Step to It: The Most Electrifying Spring Dance Performances in NYC


Critic’s Pick: For Love of the Dance

The fierce fiscal challenge of mounting large-scale dance works resolves itself nicely when the producers are conservatory programs. Choreographers don’t have to pay the student performers or rent the theaters, musicians play for credit rather than cash, and below-market tix ensure full houses. And the young dancers, who have to be awfully good just to get into these schools, are beautifully trained. The Juilliard dance department’s spring show (March 23–26, Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, 155 West 65th Street, offers twentieth-century classics by Jirí Kylián (his 1978 Symphony of Psalms, set to a Stravinsky choral masterwork), Jerome Robbins (his 1959 Moves, performed in silence), and alumnus Paul Taylor (whose own troupe is simultaneously dancing right across Lincoln Center Plaza at much higher prices, and whose gorgeous 1985 Roses has music by Richard Wagner and Heinrich Baermann). Down in the East Village, students from the Second Avenue Dance Company, of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University (March 31–April 4, Jack Crystal Theater, 111 Second Avenue, 5th floor), show a suite from José Limón’s 1958 Mazurkas, set to Chopin and reconstructed by current Limón company member Kristen Foote; up-and-coming choreographer Gregory Dolbashian’s Avalanche 19; and dances by Slovenian Vita Osojnik (her new Random acts of kindness, for a cast of 31) and Tisch alumna Netta Yerushalmy (her 2014 Pictograms), as well as student works rotating in repertory.

FJK Dance
April 6–9
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street,

Fadi J. Khoury, son of the artistic director of the National Iraqi Ballet, trained in Beirut before moving to the States in 2009, where he studied at Alvin Ailey. Two years ago, Khoury formed a multinational troupe that’s made a couple of stealth appearances around town, generating a lot of buzz. Catch their fusion of contemporary ballet, ballroom, and jazz styles in Khoury’s new Reflections, performed to a commissioned score by Peter Michael von der Nahmer.

Dance Theatre of Harlem
April 6–9
New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street,

The “black ballerina” spotlight may be on American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland (coming to the Metropolitan Opera House in May), but DTH’s deep bench of beautiful black ballet dancers makes its presence known in new and favorite works by Dianne McIntyre, Elena Kunikova, Nacho Duato, Helen Pickett, and DTH’s resident choreographer, Robert Garland.

E-Moves 17
April 7–9
Harlem Stage Gatehouse, 150 Convent Avenue,

A gorgeously restored water-distribution facility near the City College campus hosts, each spring, four “evolving” choreographers who embark on new collaborative works with musicians or visual artists. This year’s dance-makers are Davalois Fearon (a fixture of Stephen Petronio’s troupe), hip-hop and soul “artrepreneur” Laurie M. Taylor, Texas native and salsa specialist Desiree Godsell, and Emmy-winning tapmaster Jason Samuels Smith.

Miami City Ballet
April 13–17
David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza,

Founded by Balanchine’s “prodigal son,” Edward Villella, and now under the direction of Lourdes Lopez, this plucky troupe celebrates its thirtieth anniversary with its first-ever Lincoln Center appearance, bringing dances by Liam Scarlett, Justin Peck, Twyla Tharp, and Alexei Ratmansky, as well as three Balanchine ballets. Opening night’s a gala featuring Serenade, the first work the Russian-born master made in the U.S.

Ellis Wood
April 29–30
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street,

The daughter of two former members of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Wood here presents The Juggler of Our Ladies, celebrating the many chapters of a woman’s life and featuring four generations of women ranging from ages ten to eighty. The performers include Wood herself; her mother, Marni Wood; her daughter, Stella Nakada; and four others, among them Ellen Graff, who danced with Graham and now teaches at Purchase.

Dorrance Dance
April 26–May 1
Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue,

If you missed Michelle Dorrance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, catch her in Chelsea. This world premiere of ETM: Double Down includes Nicholas Van Young’s electronic tap music, natch, and incredibly virtuosic dancing by the loose-limbed Dorrance, who recently scored a Bessie and a MacArthur “genius” grant. She and Young are joined here by Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie and an ensemble of hotshot tappers and percussionists.

May 27–30
BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,

This 39th annual Memorial Day weekend celebration of African dance, music, art, film, and community events has a new leader — Abdel R. Salaam — and a focus on the music and dance traditions of Senegal. Harlem-born Salaam has directed Forces of Nature Dance Theatre since 1981; he’ll bring a new slant to Brooklyn this year, succeeding longtime director Chuck Davis. The festival’s inviting street bazaar features over 150 vendors of food, crafts, and fashion — arrive hungry, and with deep pockets.