Best of Spring

Six Dance Programs to Seek Out This Spring

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Earlier this week, in anticipation of the spring and early-summer exhibition seasons in New York, we previewed six upcoming art shows worth a visit. Today, our chief dance critic, Elizabeth Zimmer, lists the six dance programs not to sleep on in the coming weeks.

Acosta Danza
April 25–27
Around the turn of the millennium, Carlos Acosta — the youngest of eleven children from a poor Havana family — was part of a wave of brilliant Cuban ballet dancers who passed through American Ballet Theatre and other world-class troupes. After a long stint with London’s Royal Ballet, he’s now in his forties and directing his own ensemble, Acosta Danza, here making its U.S. debut headlining a weeklong festival of Cuban arts. For three nights on the City Center Mainstage, see Spanish choreographer Goyo Montero’s Alrededor No Hay Nada and Cuban choreographer Marianela Boán’s intense two-man duet El Cruce Sobre el Niágara. Raúl Reinoso’s Nosotros features live musical accompaniment from cellist Cicely Parnas and pianist José Gavilondo, and Acosta himself performs in a new duet by Belgium-based Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Mermaid, about a tipsy encounter between strangers. Closing the program is Twelve from Madrid’s Jorge Crecis — a fast-paced frenzy that utilizes glow sticks, water bottles, and immaculate timing to explore the limits of the human body. Also available, in City Center’s studios and WNYC/WQXR’s Jerome L. Greene Performance Space downtown: intimate encounters and master classes with dancers like Acosta Danza member Carlos Luis Blanco, Brooklyn-based Ronald K. Brown, and tap master Ayodele Casel, as well as a diverse collection of Cuban musicians.
New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street, nycitycenter.org

Sarah Michelson
April 27–May 5
It’s been thirteen years since we saw a Sarah Michelson project at Performance Space — one of those that solidified her emergence here as a choreographer. A native of Manchester, England, Michelson brought nervy collaborations with visual and musical artists to PS and to the Kitchen, where she wound up co-curating the dance program for several years. She was one of the first choreographers to make her way into the Whitney Biennial, opening her startling, rigorous, athletic style to audiences who might not be tracking the downtown dance spaces. Now the Whitney itself is a downtown space, and Michelson’s completing a long residency with students at Bard upstate; fragments of that work, shown at the Kitchen last fall, confirm that her instincts are as compelling as ever. (The piece ended when she jumped into a waiting car and drove away, while her dancers, live and on video, continued in a building across the street.) The Museum of Modern Art published a book of essays about her dances by other artists last summer. During this program, she’ll show a new piece that, according to a release, considers her own history with the East Village “organization, the building, and the community from which her work emanates.”
Performance Space New York, 150 First Avenue, performancespacenewyork.org

Jerome Robbins Centennial 
May 3–20
A child of immigrants born in Manhattan in 1918, Jerome Robbins — in his tour across the forms of dance, theater, and cinema — probably left as many enduring monuments as anyone. (These include the brilliant jazz ballet Fancy Free; the musicals West Side StoryFiddler on the Roof, and Gypsy; and a clutch of incomparable lyrical and dramatic ballets made for his home team, the New York City Ballet.) He also made many enemies, his eighty-year jaunt on this planet inspiring several full-length, tell-all biographies (including one by the Voice’s own Deborah Jowitt). You’ll have forever to contemplate this raft of accomplishments, but you have three weeks this May to savor 22 ballets at Lincoln Center, including his legendary Afternoon of a Faun on one of five all-Robbins bills. A sixth program — a tribute — opens the season and features two world premieres: NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck honors Robbins to a score by Leonard Bernstein, another child of immigrants also celebrating a centennial in 2018; and Tony-winning director Warren Carlyle creates a medley of Robbins’s dances from Broadway hits and other sources. See these works while artists who were part of their creation are still contributing to their preservation.
David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, nycballet.com

Meg Stuart/Damaged Goods
May 4–5
Louisiana native Meg Stuart, who moved to New York in 1983 before settling in Europe (she divides her time between Brussels and Berlin), bases her vast repertoire on the concept of an uncertain body. Things fall apart in her dances, from the scenery to human relationships to the most basic steps of classical ballet. The U.S. premiere of the very graphic 2015 Until Our Hearts Stop involves six performers and the jazz band Münchner Kammerspiele (drums, piano, and bass), located onstage, all connecting with one another and drawing spectators into their immersive situations. The setting, both nightclub and arena, shares in the imagery of pornography and classical art.
NYU Skirball Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, nyuskirball.org

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana
May 15–20
This U.S.-based Spanish dance troupe celebrates its 35th anniversary with new dances by Belén Maya — including Mujeres Valientes, for six dancers, which represents Latin American women (Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Manuela Saénz) who have challenged authorities and fought against ignorance and injustice. Gaspar Rodriguez’s score for five musicians will be performed live. The program, enacted by a cast of eight dancers and five musicians, also includes new solos by José Maldonado and Guadalupe Torres, both of Spain; special lectures; and chats. Belén Maya is the New York–born daughter of two great flamenco dancers, Carmen Mora and Mario Maya; her performance in Carlos Saura’s 1995 film, Flamenco, opened new avenues for female interpretations of flamenco dance.
BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, bam.org

Gallim
May 18–24
Andrea Miller’s yearlong stint as the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s first choreographer to be artist in residence divided itself neatly into two parts. The first, last fall, took place in the Sackler Wing at the Temple of Dendur, where her large group work Stone Skipping was named one of the best of 2017 by Wendy Perron of Dance Magazine. This May, her six dancers are in residence a handful of blocks away at the Breuer, where Miller’s latest piece, (C)arbon — developed collaboratively with filmmaker Ben Stamper and composer Will Epstein — integrates art, architecture, soundscape, and movement. After a series of rehearsals open to the public (May 8–10 and May 13, 15, and 16 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.; May 11–12 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.), the piece has its world premiere May 18. Thereafter, performances are available from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. on May 18–20 and 22–24.
Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, fifth floor, metmuseum.org 

The Village Voice is celebrating the season’s arts and culture highlights throughout the week of April 16, 2018. For full coverage to date, visit our Best of Spring Arts 2018 page.

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