December 2016 | Performance Corner

 Our sneak peek at dance shows we’d love to see

Joffrey Ballet

Joffrey Ballet dancers rehearse Christopher Wheeldon’s new Chicago-themed Nutcracker. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Joffrey Ballet dancers rehearse Christopher Wheeldon’s new Chicago-themed Nutcracker.
Photo by Todd Rosenberg

Wheeldon’s New Nutcracker

When and where: December 1–4, Hancher Auditorium at University of Iowa, Iowa City; December 10–30, Auditorium Theater at Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL

’Tis the season for a Nutcracker or two, and the Joffrey’s new production is one to catch. Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon isn’t afraid to tackle the classics: in 2014, he staged Shakespeare in London (The Winter’s Tale), and in 2015, Gershwin on Broadway (see An American in Paris below). Now he’s trying his hand at Tchaikovsky and the most beloved and most often adapted ballet of modern times. This Nutcracker is Chicago-themed, set during the city’s magical 1893 World’s Fair. The production features an all-star team of Broadway creatives—including puppeteer Basil Twist—and, in Chicago, live music played by the Chicago Philharmonic.

Gelsey Kirkland Ballet

A Brooklyn Nutcracker

When and where: December 8–18, GK Arts Center, Brooklyn, NY

Manhattan boasts Balanchine’s canonical spectacular, but for a scrappier alternative, check out Gelsey Kirkland’s Nutcracker, choreographed by Michael Chernov and staged in Brooklyn’s industrial-chic DUMBO neighborhood. Like the Baryshnikov version with which the great ballerina will forever be associated, this Nutcracker emphasizes the story’s symbolism and makes Marie (this Nut’s version of Clara) an active character rather than a childish spectator. The 18-member company shares the stage with an ensemble of 70 students and graduates of Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet.

An American in Paris

Florida Tour Dates

When and where: December 6–11, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach; December 13–18, Dr. Phillips Center, Orlando; December 20–25, Straz Center, Tampa; December 27–January 1, Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami

Garnering sold-out audiences, four Tony Awards, and critical acclaim (the New York Times called it “gorgeously danced—and just plain gorgeous”), Wheeldon’s ballet-centric Broadway adaptation of the 1951 film An American in Paris has been a notable success. (See “Ballet on Broadway,” November 2015.) Now the touring production (starring Garen Scribner and Sara Esty) is crisscrossing the country through next summer. December brings this romantic, buoyant show to Florida.

Parsons Dance

Philadelphia Season

When and where: December 7–11, Prince Theater, Philadelphia, PA

For escapist fun, skip the multiplex and go see Parsons Dance, reliable purveyors of exuberance and athletic derring-do. David Parsons and lighting designer Howard Binkley founded the company in 1985; its style makes ample use of technology and has something in common with both the accessible, all-American modern dance language of Paul Taylor (for whom Parsons danced for nearly a decade) and the illusionist jokery of Pilobolus or Momix. The company performs Finding Center (2015), Swing Shift (2003), and a world premiere piece that plays with drone technology. Post-show discussions are held Thursday evening and at the Saturday matinee.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in artistic director Robert Battle’s Awakening (2015), which will be performed at City Center in New York City. Photos by Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in artistic director Robert Battle’s Awakening (2015), which will be performed at City Center in New York City.
Photos by Paul Kolnik

NYC Season & Spring 2017 Tour

When and where: November 30–December 31, City Center, New York, NY, and additional dates in Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Atlanta, GA; Sarasota, Miami, Orlando, and West Palm Beach, FL; Los Angeles and Berkeley, CA; Chicago, IL; San Antonio and Dallas, TX; East Lansing and Detroit, MI; Amherst and Boston, MA; and Newark, NJ.

In December, New York City metro area dance lovers can get their holiday fix of Alvin Ailey’s always joyous Revelations. Luckily for the rest of us, the hard-working Ailey dancers tour frequently. During the company’s upcoming multi-city tour, Revelations could be coming to a venue near you. (Just put “Ailey tickets” on your Christmas list.) Repertory in New York City and on the road also includes Hope Boykin’s new r-Evolution, Dream., based on the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., and Kyle Abraham’s completed trilogy Untitled America.

Dorrance Dance

ETM: Double Down

When and where: December 1–3, Danse Danse, Montreal, QC, Canada

Michelle Dorrance is among contemporary tap’s most inventive, ambitious voices, and she and collaborator Nicholas Van Young have found creative room to stretch using his “electronic tap boards”: tap boards converted into electronic drum triggers, which the dancers play with their feet. Their second evening-length foray into “electronic tap music” (following ETM: The Initial Approach, 2014), this intriguing production features tap dancers, b-girl Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie, acoustic musicians, and a lot of sound gear.

Reggie Wilson/Fist & Heel Performance Group


When and where: December 14–17, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY

Reggie Wilson is a fascinating choreographic voice, with a postmodern vocabulary that draws upon the movement heritage of the African diaspora. At a time when still-pervasive racism is central to our national conversation, Wilson grapples with the subject in his new work, Citizen. The work examines historical African American figures who felt pushed away from their own country by racism, yet decided to stay. In a series of solos, dancers interact with video projections to ask what it means to belong, and to not want to belong.