It's never easy previewing the upcoming dance season and singling out which performances promise excellence, but with Rochester dancers and choreographers focused like a laser on the imminent Rochester Fringe Festival (September 18-27), information about later dance shows was hard to pin down. So, along with the picks outlined below, look for pop-up performances from smaller groups as the cultural year progresses. There are sure to be some good ones.
As always, Nazareth College Arts Center offers some choice dance shows during its 2014-15 season. Jessica Lang Dance (no association with the actress) was founded in 2011 by choreographer Jessica Lang but already boasts a repertoire of more than 80 works commissioned by notable world companies. The company is known for the startling beauty of its combined dancing and visual imagery. Video, mixed media composition, and other visual art forms enhance uniquely reinterpreted classical ballet to create powerful and emotionally engaging performances. Dance Magazine calls Jessica Lang Dance a "master of visual composition." That includes evocative costumes, remarkable sets, and visual components which range from minimalistic to densely rich. The company performs at Nazareth (4245 East Avenue) on Saturday, March 7, at 8 p.m.
Las Vegas Contemporary Dance arrives in time for Valentine's Day — Saturday, February 14 — with an 8 p.m. performance. This is a contemporary company with a more athletic approach, high energy, and diverse styles. The performers offer unique showmanship and glam galore, hailing from Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas as well as the popular television shows "So You Think You Can Dance," "America's Got Talent," and "Dancing with the Stars."
The return of Tango Buenos Aires offers authentic, uncompromising Argentinian tango. The company's new production "Song of Evita" tells the story of Eva Peron, interpreted through music and dance to deliver a crowd-pleasing show. Pre-register (518-389-2170) for a free 5 p.m. tango lesson, catch the 6 p.m. pre-performance lecture, and then settle yourself comfortably in your seat for the 7 p.m., Sunday, March 1, performance.
You only have to wait until December to catch Garth Fagan Dance Company in its home season. Again, we can expect new work from both Fagan and his protégé Norwood (P.J.) Pennewell. Fagan, master choreographer, has led his company for 44 years now and still turns out work that is surprisingly fresh, and often brilliant. Pennewell, who has danced with Fagan from the beginning, has blossomed into a choreographer as well over the last several years. His style is distinctly Faganesque, but with his own energy and interpretations. Both premiers and revivals will be part of the season which opens Wednesday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. Performances of the Home Season opener will continue to run December 4 at 8 p.m., December 5 at 8 p.m., December 6 at 2 and 8 p.m., and Decemer 7 at 2 and 7:30 p.m.
At The College at Brockport, catch a performance of "Carnivale" this spring by Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble. This celebrated troupe, led by Artistic Director Clyde Alafiju Morgan and Musical Director Khalid N'Faly Saleem, combines African, Caribbean, and Latin cultures in their celebratory performances. They appear at Hartwell Dance Theater from Thursday, April 30, to Sunday, May 5. Show times are at 7:30 p.m. with weekend matinees at 2 p.m. The short drive to Brockport will be well worth it.
The Rochester City Ballet, led by Artistic Director Jamey Leverett, will take over the stage at The Eastman Theater for two more not-to-miss spring shows. "A Night of Dance" with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra is slated for Thursday, March 12, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, March 14, at 8 p.m. in the Eastman Theater. "Tyzik's Images with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra" will be performed Friday, May 8, and Saturday, May 9, at 8 p.m., again at the Eastman. Leverett's choreography is fresh and dramatic. Take advantage of the company's talent and enjoy one or both of these heightened, cultural performances.