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Dance Theatre of Harlem
It’s been three decades since Arthur Mitchell founded Dance Theatre of Harlem to prove that black dancers belong in classical ballet. Audiences may have gotten the message, but the major classical companies are still obstinately dominated by white folks. Mitchell (of the unquenchable vision) and his acolytes persist. For its thirtieth-anniversary season, the company will perform several key Balanchine works – Mitchell’s inheritance from the New York City Ballet, where he was the first of his race to make it to principal-dancer rank – alongside ballets that combine black and white cultural traditions in a cunning variety of ways. (City Center, September 21-October 3.)

Limón Dance Company
Our finest example of the proposition that a modern-dance company can survive the death of its founder (and chief choreographer), the Limón Dance Company continues to keep up the great man’s repertoire while adding works, both venerable and newly minted, that complement it. This season’s Limón revivals will be There Is a Time and The Moor’s Pavane. Acquisitions from outside the orbit are The Plain Sense of Things, commissioned from postmodernist Doug Varone, and Dark Elegies, by Antony Tudor, the classical-ballet choreographer closest to modern-dance impulses – and, interestingly, Limón’s contemporary. It’s tough to get permission to do Tudor’s handful of masterworks, and the Limón people are the first modern dancers to succeed. They must be doing lots of things right. (Joyce Theater, October 5-17.)

New Europe ‘99
According to its exhaustive press kit, New Europe ‘99, set to bombard our town for three weeks in October, will be “a citywide festival of performances and humanities events … that will present a new generation of European performing artists to New York audiences and examine the changing face of Europe.” The host theaters are the familiar haunts in which we seek the cutting edge, among them bam, DTW, the Joyce, P.S. 122, and the Kitchen. The artists are unknown to all but the most Euro-focused American dance fans. The corporate sponsorship is heavy-duty. At the risk of appearing chauvinistic, I wonder why the same organizational and economic support can’t be given to our native talents. Nevertheless, I expect to see a good many of the visitors, tops on my list being one Foofwa d’Imobilité (on shared programs at the Swiss Institute, October 28-31), because of his earlier, unforgettable dancing with Merce Cunningham. (Various theaters, October 11-31.)

Lyon Opera Ballet
Although the Lyon Opera Ballet is a repertory company for contemporary choreography, its upcoming visit to New York is confined to a program of two works by Mats Ek, son of the Swedish choreographer Birgit (Miss Julie) Cullberg. Ek, who began his career as a director of plays, specializes in unorthodox takes on sacred cows. He’s the fellow who rerouted Giselle, the touchstone of Romantic ballet, to a mental asylum and converted the fateful spindle in Sleeping Beauty to a needle purveying a controlled substance (that stuff does make you drowsy, doesn’t it?). From the coming-attractions video, Ek’s Carmen seems to pursue similar twists – such as cigars that are not just cigars – while the semi-abstract Solo for Two looks to be a lusty confrontation apt to make one consider giving celibacy a chance. (bam Harvey Theater, October 19-24.)

American Ballet Theatre
For the third year running, American Ballet Theatre will spend two weeks at the City Center, where it behaves like the company it first set out to be 60 years ago. Instead of the imposing multi-act affairs – heavy on story and ornament – that dominate the company’s long spring seasons at the Met, mixed bills of an eclectic repertory that glows in modest circumstances constitute the fall fare. Highlights of the upcoming performances include an excursion into modern dance with Martha Graham’s beguiling Diversion of Angels and new works commissioned from Lar Lubovitch and John Neumeier. Among the revivals from the company’s rich inventory are Robert Joffrey’s Pas des Déesses, a wry but loving look at nineteenth-century ballerina rivalry, and Eugene Loring’s take on an American folk legend, Billy the Kid. (City Center, October 19-31.)

Urban Tap
Urban Tap puns on the given name of this entertainment’s mastermind, Herbin “Tamango” Van Cayseele, whose productions reflect the outrageously polyglot character of the metropolis. They’re no-holds-barred multicultural carnivals of dance, instrumental and vocal music, plus exotic martial and performance arts like capoeira and stilt walking. Cayseele himself – from French Guiana via Paris – is the most lyrical of the new generation of tap stars. He doesn’t so much deny the insistent staccato rhythms central to the genre as charm them into a state in which they’re a little less like drumming, a little more like singing. (The Kitchen, November 11-13.)

Alvin Ailey American
Dance Theater
Celebrating her tenth year at the helm of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Judith Jamison has assembled an astute group of novelties for the company’s New York season. The new works come from modern-dance veteran Donald McKayle, who will explore the African diaspora in the Americas (Danger Run); the take-no-prisoners postmodernist Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, who’s investigating her personal ties to jazz (C-Sharp Street & B-Flat Avenue); and Ronald K. Brown – like Zollar, moonlighting from his own group – who promises one of those affirmation-despite-adversity pieces central to the Ailey’s aesthetic. Grace, the title of Brown’s contribution, with its dual sense of the physical and the spiritual, might well be this company’s watchword. (City Center, December 1-January 2.)

David Roussève/
David Roussève represents a trend current among choreographers to create huge, splashy, conceptually ambitious productions that mix their media lavishly and with abandon. Love Songs, Roussève’s latest concoction, incorporates both traditional African and streetwise dance; spoken text; vocal music in duly assorted languages, by Wagner, Puccini, and Chopin; and gigantic puppets to boot. Performers trained in disparate movement styles work alongside nonpros from the community. The story line tracks a pair of lovers escaping from slavery (the woman pregnant, the master sadistic) and escalates, we’re assured, to surreal visions of Heaven and hell. Viewers favoring the strict purity of the Bauhaus should stay home. (BAM Harvey Theater, December 8-11.)

For Kids
Not all but most dance performances designed for kids are unworthy of both children and grown-ups. Some companies offer “family matinees,” where they pre-select youth-friendly dances from their repertoire, but why rely on their taste instead of yours? Wait until the youngsters you love are ready, choose what might be accessible to them from the dancing you cotton to, and share your enjoyment of the real thing. Consider offering those of tender years just one piece on a mixed bill, or try American Ballet Theatre’s October 23 matinee (Pas des Déesses, Diversion of Angels, Other Dances, and Push Comes to Shove), where ballet and modern dance combine in a program of sheer delight.

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