouver’s Crystal Pite headline the dance portion. On May 27 and 28, Galván portrays a multitude of characters in his one-man, flamenco-gone-crazy El final de este estado de cosas, redux. Then Crystal Pite’s Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM performs The You Show, her newest production of four separate works, June 9–11. Pite uses her extreme vocabulary to celebrate what she calls the epic experience of life. See


Going Dutch

From Samoan surrealism to b-boys from Algeria, the Holland Festival presents another international cadre of talent. Catch Lemi Ponifasio’s surreal Birds with Skymirrors; Sasha Waltz’s collaboration with composer Wolfgang Rihm, Jagden und Formen (Zustand 2008); Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and David Dawson’s new works for Het Nationale Ballet; and Compagnie La Baraka’s hip hop piece Nya. Finally, Bill T. Jones’ Fela!, which played in Nigeria in April, runs all month at the Koninklijk Theater Carré. June 3–25. See


Moving Through Spaces

From Chicago’s Union Station to St. Paul’s Chapel to a tennis court, choreographer Erin Carlisle Norton’s work is often colored by the history and experience of physical spaces. Her Chicago-based, all-female company Moving Architects, founded in 2007, premieres Pluck June 17–19. While the space may be traditional for Norton (a warehouse-turned-white-box-theater), her subject matter is still weighty: The piece explores struggles of power, both at the individual and societal levels. See


A Marquee of Movement

Dance becomes larger than life in a massive 50,000-square-foot mural on the parking garage of the Philadelphia International Airport. Photographer Jacques-Jean “JJ” Tizou captures the energy and dynamism of both professional and non-professional dancers in , a colossal way to welcome travelers to the City of Brotherly Love. Subjects range from noted tapper Germaine Ingram; Ali Bradley, a 2011 “25 to Watch”; a Hawaiian dancer with N’Bonye Dance and Drum ensemble; and a student at the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts. See



Top: Compagnie Thor in Thierry Smits’
To the Ones I Love. Photo by M.F. Plissart, Courtesy Kuopio. Bottom: Hong Kong Ballet’s Liu Yu-yao and Wei Wei in Krzysztof Pastor’s In Light and Shadow. Photo by Cheung Chi Wai, Courtesy InColballet