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Festival Frenzy

Dancenow/NYC welcomes Step Afrika! from D.C.
photo: Lydia Martin

New York still sits at the center of the dance universe, but financial concerns make self-production increasingly hard. Getting into festivals lets choreographers display their work with the imprimatur of a known producer who bears some of the expenses. The dance season opens September 6 with dueling festivals and climaxes with the calculated crowd-pleasers of BAM's Next Wave.

One success story in a crowded field is Dancenow/NYC, a two-week, $80,000 extravaganza at two sites. Robin Staff, the former ballet dancer who's run it since 1995, sees growth and improvement though her geographical reach is smaller than before. She and her staff chose 88 pieces out of 350 proposals submitted, and offer six shows beginning with "40Up," a mouthwatering lineup of older choreographers including Wally Wolfgruber, Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, Vicky Shick collaborating with young pup Christopher Williams, the inimitable comedienne Claire Porter working with Irving Burton and Susan Thomasson, and eight others. "Wolfgruber is creating a new trio for Rebecca Rigert and Dirk Platzek, who's coming from Germany to dance it," says Staff. "All three of them danced with Lar Lubovitch for years. Merian Soto's new work is breathtaking."

After years based at Joyce Soho, Dancenow/NYC relocated to Dance Theater Workshop (219 West 19th Street, 212-924-0077), which has three times the capacity and more sophisticated technical options. "The quality of the work increased when we moved into DTW last year," says Staff. "The artists took it seriously. Many showing at DTW have never been presented there in any capacity, so it's opening a door." Dancenow/NYC permits audiences to get the feel of 10 or 11 troupes a night, doing pieces no longer than seven minutes, for $15. "I'm excited about Kyle Abraham: He's done solos for us, but this is a huge group work; the crafting is really mature for a young artist. Jimena Paz, out of Petronio, is choreographing a great trio." Most are New Yorkers, but Step Afrika is coming up from Washington, D.C. "Chris Elam is showing a six-minute duet. There's so much going on it, it's stunning. We're pushing artists to get clarity and brevity in the work. Nobody has an attention span, but they'll come to our shows and take a chance."

Shorter works take the tiny stage at Joe's Pub (September 14 through 16, 425 Lafayette Street, 212-239-6200); three late-night programs hosted by Leigh Garrett showcase 28 soloists and groups. "If I see a good space, I walk in and think, 'What can I do here?' " says Staff. "We developed an audience that's stayed with us. They embraced our move to Joe's Pub. We got hooked on that feeling of cabaret, of cocktails floating around the room. We love the short format."

New this year is a free program, Saturday at 5 p.m. at DTW, showcasing work created this summer at the second Omi International Dance Collective, in Ghent, New York, under the direction of Christopher K. Morgan.


Evening Stars
Sept 6–8, 10

Free festival opens with William Whitener's Kansas City Ballet in works by Twyla Tharp, Todd Bolender, and Whitener himself. Thursday's bill includes Philadanco, Battleworks, Cedar Lake, and Pilobolus. On Friday the Trisha Brown Dance Company, the Stephen Petronio Company, and Ashleigh Leite Dance demonstrate the principle of lineage in the dance world. On Sunday at 4 there's a salsa contest, and in the evening a show called "Salsa: From Club to Broadway." Battery Park, State & Pearl, 212-220-1460, rivertorivernyc.com

AMBUSH
Sept 9, Oct 7, Nov 4, Dec 9

This collective, artist-run "ambulatory program of new dance, performance, and related forms" discloses its location two weeks prior to each event. Its aim is to "catalyze a new opportunity for artists to instantiate their work." Don't say we didn't warn you. Various venues in greater Bushwick, Bklyn, 917-459-1072

Agora II
Sept 13–16, 20–23 & 27–30

Wear sensible shoes to this outdoor production, a festival all in one night. Noémie Lafrance rallies a cast of hundreds: breakdancers, ice skaters, hula hoopers, rock musicians, and more, creating a microcosm of city life in the bed of the huge abandoned pool. Brooks Williams and Norm Scott contribute an original score. McCarren Park Pool, Lorimer St between Driggs and Bayard aves, 718-388-6309, sensproduction.org

Brooklyn Mecca Dance Showcase
Sept 16

They're calling their free-style dance form Afro- House, and nine different Brooklyn-based ensembles and soloists bring it from the house music nightclub scene into a concert space. White Wave's John Ryan Theatre, 25 Jay St, Bklyn, 646-382-3440

European Dream Festival
Sept 20–Oct 31

Twenty-two countries participate in this new event, which begins its dance offerings with Constanza Macras and her 18-member troupe Dorky Park, making its U.S. debut. Born in Argentina, Macras now lives in Berlin, where she first made Back to the Present, a piece that explores the difference between memory and storage; it's on display at Dance Theater Workshop September 21 through 23 (219 W 19th, 212-924-0077). Also opening weekend, the Slovene group Betantonc performs a work inspired by Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, at Danspace Project (131 E 10th, 212-674-8194). The following weekend, Italy's Compagnia Ariella Vidach and Claudio Prati create visual environments and soundscapes with cameras and computers at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers, 212-220-1460), and Hungary's Honvéd Ensemble provides an introduction to Gypsy dance at the Skirball Center (566 LaGuardia Pl. 212-992-8484). And much more. Various venues, europeandream.us

Fall for Dance
Sept 28–Oct 8

Still a smashing idea, in its third year this insanely cheap tasting-plate festival expands to eight evenings and two Sunday matinees. Six bills, four of them repeated, program five troupes each, including the Dutch National Ballet, Stephen Petronio Company, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Utah's Ririe-Woodbury performing work by Alwin Nikolais. Also Christopher Williams, Maureen Fleming Company, Britain's Random Dance and Ballet Boys, Aszure & Artists, Bridgman/Packer Dance, Streb Extreme Action, Hungary's Honvéd, and Pennsylvania Ballet. Old favorites include Trisha Brown, Paul Taylor, Martha Graham, Bill T. Jones, Alonzo King, David Parsons, New York City Ballet, and ABT; newcomers are Robert Moses' Kin, nathantrice/RITUALS, French hip-hoppers Compagnie Franck Il Louise, Montreal's Coleman Lemieux & Company, Korea's Yi-Jo Lim Sun Dance Company, Abou Lagraa's French-African Compagnie La Baraka, tapper Jason Samuels Smith's ACGI, flamenco dancer Farruco, and French choreographer Odile Duboc. Every seat in the house costs $10; pounce quickly if you want good ones. New York City Center, 135 W 55th St, 212-581-1212, nycitycenter.org

'Steve Reich @ 70'
October 3, 5–7

Reich's minimalist music is the perfect base for some glorious choreography. Opening the Next Wave Festival are performances by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and Akram Khan, two Europeans who make the most of the composer's looping patterns. BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn, 718-636-4100, bam.org

Impact Festival
Oct 6–9

A 42-day, citywide festival of arts engaging human rights, social justice, and political action features, this weekend only, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in Small Dances About Big Ideas, commissioned by Harvard Law School. Lerman's got a diplomat's brain in a dancer's body; her multi-generational troupe is always worth watching. Dance New Amsterdam, 280 Bway, 212-279-4200, impactfestival.org

Rennie Harris
Oct 6–22

Wildly creative in the hip-hop genre, Harris is also a respected teacher and impresario; his New York Legends of Hip-Hop showcases Pop Master Fabel and the Rock Steady Crew, the Mop Tops, and other special guests. New Victory Theater, 209 W 42nd, 212-239-6200

'PUSH'
Oct 11–15

London's Sadler's Wells Theatre sends an award-winning collaboration between French ballet superstar Sylvie Guillem and British dancer-choreographer Russell Maliphant. New York City Center, 135 W 55th, 212-581-1212, nycitycenter.org

Sarah Michelson
Oct 18–21

A curator at the Kitchen, her controversial works have been seen around the city and across Europe; she makes her BAM debut in the new Dogs, performing alongside Parker Lutz, Jennifer Howard, Greg Zuccolo, and Mike Iveson (who also composed the score). BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton St, Bklyn, 718-636-4100

David Dorfman Dance
Nov 14, 16–18

His new underground, co-directed by downtown directorial whiz Alex Timbers, has music by Jonathan Bepler. The endearing troupe is supplemented by enough new performers to stage a demonstration that turns into a riot, in a piece based on the Weather Underground. BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton St, Bklyn, 718-636-4100

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Nov 29–Dec 31

Highlights of the five-week season include world premieres by Karole Armitage and Uri Sands, the company premiere of Twyla Tharp's Golden Section, and new productions of John Butler's Portrait of Billie and Alvin Ailey's Pas de Duke and The River. New York City Center, 135 W 55th, 212-581-1212, alvinailey.org

Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company
Dec 5–9

The world premiere of Jones's Chapel/Chapter is site-specific to this newly restored building, formerly a water pumping station on the edge of the City College campus. Daniel Bernard Roumain synthesizes the score from sacred and secular Renaissance music and gospel and folk melodies. The Gatehouse, 150 Convent Ave, 212-650-7100, harlemstage.org

Hijack+Scotty Heron
Dec 14–18

Madcap downtowner Heron teams up with Minneapolis dance duo Hijack (Arwen Wilder and Kirsten Van Loon) for Three Minutes of Pork and Shoving, a work they developed in Russia; also Hijack's Fetish, a dazzler from 2004. P.S.122, 150 First Ave, 212-477-5288, ps122.org


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