Theater archives

Dance Deluge


If the dance world had an All-Star game, this month’s Fall for Dance festival, opening at New York City Center September 28, would be it. But instead of one evening in a stadium, the new blue-chip event runs for six consecutive nights in a historic Manhattan dance venue.

The stat-crazy can slice the innovative 30-troupe roster a dozen different ways, but chief among Fall for Dance’s delights is its one-size-fits-all, first-come-first-served price: $10 a ticket (as cheap as a Manhattan movie) to see five troupes nightly. For less than the cost of a good seat on Broadway, the savvy early bird can snag the best seats in the house for the whole festival. The box office opens Friday, September 10.

“The history of City Center is accessibility,” said Arlene Shuler, a former Joffrey Ballet dancer who’s the theater’s new president and CEO. “We made the tickets $10 because one of the goals of this festival is finding new audiences—young people, students— they’re the next generation of dancegoers.” Organizers also instituted a “festival lounge,” open from 5 to 11 p.m. in the public atrium just west of the theater, where the crowd can find drinks and snacks, a place to relax, and a different DJ nightly.

Susan Marshall & Company

photo: G. Hanson

Ballet fans will spot glittering nuggets: Fall for Dance opens September 28 with members of Dance Theatre of Harlem performing George Balanchine’s 1957 masterwork Agon, to a commissioned score by Igor Stravinsky. On September 30, Peter Boal, longtime principal dancer at New York City Ballet and now director of his own troupe, performs Balanchine’s rarely seen 1959 Episodes. Boston Ballet opens the October 1 program with Plan to B, a new work by Finnish choreographer Jorma Elo to music by Heinrich von Biber. On October 3, American Ballet Theatre offers the Diana and Acteon pas de deux, choreographed for the Kirov in 1935 by Agrippina Vaganova, restaged by Rudolf Nureyev, and performed here by ABT stars Paloma Herrera and Jose Manuel Carreño.

Black dance in all its stunning diversity is represented by troupes ranging from the above-mentioned DTH to Philadelphia’s smokin’ Rennie Harris Puremovement in Students of the Asphalt Jungle, the closing act on the September 30 bill. On October 1, Broadway star Desmond Richardson (recently added to the cast of Twyla Tharp’s Movin’ Out) offers a solo to music by Prince choreographed by his Complexions Dance Company co-director Dwight Rhoden; another Rhoden work, It All, will be performed October 3 by Carmen de Lavallade and Gus Solomons jr of Paradigm, to music by Björk. On the same bill Rochester’s Garth Fagan Dance hits town with last season’s DANCE- COLLAGEFORROMIE.

Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group shows the male quartet Big Brick October 1; and the Brooklyn-based Ronald K. Brown/Evidence performs Upside Down on October 2. Batoto Yetu, a troupe of youngsters directed by Júlio T. Leitão, offers an excerpt from the bewitching Nzinga, and postmodernist Bill T. Jones (who once might have eschewed identification as a black choreographer but now, having won every prize in sight, seems to have made his peace) brings his Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company to opening night in his revised version of Zane’s 1977 Continuous Replay.

Parul Shah & Dancers

photo: Tobias Prasse

Other postmodern pioneers on the roster include the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, closing the opening-night program with How to Pass, Kick, Fall and Run, a 1965 work revived with David Vaughan and Cunningham himself reading stories by John Cage. Trisha Brown’s company, performing Groove and Countermove to jazz by Dave Douglas on a set by painter Terry Winters, opens the September 30 show; and Elizabeth Streb’s troupe, in Wild Blue Yonder and Ricochet, practically leaves dance behind as it soars off in search of new frontiers on September 28.

Younger choreographers include David Neumann, artistic director of his own Advanced Beginner Group, performing Dose, to music by Tom Waits, on opening night; and Sarah East Johnson, whose all-female troupe swings out in Double Trapeze on October 2. Quintessentially modern, the Martha Graham Dance Company opens the September 29 bill with Embattled Garden, an Adam-and-Eve story with scenery by Isamu Noguchi. The Paul Taylor Dance Company offers the post-cataclysmic Promethean Fire, to Bach, on October 1. Also in the modern camp are PearsonWidrig Dancetheater, whose knife-and-orange-juggling Ordinary Festivals is a perennial favorite, and Susan Marshall & Company, whose 10-minute Kiss literally lifts its performers off their feet. Tina Ramirez’s Ballet Hispanico fuses modern, ballet, and Latin styles in Alexandre Magno’s Dejame Soñar, on September 30. Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar’s Big Dance Theater offers City of Brides on the closing bill.

Asian styles are represented by Parul Shah & Dancers, who marry India’s Kathak to modern sensibilities in Precious Cracked Earth on September 30; Yin Mei, a Chinese choreographer who now lives here, combining tai chi and chi gong with postmodernism in her City of Peonies on the October 2 program; and Eiko and Koma, who reprise their 1999 Snow, a slow-motion ode to the implacability of the universe, on October 1. Sidi Goma, a traditional Sufi troupe of East African origin whose ancestors settled in India’s Gujarat in the 13th century, closes the festival with ecstatic dance in full costume.

Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group

photo: Antoine Tempe

Other visitors from foreign shores include Montreal’s two-year-old Rubberbandance, which fuses hip-hop and contem- porary movement under the direction of Victor Quijada; and Noche Flamenca, resident in Madrid. Tap dancers Tamango, from French Guiana, and Roxane Butterfly, who is French, in a joint improvisation with live music, close the evening on October 2.

In addition to coaxing a whole new generation of dancegoers into the historic 2,750-seat auditorium (built in 1923 and lovingly restored), Fall for Dance previews troupes like ABT, who return to City Center from October 20 through November 7; the Taylor company, running for three weeks next March, and the Graham company, booked for two weeks in April. Anyone who buys a ticket to “Fall for Dance” receives the New York Dance Card, good for a discount of at least 10 percent at venues around the city.