Theater archives

Fall Arts Guide 2012: Dance


American Ballet Theatre

October 16–20

Agnes de Mille’s ballet Rodeo makes feminists bare their teeth. Its heroine, who likes to ride with the cowboys, can’t get more than a patronizing pat on the back from the ranch’s head wrangler and its champion roper. Once she’s urged to don a dress for the Saturday-night dance, they both fall for her.

American Ballet Theatre opens its City Center season with Rodeo exactly 70 years after the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo premiered it on October 16, 1942. I advise leaving 2012 political correctness at the door. Rodeo is a beguiling, beautifully constructed little work, with a score by Aaron Copland that—along with Oliver Smith’s set and de Mille’s choreography—conjures up distant horizons and the dreams these engendered. The cowboys dance bowlegged and swaying, at one with their invisible mounts. The young girls are pert and beribboned, but they, too, sense the vastness of the surrounding landscape. The roper woos the cowgirl with a tap dance, and—a brilliant touch—during a scene change, four couples perform a whisper of a square dance downstage. No music, only a caller leads them through their promenades and do-si-does.

ABT spreads a bounty in its all-too-short season: a premiere by Alexei Ratmansky to Shostakovich’s Ninth Symphony, Twyla Tharp’s In the Upper Room, Mark Morris’s Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, José Limón’s The Moor’s Pavane, and Antony Tudor’s The Leaves Are Fading. City Center Theater, 131 West 55th Street,

The New York City Ballet

September 18–October 14

Benjamin Millepied and LA Dance Project

October 25–28

New York City Ballet opens its fall season early with its killer “Greek Trilogy” program (Balanchine’s Apollo, Orpheus, and Agon). To follow: more works by Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, plus a premiere by corps dancer Justin Peck. Ex-NYCB principal Benjamin Millepied brings his new Los Angeles company east. His surprise treat? Merce Cunningham’s epochal 1964 Winterbranch (lighting after Robert Rauschenberg). NYCB: David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center,; LA Dance Project: Alexander Kasser Theater, Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, New Jersey,

Voices of Strength: Contemporary Dance& Theater by WomenFrom Africa

September 18–19, 21–22

Perhaps you don’t know the work of choreographers Kettly Noël (Haiti/Mali), Nelisiwe Xaba (South Africa), Bouchra Ouizguen (Morocco), Maria Helena Pinto (Mozambique), and Nadia Beugré (Côte d’Ivoire). Perhaps you should get acquainted. Through their voices and bodies, these contemporary African women speak of cultural traditions, boundaries, race, gender, friendships, and the struggles that infuse all of these. New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street,

DD Dorvillier /human future dance

September 26–30

Beethoven was deaf when he wrote his String Quartet no. 15 in A minor, op. 22, and we won’t hear it either when the smart, enterprising DD Dorvillier premieres her Danza Permanente. We will, however, see it. In silence, each of four dancers embodies one of the instruments, making visible the music’s structure and dynamic shadings. Lighting designer Thomas Dunn creates a luminous environment for Beethovenian gestures, and musical director Zeena Parkins provides an intermittent acoustic one. The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street,

Fall for Dance Festival

September 27–October 13

Fall for Dance has upped its ticket prices to $15. It’s still a bargain: 12 performances, five programs, 20 groups or soloists. Because each program is a sampler, your horizons may be broadened, too. Choose to see downtown star Jodi Melnick, and you might fall in love with ancient male hula. Fans opting for the Hong Kong Ballet could be astonished by Martha Graham’s 1936 Chronicle. And how long since we’ve seen Britain’s BalletBoyz? City Center Theater, 131 West 55th Street,

Raimund Hoghe

October 10–12

German-born director-choreographer-performer Hoghe’s 2011 Pas de Deux, a duet with dancer Takashi Ueno, alludes through diverse strategies to ballet’s codified gestures and its formal juxtapositions of a ballerina and her partner. Hoghe is small, with a crooked spine and a hump, and—as in others of his brilliantly constructed, intellectually stimulating, emotionally charged duets—he also invites us to ponder the discrepancies between the bodies of hale young dancers and his own. Baryshnikov Arts Center, 450 West 37th Street,

Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch

October 18–27

Pina Bausch’s final piece, “. . . como el musguito en la piedra, ay si, si, si . . .” (Like moss on a stone), premiered in June 2009, the month Bausch died. It’s one of her “city” pieces—a collage of music and images evoking Santiago and the Chilean landscape. Expect to see women in long, clinging gowns and men in black. Water will be poured. Games will be played and ordeals endured. And dancing will reveal the dark tenderness that flows through all Bausch’s works. BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn,

Big Dance Theater and Sibyl Kempson

October 25–November 10

Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar teamed up with writer Sibyl Kempson to produce their new Ich, Kürbisgeist. The members of a beleaguered peasant community in some anonymous medieval village on the brink of devastation sing, dance, and harvest what they can, communicating in an invented language made up of many others. Five superb veteran BDT performers appear in the Chocolate Factory’s constricted basement space for 30 spectators at a time. The Chocolate Factory, 5-49 49th Avenue, Queens,

Kidd Pivot

November 28–December 2

Crystal Pite, the gifted Canada-born director of this ensemble, has a taste for darkness—as evil, yes, but more as the shadowy areas between clarity and enigma. If you viewed her Dark Matters in 2010 or her The You Show at the Baryshnikov Arts Center earlier this year, you’ll want to see her 2011 The Tempest Replica. While masked all-white doubles of the characters convey the plot of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, other dancers probe the emotions that roam Prospero’s island. The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue,