What we LOVED this year: Dance

As the economy creeps toward recovery, so too does the dance community.

As the economy creeps toward recovery, so too does the dance community.

In the previous year, the dance world saw drops in performances at all the main dance stages — including The Egg and Proctors. That too was the year that New York City Ballet went from a three-week season to two at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. And while City Ballet’s two-week stay saw yet another dip in attendance, a slight 1 percent, the other theaters have resuscitated their dance schedules.

Proctors, which essentially scheduled no dance in its 2008-09 season, booked two for the fall — Mazowsze and Dance Theatre of Harlem.

The Egg remains in limbo. The theater hasn’t gone back to its full schedule of more than a dozen dance events. And ticket sales, despite good sales for Mark Morris Dance Group, are still grim.

Better news comes from Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, which has spent the past few years embroiled in a land dispute. It is slowly returning to full-bore with residencies from some of its favorite companies, including Buglisi Dance Theatre.

The Experimental and Media Performing Arts Center in Troy has upped its game too, with a record number of dance events this past year. They feature an international roster including Ballet Lab from Australia and Random Dance from England. All did fairly well at the box office.

Despite ups and downs, the local contemporary dance companies have maintained their status quo. However, Nacre, a company that performs historic dances, landed a prestigious gig by being invited to Kaatsbaan, which usually showcases only the top-notch, albeit small, ensembles from New York City.

Of course, Jacob’s Pillow never falters, even in the worst of times. Once again, the Pillow had a record season, attracting more than 89,000 people during its 10-week season. With 17 world premieres, 12 programs with live music and 230 free concerts, the Pillow remains our greatest dance asset.

Here are 2010’s top performances:

1. New York City Ballet’s Wendy Whelan and Craig Hall in “After the Rain” at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. These two united minds and souls in Christopher Wheeldon’s meditation on love and healing.

2. Parsons Dance in “Remember Me” at PS/21. This work drips with Parsons’ trademark gusto and grace. It deserved its standing ovation.

3. New York City Ballet in an all-Jerome Robbins program at SPAC. This was one of the most gratifying shows of the SPAC season as Robbins’ works are of the people, for the people. We all see ourselves in them.

4. Gallim Dance in “I Can See Myself in Your Pupil” at Skidmore College. This surging dance by Andrea Miller swells with surprises that keep all eyes fixed on the nonstop action.

5. Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at The Egg. This little company is one of the best in the nation as it demonstrates a can-do versatility, dancing everything from Twyla Tharp to Jorma Elo.

6. Aszure Barton and Artists at The Egg. Barton fuses dance styles in a quirky and nonsensical way that is thoroughly engaging. She’s one to keep an eye out for.

7. Jeremy Wade in “There is No End to More” at EMPAC. Wade is no polished dancer, but his one-man show, questioning consumerism, was bizarre and provocative.

8. Random Dance in “Entity” at EMPAC. Primal and animalistic, Wayne McGregor’s creation is raw, impulsive and exhilarating.

9. Mark Morris Dance Group at The Egg. Once again, Morris demonstrates why he tops the dance heap. He’s musical and, more importantly, inventive.

10. “Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance” at Proctors. Usually, I would never consider this kitschy spectacle worthy of a best list. But Jason Gorman has so much fun in the title role, parodying Flatley, that I could not help but adore every moment of over-the-top glitz and glitter.

Categories: Life & Arts

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