Vital Signs

January 11, 2011




Moving with Mantsoe

Diabolical. Convulsive. Entertaining. Vincent Mantsoe, the Johannesburg-born dancer/sorcerer and 2004 “25 to Watch” draws from world dance forms ranging from African to Balinese to ballet. His five-member, Paris-based company performs SAN, set to Middle Eastern music that combines the traditional dances of Mantsoe’s native South Africa with modern street forms. Wesleyan University Feb. 5–6 and L.A.’s REDCAT Feb. 9–13. See and


It’s Storytime

Bay Area choreographer Robert Moses offers two explorations into childhood, family, and identity this month. His company Robert Moses’ Kin premieres the imaginative Fable & Faith at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Feb. 18–20, with a live performance by the San Francisco Boys Chorus. Then last year’s Cinderella Principle comes to Chicago Feb. 24–26. Both works were co-created with playwright Anne Galjour. See


A Universe Is Born

Abou Lagraa’s Lyon-based Compagnie La Baraka comes stateside this month. The French choreographer of Algerian descent, who has received commissions from the Paris Opéra Ballet and CCN Ballet de Lorraine, combines modern and hip hop. Seven dancers perform Lagraa’s newest work, A World in Itself, which explores the beginnings of life. Feb. 26 at Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater in Houston, March 1 at UC San Diego, and March 3–5 at University of Washington. See


Pivotal Moments

Crystal Pite’s astonishing, scary-but-uplifting Dark Matters comes to On the Boards in Seattle Feb. 17–20. The next week she brings her Lost Action to UCLA Live Feb. 25–26. Pite, who spent five years with Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt, stirs up a brew of complex choreography, fusing introspection with pure movement invention. Her company, Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM, is now based in both Vancouver and Frankfurt, and she has emerged as one of the most exciting choreographers on the international scene. See


East Meets Midwest

After last year’s sold-out run, the James Sewell Ballet returns to Southern Theater in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities–based company pulls from its New York City roots in “Balletworks TC/NYC Connections,” with a commissioned work by former Paul Taylor dancer Patrick Corbin. The company also offers a hybrid piece by Afro-modern choreographer Kenna Sarge and the choreographic debut of company member Chris Hannon. Feb. 24–27. See


Back to Ballet Black

It’s been 10 years since Cassa Pancho founded the wildly popular Ballet Black, the London-based company dedicated to giving opportunities to black and Asian dancers. To celebrate, the eight-member troupe performs a special anniversary program of the old and new at the Royal Opera House’s Linbury Studio Theatre. In addition to Antonia Franceschi’s Shift, Trip…Catch (2005) and last year’s Da Gamba by star choreographer Henri Oguike, the company premieres its first full-length narrative ballet, Orpheus, by Will Tuckett. Feb. 9–12. See


In Memory of Music

Oregon Ballet Theatre brings music center stage as it pays tribute to composer Igor Stravinsky. “The Stravinsky Project” includes Yuri Possokhov’s fresh take on Firebird, director Christopher Stowell’s The Rite of Spring, and a collaborative premiere by Portland locals Anne Mueller (OBT), Rachel Tess (Rumpus Room Dance, a 2010 “25 to Watch”), and Jamey Hampton and Ashley Roland (BodyVox). Feb. 26–March 5. See


Secret Intelligence

Combine the famously exquisite Sylvie Guillem, the seamlessness of Russell Maliphant’s choreography, and the dark presence of acclaimed theater director Robert Lepage and what do you get? Eonnagata, the stunning production that makes its U.S. debut at Cal Performances in Berkeley, CA, this month. The dramatic lighting by Michael Hulls creates a dreamy backdrop for the story of Charles de Beaumont, a spy and master of disguise under Louis XV, whose gender was supposedly unknown until his death. The influence of onnagata, a Kabuki tradition in which males train to portray female characters, is expressed in the bizarre, pre–Lady Gaga costumes by the late Alexander McQueen. Feb. 9–10. See



Robert Moses’s
Kin with Natasha Johnson and Brendan Barthel. Photo by AJ Muna, courtesy Robert Moses Kin