Vital Signs

April 30, 2013

The Mariinsky in Nijinsky’s
Le Sacre du Printemps. Photo by Natasha Razina, Courtesy Mariinsky.


One Hundred Years Later

May 29 marks the centennial of Nijinsky’s
Le Sacre du Printemps. Dance artists pay tribute to the original provocateur around the world (probably without the riots, but one never knows):  


Akram Khan Company
in the premiere of Khan’s iTMOi in London

Richmond Ballet
in Salvatore Aiello’s 1993 version in Norfolk, VA

Shen Wei Dance Arts
in Wei’s The Rite of Spring in Houston, TX

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch
in Bausch’s Frühlingsopfer in Gothenburg, Sweden

Tero Saarinen’s
HUNT, a veritable light show, in Dublin

The Mariinsky Ballet
will perform a commissioned Rite of Spring by Sasha Waltz in St. Petersburg. Both a reconstruction of Nijinsky’s original and the Sasha Waltz version will be danced in Salzburg, and, on the 29th and in two subsequent performances, at the original scene of the crime: the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.



Hubbard’s Happening

The choreographic offerings of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s two-week season at NYC’s Joyce Theater are plentiful: Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek, Aszure Barton, and Sharon Eyal are represented, along with works by former HSDC dancer Robyn Mineko Williams and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. But two company performances happening this month in Chicago are no less intriguing: a Picasso-inspired site-specific day at the Art Institute of Chicago on May 9, and a big gala on May 30, honoring the country’s most vocal dance supporter/mayor, Rahm Emanuel.


Penny Saunders and Pablo Piantino in Ohad Naharin’s
THREE TO MAX. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy HSDC.



An American Tale

It’s a simple but elegant solution to the notion that ballet is inaccessible: Draw from the American literary canon to pull in audiences. After mounting The Great Gatsby in 2010, with live jazz musicians and singers that captured the Roaring ’20s, Septime Webre, director of The Washington Ballet, premieres the second work in his American Experience series, Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises, based on the classic novel. With a setting that ranges from Paris’ Left Bank to Pamplona for a bit of running with the bulls, it’s an ambitious undertaking. For future productions, the company is looking to adapt works by Henry James, Tennessee Williams, and Langston Hughes—and commission other choreographers. May 8–12 at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater.


Jared Nelson in
Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises. Photo by Brianne Bland, Courtesy TWB.



Sounds of Celebration

May 25 is National Tap Dance Day, which falls on Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birthday, and the party lasts all month long. Events like Dance Inn Production’s National Tap Dance Day weekend in Massachusetts and Spring to Dance (see below right), where Michelle Dorrance will debut a new piece, provide fun for all. The festivities also go international, from the Norman Rothstein Theatre in Vancouver to a hoofers’ gala at the Moscow International House of Music.


Michelle Dorrance. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Kenn Tam, Courtesy Dorrance Dance.


Spoleto Festival USA welcomes an international crop of dance talent to Charleston, SC, this month. Compagnie Käfig energetically blends samba, hip-hop, and capoeira in Correria and Agwa, while Kuchipudi diva Shantala Shivalingappa and Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía tell stories in their own dialects. American artists who bring humor to their work are also in the lineup: Lucky Plush Productions from Chicago and Jared Grimes, who makes his festival debut in a commissioned evening-length work. May 24–June 9.



Compagnie Käfig in
Agwa at Jacob’s Pillow. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Pillow.



If the Pointe Shoe Fits

Christopher Wheeldon’s imaginative new version of Cinderella, a co-production between San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet, has its U.S. premiere this month with performances in San Francisco from May 3–12. The choreographer’s version is more adult than Disney—he drew inspiration from the dark undertones of Prokofiev’s score. Wheeldon brings the production into the 21st century with spectacular special effects and puppetry by Basil Twist.


Luke Willis, Sasha De Sola, and Sean Bennett rehearse Wheeldon’s
Cinderella. Photo © Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Springing Up

Over Memorial Day Weekend, more than 30 groups will descend on the Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis for the Emerson Spring to Dance Festival. Representing the Midwest are companies like Grand Rapids Ballet and Kansas City Ballet, with some friends from the coasts including ODC/Dance and Camille A. Brown. The festival will be a homecoming of sorts for St. Louis native Antonio Douthit, one of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s most riveting dancers, who will perform Ailey’s Pas de Duke with the luminous Alicia Mack Graf. And at just $15 each, tickets are a steal.


Antonio Douthit of Ailey in Robert Battle’s
Strange Humors. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Ailey.



Contributors: Suzannah Friscia, Kina Poon