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Fall into Dance


Summer's American Dance Festival might get most of the attention, but from local to touring talent, the Triangle's dance scene stays on point and en pointe year-round. We're excited about a dance-piano collab, a collision of hip-hop stars, a takedown of Pepys, and more.

Oct. 6–7, Duke Performances at Reynolds Industries Theater
Choreographer Pam Tanowitz and pianist Simone Dinnerstein's New Work for Goldberg Variations is exactly what it sounds like: a dance-music collaboration anchored by Bach's 1741 score. In what ways, then, is it "new"? Dinnerstein independently financed her recording of the Goldberg Variations in 2007, which propelled her to international recognition. Tanowitz, who pushes against classical ballet forms, knew Jerome Robbins's 1971 ballet setting, but wanted to diverge. This Duke Performances-led commission and premiere represents their collaborative venture into historical adaptation—a variation on variations, as it were. The project is an exploration of risk in performance, too: it features seven dancers winding around Dinnerstein, who plays from center stage.

Oct. 18, NC State LIVE at Stewart Theatre
Philadelphia-bred Rennie Harris's twenty-plus years of commanding dances—which meld hip-hop with street-dance theater—inherently question the distinctions between "social" and "concert" dance. Philadanco!, also known as the Philadelphia Dance Company, was founded in 1970 to create performance opportunities for African-American dancers. It remains committed to upholding African-American traditions in modern dance—an outsize lineage in a field whose gatekeepers still skew white. In this one-night meeting of two Philly dance institutions, presented by NC State LIVE, the companies turn their focus onto their hometown in a celebration of their respective repertoires and missions. Straight Outta Philly also includes a new work choreographed by Harris and performed by both companies.

Nov. 1–5, DIDA at the Living Arts Collective
The phrase "now more than ever" has been ubiquitous since Trump's election. To be sure, the call to resist obscures the fact that many issues we're struggling with today—racism, sexism, and xenophobia, to name just a few—have always been urgently present in American life. But Triangle-Triad dance veteran Killian Manning's new dance theater work, Uncle Sam Wants YOU!, is the quintessence of timeliness. Durham Independent Dance Artists, which chose Manning's work to kick off its fourth season, calls it a combination of "barnstorming patriotism, spine-tingling treason, and plenty of spangly stars in between."

Nov. 9 & 10, Carolina Performing Arts at UNC's Memorial Hall
Starting in 2003, web tinkerer Phil Gyford began a digital experiment, publishing the diary of seventeenth-century civil servant Samuel Pepys in real time and letting ordinary folks annotate and challenge it. The contents are at turns banal and inglorious; Pepys wrote unfiltered diatribes on his infidelities and daily puttering. His material and its twenty-first-century social-media resonances are a perfect match for Big Dance Theater's interdisciplinary approach. In November, Carolina Performing Arts presents the world premiere of 17c, an ensemble work that incorporates Margaret Cavendish's seventeenth-century play The Convent of Pleasure and Pepys's diaries into a feminist deconstruction.

Dec. 1–3, DIDA/Culture Mill at the Living Arts Collective
Murielle Elizéon is well-known around here for her dynamic coleadership of Culture Mill, the Saxapahaw arts nonprofit; her ensemble work; and her tango lessons. She takes center stage in Brown, her first solo created and presented in the United States after a long career performing in Europe. The title comes from personal subject matter; DIDA describes the work as an investigation of "[Elizéon's] identity as a French, brown woman." While creating the solo, Elizéon has collaborated with artists and health workers to devise movement workshops for domestic violence survivors; she also performs this fall with Tommy Noonan in the Rodin-themed Je Suis Belle at NCMA (Nov. 4, 5 and 11).

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