Spring Arts Guide: Juliette Mapp Mashes Up Day Care and Gertrude Stein

Plus Paradigm, Karole Armitage, and other spring dance picks

April 14–16
Plenty of companies have been around longer than this 15-year-old one, but no company has more collective experience. The roster is a history of American dance in the past half-century. For the anniversary season, the trio that started the group, A Thin Frost, gets a reprise, along with Kate Weare’s richly strange Idyll, from last year. Premieres attract notice by names-you-should-know. Gus Solomons Jr. makes a work for Sarita Allen, Michael Blake, Hope Clarke, Robert LaFosse, and Valda Setterfield. Carmen de Lavallade, celebrating her 80th birthday during the run, makes another. St. Mark’s Church, 131 East 10th Street, danspaceproject.org

Armitage Gone! Dance
April 26–May 8
Karole Armitage’s work has always balanced on the edge of mannerism. Recent dances, such as Itutu, have teetered way over, and Three Theories, last year’s interpretation of high-end physics, now reprised at the Joyce, stumbled back and forth. The alternate program is surer-footed. The punk attitudinizing of Drastic Classicism, from 1981, reads more fun than insurgent these days, Ligeti Essays is chilly and analytic, and for news value, there’s a collaboration with the embattled and newly molting Dance Theater of Harlem. Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue, joyce.org

‘Celebrating Pearl Primus’
April 29
One specialty of the 92nd Street Y is the program that disinters a neglected figure once associated with the august institution. Primus, a pioneering African-American soloist of the 1940s, is a good candidate, a new biography by Peggy and Murray Schwartz providing the occasion and context. The question, as ever, is whether current dancers can reproduce, or even suggest, whatever it was that made Primus remarkable—whether there’s a reason for the neglect. In any case, the event is free. 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue, 92y.org

Los Muñequitos de Matanzas
May 5–7
When the great Cuban rumba musicians come to town, after being denied visas for much of the past decade, watching their dancing is a subsidiary pleasure. Sly and sexual and spiritually potent as it is, the movement can seem a little small—quaint, even—compared to the magical complexity of the voices and percussion. Still, the group’s fidelity to its Afro-Cuban roots supplies a timely counterbalance to Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, making its U.S. debut at the Joyce the following week with what sound like more recent and willful fusions. Symphony Space, Broadway at 95th Street, symphonyspace.org

Susan Rethorst
May 9–14 and June 2–25
Rethorst is a resilient experimentalist. When she lost her dance studio to rising rents, she moved to her living room and made two probing pieces about the displacement. Now she moves her furniture into St. Mark’s Church for a Retro(Intro)spective on the model of what a gallery might do for a midcareer visual artist. There’ll be movie nights (Steve Martin’s All of Me) and living-room conversations rather than post-performance discussions. She’ll reconstruct a watershed piece, have John Jesurun and Tere O’Connor “wreck” a few open rehearsals, and develop some new work by and by. St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, 131 East 10th Street, danspaceproject.org

American Ballet Theatre
May 16–July 9
The certain joy of the season blooms in June, with the company premiere of Bright Stream, Alexei Ratmansky’s ebullient refashioning of Soviet socialist fantasy. But at the end of May, as company stars and exciting guests cycle through 19th-century classics, premieres sprout in a clump, the choice of choreographers the only predictable factor. Ratmansky, on a roll, has one, as do Christopher Wheeldon and Benjamin Millepied, the last’s workmanlike efforts now under the pressure of the fame bestowed by Black Swan. Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, abt.org

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