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13 Dance Performances to See This December

By: Susan Reiter
Date: Nov 27, 2019


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Catch Michelle Dorrance, Alvin Ailey and multiple Nutcrackers


'Tis the season of Nutcrackers, and not just at Lincoln Center. Our December roundup includes three other, more intimate and less pricey mountings of Tchaikovsky's Christmas ballet, plus tap genius Michelle Dorrance at the Joyce, the annual holiday run of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at City Center and other exciting dance events. Of the 13 performances we're highlighting, at press time we have TDF member discounts to six, and we expect to have others in the coming weeks. It's best to check our offers daily as ticket availability changes frequently.


And Still You Must Swing
The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Runs December 3-8.

Three lauded tap dancer-choreographers -- Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Derick K. Grant and Jason Samuels Smith -- join forces in And Still You Must Swing, a celebration of the legacy of tap. Sumbry-Edwards spearheaded the project, which delves into the history of the genre all the way back to its jazz roots. Expect exhilarating moves, incredible improv and a guest performance by Tony-nominated choreographer Camille A. Brown, all performed to live music.


A.D. & Colored
BAM Fisher, 321 Ashland Place between Lafayette Avenue and Hanson Place

Runs December 4-7.

Bessie Award winner Kyle Marshall takes a big leap forward with his BAM debut, part of the venue's venerable Next Wave Festival. His world-premiere quintet A.D. examines the influence of Christianity on the body, while his acclaimed 2017 trio Colored explores race as Marshall, Oluwadamilare Ayorinde and Myssi Robinson reflect on their experiences as black artists in a white-dominated industry.


Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: Ailey Revealed
New York City Center, 131 West 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues

Runs December 4-January 5, 2020. At press time, discount tickets were available for Ailey Revealed.

The beloved dance company returns to City Center for its annual holiday run with old favorites like Revelations alongside powerful world premieres, such as Donald Byrd's Greenwood about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, and Alvin Ailey resident choreographer Jamar Roberts' Ode, a meditation on the gun violence epidemic. Works by Aszure Barton and Tony-nominated choreographer Camille A. Brown are also on the lineup, along with a new mounting of Lar Lubovitch's Fandango.


Gibney: DoublePlus
The Theater at Gibney 280 Broadway, 53A Chambers Street between Broadway and Elk Street

Different programs run December 5-7, 12-14 and 19-21. At press time, discount tickets were available for DoublePlus: Dana Davenport + Samita Sinha, DoublePlus: Alexander Diaz + Jennifer Harrison Newman and DoublePlus: Laurel Atwell + Hyung Seok Jeon.

Gibney, a wide-ranging downtown dance hub, spotlights emerging artists in this three-week series, which has a notable curation process. For each program, an established artist put together a split-bill of premieres by two younger colleagues. Alexis Convento oversaw Dana Davenport and Samita Sinha (December 5-7); Charmaine Warren took on Alexander Diaz and Jennifer Harrison Newman (December 12-14), and Tei Blow programmed Laurel Atwell and Hyung Seok Jeon (December 19-21).


Nai-Ni Chen Dance Company: CrossCurrent
New York Live Arts, 219 West 19th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues

Runs December 5-8. At press time, discount tickets were available for CrossCurrent.

Nai-Ni Chen, whose namesake New Jersey-based company is celebrating its 30th anniversary, is known for fusing traditional Chinese dance and culture with contemporary choreography and themes. CrossCurrent is a mini-retrospective featuring the early signature work Calligraphy II alongside more recent pieces such as Breaking News, with costumes fashioned from newspapers, and Bamboo Rap, which juxtaposes Chinese and hip-hop dance moves.


Buglisi Dance Theatre: Ode to the Planet and Humanity
Ailey Citigroup Theater, 405 West 55 Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues

Runs December 10-12. At press time, discount tickets were available for Buglisi Dance Theatre.

Jacqulyn Buglisi was a leading Martha Graham dancer as was Virginie Mécène, and they both have world premieres on this program described as a plea to protect and preserve Mother Earth. Buglisi's The Moss Anthology: Variation#5 has an original score by Emmy-winning composer Jeff Beal; In the name of the fire, and the flame, and grace explores the refugee crisis and Mécène's trio UNUM celebrates unity. Like the choreographers, many of the dancers are Graham alumni, too, so expect passionate performances, nothing dry or abstract.


Pam Tanowitz + Simone Dinnerstein: New Work for Goldberg Variations
The Joyce Theater, 175 Eighth Avenue at 19th Street

Runs December 10-15.

This intriguing collaboration between contemporary dance master Tanowitz and pianist Simone Dinnerstein lends new dimensions to Bach's demanding masterpiece. Dinnerstein sits center stage at the piano playing the whirlwind title classical work, while Tanowitz's seven dancers physicalize the music in smart, witty and unexpected ways.


New Dances Edition 2019
Juilliard's Peter Jay Sharp Theater, 155 West 65th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue

Runs December 11-15.

Get ready to spot future stars at The Juilliard School's annual Dance Division showcase. Each of the four undergraduate classes works with a choreographer to create a world premiere tailor-made to the students' talents and personalities. Amy Hall Garner collaborated with the first-year class; Alvin Ailey's Jamar Roberts with the second-year pupils; Andrea Miller with the third-year students and Stephen Petronio worked with those about to graduate. This program also spotlights Juilliard's music department, with classical and jazz student instrumentalists providing much of the accompaniment.


New York Theatre Ballet: The Nutcracker
Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street between Madison and Park Avenues

Runs December 13-15.

Keith Michael choreographed this hour-long version of the iconic holiday ballet, and it's filled with invention and charm. While its short running time and eye-popping Art Nouveau design make it an ideal introduction to The Nutcracker for young children, there are plenty of surprises that will delight adults, too, including clockwork imps and an owl that flies above the audience.


Dances Patrelle: The Yorkville Nutcracker
Kaye Playhouse at Hunter College, 68th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues

Runs December 13-15. At press time, discount tickets were available for The Yorkville Nutcracker.

Choreographer Francis Patrelle resets the classic ballet in 1895 New York City, with Clara and her Prince dancing through historic landmarks such as Gracie Mansion, the Crystal Palace in the New York Botanical Garden and Central Park. New York City Ballet's Abi Stafford and Ask la Cour appear as the Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier, while Ballet Academy East students fill out many roles.


The Brooklyn Nutcracker
The Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Avenue between Tilden Avenue and Duryea Place

Runs December 14.

Diversity and inclusion overflow in this festive neighborhood production, conceived and choreographed by Brooklyn Ballet artistic director Lynn Parkerson. The music is the traditional Tchaikovsky, but the movement reflects our city's melting pot by combining ballet with hip-hop and assorted world dance styles.


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

Runs December 17-January 5, 2020.

Tap-dance innovator Michelle Dorrance puts her own rhythmic spin on the holidays with her new Nutcracker Suite, created in collaboration with Hannah Heller and Josette Wiggan-Freund. Their interpretation of Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's adaptation of Tchaikovsky's score -- music Dorrance has loved since childhood -- is sure to get you in the spirit of the season. Other highlights of the three-week run include All Good Things Must Come to an End, featuring Dorrance and her peers tapping to Fats Waller tunes; Elastic Time, an excerpt from Dorrance's innovative 2018 work Elemental; and Harlequin & Pantalone and Lessons in Tradition, both featuring Tony-winning neo-vaudevillian Bill Irwin.


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

Runs December 18-21. At press time, discount tickets were available for MAIM.

Zvi Gotheiner, a sophisticated modern-dance choreographer, premieres a serious new work for his company of eight. Maim, which means water in Hebrew, explores how global warming is impacting our water supply. Having grown up on the arid land of an Israeli kibbutz, Gotheiner knows the dangers of this environmental threat firsthand.


Susan Reiter regularly covers dance for TDF Stages.

Top image: New York Theatre Ballet's The Nutcracker. Photo by Julieta Cervantes.

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

Susan Reiter covers dance for TDF Stages.