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Best of 2002
Critic: Mae G. Banner

Dance flooded area stages in 2002 in a profusion of styles from tap to tango—too much for one person to see it all. To outlyers Kaatsbaan in Tivoli and MASS MoCA in North Adams, Mass.: I’ve seen the great work you present. I wish I could have made it this year.

Here are 10 of the best dance shows I saw closer to home:

1. White Oak Dance Project
Jacob’s Pillow, June 20

Mikhail Baryshnikov and friends in White Oak Dance Project performed profound and silly dances that showed the links between early modern dance and tomorrow’s moves. Baryshnikov’s masterful solo in Lucinda Childs’ Largo and his cool intensity in Erick Hawkins’ Early Floating were unforgettable.

2. Savion Glover and TiDi
The Egg, Aug. 3

They made complex polyphonic music with their feet, skidding across the floor, no holds barred. More than tap, this is jazz.

3. Mark Morris Dance Group
Jacob’s Pillow, Aug. 9

Mark Morris Dance Group thrilled the audience with his stage-filling V to music by Robert Schumann. On a smaller scale, Morris and original company member Guillermo Resto stepped knowingly to Balkan folk music in Foursome, in which they passed the dance on to two younger men.

4. Miami City Ballet
Proctor’s Theatre, April 17

A full evening of large-scale dances from director Edward Villella’s Neighborhood Ballroom. Lush, vigorous, a little kitschy, but gorgeously staged Art Nouveau waltz and jalapeño-hot mambo.

5. New York City Ballet
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, July 10

Albert Evans choreographed Haiku for the New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project, put six friends and an avant-garde percussion trio in it, and slid this small marvel onto the SPAC stage. Corps dancers Aesha Ash and Carla Korbes slithered dangerously, making the most of their chance to star.

6. Grupo Corpo
Jacob’s Pillow, July 14

An incomparable troupe from Brazil stirred together swirls of samba, maxixe, ballet and modern to make sometimes satirical, sometimes spiritual comments on life in their country’s multicultural cauldron.

7. Chicago/Balls
Skidmore College, Nov. 16/19

Two events in one packed weekend at Skidmore: Balls (Nov. 19 at the Tang Museum) added extra layers of slinky or bouncing movement choreographed by Debra Fernandez to the candy-colored art installation by Paul Henry Ramirez. Earlier (Nov. 16 at the Skidmore Dance Theater), the student-run Cabaret Troupe put on a sleek, savvy Chicago in Fosse-inspired black satin, velvet and lace, with touches of gold. Choreographer Phil LaBella knew how to get the best moves out of every one of 20 talented dancers.

8. Limón Dance Company
The Egg, June 8

The company revived Psalm, a rapturous ensemble dance from 1967. These dancers truly are “acrobats of god” whose dancing is offered as a gift.

9. Martha
Jacob’s Pillow, Aug. 10

Richard Move in Martha becomes the hieratic Graham and introduces several “crackers” in a loving and historically accurate variety show cum satire of the self-declared mother of modern dance.

10. Matapat
Saratoga Music Hall, Feb. 16

Gaston Bernard, Benoit Bourque and Simon Lepage are Matapat, musicians-dancers from Quebec. As part of a scintillating show of world percussive dance, they led hordes of enchanted folk through embroideries of movement at the hall, tracing communal lines of sixes and fours. The next night, they brought their raw elegance to Caffe Lena and got the full house up on their feet all over again.


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