Never underestimate the lust of New Yorkers for dance that’s first-rate, accessible, and affordable. When the $10 tickets for the first Fall for Dance season went on sale a year ago, lines stretched down West 55th Street, and more than 15,000 seats were snapped up within a week. Tickets for the 2005 festival go on sale Friday at the box office or—subject to a service charge of $5 per ticket—by phone or at nycitycenter.org.
Arlene Shuler, president of New York City Center, says that 21 percent of the 2004 series’ attendees were new to dance, and that fully a third were under 30. Festival programmers include Elise Bernhardt, artistic adviser; Shuler, herself a former dancer; and associate producer Ellen Dennis. There’ll be five acts a night, from familiar artists and long-lost friends. The New York City Ballet returns to the City Center stage (performing George Balanchine’s 1974 Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir) on September 30 for the first time since it decamped for the New York State Theater in 1964, and the Joffrey Ballet, now of Chicago, comes back October 2 for the first time in a decade. Other ballet nuggets will include members of American Ballet Theatre in Balanchine’s legendary early work Apollo September 29, and Circular Motion, by NYCB principal dancer Benjamin Millepied, scheduled for October 1.
Two of the participating troupes are resident at City Center (the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which offers Ailey’s Cry on Friday, September 30, and the Paul Taylor Dance Company, appearing Saturday, October 1 in the sublime Esplanade), while others are making their New York or U.S. debuts at the festival (Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza of Mexico and India’s Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company—a kathak troupe with “a yoga spine”—on September 29, and Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company from Argentina on October 1). Other foreign visitors on the roster include Neil Ieremia’s New Zealand–based Black Grace, the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Lyon (performing William Forsythe’s Duo) on September 27, and Spanish flamenco diva Eva Yerbabuena (offering a soleá ), as well as Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal in Ohad Naharin’s Minus One, Vincent Mantsoe of South Africa in excerpts from his new NDAA, and Montreal’s Compagnie Marie Chouinard.
Up from Philadelphia will come Phil-adanco, a stellar ensemble performing Ronald K. Brown’s Gate Keepers opening night, and Tania Isaac Dance in excerpts from Isaac’s home is where I am, on September 28. From Texas we’ll see the Houston Ballet in Stanton Welch’s new Nosotros, also on the 28th, and from San Francisco Joanna Haigood in the New York premiere of Remy Charlip’s Dance in a Doorway, on the 29th. Too long missing from the city’s dance stages are the work of Bill Irwin & Friends, performing something mysterious on opening night, and Charles Moulton (now living in California—he choreographed the rave in The Matrix Reloaded), whose 48 Person Precision Ball Passing will highlight the closing program on October 2.
Local artists bringing gems from their repertories include Jody Sperling, whose exquisite works inspired by Loie Fuller adorn the first program; the Limón Dance Company, performing José Limón’s
Psalm on September 28; Urban Bush Women and Keigwin + Company on September 29; and Molissa Fenley & Dancers and the fusion group Tapage (Mari Fujibayashi and Olivia Rosenkrantz) performing
Morango . . . Almost a Tango to live music by a string quartet on September 30, along with Pascal Rioult Dance Theatre interpreting Ravel’s
Bolero. Nai-Ni Chen performs the solo Passage to the Silk River, an homage to her ancestors, October 1. Yoshiko Chuma shows up on closing night with her arresting 7 x 7 x 7 x 7 x 7, for seven dancers, seven trombones, and seven-foot cubes.
Buying a ticket to the festival hooks you up with New York DanceLink, a new e-mail club offering discounts at 15 venues throughout the city. You don’t even need a ticket to visit the festival lounge, in the public atrium just west of City Center, which will be open nightly during the season from 6:30 until 11:30 p.m., offering hot and cold drinks and a variety of fresh food, music, and print materials from participating companies and local dance theaters. Come early and you might just snag a table and a couple of chairs.