The Summer's Best Dance Performances

By Della Hasselle on July 11, 2012 7:20am 

NEW YORK — It's more than 15 years since they graced the stages of New York, but this summer the world's oldest national ballet company is bringing fresh legs and new energy to its highly anticipated season at the Lincoln Center Festival.

The Paris Opera Ballet, which has origins dating back to the 17th century court of Louis XIV, will be performing the pieces "20th Century Masters," "Giselle" and "Orpheus and Eurydice: A Dance Opera by Pina Bausch," starting July 11.

"We are in some ways doing works that go back to the beginning, or to a defining period in an art form," Lincoln Center Festival director Nigel Redden, speaking about the company's performance of "Giselle," a ballet set in the Middle Ages and inspired by a poem written by Heinrich Heine.

"This is a classical company that can do the classics in a way that no one else can."

"Orpheus and Eurydice" is another classical piece that will be performed by the Paris Opera Ballet at the Lincoln Center Festival this summer. A work set to Gluck’s 1762 opera of the same name, the plot of "Orpheus and Eurydice" originates from an ancient Greek myth.

The ballet company's third program, "20th Century Masters" includes a piece called "Suite en Blanc" by Serge Lifar, a choreographer whose roots go back to the Ballets Russes, and "L’Arlésienne," choreographed by Roland Petit who was known for his contemporary French style in the 1950s.

Finally, there's "Boléro," the work of Maurice Bejart who made his name in Europe with rebellious pieces in the 1960s.

Following Paris Opera Ballet, the Tao Dance Theater will come to the Lincoln Center Festival for two performances that combine theatrical visual arts with technology, for a multimedia effect.

The works, called "2" and "4," were created by dancer and choreographer Tao Ye.

Both performances range from $25 to $200 per ticket.

Check out the roundup below to see where other dance companies will be performing around the city.

TRISHA BROWN DANCE COMPANY

Trisha Brown Dance Company, one of the most celebrated modern dance companies in the world, will give a sneak peek of their rehearsals for the show "Astral Converted" at Downtown's highly celebrated River to River Festival.

Performed to original music by John Cage, "Astral Converted" will be the culmination of Brown’s "Valiant Series," which premiered at the National Gallery of Art in 1991 as an adaptation of "Astral Convertible (1989)."

At the time that it was choreographed, "Astral Convertible" examined the use of computer applications in choreography and the fusion of science with the arts.

The River to River performance, which will also be mounted later in the summer at the Park Avenue Armory with motion-sensor towers that respond to the dancers' movements with lights and music, is truly a sneak peek for Downtown audiences.

"We are delighted to be offering an unparalleled breadth and depth of programming at this year’s River To River Festival," Sam Miller, president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, said in a statement.

Other dance performances at the River to River Festival include Le Grand Continental by Sylvain Émard Danse, and a modern line dance on Pier 17.

When and Where: The festival runs every day until July 15th at venues across Lower Manhattan. For a detailed schedule, click here.

BALLET HISPANICO

Salsa lovers should get their dancing shoes ready because Sundays are heating up in Central Park.

The Central Park Conservancy's Harlem Meer Performance Festival, held every Sunday afternoon when weather permits, offers live jazz and Latin music and dance on the plaza of the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in Central Park.

This year, Ballet Hispanico will get the show moving at the end of the summer with a performance culminating the festival on September 2.

Onlookers can practice their own moves, however, while enjoying the steamy sounds of both new and established artists while performing lakeside in the Harlem-based setting.

This year, the shows will highlight Orlando Marin, the New York Cuban All Stars and the Sean Smith Quartet.

Other performances include Susan Pereira & Sabor Brasil, a Brazilian jazz band, and Sumba Swing, a Latin jazz band.

When and where: The festival will be held at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the park at 110th Street between Lenox and Fifth Avenues, every Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. until Sep. 2.

THE WHITMAN SISTERS

This July, Alice Whitman, who is considered to be one of the greatest tap dancers of all time, and the early 20th century vaudeville group The Whitman Sisters will be named into the American Tap Dance Foundation's International Tap Dance Hall of Fame during the culmination of a seven-day tap festival put on in New York City.

Vaudeville dancer Charles "Cholly" Atkins will also be recognized during the "Tap City" event as well as jazz-style dancers Jason Samuels Smith and Max Pollak, who will both receive the foundation's Hoofer Award.

The professional dancers won't be the only ones to get funky during the festival, however.

On July 12, youth and adult students will perform at the Symphony Space theater at 2537 Broadway at 95th Street for the Tap Future All-Student Showcase.

The whole Tap City festival culminates July 13 with Tap It Out, a free public event on the World Financial Center Plaza. The show will combine professionals and students in mini-shows that will start at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.

Created and staged by the mayor of Tap City, Tony Waag, and assisted by dancer Lynn Schwab, the show includes Joy Schein, a 74-year-old former ballerina who danced with Martha Graham, and Karen Callaway Williams, the first black female tap dancer to tour with River Dance.

Waag said in a release that he was excited to share the dancers' joy of tap with the public.

"Tap It Out is not only an opportunity to celebrate the form, but also to expand and challenge the limited perception that tap dance is either old-fashioned, only for the exceptionally talented or too immature to be taken seriously," he said.

When and Where: The Tap City festival will continue in various places in Downtown Manhattan until July 13.

PILOBOLUS

The Grammy award-nominated dance troupe Pilobolus is back in the big city for another season of acrobatic feats and visual mind play with the stage version of the company's new video of OK Go's "Skyscrapers."

The highlighted premiere was created in collaboration with juggler, physicist and dancer Michael Moschen and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, another multitalented artist who helped envision the humanitarian storyline behind the new piece.

The original music video, made as a series of duets between Pilobolus troupe members, was created by filmmaker Trish Sie, a Grammy-award winning choreographer and director who is well known for the video "Here it Goes Again."

"Set against the gritty, saturated colors of LA's Eastside streets, Skyscrapers explores the melancholy, understated elegance of the tango, quintessential street dance, drenched in overtones of love, romance, and loss," the Joyce website says about Pilobolus' scheduled performances.

The piece is also affordable, with tickets starting at $10.

When and Where: Pilobolus will be performing at the Joyce Theater at 175 Eighth Avenue from July 16 to Aug. 11.

CAMILLE A. BROWN AND DANCERS

Camille A. Brown and Dancers will also premiere a new work with musician Imani Uzuri, an artist who frequently performs with John Legend, during this year's extensive roster presented during Central Park's Summerstages.

The new piece will debut on August 1 in the Central Park venue.

Brown, known for moves created from a melting pot of modern, hip-hop and African techniques, has choreographed pieces set to selections of Uzuri's new album, The Gypsy Diaries.

“We are proud to commission top notch dance performances throughout the city; not only exhibiting work from the best artists from around the world, but bringing excitement to the stage through our worldwide and New York City dance premieres," City Parks Foundation President, Alison Tocci, said in a release.

"We are thrilled to act as a platform for artists to showcase their fresh, new works."

As a Princess Grace Award winning choreographer, Brown recently choreographed on Broadway for the revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire." She has also choreographed for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco and Ballet Memphis.

Brown is only one of several dance companies to be making exciting works for the summer festival. Others include Liberation Dance Theater and Jamal Jackson Dance Company on July 20 and WHITE WAVE Young Soon Kim Dance Company on August 17.

When and where: Summerstage Dance continues at Central Park until August 18.

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