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Tara’s Top Five NY Dance Picks for this Season

By Tara Sheena.

Dance Geeks unite! The New York performance season is kicking off this month with many exciting happenings in store. Last year, I told you my top five shows to see for the year. But, for a city with so much dance busting at the seams, I decided to widen my focus for this year’s top picks. This year, to ease the daunting anxiety of having to choose just five things I am looking forward to, I bring you the five venues that have the shows I am pumped and passionate about. From Brooklyn to Queens and that island in between, there is so much happening. So, see one, see them all…see something! And, I will see you in the audience!

My top five, in no particular order:

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM)

BAM has long been revered for world-renown cultural pillars right in the eclectic and resounding Ft. Greene, Brooklyn area where it resides. However, this year marks the opening of their 250-seat black box Fishman Space. That means more possibilities, more programming, and even some late night performances for you nocturnal folk. In this late night sector, I am most looking forward to Miguel Guttierez’s latest, “And Lose the Name of Action”. The work, for dancers aged 33 to 62, explores what otherworldly states can be accessed through improvisation. He cites ghosts and highways amongst his latest inspiration for this undoubtedly surreal work.

Danspace Project

With the 50th Anniversary of the infamous Judson Church Movement (a move into postmodern dance that rejected the classicism and form of ballet), many dance organizations, like Movement Research, are putting this celebration into effect with various events, lectures, and performances (many of them free!). Danspace Project is devoting their latest Platforms series to this movement, calling it “Judson Now!” I cannot wait to see what Trajal Harrell shows us when he opens up the first day of his production residency to a free event for all to see a junior size version of his “Twenty Looks” series, “Antigone Jr.” Also, in a new form of interactive performance, Clarinda Mac Low not only invites you to her show but also invites you to have a meeting with her before the show. Audience members can sign up and meet with the artist before her performances of “40 Dancers Do 40 Dances For the Dancers.” Every night of this performance run is different…even more reason to see it all! www.danspaceproject.org

The Chocolate Factory

The Chocolate Factory has long been a Long Island City, Queens mainstay for cutting edge collaboration and innovation. Artistic Director Brian Rogers is an obvious dance lover and often has his choreographers in residence for years before they present on the Factory’s stage. If you are looking for something out of the box (and out of Manhattan), venture to the delectable offerings of the Chocolate Factory’s upcoming season. My top pick? The adventurous performance stylings of Big Dance Theater in their latest work, “Ich, Kurbisgeist”. Co-commissioned by Performance Space 122 and working with emerging playwright, Sibyl Kempson, the company presents a work set in medieval times with their signature (at times zany) blend of text, movement, and visual media. With a complete invented language (a combination of English, Swedish, and German) you may not understand what the characters are saying, but you will definitely feel it. And, get your tickets now! There are only 30 seats available for each performance, so they are sure to sell quickly. www.chocolatefactorytheater.org

Doug Varone and Dancers 'Boats Leaving'. Photo by Richard Termine

Doug Varone and Dancers 'Boats Leaving'. Photo by Richard Termine

The Joyce

New York City’s preeminent dance institution brings another packed and ready season of, well, dance. Ranging from contemporary ballet to postmodern, the Joyce’s upcoming season looks to be one of their best yet. If you have to see one show, make it Doug Varone’s. Celebrating its 25th anniversary season, Doug Varone and Dancers brings the New York premiere of “Carrugi” to the stage, as well as the Bessie-award winning “Boats Leaving.” I am most looking forward to “Ballet Mecanique”, set to a George Antheil score from 1925! Twenty-five years after its founding, it looks like Varone and his intrepid dancers are still going, strong as ever. www.Joyce.org

Baryshnikov Arts Center

The programming at Baryshnikov Arts Center has grown to be more diverse and unexpected each season. This year is no different, with the venue presenting exciting works ranging from international puppeteers (The Bolshoi Puppet Theatre of St. Petersburg) to NYC-based chamber music ensembles (St. Luke’s Chamber Ensemble). However, Doug Elkins and his charismatic crew are definitely leading on the dance front, presenting a collage of works including the New York premiere of “Mo(or)town Redux.” Think Shakespeare’s Othello meets Motown tunes meets physically eccentric modern dance. Or, don’t think at all. Just go to the show and see for yourself.

Top photo: Big Dance Theater’s Ich, Kürbisgeist. Photo by Paula Court. www.bigdancetheater.org/images_ich_kurbisgeist.html
In body photo source: Doug Varone and Dancers – www.dougvaroneanddancers.org

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