Wendy’s Best of 2015

BEST CHOREOGRAPHY (in order of how strongly it hit me)

    • Polaris, by Crystal Pite with 6 Kidd Pivot dancers and 60 NYU Tisch Dance students. Massive. Inventive. Shocking in its brutal beauty, masterful in its craft. It was part of “Thomas Adès: Concentric Paths—Movements in Music,” commissioned by Sadler’s Wells in 2014, brought to NYC by Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival in coordination with NY City Center.

Crystal Pite's Polaris at NY City Center, photo by Kevin Yatarola

  • Andrea Miller’s Whale at the Joyce with her company Gallim. Almost unbearable cravings alternating with giddy flesh contact. Howling, dragging, hurtling through the air. A celebration of awkwardness. Yes, Miller is obviously influenced by Ohad Naharin, but she’s got her own unstoppable zing.
  • Birdgang Dance Company, an urban dance group from the U.K. in its U.S. debut, at the Breakin Convention at the Apollo (produced by Sadler’s Wells). Dancer/choreographer/actor Ukweli Roach created and starred in Vice, a searing depiction of addiction. The power and precision blew me away.
  • Kim Brandstrup’s Jeux, for New York City Ballet, takes you from a cocktail party to film-noir creepiness. Haunting use of Debussy’s music and Jean Kalman’s eclipse-like lights.
  • Michelle Dorrance on two occasions: First, The Blues Project, with Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely at the Joyce in April, with co-stars Derick K. Grant and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards. Delving into what the blues means individually, culturally and musically. And then, only months later, Myelination, a commission from Fall for Dance. Knockout rhythm and shape spiced with weird and wonderful (partly improvised) solos and poignant duets. Dorrance has taken tap from being just “numbers” to being real choreography.

BEST PERFORMERS (roughly in the order I saw them)

  • Xiaochuan Xie of the Graham company in Annie-B Parson's The Snow Falls in the Winter, also as Eliza in The King and I at Lincoln Center. A piquant sort of vibrancy.
  • Lloyd Knight in the Graham company: Physical strength, dramatic impact and a sense of the human being underneath the dancer.
  • Megumi Eda in On the Nature of Things by Karole Armitage at the Museum of Natural History. With her crystalline quality she embodies the sacredness of the music by Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass and others.
  • Davalois Fearon in Stephen Petronio’s Locomotor/NonLocomotor, mainly the second half when she engaged in brash, tough-love partnering with three guys. A woman warrior in a bright turquoise leotard.
  • Ballet West’s gemlike Arolyn Williams in Presto by Nicolo Fonte, at the Joyce.
  • Natalia Osipova in Ashton’s The Dream, The Royal Ballet, at Lincoln Center, presented by the Joyce. Star wattage both before and after she fell on her behind.
  • Jamar Roberts in Ailey, magnificent in works by Robert Battle, Paul Taylor and Ron Brown and more.

Ailey's Jamar Roberts in Aszure Barton's LIFT, photo by Paul Kolnik

For the expanded list of my Bests and Worsts, click here.

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Inside one of Interlochen's brand-new dance studios. Courtesy Interlochen Center for the Arts

Interlochen’s New Breathtaking Dance Center Is Ready for Class

After months of practicing in a cramped space at home, young dancers have dreamed of training in a spacious, airy studio. And when the facilities are as resplendent as the brand-new dance center at Michigan's Interlochen Center for the Arts, everyday technique class is to be savored.

The recently renovated and vastly expanded 26,000-square-foot Dance Center at Interlochen is now a world-class facility on par with those of premier conservatories and professional companies. Joseph Morrissey, Interlochen's director of dance, says a lot of careful thought went into the architecture: "This could not just be a building that dance is going to go into. This is a building that is made for dance." To build the best facilities for his students, Morrissey sought out Flansburgh Architects, the group behind the beautiful Perles Family Studio at Jacob's Pillow.

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