Step to It: This Spring’s Most Electrifying Dance Performances

Step to It: This Spring’s Most Electrifying Dance Performances

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Step to It: This Spring's Most Electrifying Dance PerformancesEXPAND

Illustration by Hannah Barczyk

Critic’s Pick: Judson Redux

What’s extraordinary about the Judson Dance Theater, started 55 years ago by experimenters including Yvonne Rainer, David Gordon, and Steve Paxton, is not merely how vital and fertile its work was at the time, but also how inspiring the still-active founders continue to be for new generations. This spring, a cornucopia of their history and product spills out around Manhattan. Stephen Petronio’s “Bloodlines” project, at the Joyce through April 2, links his choreography to these postmodernists, reviving dances by Rainer, Paxton, and Anna Halprin, unheralded matriarch of the whole movement, and still luminous at the age of 96. Gordon’s current New York Public Library installation closes April 6; after a preview of his “Live Archiveography” project March 30 at the Bruno Walter Auditorium, the finished piece plays June 1–3 at the Kitchen (512 West 19th Street, lumberyard.org). Rainer and Simone Forti, an Italian Jew who immigrated here with her family as a small child, met in the summer of 1960, when they both studied with Halprin on her dance deck north of San Francisco. “Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti, and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972,” an exhibition curated by Ninotchka Bennahum and Bruce Robertson, both of UC Santa Barbara, and Dance magazine editor-at-large Wendy Perron, runs May 24 through September 16 at the Library of the Performing Arts (40 Lincoln Center Plaza, nypl.org), with an opening reception May 30 and a performance including work by all three May 31 at Hunter College’s Kaye Playhouse (hunter.cuny.edu). Forti, whose work has been purchased by the Museum of Modern Art, is renowned for her early minimalist dance constructions and improvisations; she’ll perform a solo, News Animation, at Weisacres (537 Broadway, cathyweis.org) on June 4. 

Yackez

March 29–April 1

Multiplatform artist and choreographer Larissa Velez-Jackson and her spouse, songwriter-journalist Jon Velez-Jackson — who perform together under the name Yackez — superintend their new, mad interdisciplinary spectacle, Give It to You Stage. A musical in two acts, it incorporates older adults from her fitness class, queer professional wrestlers, neon-green mascot YackMan (Ashley R.T. Yergens), and the Yackez Dancers, six downtown characters notorious for their willingness to show and tell you everything. New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street, Manhattan, newyorklivearts.org

Ailey II

March 29–April 2

These seven dances spread over two programs showcase the talents of a dozen young hotshot performers under the direction of Troy Powell. The first bill consists of pieces by Jae Man Joo (Circular), Bridget L. Moore (Sketches of Flames), and Marcus Jarrell Willis (Stream of Consciousness, to Vivaldi reimagined by Max Richter); the second, Leila Da Rocha’s duet Meika, Ailey dancer Jamar Roberts’s Gêmeos, Jean Emile’s In & Out, and Ray Mercer’s Something Tangible. NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, Manhattan, alvinailey.org

The Joffrey Ballet

March 29–April 2

Twenty-one years after decamping for Chicago, the scrappy Joffrey troupe returns under the direction of Ashley Wheater, with six performances of Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo and Juliet, set in twentieth-century Italy and accompanied by members of the Chicago Philharmonic playing Prokofiev’s wonderfully bombastic score. This most political of ballet tragedies, performed by several different casts, showcases many Joffrey stars; kudos to the Joyce for bringing them back. Thursday night is a gala featuring ballets by Yuri Possokhov, Christopher Wheeldon, and Myles Thatcher. David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, Manhattan, joyce.org

Ballet Hispanico will perform Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Línea Recta at the Joyce Theater.EXPAND

Ballet Hispanico will perform Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Línea Recta at the Joyce Theater.

Paula Lobo

Ballet Hispanico

April 18–23

Three female choreographers offer dances that illuminate a broad spectrum of Latin American cultures. Michelle Manzanales’s world-premiere Con Brazos Abiertos examines symbols of Mexico from the viewpoint of a kid raised in Texas; Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Línea Recta, new last year, considers the absence of physical contact between dancers on the flamenco stage, and features accompaniment by guitarist Eric Vaarzon Morel; and Tania Pérez-Salas’s 2002 Catorce Dieciséis uses the concept of pi as the basis for a meditation on the circularity of the human condition, to music by Baroque composers. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, Manhattan, joyce.org

Dance Theatre of Harlem

April 19, 21–22

In an engagement spread over four programs (with a matinee on Saturday the 22nd), the revived DTH offers Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Equilibrium (BROTHERHOOD) and Vessels; José Limón’s Chaconne, performed alongside dancers from the Limón Company; Robert Garland’s Return and the New York premiere of his Brahms Variations; Dianne McIntyre’s Change; Francesca Harper’s System; and, finally, a special tribute to Glen Tetley, including a new production of his 1991 Dialogues, set to Ginastera. Artistic director Virginia Johnson says it reflects the nature of our most intimate relationships. New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, Manhattan, nycitycenter.org

Doug Elkins Choreography, Etc.

April 20–23

Former B-boy Doug Elkins has eclectic tastes: He has extracted dance masterworks from The Sound of Music and Othello; his style is influenced by hip-hop, capoeira, ballet, and modern; and he’s made work for the companies of Paul Taylor and Ohad Naharin. This Montclair program includes his new O, Round Desire (inspired by Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera), a new film called A Hundred Indecisions (the title a riff on T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock), and his 2012 hit Mo(or)town/Redux. Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair State University, 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey, peakperfs.org

A Celebration of Indian Dance in America

April 26–30

For nineteen years, Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham have been assembling groups of dancers — often magnificent seniors — to show their stuff across North America and tell entertaining anecdotes from their careers. This week, in collaboration with curator Rajika Puri, they celebrate Indian dance in America, mobilizing performers, musicians, historians, and choreographers, and deploying rare films and videos, to explore and demonstrate a range of Indian forms. Onstage, among many others, are Uttara Coorlawala, Parijat Desai, Anita Ratnam, Surupa Sen, and Puri herself. Theater at the 14th Street Y, 344 East 14th Street, 14streety.org

James Sewell brings Frederick Wiseman’s documentary Titicut Follies to the Skirball Center dance stage.EXPAND

James Sewell brings Frederick Wiseman’s documentary Titicut Follies to the Skirball Center dance stage.

Courtesy James Sewell Ballet

James Sewell Ballet

April 28–30

Filmmaker Frederick Wiseman, whose fifty-year career has celebrated movement in documentaries about American Ballet Theatre, the Paris Opera Ballet, the French nightclub Crazy Horse, and a boxing gym, here collaborates on a project supported by NYU’s Center for Ballet and the Arts. The aim: to turn his first film, Titicut Follies, into a live performance. As Wiseman depicted in the 1967 documentary, inmates and staff at the Massachusetts State Hospital for the Criminally Insane put on a regular variety show; choreographer James Sewell joins Wiseman and composer Lenny Pickett in transforming this material into a full-evening work for his Minneapolis-based troupe. NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, nyuskirball.org

American Ballet Theatre

May 15–July 8

The country’s most distinguished touring ensemble returns to the Met for its annual blowout of big “warhorse” ballets, punctuated by the local premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s dazzling Whipped Cream, to a score by Richard Strauss. The season opens with Don Quixote, followed by Whipped Cream on May 22 (and then for a week, starting June 26), Giselle on May 25, Ratmansky’s The Golden Cockerel on June 1, Le Corsaire on June 5, Swan Lake on June 12, Onegin on June 19, and a Tchaikovsky Spectacular, featuring dances by Ratmansky, Balanchine, and company star Marcelo Gomes, starting July 3. Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, abt.org

11th Annual Dance Parade

May 20

New York is still the dance capital of the world, and the depth, diversity, and sheer energy of the community shows up during the annual Dance Parade. This year’s theme is “Dance for Peace.” More than eighty genres will be on display, with ten thousand participants of all ages performing styles from contra dancing to roller disco to salsa, from breaking to ballet to Broadway to jazz. Sign up to join the fun, or watch from the sidelines and party, with free lessons and performances at parade’s end in Tompkins Square Park. From Broadway at 21st Street to Tompkins Square Park, danceparade.org


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