Vital Signs

April 25, 2011





To Toronto, tout de suite!

While dedicated to presenting Canadian contemporary dance, Toronto Dance Theatre reaches beyond borders for its Paris/Toronto Project. Welcoming choreographers Alban Richard and Emmanuelle Vo-Dinh from the City of Light, director Christopher House uses the new points of view to stretch his dancers and raise the company’s international profile. The second edition in the series (House invited Berlin-based choreographers Felix Marchand and Christoph Winkler in 2009), Richard and Vo-Dinh’s new works will run from May 19–28. See


In the Arms of Alberta Ballet

Artistic director Jean Grand-Maître has found his newest musical muse: Canadian singer Sarah McLachlan. Grand-Maître’s Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, premiering May 5 in Calgary, uses over a dozen of McLachlan’s songs, which are so popular that a sixth show has been added. The work will lean more toward the lyrical moments of 2007’s Joni Mitchell ballet, The Fiddle and the Drum, rather than the over-the-top glee of last year’s Elton John piece, Love Lies Bleeding. See


Forgive Me, Father

Six choreographers partake of sin this month for BalletMet Columbus’ “7 Deadly Sins” program (not to be confused with NYCB’s versions, p. 36). Dancemakers including James Kudelka, Amy Seiwert, and Ma Cong have made original work for the program, which runs April 29–May 7. What will the dancers perform to? The choreographers worked with local performance troupe Shadowbox Live, who do everything from rock operas to burlesque shows, to create a mash-up score of original and familiar music. See


Family Matters

Sarasota Ballet’s repertoire is heavily infused with European choreographers, courtesy of British director Iain Webb. Its 20th-anniversary season included March’s “Out of Denmark” program, created in collaboration with Royal Ballet star Johan Kobborg. The final program of the season, “Spring Surprise!” welcomes the company’s dance friends and family, including choreographer Dominic Walsh. The Houston-based dancemaker will premiere a work for the dancers of both SB and his own company. April 29–May 1. See


Ballet’s Angel

For over two weeks every year, the Spoleto Festival USA has Charleston, SC’s arts scene buzzing with activity. This month’s dance offerings include Spain’s Corella Ballet, under the direction of the beloved Ángel Corella (the company also makes stops in New Orleans and Seattle). The program includes the joyful brother and sister duet Soleá by María Pagés and the awe-inspiring mechanics of Christopher Wheeldon’s Danse à Grand Vitesse. Also, French-Cambodian choreographer Emmanuèle Phuon will bring Khmeropédies I & II, her modern twist on traditional Khmer dance. May 26–30. See


Tears of War

The San Francisco International Arts Festival hosts the U.S. debut of Iraqi Bodies, who bring Crying of My Mother, an allegory for the religious conflict in its mother country. The dancers are male refugees from Iraq, and the company has made its home in the Netherlands. Director Muhanad Rasheed, who was recognized as Holland’s most promising choreographer at the 2010 Dutch Dance Days Festival, is also collaborating with Bay Area–based Dance Elixir on a piece that will premiere at next year’s SFIAF. See


Go East, Young Women

In the footsteps of San Francisco Ballet, New York City Ballet, Margaret Jenkins, and Limón Dance Company, all of whom have performed in China in recent years, Lula Washington Dance Theatre has booked its own trip this month. But rather than visiting large cosmopolitan cities, LWDT will tour to Henan and its neighboring provinces in central China May 21–June 13. The company’s visit will include workshops and performances of works by Donald McKayle, Rennie Harris, Christopher Huggins, and, of course, Washington. See


Ballet Survives in South Africa

In 2000, six years after South Africa’s apartheid system crumbled, the state-sponsored State Theatre Ballet was shut down. The following year, a new company, using dancers from the previous one, emerged. The South African Ballet Theatre, which worked hard to stay afloat financially, celebrates its 10th season by bringing back its version of Romeo and Juliet in Johannesburg May 27–June 19. While the company still has much more growing to do in terms of the diversity of its dancers, the outreach initiative of the SABT Development Schools, bridging economic and racial gaps, takes a leap in the right direction. See


Pictured: Alberta Ballet’s Asaka Homma. Photo by Charles Hope, Courtesy AB