Dancing on the Rail: Let the Festivals Beginby Vanessa Manko
For me the approach of fall is signaled by the glut of press releases that I begin to receive in the last few weeks of August. Each envelope is thick with pages devoted to dance venues’ fall seasons, companies’ national and/or international tours, a choreographer’s most recent premier, or, as is the case in September, the fall festival line-ups of which there are now two. While the Dance Now/NYC Festival was, for so many years, the sole harbinger of the fall dance season, it now shares this role with City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival. While different in mood and content, both festivals allow dance viewers consecutive days to see, think about, and discuss dance.
DanceNow/NYC Sept. 7 – Sept. 17
Each year this festival grows, and this year is no different. In addition to performances downtown at Joe’s Pub and Dance Theater Workshop in Harlem and Washington Heights, where the drained pool in Highbridge Park will serve as the performance arena. With a kickoff at the Dance Theater Workshop, coinciding with the venue’s 40th anniversary celebration, some festival highlights include the popular BaseCamp series: a smorgasbord of dance where you’re likely to see some unpolished work alongside promising young choreographers. Sept. 8, for instance, features Monica Bill Barnes, Melissa Briggs Dance and Nicole Wolcott, while Sept. 9 presents Faye Driscoll, Chris Elam’s Misnomer Dance Theater, and Wendy Osserman Dance Company. Perhaps the most fun, especially for those new to dance, is the Dancemopolitan series, DanceNow/NYC’s monthly cabaret, which comes in three installments for this year’s festival (Sept. 15, 16 &17). Held at Joe’s Pub and hosted by Doug Elkins, the cabaret includes both hilarious and more sober works by such performers and companies as Leigh Garrett, Ellis Wood Dance, Daniel Clifton and Aaron Draper, Neta Dance Company, and Tami Stronach. The festival moves uptown for Dance Harlem at Marcus Garvey Park where Nicholasleichterdance and Renaissance II of the Harlem School of the Arts will perform. Danza Washington Heights will take place in the out-door pool in Highbridge Park.
DanceNow/NYC, Sept. 7 – 17, Tickets: $10-$25, Various Locations. Visit www.dancenow/nyc.org
Fall for Dance, Sept. 27 – Oct. 2
In its second season, Fall for Dance aims to foster new dance audiences by offering, in one evening of performance, a range of dance styles at low cost—tickets are only $10. Last year, Rail reviewers found that the minimal cost of the tickets allowed one segment of the dance-viewing population to see dance—dancers themselves, whose salaries don’t allow for more costly ticket purchases at BAM, Lincoln Center or any of the other major dance performance venues. And if you’re looking for range and not depth then this is the festival for you. One evening can include classical and contemporary ballet, modern and postmodern dance, aerial dance and dance theater. The ballet de l’Opera National de Lyon, for instance, performs William Forsythe’s Duo, sharing the bill (Sept. 27) with Jody Sperling/Time Lapse Dance, whose Water and Fire recreate the whirling fabric dances of Loïe Fuller, a turn-of-the-century pioneer of American modern dance. The juxtaposition of styles may be jarring or unsettling, but the idea is to get just a taste, so that the viewer leaves wanting more. It’s great exposure for younger choreographers and companies, with the big names luring in the audiences.
Fall for Dance, City Center, Sept. 27 – Oct. 2, Tickets: $10, www.citycenter.org
VANESSA MANKO was the former Dance Editor for the Brooklyn Rail.