Devotees of dance this season can sample Miami City Ballet’s continued artistic honing by Artistic Director Lourdes Lopez, the ongoing successful dance programming at the Duncan Theatre or the breakthrough PEAK presentations at the Kravis Center, as well as decide to experience the continuity and strength in the local dance scene.
Amid this strong lineup, this season it happens that there is a plethora of all-male dance companies coming to Palm Beach County. Last season there were a few but this season there will be even more. With distinctive company names like BalletBoyz to 10 Hairy Legs, the styles of the companies run the gamut from martial arts-type movement set to percussion to fully trained male dancers in tutus doing classical ballets.
On Nov. 17-19, Miami City Ballet will launch its four-program 2017-18 season at Kravis’s Dreyfoos Hall with Jewels, one of George Balanchine’s most iconic works, which was created exactly 50 years ago. Regarded as the first full-length abstract ballet, this masterpiece has three distinctly different — though related — sections that were choreographed to music by three very different composers: Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
While “Emeralds” (which is set to the music of Fauré) recalls the 19th-century dances of the French Romantics, “Rubies” (which races to a Stravinsky score) is crisp and contemporary and “Diamonds” (danced to Tchaikovsky) captures the order and grandeur of Imperial Russia and its influence on ballet. Jewels, despite its name, is more about the different facets of classical dancing than it is about gems. It can be viewed as three separate ballets and often just one section is performed on a program.
And if you haven’t been to MCB’s annual presentation of Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, this will be the year to go again. This holiday tradition is getting a spectacular overhaul with new costumes and sets by Cuban-American designers Isabel and Ruben Toledo and projections and lighting designs by Wendall K. Harrington and James F. Ingalls, who helped create last season’s production of The Fairy’s Kiss. The production will be at the Kravis from Dec. 28-30 with a selection of both evening and matinee performances.
Program Two (Feb. 2-4) will be a full evening of Jerome Robbins dances presented in honor of the 100th birthday of the legendary choreographer. Of the five Robbins dances that will be performed, three will be company premieres for MCB and two are returning favorites. The new works to MCB will be Circus Polka, concocted by Robbins in 1972 for New York City Ballet’s famous Stravinsky Festival in order to celebrate the composer; Other Dances, an extended, lyrical and charming duet created for Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov, the then reigning superstars of classical ballet; and The Cage, which was created in 1951 but still stuns viewers with its deadly, fierce community of voracious female creatures.
Returning to MCB’s stage will be In the Night, in which Robbins uses the music of Frédéric Chopin to capture the three stages of love – flirtation, passion and intimacy. The three pas de deux are danced against a star-studded night sky. And then rounding out the tribute evening’s program will be the easygoing West Side Story Suite, an abridged ballet adaption of music from Leonard Bernstein’s seminal 1957 musical, in the 100th year of Bernstein’s birth.
Program Three (Mar. 2-4) features Balanchine’s Theme and Variations, set to Tchaikovsky’s Third Orchestral Suite, and a ballet in the grand manner. Set in a spectacular 19th-century ballroom with swirling white-tipped tutus everywhere, the dancing is technically demanding, yet joyous and serene, as only Balanchine can do. The work climaxes in a exciting polonaise for the traditional finale.
The Concert (Or, The Perils of Everybody) is also on the program; Robbins’ light-hearted exploration of unspoken human impulses and fantasies has a comic flair in a sparse Magritte-like setting and costumes and choreographed to some of Chopin’s most fanciful music. The program also will feature a world premiere work by Brian Brooks, choreographer in residence at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance in Chicago, set to a score by Michael Gordon of New York’s Bang on a Can contemporary-music collective.
Program Four (Apr. 6-8) brings the company premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s Concerto DSCH. Created in 2008 for New York City Ballet, the ballet (set to Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2) is a whirlwind of inventive movement. Two Balanchine classics close out the season: Apollo, which transformed 20th-century ballet with its revolutionary neoclassical approach to dance and its singular Stravinsky score, and La Valse, where 34 dancers waltz in a mysterious ballroom to Maurice Ravel’s well-known orchestral work.
For shows: Call the Miami City Ballet box office at (877) 929-7010 or visit www.miamicityballet.org.
The Kravis Center will also present some cutting edge and thought-provoking dance companies at their smaller venue in a series called PEAK: Provocative Entertainment At Kravis. Focusing on contemporary and relevant themes as well as ethnic diversity, this series is designed for audiences that would like to be artistically challenged.
The first PEAK dance event (Jan. 19-20) features a troupe called 10 Hairy Legs, in a program titled Celebrating the Artistry of the Male Dancer. Despite its amusing name, 10 Hairy Legs is a serious troupe made up of five male principal dancers who perform powerful contemporary pieces that range from provocative to poignant.
On Feb. 9-10, PEAK presents the Contra-Tiempo Urban Latin Dance Theater, a Los Angeles-based multilingual company that combines salsa, Afro-Cuban and contemporary urban and abstract dance theater to create physically intense and politically oriented performances. The troupe’s newest work, Agua Furiosa, takes the performers’ own multicultural stories and blends them with explosive movement, water themes and the voice of a live singer.
Urban Bush Women, who have earned widespread acclaim for their innovative pieces that explore all aspects of the African diaspora, will be at the Rinker Playhouse Feb. 16-17. This respected troupe will perform their new work, Hair and Other Stories, in which they use a “visceral, intellectual, and transcendent approach to construct a live experience that includes processional performance from imagined or real spaces, to engage audiences around the subjects of self-image, race, and gender inequality.”
Lil Buck and Jon Boogz will come to town Mar. 21-22 with their Memphis-born style of street dancing called jookin. The two co-founded M.A.I. (Movement Art Is) and together with Boogz’s dance company Control Freakz, they will perform Love Heals All Wounds, an insightful work created by Boogz that uses jookin’s phenomenal footwork together with the spoken word to address controversial political issues.
PEAK will end its dance offerings as it began — with an all-male dance group. Che Malambo, the explosive Argentinian dance company, will perform April 13-14. Director and choreographer Gilles Brinas’s company utilizes a fast precision footwork called zapateo that was inspired by the rhythms of galloping horses. The combination of this rapid footwork together with song and drumming unleashes a pulsing energy onstage.
For shows: Call 561-832-7469 or visit www.kravis.org.
The Duncan Theatre at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth has offered a Friday and Saturday night dance series for years that regularly sells out. The Duncan season begins Jan. 19-20 with Dorrance Dance. Founded in 2011 by artistic director and 2015 MacArthur Genius Grant Fellowship recipient Michelle Dorrance, the company’s inaugural performance garnered a Bessie Award for “blasting open our notions of tap.” Dorrance Dance incorporates street, club and experimental movement into traditional tap dance.
On Feb. 2 and 3, it’s BalletBoyz. Founded in 2000, the all-male troupe is the brainchild of Michael Nunn and Billy Trevitt, who met at the Royal Ballet Upper School in London. BalletBoyz has 10 outstanding male dancers who have been acclaimed worldwide for their work.
A regular and extremely popular event at the Duncan is the unique troupe known as Pilobolus. On Feb. 16 and 17, it will present Shadowland, an evening-length work that merges live choreography onstage with projected images on multiple moving screens. It was created by Pilobolus’s dancers and directors in collaboration with Steve Banks, lead writer for the popular animated series SpongeBob SquarePants, and film composer David Poe. Shadowland is the story of a young girl as she comes of age and her view of a sensational world.
On March 16-17, after a five-year hiatus, the energetic and athletic Parsons Dance will return to the Duncan. Founded in 1985 by artistic director David Parsons and lighting designer Howell Binkley, the New York-based company presents numerous works by Parsons with a mission to present “positive, affirming, life-enriching experiences” to its audiences.
Also coming to the Duncan is a one-night presentation Feb. 28 from the male drag parody troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Founded in 1974, this company parodies traditional classical ballets, featuring men en travesti, complete with tutus and pointe shoes.
Another special event is set for April 14, when the Duncan and The Dancer’s Space will co-present create.Florida.dance, which showcases new works performed by South Florida’s most respected companies and schools, including Miami City Ballet, Ballet Palm Beach, New World School of the Arts, Demetrius Klein Dance Company and the Bak Middle School of the Arts, among others.
For shows: Call (561) 868-3309 or visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/theatre/duncan-theatre/.
The Harid Conservatory, the scholarship dance academy in Boca Raton, has scheduled its 2017 winter performances for Dec. 16-17. Featured is its traditional holiday program of the second act of The Nutcracker plus other ballet, modern and character dances. The 2018 spring performances will feature classical and contemporary that which showcase the 2018 graduating class of this professional training school for gifted young dancers. Always included in the spring program is a premiere of a contemporary ballet by Mark Godden, who has been the Harid’s resident choreographer since 1995. Performances are May 25-27.
For shows: Call 561-997-2677 or visit harid.edu.
Ballet Palm Beach marks a milestone this season when its annual performance of The Nutcracker (Dec. 1-3) moves to the Kravis Center. For the occasion, artistic director Colleen Smith will debut a new interpretation of this timeless story with new choreography, plot, characters, sets, and costumes.
The rest of the Palm Beach Gardens-based troupe’s season begins Oct. 14-15 at the company’s usual home at the Eissey Campus Theatre on the PBSC campus in the Gardens with Smith’s Snow White and other works. Smith’s version of the Grimm fairy tale, set largely to medieval music, made a strong impression at its debut last October. Also on the program is Balanchine’s Who Cares?, choreographed to songs by George Gershwin, and other pieces.
Another recent Smith work, Gatsby, an energetic setting of the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby, returns Feb. 24-25 at The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens. Their season ends May 5-6 with A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Eissey. This version of Shakespeare’s comedy of love triangles and magic will be presented with other works from Palm Beach Ballet’s eclectic repertoire.
For tickets, call 5651-814-5598 or visit www.balletpalmbeach.org.
Co-artistic directors Dan Guin and Jane Tyree will launch Boca Ballet Theatre’s 2017-2018 season with The Nutcracker, with guest artists leading a cast of more than 100 dancers in both evening and matinee performances Nov. 25-27. After the last show is the company’s traditional Gingerbread Ball, at which children can meet Clara, her Cavalier, the Sugar Plum Fairy and others.
A special one-night performance featuring Daniel Ulbricht of the New York City Ballet and other leading dancers is scheduled for March 10; Balanchine’s Apollo will be on the program along with other works. Guin’s own Voyage Classique and Christopher Fleming’s Play Ball! are featured in the spring mixed-repertory concert April 28-29.
The season closes Aug. 4-5, 2018, with a major story ballet, Coppélia, whose lovely score by Leo Delibes effectively underlines E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story of the mechanical doll that plays an important role in uniting two young lovers.
All performances are The Countess de Hoernle Theatre, located on the Spanish River High School campus in Boca Raton. Call 561-995-0709 or visit bocaballet.org.