May-June 2017 | Performance Corner

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



The Belgian company Rosas performs Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker’s Rain (2001), a hypnotic, passionate, and playful work of European modern dance.
Photo © Herman Sorgeloos

When and where: May 4–6, Danse Danse, Montreal, QC, Canada

The eminent Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker has a special affinity for the repetitive, driving, atmospheric music of minimalist composer Steve Reich. Although her 35-year-old work Fase: Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich is more famous, her 2001 work Rain, which her company Rosas will perform in Montreal, makes wonderful use of Reich’s music too. Movement motifs recur hypnotically in countless variations; the 10 dancers trace geometric shapes in space and race like heedless children around a stage half-surrounded by a floor-to-ceiling rippling curtain made of hanging ropes.

Ballet BC

Works by Gat, Molnar, and Naharin

When and where: May 11–13, Queen Elizabeth Theatre, Vancouver, BC, Canada

“Ballet is woman,” Balanchine said, yet women who helm major ballet companies remain rare. Emily Molnar of Ballet BC is one of the few. She’s also a member of the William Forsythe diaspora, one of the many confident, individualistic dancemakers to have come out of Forsythe’s Frankfurt Ballet. Since Molnar took over Ballet BC in 2009, she has shown a commitment to financial solvency and a wide-ranging exploration of contemporary ballet’s possibilities, commissioning both internationally known choreographers and emerging Vancouver-based artists. The company’s final program of the 2016–17 season offers premieres from Molnar and the France-based Israeli choreographer Emanuel Gat. Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16 (1999) completes the triple bill, giving Ballet BC’s skilled dancers an opportunity to sink their teeth into the raw, powerful eccentricities of Gaga style.

Atlanta Ballet

Helen Pickett’s Camino Real

When and where: May 12–14, Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center, Atlanta, GA

Top-tier female ballet choreographers are as rare as female ballet company directors. At Atlanta Ballet, however, Helen Pickett—another Forsythe/Frankfurt Ballet alum—has been resident choreographer since 2012. Camino Real, based on a gritty play by Tennessee Williams, is her first evening-length production. In the dead-end town of Camino Real, the wicked hotel owner Gutman and his henchmen rule with an iron fist. Then former boxing champ Kilroy arrives in town, bringing hope to the town’s disillusioned residents. This tale of survival and good versus evil fuses dance, theater, and live music. Recommended for ages 12 and up.

DanceAfrica 2017

40th Anniversary Celebration

The BAM/Restoration Dance Ensemble performs with Senegal’s Waato Siita in last year’s DanceAfrica celebration in Brooklyn.
Photo by Richard Termine

When and where: May 26–29, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, NY

This year, Brooklyn’s DanceAfrica Festival (held annually on Memorial Day weekend) celebrates 40 years of spotlighting African and African American dance and culture. Dance troupes from all over the world will join the BAM/Restoration DanceAfrica Ensemble on the opera house stage; this year’s festival focuses on the movement styles and music traditions of Guinea. Other happenings include a visual art exhibition, a film series, community events, and a popular bazaar featuring African, Caribbean, and African American food, crafts, and fashion.

Shaping Sound

After the Curtain

Travis Wall (bottom) and Lex Ishimoto are two of the 12 Shaping Sound dancers performing After the Curtain in 10 states this June.
Photo by Kaitlin Chow

When and where: June 6–29, venues in San Antonio, Houston, Richardson, and Austin, TX; Tulsa, OK; New Orleans, LA; Atlanta, GA; Raleigh, NC; Brooklyn, NY; Boston, MA; Norfolk, VA; Los Angeles, CA; and Las Vegas, NV

Emmy-winning choreographer Travis Wall and his Shaping Sound co-founders Nick Lazzarini, Teddy Forance, and Kyle Robinson—stars of So You Think You Can Dance and All the Right Moves—continue to bring their 21st-century contemporary dance sensibility from the screen to the stage. The 12-dancer company (which includes Wall, Lazzarini, and Forance) hits the road with After the Curtain, the story of a man struggling to regain his creative voice after the death of his beloved.

Chicago Tap Theatre

Changes: A Science Fiction Tap Opera to the Music of David Bowie

When and where: June 30–July 16, Stage 773, Chicago, IL

That’s right, it’s a sci-fi tap show. Chicago Tap Theatre artistic director Mark Yonally has previously found inspiration in time travel, the spooky writings of Edgar Allan Poe, and the epic rock music of Queen to create his original “tap operas,” story-based tap shows to live or recorded music. And what could be more over-the-top operatic than Bowie? In this remounted, reimagined production set to new arrangements of Bowie’s iconic songs, a lonely spaceship pilot tells his onboard computer a thrilling tale of aliens, heroes, power-grabbing dictators, and, of course, space oddities.