Any somberness I feel about summer coming to a close is alleviated by the onset of the fall dance season. From contemporary to ballet and their hybrids, there's much to look forward to.
Contemporary Dance Theater, the area's go-to organization for quality modern dance offerings, kicks off its Guest Artist Series with the esteemed Lar Lubovitch Dance Company Sept. 26-27. Lubovitch's renown rests on his influential contributions to both ballet and modern dance as he seamlessly melds the two forms. The company is celebrating its 40th anniversary and brings works new and old, set to compositions by Mozart, Dvorak and Bartok. The New York Times has heralded him as "one of the ten best choreographers in the world."
On Nov. 21-22 CDT will host Philodanco, aka Philadelphia Dance Company. Recognized as one of the top African-American dance ensembles, the company boasts a 37-year history of high-energy performances. Info: cdt-dance.org.
Cincinnati Ballet warms up its season with fresh New Works Sept. 18-28.
I always look forward to catching this adventurous annual production, as it stretches the dancers', and occasionally the audience's, stylistic limits. More exciting, it takes place in the ballet's home performance studio at Central and Liberty, so you get to see the dancers' movements up close.
As in previous years, the program is chock-full of world premiers from a diverse group of renowned and rising star choreographers.
Yet there was some unexpected last-minute drama. New York City-based choreographer Jessica Lang was commissioned to create a new piece in collaboration with sculptor Carlos Amorales and the Contemporary Arts Center's participation. At the proverbial eleventh hour, Lang and the Ballet learned that Amorales' sculptures were not going to arrive in time to begin scheduled rehearsals.
"It was really upsetting and disheartening because I had spent energy and time figuring out music, how many dancers, what it was gonna look like," Lang says. "I think we really would have had something special, but it's beyond my control."
She came up with a new idea that follows the thematic footsteps of a previous work in which she examines the piano as an instrument up close. The result is "Corda," a conceptual contemporary piece featuring long black elastic cords stretched across the length of the stage. The dancers weave in, out and against the "wires" in ways that suggest "playing" an oversized stringed instrument. The music? Yep, a string quartet composition!
The balance of the bill sees the return of inventive choreographer Adam Hougland -- whose work was a favorite in last year's program -- to present another world premier. "After the Storm" draws inspiration from post-Katrina New Orleans visits by Dayton Contemporary Dance Theater Resident Choreographer and Dancer William McClellan Jr.
Cincinnati Ballet Artistic Director Victoria Morgan views New Works as evolutionary for the company and for dance at large. Because the choreographers employ and integrate the ballet dancers' strengths, personalities and styles, she says, the resulting brand-new work becomes "a unique piece that really, truly belongs to Cincinnati Ballet and nobody else."
She adds, "Our art form needs new voices, needs grassroots exploration, needs to be churning, needs to be able to take risks." Info: cincinnatiballet.com.
Next up for the Ballet is the world premier of Associate Artistic Director Devon Carney's Dracula at the Aronoff Center Oct. 31-Nov. 1, just in time for Halloween. Don your best costumes, as prizes will be awarded at an afterparty at the CAC.
To top it all off, big-top darlings of Cirque Du Soleil return to the Tristate for a brief engagement at Northern Kentucky University's new Bank of Kentucky Center Oct. 8-12. This time it's Saltimbanco, an acrobatic romp featuring Cirque's fantastically over-the-top visuals and mind-blowing feats of physical daring and prowess -- all done up in Cirque's fantastically inimitable style. Tickets: 513-562-4949.
For a comprehensive list of local dance productions, see the Fall Arts Calendar here.