Dancing on the Railby Vanessa Manko
The Radio City Rockettes have come out of their 11-month hibernation, and so, too, has the perennial classic The Nutcracker. Beyond their shared month in the spotlight, it would seem that these dance performances have little else in common. But in fact, they do. For most Americans, The Nutcracker or the Radio City Rockettes show is the one time during the year that they watch a dance performance. The Nutcracker began as a New York holiday tradition in the 1950s with George Balanchine’s rendition of the classic; it is now an American cultural phenomenon, with several different adaptations including David Parker and the Bang Group’s Nut/cracked (Dance Theater Workshop, December 15–22). The Radio City Rockettes are also something of a phenomenon. And while leggy, precision dance, complete with lots of glitter and gusto, might seem at odds with the more pristine New York City Ballet holiday rite, the Rockettes represent the schmaltzy exuberance and iconic Americana that famously beguiled Balanchine. But beyond the snow, flowers, sugar plums, and high kicks of the holiday season, the “other” work of the dance world continues on undaunted.
Men dominate over the next two months with New York premieres from three cerebral choreographers. First Tere O’Connor, who took on the winter landscape in Winter Belly and environmental issues in Lawn, premieres Frozen Mommy at the Kitchen (December 2 – 11). John Jasperse tackles the mythological California in his new work of the same name at BAM (December 7 – 11). And the tap conservative Savion Glover returns to the Joyce with Classical Savion (January 4 – 23). And lest one forget, Merce is at the Joyce and Alvin is at City Center. But the winter dance season does not end here.
Forsythe’s Foray Into Experimental Theater
The Wooster Group collaborates with William Forsythe, an American choreographer based in Germany who, since leaving his post as artistic director of Ballet Frankfurt, has gone on to do other projects. Poor Theater also includes artistic input from director Jerzy Grotowski and visual artist Max Ernst.
Through December 19, Wednesday – Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 7 p.m. Tickets: $25, cash only. The Performing Garage, 33 Wooster Street, (212) 966-3651; www.thewoostergroup.org.
Ben Munisteri Dance Projects
Brooklyn-born and raised Ben Munisteri brings his lithe, well-constructed dances to the Joyce SoHo. This performance promises a first glimpse of Munisteri’s two new works, Not Human and Thunderblood. An amalgam of modern, ballet, and club dance, Munisteri’s works have a sardonic quality to them, and his dancers perform with a remote, cool confidence.
December 16 – 19, call for times. Tickets: $15, student/seniors $10. The Joyce SoHo, 155 Mercer Street, (212) 431-9233; www.joyce.org/so.
Both performers and audience members contend with containment during Brooklyn-based choreographer Yanira Castro’s latest work, Beacon. Copresented by Dance Theater Workshop and the Brooklyn Lyceum, at one time the country’s largest indoor swimming pool, this “site-based” performance (how is this different from site-specific?) implicates the viewer as much as the dancer. Be prepared to separate from your companions at this performance and be penned off into viewing areas that hold up to 17 people. Like all site-specific work, this kind of performance allows viewers to get inside a dance performance; rather than act as passive voyeurs, audience members become just as much part of the spectacle. Castro’s works combine dance with art installation. Based very loosely on Aeschylus’s The Libation Bearers, Beacon draws on lighting design, fashion, and movement, transforming a once-utilitarian space into an imagined reality of confinement.
January 7–23, Friday and Saturday at 7 and 9 p.m., Sunday at 6 p.m. followed by a Q&A. Tickets: $20. Brooklyn Lyceum, 227 4th Avenue in Park Slope (R to Union Street Station). Dress warmly.
Three Kinds of Choreographers
The Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX) presents new works in their First Weekends New Performance and Discussion series. Ranging in theme from self-discovery and loss of control to pain and suffering, both ancient and modern, choreographers Kelly Bartnik, Maré Hieronomous, and Kayoko Sakoh add their choreographic voices to the dance scene.
January 7 – 8, 8 p.m. Tickets: $15, $10 member, $8 low-income. BAX, 421 5th Avenue.
VANESSA MANKO was the former Dance Editor for the Brooklyn Rail.