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12 Dance Performances to See This Summer—6 Are FREE

By: Susan Reiter
Date: Jul 07, 2023


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Catch Pilobolus, the Mark Morris Dance Group and a half dozen no-cost events


It may be summer, but the NYC dance scene isn't going on vacation. Over the next two months, you can catch legends such as Mark Morris, Pilobolus and Michelle Dorrance, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, the second half of American Theatre Ballet's summer season and an outdoor dance festival featuring five beloved homegrown troupes. And take note: six of our picks are FREE.

In terms of COVID-19 safety protocols, masks are optional and proof of vaccination is not required unless otherwise noted. While we are trying to keep this article up to date, be sure to double-check the protocols before purchasing tickets so you arrive prepared.

If you're a TDF member, log in to your account daily to see what we're selling as ticket inventory changes frequently.


Gather Round: Celebrating Street Dance and 50 Years of Hip-Hop

Manhattan West Plaza, enter at Ninth Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets in Midtown West

Runs on Wednesday evenings July 5-26. FREE. Admission is first come, first served.

Works & Process, the Guggenheim's adventurous culture series offering a behind-the-scenes peek at how art is made, partners with Manhattan West to present four performances celebrating the golden anniversary of hip-hop dance. Wednesdays in July will feature beatboxing, breaking and krumping from LayeRhythm, Ladies of Hip Hop and Ephrat Asherie Dance, with the final evening morphing into a full-blown dance party courtesy of DJ Bravo LaFortune.



The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street in Chelsea

Runs July 11-30

To conclude its Big Five-OH! tour celebrating a half century of innovation, this boldly inventive troupe returns to the Joyce for three weeks with a trio of programs that juxtapose early classics with fresh collaborations. For the new works, Pilobolus joins forces with an eclectic selection of artists: Darlene Kascak of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, composer Jad Abumrad, choreographer Madison Olandt, and former company dancers Derion Loman and Gaspard Louis. Note that some repertory contains nudity. Pick the family matinee on Saturday, July 22 if you're looking for a G-rated lineup.


Caleb Teicher and Veronica Swift

92NY, 1395 Lexington Avenue at 92nd Street on the Upper East Side

Runs July 13, also live-streaming.

Jazz vocalist Veronica Swift and swing master Caleb Teicher make beautiful music and dance together as part of 92NY's new series Midsummer MusicFest. For their inaugural collaboration, they bring along some of their talented pals to explore the power of rhythm through bebop, Lindy Hop and tap. Afterward for an additional fee, you can strut your own stuff at a social Swing Dance Party led by Teicher and company.


Ballet Hispánico: Buscando a Juan

The Robert Lehman Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street on the Upper East Side

Runs July 13-15

FREE with museum admission

One of two chances to see NYC's premier Latine dance troupe Ballet Hispánico in July. First up: the world premiere of Buscando a Juan, a commissioned work choreographed by artistic director Eduardo Vilaro in response to the museum's exhibition Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter. Multiculturalism, multiracialism, exoticization and the white gaze are some of the themes explored in this evocative piece, which is danced in the galleries alongside the art.


Cynthia Berkshire: VEIL: Two Sisters

Tibet House, 22 West 15th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues in Chelsea

Runs July 14-15. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.

Inspired by the Celtic concept of "thin places" where heaven and earth intersect as well as her own familial losses, Cynthia Berkshire's new work is a multimedia tale of two sisters connecting beyond life and death. Video design by Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty and a supporting chorus of celestial spirits enhance this otherworldly experience.


One Dance

David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza at 63rd Street and Columbus Avenue in Lincoln Square

Runs July 20-22. If you're a TDF member, log in to your account to purchase discount tickets.

The centerpiece of Lincoln Center's Korean Arts Week, One Dance is a three-way choreographic collaboration that puts a fresh spin on ceremonial Korean dance. Hyejin Jeong, the artistic director of Seoul Metropolitan Dance Theatre, and modern dance choreographers Sung Hoon Kim and Jaeduk Kim blend traditional and contemporary movement in this epic performance featuring a cast of 39 and eye-popping design by fashion creative director Kuho Jung.


American Ballet Theatre

Metropolitan Opera House, 30 Lincoln Center Plaza at 62nd Street

Runs through July 22

American Ballet Theatre wraps up its summer season with three beloved ballets: Giselle (July 3-8), Swan Lake (July 10-15) and Romeo and Juliet (July 18-22). There are multiple ensembles for each production; hardly any of the principal dancers repeat their roles, so check the cast listing carefully if you want to catch a specific star.


BAAND Together Dance Festival

Damrosch Park Bandshell at Lincoln Center, 62nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues in Lincoln Square

Runs July 25-29. FREE. General admission is first come, first served however, starting Monday, July 24 at noon, you can make free fast track reservations online, which give you priority.

Part of Summer for the City at Lincoln Center, this incredible series of FREE outdoor performances showcases five of NYC's iconic companies. The program, which is the same every evening, features a sampling of repertory from American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ballet Hispánico, Dance Theatre of Harlem and New York City Ballet, plus a new Pedro Ruiz work. Justin Peck's go-for-broke sneaker ballet The Times Are Racing serves as the exhilarating finale. Want to get in on the action? At 5 p.m. before each performance, one of the companies will lead a free dance workshop open to all.


Dorrance Dance: 45th & 8th

Runs July 26. FREE. Admission is first come, first served.

Central Park SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, enter the park at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side

The boundaries of tap dance expand exponentially every time Michelle Dorrance and her invigorating ensemble take the stage. Works & Process partners with SummerStage for this FREE outdoor performance of 45th & 8th, which is danced to music conjured by powerhouse vocalist Aaron Marcellus.


Mark Morris Dance Group

The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street in Chelsea

Runs August 1-12

A mainstay of the NYC dance scene for more than four decades, Mark Morris' company has never performed at The Joyce, so this is a historic first. A broad range of Morris' works are performed on two programs, including a world premiere set to Bach's Partita No. 3 in A Minor, with most dances accompanied by the impeccable MMDG Music Ensemble.


The Bessie Awards

Damrosch Park Bandshell at Lincoln Center, 62nd Street between Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues in Lincoln Square

Runs August 4. FREE. General admission is first come, first served however, starting Monday, July 31 at noon, you can make free fast track reservations online, which give you priority.

Celebrate NYC's dance scene at the annual Bessies, which doles out prizes for the most innovative and visionary performances. The ceremony will honor dancers, choreographers and designers and salute veteran leaders for Lifetime Achievement (Virginia Johnson, founding member and former artistic director of Dance Theatre of Harlem) and Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance (Michele Byrd-McPhee, founder and executive director of Ladies of Hip-Hop). Expect live excerpts from the nominated works.


Battery Dance Festival

Rockefeller Park, enter at Murray Street and River Terrace in Battery Park City

Runs August 12-18. Also live-streaming. FREE. Admission is first come, first served.

For the 42nd year, this unstoppable festival's mixed programs offer a smorgasbord of dance over seven evenings in a beautiful setting at the water's edge. The list of companies is far too long to include, but it ranges from local favorites to visiting ensembles from Belgium, Canada, Curaçao, India, Norway and Poland. This year's opening night is devoted to Young Voices in Dance, choreographers ages 15 to 22, and later in the week there are tributes to legendary modern dance pioneers such as Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller and Denishawn Dance. Not going to be in town? All performances will also be live-streamed.


Top image: Legendary company Pilobolus returns to The Joyce Theater for a three-week run. Photo by Brigid Pierce.

Susan Reiter covers dance for TDF Stages.