VERTIGO DANCE COMPANY
DPAC, June 12–13, 8 p.m.
Jerusalem's Vertigo Dance Company returns to ADF with the smart, sexy, moody Vertigo 20, an evening-length work celebrating the company's 20 years of dance. Two decades in one show? Sounds like a hodgepodge, but a video preview and advance chatter suggest that it works. Founder and choreographer Noa Wertheim artfully blends fragments, carrying movement motifs (a couple taking turns rocking each other, a hip-slung pose, an ursine bound) from one to the next. Attentive viewers might recognize snatches of Mana, which wowed ADF audiences in 2012. Wertheim works a consistent layered mood—heartfelt, darkly funny and a bit absurd—and poses the same question throughout: What are these odd creatures called humans? Expect strange beauty, blue moods and striking movement. —LD
GREGORY MAQOMA / VUYANI DANCE THEATRE
Reynolds Theater, June 14–16, 8 p.m.
Ritual reveals an aspect of time travel that science fiction doesn't. Located outside of time, past and present interact. Turning the Reynolds stage into such a place in his first ADF appearance, South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma analyzes his country's history and his own ancestry in his evening-length Exit/Exist. It's based on the life of the legendary Xhosa Chief Maqoma who, in the 1800s, waged a border war with the British in the Eastern Cape over cattle and land rights. Storytelling elements are present, but Maqoma eschews straightforward narrative in favor of a distended, episodic form that highlights his combination of traditional and contemporary movement. Although he interacts with an ensemble of musicians onstage, the work is essentially a solo with a chorus. As memories and events appear and recede, Chief Maqoma remains central through these hauntings, a testament to identity's persistence through history. —CV
NIV SHEINFELD & OREN LAOR
Nasher Museum of Art, June 17, 7 and 9 p.m.
This is a restaging of a seminal work of Israeli dance. Beneath the skeletal girders and glass canopy of the museum's Great Hall, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor (in their ADF debut) reconstruct Two Room Apartment, an award-winning 1987 work by the male and female couple Nir Ben Gal and Liat Dro. Recontextualized as a dance for two men, the piece uses repetition and everyday gestures to explore personal and political boundaries, recalling the museum's recent Lines of Control exhibition. With eye-level seating in the round, the Nasher provides the intimacy that an auditorium can't, while the open architecture above lends a grand scale. This is the third year that ADF has presented at the Nasher. Chair seating is limited, so arrive early if you don't want to be on the floor or standing for this 50-minute piece. —CV
HERE AND NOW: NC DANCES
Reynolds Theater, June 18, 7 and 9 p.m.
2013 brought ADF's first main stage showcase of N.C. choreographers, a professionally juried yet checkered retrospective limited to North Carolina Dance Festival mainstays. This year, the younger ones get their turns. In Renay Aumiller's Acquiring Dawn, six women in rags carefully trace paths with snow—or is it ash?—across an indigo stage. Then they obliterate those meridians in arcing moves and floor work that suggest a pilgrimage, at first somber and then ecstatic, in a post-apocalyptic world. In Annatations, the second in a series of works exploring the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake, Gaspard Louis evokes a pensive, kinetic and at times joyous vision of the Bardo—a liminal space where spirits linger after death before transitioning to their next fate. In A Place Apart by Diego Carrasco Schoch, Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" becomes a response to and a refuge from a world in chaos—a duet where two men attempt to create individual domains that are separate, safe and, to some degree, shared. Leah Wilks' riveting solo, Mess, displays how much effort it takes for some of us to get to normal, focusing on a character's precarious efforts to break out of an introverted shell. —BW
DPAC, June 20–21, 8 p.m. (Children's Matinee 1 p.m. Sat.)
Celebrate the beginning of summer with the first ADF appearance of New York's Ballet Hispanico. Eduardo Vilaro's company infuses classical Latin styles with fresh attitude, resulting in dances with a passionate wow factor. The program includes Vilaro's Danzón, based on a Cuban dance form; a six-man dance, Sombrerísimo, by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and—get ready—a new work by Rosie Herrera, Show.Girl., which is co-commissioned by the festival. Former ADF director Charles Reinhart discovered the Cuban-American Herrera in her home of Miami and brought her to ADF in 2009 to create a piece with student dancers. She has returned regularly since, each time presenting work that expands ideas about contemporary dance and what "American" means. When her boisterous dancers get going, we may still be in in the States, but we're not in Carolina anymore. Screaming colors, hot lights on glitz and magically surreal stories, with deep rhythms comparable to waves and storms and top rhythms like pelting rain and lashing palms—you've never seen anything like it, unless you've seen some other dance by Herrera. —KDA
ISHMAEL HOUSTON-JONES & EMILY WEXLER
PSI Theatre, June 24–25, 7 and 9 p.m.
If you've ever ruined a good song with bad love or a sweet thing with a lousy song, this one's for you. 13 Love Songs: dot dot dot is downtown NYC troublemakers Ishmael Houston-Jones and Emily Wexler's exploration of heartbreak and cliché. Neither artist is an ADF newbie—in fact, they met here in 2005—but their collaboration's a first, and they tackle it with the brio of new love. Anything's fair game: preteen diary entries Wexler reads through a bullhorn, knives, onions, umpteen break-ups, mix tapes and Houston-Jones's recent heart attack. (Talk about heartbreak—like a trouper, he kept going for days afterwards, thinking he had the flu.) Tender, silly and agonized by turns, this hot mess ends with an invitation for everyone to fall in love—whatever that means. 13 Love Songs repelled New York critics of a classical bent in its premiere earlier this year, but that's not to say it won't play in Durham's D.I.Y. scene. It should be a good time if you can catch the cabaret mood; too bad it's not at Motorco. —LD
- Photo by Sharen Bradford
- Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is a model for 21st century ballet.
DPAC, June 26–28, 8 p.m. (Children's Matinee 1 p.m. Sat.)
Unsurprisingly, the quintessentially user-friendly modern dance troupe Pilobolus has been busy the past year. They participated in a Times Square spectacle for the Sochi Olympics and contributed choreography and dancers to illusionist Teller's carny-influenced production of The Tempest in Las Vegas. In addition to the already-seen live version of Trish Sie's Skyscrapers video and the over-caffeinated club dance tribute Megawatt, they offer two world premieres: The Inconsistent Pedaler is a collaboration with Israeli neofabulist Etgar Keret and director Shira Geffen about a girl whose speed on a bicycle alters the flow of time, while On the Nature of Things is an examination of beauty, terror and revenge. —BW
ADELE MYERS AND DANCERS
Reynolds Theater, June 30–July 2, 8 p.m.
Airplane travel aside, we are terrestrial creatures who submit to the laws of gravity. But choreographer Adele Myers sees through our gravitational ambivalence—and our fear—to a place of joy in Einstein's Happiest Thought. Incorporating video and a pulsing soundtrack by composer Josh Quillen of So Percussion, Myers uses ladders and yellow string to create a protean nexus for her dancers to cycle through. This kinetic, atomic work is inspired by the fear of heights that seized Myers when she attended the New York Trapeze School. In considering the emotions of risk, she found a foothold in Einstein's revelation about the relativity of gravity, which he reported as the happiest thought of his life: "... for an observer freely falling from the roof of a house, at least in his immediate surroundings, there exists no gravitational field." Myers created The Dancing Room with six ADF students last summer as part of the "Footprints" evening, but this is her company's first time at the festival. —CV
CEDAR LAKE CONTEMPORARY BALLET
DPAC, July 5–6, 8 p.m.
Celebrating their 10-year anniversary, New York's Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet returns to ADF with a trio of works from up-and-coming choreographers. Equal parts Animal Planet documentary, mental ward footage and drill exhibition, Hofesh Shechter's Violet Kid shows people wracked by an unseen but all-powerful stimulus. Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite contributes Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue, a series of quiet encounters in moody light, with atmospheric music by Cliff Martinez. If at times the work verges on beautiful people with beautiful problems, moments of sensitivity still shine: One dancer taps another to stop him before both resume moving in perfect unison. Finally, there's Ida?, a world premiere from the always-interesting Emanuel Gat. But it's the company rather than the choreography that commands critical attention: They're world-class dancers of diverse background, training and experience (from ballet to Broadway to Beyoncé's "Single Ladies" video). Wild but disciplined, rigorous but ecstatic, Cedar Lake is a model for 21st century ballet. —LD
JOHN JASPERSE PROJECTS
Reynolds Theater, July 7–9, 8 p.m.
To invoke Mabel Elsworth Todd's 1937 treatise, the body in John Jasperse's work is a "thinking body." In his subtle, cerebral works, Jasperse cycles through myriad movement vocabularies, harnessing the virtuosity of his performers to effortlessly transition between different styles within a single piece, unspooling stories about bodily intuition and intelligence. These shifts can be jarring in the best way, bringing our attention to dance styles as pattern languages that reveal underlying truths about the cultures that produced them. Jasperse teaches us how to see and think about dance. He gives us an insider's view, asking us to think choreographically while he repositions notions of embodied gender and social space. ADF has commissioned the artist to create Within Between, a piece for four performers with an original score by composer Jonathan Bepler. It's a must-see for viewers who clamor for work that is both abrasive and bracing and a celebration of movement vocabularies that range from the pedestrian to the balletic, from African-American step dancing to the idiosyncratic gestures developed by the performers, who collaborated with Jasperse on this work. —AW
DPAC, July 11–12, 8 p.m.
Dance viewers who fell madly in love with French choreographer Angelin Preljocaj's Snow White at Carolina Performing Arts in 2012 may not respond exactly the same way to his very different work for four dancers, which Ballet Preljocaj performs at ADF. Empty moves (parts I, II, and III) is danced to a 1977 recording of John Cage—in Milan, with audience participation both positive and outraged—reading Thoreau and making sounds. However, if you can do without a clear storyline or music or sexy costumes, and be happy with the magnificent bodily expression of unique, complex choreographic language, this is for you. Those who miss Merce Cunningham may find it particularly satisfying for its Cagean sounds and the independence of the movement from them. (Preljocaj once studied with Cunningham.) Note, particularly, the relationship of detail to larger gesture; of movement to shape making—and don't miss the instant when abstractions give way to thrillingly intimate interactions. Part I was made in 2004 and Part II in 2007; Part III is a world premiere, making this event the first time the entire trilogy will be danced at once. Preljocaj will be honored with the annual ADF/Scripps Award for lifetime achievement before the July 11 program. —KDA
TERE O'CONNOR DANCE
The Ark, July 13, 2 and 8 p.m.
Reynolds Theater, July 15–16, 7 and 9:30 p.m.
This is the first year that Tere O'Connor has been invited to present at ADF, and it's long overdue. O'Connor has been making deeply smart, brightly original dances out of New York since the mid-'80s. His work looks, sounds and feels different than anything else, and it turns out there are good reasons for that. He doesn't hold auditions; he keeps his eyes open for performers who interest him and solicits their involvement. He doesn't work with a traditional composer; he works largely in silence and then brings in a collaborator to create scores that oscillate between ambient atmosphere and open-ended accompaniment. He doesn't seek to make his work "good;" he works "outside of a good/bad paradigm" and looks for what he calls "unviable structures." In other words, O'Connor is a one-man creative think tank. He is a theorist who sees dance as a "journey away from language" and a platform for multiplicities: "choreography eschews singularity of meaning by its very nature." He presents different works over three days; first Sister, then Secret Mary and poem followed by BLEED. On a fourth evening there will be a free public discussion (June 17) with the choreographer. Prepare for delight and perplexity, charismatic performers and blazing attention to detail. You will come away attuned to inhalations, fingertips, torsos and psyches. —AW
PAUL TAYLOR DANCE COMPANY
DPAC, July 18–19, 8 p.m. (Children's Matinee 1 p.m. Sat.)
If there's an emperor of modern dance, it's Paul Taylor. The once brilliant, final still-producing connection to the genre's first generation, the 83-year-old danced with Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham and George Balanchine before forming his own company, which marks its 60th anniversary this year. But the pass New York critics once gave recent works, which we've found erratic, has been revoked in caring but increasingly candid reviews of the company's current season in New York. Critics were split on ADF commission Marathon Cadenzas, a theatrical take on the grueling endurance contests of dance marathons in the 1920s, while praising Cloven Kingdom, a meditation on human social poise and primitiveness. The lighter, romping Diggity brings out the dog in a sparkling octet. —BW
ON THEIR BODIES
DPAC, July 22–23, 8 p.m.
Collectively, Ronald K. Brown (of EVIDENCE Dance Company), Stephen Petronio, Doug Varone and Shen Wei have produced some of the most thoughtful and spiritual modern dance work of the past 15 years. But it's been awhile since we've seen most of these choreographers performing their own work on stage. ADF's commission for new pieces from all four came with one caveat: They had to place the work on their own bodies. All four headliners appear on the same stage on the same night. In May's premiere of Shen's Variations, set to Arvo Pärt music, the dancer "whisk[ed] himself around with the delicacy of a paintbrush" in a "barely perceptible mist" of a dance, Siobhan Burke noted in the New York Times, after Times critic Marina Harss concluded, "Nothing illuminates [Shen's] ideas about movement more clearly than his own dancing, which appears as effortless and molten as water flowing over rocks." —BW
Reynolds Theater, July 24–26, 8 p.m.
Each year, three rising choreographers come to Durham to work with the advanced students of the ADF School for six weeks. They present what they've achieved with these pre-professionals during the festival's last week, in showcases that have produced some of the summer's best work in years past. We savored the comic pugilism of a night on the town gone wrong when Leonie McDonagh's troupe ponydance performed her raucous dance theater work, Where Did It All Go Right? last year at Motorco. Fayetteville audiences saw Carl Flink's choreography in a production of The Little Prince last fall. The Minneapolis-based choreographer's Black Label Movement dance company is known for intense physicality. His latest work, Hive, which premiered in March, "speaks to the desire to connect, but in a world where connections are not tentative. It's all about full-body contact." Netta Yerushalmy, who danced with Doug Varone before striking out on her own, is earning a reputation as a choreographer unafraid of intellectual and anarchic work. Her company's March performance at Harkness Dance Festival took on cubist art and the words of Gertrude Stein; rhythms of defamiliarization, which premiered last month, sprang from the paintings of Mondrian.