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10 Dance Performances to See This Fall

By: Juan Michael Porter II
Date: Oct 08, 2021


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The return of NYC Ballet, the Fall for Dance Festival, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and more

Broadway and Off Broadway aren't the only in-person performances that are back. NYC's dance scene is also alive and kicking. This fall, dance lovers can enjoy fresh seasons from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, the return of City Center's Fall for Dance Festival, an exciting array of world-class troupes at The Joyce Theater and other movers and shakers.


New York City Ballet: Fall Season

David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, enter at 63rd Street

Runs through October 17.

The dancers of New York City Ballet came roaring back to the stage last month after a year-and-a-half hiatus. Highlights of the fall season include George Balanchine's gorgeous tribute to womanhood, Serenade, Alexei Ratmansky's vibrant Russian Seasons and the propulsive masterpiece Glass Pieces by late Broadway legend Jerome Robbins. But this season is particularly notable for its final bows by beloved principal dancers Ask La Cour and Lauren Lovette, both on Saturday, October 9; and Maria Kowroski on Sunday, October 17.


Fall for Dance Festival

New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

Runs October 13-24.

Since 2004, City Center has showcased brilliant dance companies from around the world for this annual event. After presenting a virtual season last year, the festival returns to the storied stage with five fantastic programs, each just $15. Highlights include New York City Ballet's phenomenal soloist, Georgina Pazcoguin, stepping into Gwen Verdon's dance shoes for Sweet Gwen Suite featuring choreography created by Bob Fosse and his longtime muse; the NYC premiere of The Movement, Step Afrika!'s delirious celebration of stepping; Philadelphia's innovative BalletX in a dazzling premiere from resident choreographer Matthew Neenan; and brand-new works from tap great Ayodele Casel and modern dance master Lar Lubovitch.


American Ballet Theatre: Fall Season

David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, enter at 63rd Street

Runs October 20-31. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase them at a discount.

American Ballet Theatre's fall lineup includes classics such as Giselle and Antony Tudor's Pillar of Fire alongside much-appreciated innovations. These include the in-person premiere of Christopher Rudd's Touché, a sensual pas de deux about the love and lust between two men; resident choreographer Alexei Ratmansky's tribute to the music of Leonard Bernstein; Darrell Grand Moultrie's Indestructible Light, a lively romp to American jazz; and Jessica Lang's ZigZag, a celebration of Tony Bennett's incredible career as a singer and painter.


Christopher Williams: Narcissus

New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Runs October 28-30.

We all know that Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, but Christopher Williams infuses his ornate ballet with a queer sensibility, as the title character navigates a forest full of fairies while pursued by another man. New York City Ballet principal Taylor Stanley and the stellar Cemiyon Barber share the leading role. In addition to Andrew Jordan's out-of-this-world costumes, the show boasts an exceptional crop of talented modern dancers.


Indigenous Enterprise: Indigenous Liberation

The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Runs November 9-14.

The Native American and Canadian collective Indigenous Enterprise presents Indigenous Liberation, an intertribal celebration with songs, stories and dances performed in resplendent regalia. This authentic, soul-stirring evening includes traditional powwow segments from each tribe, such as Men's Fancy War Dance (Ponca), Jingle Dress (Ojibwa), Chicken Dance (Blackfoot) and Grass Dance (Omaha).


Music from the Sole: Partido

Harlem Stage, 150 Convent Avenue at 135th Street

Runs November 12-13.

Talk about a rising star: During the past year, dancer-choreographer Leonardo Sandoval landed on Dance Magazine's top 25 dancers list, snagged a Lincoln Center commission and won a Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Dance. Now Sandoval and composer and multi-instrumentalist Gregory Richardson are bringing their collaboration Music from the Sole to Harlem Stage for the world premiere of Partido. A celebration of Black artistry across two continents, the program combines percussive dance and live music with contemporary African-American and Afro-Brazilian culture as six athletic tap dancers stomp away backed by a three-piece band.


Complexions Contemporary Ballet

The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Runs November 16-28.

Founded two decades ago by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater alums Desmond Richardson and Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet is vibrant, diverse and always a good time. For its Joyce run, the troupe presents the world premiere of SNATCHED BACK from the EDGES, a tribute to Black excellence set to the voices of opera diva Jessye Norman, and gospel singers Shirley Caesar and Yolanda Adams; along with fan favorite LOVE ROCKS danced to the music of Lenny Kravitz and a collection of shorts.



New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

Runs November 17-21.

Twyla Tharp turned 80 in July, but as a recent PBS special proved, not even a pandemic can keep this award-winning dance-maker down. This November, she brings a fabulous collection of dance stars from Alvin Ailey, American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet together for a pair of premieres and two old favorites her incredible repertoire. James Gilmer, Jacquelin Harris, Aran Bell, Catherine Hurlin, Roman Mejia, Tiler Peck and Tony nominee Robbie Fairchild will give their all to Tharp's genre-defying genius.


Dance Bloc NYC

Dixon Place, 161A Chrystie Street between Delancey and Rivington Streets

Runs November 18-20.

Smaller companies take center stage in this three-day downtown dance festival. Curator Sangeeta Yesley continues to show why Dixon Place is renowned as an incubator of burgeoning talent with her distinctive taste. Highlights include the sociopolitical-driven narratives of The ChoreoJoey Project; the brilliant soloist Jerard Palazo; and the hip-hop, krump and Black dance arts sensation NuTribe Dance Company.


Beyond Babel

The Gym at Judson, 243 Thompson Street between West 3rd Street and Washington Square South in the West Village

Runs through November 21.

A dance-theatre piece devised to appeal to devotees and non-fans alike, Beyond Babel fuses circus arts, hip-hop and breakdancing to retell the timeless story of Romeo and Juliet. You don't need a degree in Shakespeare to appreciate this high-energy reinvention of the classic romantic tragedy set to a pulsing soundtrack.


Juan Michael Porter II is the staff writer for and a contributor to TDF Stages, Did They Like It?, SF Chronicle, Christian Science Monitor, American Theatre, them, Into More and SYFY Wire. He is a National Critics Institute and Poynter Power of Diverse Voices Fellow. Follow him at @juanmichaelii. Follow TDF at @ TDFNYC.

Top image: Larissa Gerszke and Craig Dionne in LOVE ROCKS by Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Photo by Steven Pisano.

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Juan Michael Porter II