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12 Dance Performances to See This January

By: Susan Reiter
Date: Dec 31, 2019


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The return of Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake, New York City Ballet's new season, international companies and more


Welcome to a new year of eclectic dance performances. January brings three disparate Swan Lakes, including the return of Matthew Bourne's radical interpretation; plus diverse dance showcases at the Joyce and the 92nd Street Y; international companies from China, Japan and South Africa; and the launch of New York City Ballet's winter season. Of the 12 performances we're highlighting, at press time we have TDF member discounts to two, and we expect to have others in the coming weeks. It's best to check our offers daily as ticket availability changes frequently.


American Dance Platform
The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Runs January 7-12.

Catch eight exciting troupes in one week at the Joyce's annual showcase of domestic contemporary companies. Highlights include Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Urban Bush Women performing Women's Resistance, her collaboration with Senegalese titan Germaine Acogny; the latest hip-hop inventions from Rennie Harris' Philadelphia-based Puremovement; the lauded Limón Dance Company; and a pair of San Francisco companies: the venerable ODC/Dance and the newer Embodiment Project, which infuses street dance with live music and theatrical elements. See the complete lineup on The Joyce's website.


Faye Driscoll: Thank You for Coming: Space
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Runs January 8-11.

The final piece in Driscoll's interactive Thank You for Coming trilogy takes place in an intimate, custom-made installation held aloft by pulleys, ropes and the weight of the audience. Although she's dancing solo, Driscoll creates a communal space, inviting spectators to contemplate her requiem to the ever-changing human body.


Brother(hood) Dance!: Afro/Solo/Man and Thomas F. Defrantz/Slippage: Soundz at the Back of My Head
The Theater at Gibney 280 Broadway, 53A Chambers Street between Broadway and Elk Street

Runs January 9-11.

These two separate yet complementary works will be performed consecutively for three evenings at Gibney. Despite its title, Afro/Solo/Man is a two-person multidisciplinary piece about a pair of black men exploring their identity, sexuality and heritage. The high-tech Soundz at the Back of My Head examines the challenges an artist of color faces when grappling with the legacy of slavery as the performer's movements are translated into sounds and images via live-processing interfaces.


Bill Young / Colleen Thomas & Co.: LIT
100Grand Dance, 100 Grand Street near Mercer Street

Runs January 10-11.

Married choreographer-dancers Young and Thomas present the latest edition of their LIT (loft into theatre) series at their Soho space, featuring intimate works—both new and returning—performed by an A-list of downtown dance talent.


Harkness Dance Center Artists in Residence: ShAIRed Show and More!
92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street

Runs January 10 and 12.

The 92Y presents a showcase of new choreography by four of its artists in residence, including Kyle Marshall, whose recent BAM performances drew critical acclaim. 


The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood
The Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street between First and Second Avenues

Runs January 10-14. At press time, discount tickets were available for The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood.

Acclaimed Japanese playwright-director Suguru Yamamoto and his frequent collaborator dancer-choreographer Wataru Kitao present this solo dance-theatre piece about the unexpected encounters of strangers in a city. Kitao embodies all the characters, whose thoughts and feelings are communicated through projected words and photos as well as movement.


Cion: Requiem of Ravel's Boléro
The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Runs January 15-18.

Conceived and choreographed by Gregory Maqoma, the founder of South Africa's Vuyani Dance Theatre, Cion is set in a graveyard and explores slavery, migration and mourning. Composer Nhlanhla Mahlangu has transformed Ravel's iconic orchestral piece into a vocal score by using Isicathamiya singers, an a cappella style of Zulu origin.


Shanghai Ballet: Grand Swan Lake
David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, enter at 63rd Street

Runs January 17-19.

This supersize version of the 19th-century classic features an ensemble of 48 swans! Choreographed in 2015 by the company's British artistic director Derek Deane (a former Royal Ballet principal dancer who then led the English National Ballet), the lavish production boasts a cast of 80 and has toured extensively. The trusty New York City Ballet Orchestra, led by veteran conductor Charles Barker, plays Tchaikovsky's lush score.


Complexions Contemporary Ballet
The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Runs January 21-February 2. At press time, discount tickets were available for Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

This highly athletic company returns to the Joyce with three works by Dwight Rhoden, who codirects the troupe with fellow Alvin Ailey alum Desmond Richardson. Rhoden's full-company world premiere, Love Rocks, is danced to Lenny Kravitz tunes. Rounding out the lineup are WOKE, a meditation on the news cycle set to songs by Lil Wayne, Kendrick Lamar and Logic; and Bach 25.


New York City Ballet: Winter Season 2020
David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza, enter at 63rd Street

Runs January 21-March 1.

Opening with two all-Balanchine programs (including the return of his delectable La Source), this six-week season also features newer repertory, notably world premieres from Alexei Ratmansky and NYCB resident choreographer Justin Peck. Several ballets by Jerome Robbins and Christopher Wheeldon are also on the schedule, as well as a dozen performances of Peter Martins' take on Swan Lake.


Thunderbird American Indian Dancers in Concert
Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue between 9th and 10th Streets

Runs January 24-February 2.

Enjoy an authentic celebration as members of the Native Peoples of the Northeast, Southwest and Great Plains regions come together for this 45th annual Pop-Wow, featuring traditional dances, music, storytelling and audience interaction. Thunderbird's founder, Louis Mofsie, recently received the prestigious Bessie Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance in honor of his tireless commitment to sharing Native American culture.


Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake
New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues

Runs January 30-February 9.

Bourne's famous interpretation of the ballet returns, and it's as bold and dramatically potent as ever. With its sensual ensemble of menacing male swans, his Swan Lake was a Tony-winning hit on Broadway two decades ago and was last seen in NYC in 2010. Bourne and his longtime collaborator, set and costume designer Lez Brotherston, have updated elements of the ballet for this U.S. tour, which makes an 11-day stop at City Center.


Susan Reiter regularly covers dance for TDF Stages.

Top image: Shanghai Ballet: Grand Swan Lake. Photo courtesy of the company.

TDF MEMBERS: Go here to browse our latest discounts for dance, theatre and concerts.

Susan Reiter covers dance for TDF Stages.