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Critic: Mae G. Banner

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal.

1. Savion Glover with Jimmy Slyde and Dianna Walker

Jacob’s Pillow, June 25

Like being inside a time machine. You can see the ancients moving within Glover, and you can see him becoming an honored ancient one day.

2. Taylor 2

Charles R. Wood Theater, May 4

Three men and three women distill Paul Taylor’s dances to their goofy or romantic essence, bringing a half-century of the master’s work to smaller towns and smaller theaters. They danced Three Epitaphs (1956), Taylor’s slouchy, raggy embodiment of a New Orleans funeral’s second line and Klezmerbluegrass (2005), an unlikely but smooth blend of vernacular forms, set to recorded music by Margo Leverett and a mountain string band. Chicken soup and grits.

3. Martha Graham Dance Company

Jacob’s Pillow, June 29

A retrospective to end all retrospectives, this show reached back to the early 1900s for then-shocking solos based on Greek and East Indian myths and finished with Graham’s dramatic goddess dances. One thread links them all.

4. New York City Ballet

Saratoga Performing Arts Center, July 14

Apocalyptic thunder and lightning hurled James Fayette’s dancing into a new dimension as he partnered his wife Jenifer Ringer in a surprise addition to the matinee program. The lights went out, but the performance went on. Fayette’s last dance with the New York City Ballet was unforgettable.

5. PearsonWidrig Dance Theater

Skidmore Dance Theater, Feb. 25

Thaw, inspired by archival footage of ice harvesting on a New England pond, melds movies and movement, motion and stillness, glassy white and tender green, silly props and serious ideas. They danced on window-pane sized slabs of ice that melted and cracked audibly as the performance traversed from winter to spring. Ingenious.

6. Jeanne Bresciani and Dancers

Surrey Gardens, Skidmore College, Sept. 30

Channeling Isadora Duncan, toga-clad dancers wafted across the lawns, floated through pergolas, hid behind trees and marched on an outdoor platform open to blue skies and warm breezes. Victorian avant-garde made new again.

7. ASzURe & Artists

Jacob’s Pillow, July 31

Aszure Barton, from Canada, electrified the Pillow’s small Duke Theater with a courtly/erotic duet in which she locked onto her partner’s outstretched tongue and held on through many twining moves. She’s one to watch.

8. Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal

Jacob’s Pillow, Aug. 21

Ballet, modern, circus, mime and social commentary all together in high-concept ensemble dances that ask, “Who’s in charge?” and “Must I follow orders?” Their robotic/folk re-vision of Nijinska’s Les Noces was mesmerizing.

9. New York City Ballet

SPAC, July 19

In Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, prima ballerina Wendy Whelan and corps member Craig Hall fused their bodies in total commitment to each other and the deeply tender choreography.

10. Dancing Rebels

Skidmore Dance Theater, Aug. 14

Incredible concert of solos and group dances reconstructed from the archives of left-wing choreographers from the 1930s to 1950s. Everything from stomping- villages horas to a chilling Lady Macbeth, danced by disciples of Sophie Maslow, Anna Sokolow, Donald McKayle and Daniel Nagrin. Endangered species revived.

 


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