Dancing in October

Arts & Entertainment

by Joanna Weinstein, 10/05/2011

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So you think you can dance but would rather watch? No worries. This season, there are plenty of opportunities to step away from TV reality competitions populated with awkward B-list celebs and see the real deal on stage, live and in person, in one of the greatest cities for dance in the world. From Halloween-themed thrillers to movement based on mythology to acrobatic antics, October is serving up some heady run-ups to the holiday season's Nutcracker spectacle. Remember, dance demonstrates much more than chaîné turns and flawless arabesques—these groundbreaking modern performances prove it. 

October 13–15
The Dance Gallery Festival at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The contemporary modern dance company VON USSAR danceworks founded The Dance Gallery Festival to support established and emerging choreographers from around the world by providing them with performance spaces as well as production and marketing support. This year, the event kicks off its fifth-anniversary season with an opening-night "Best of" performance featuring eight choreographers from across the country who have been showcased in past festivals. The weekend is also packed with 15 additional performances, including Somewhere in Between, choreographed by Jessica Mayhew, and Cage Free, choreographed by Betsi Graves and performed by Urbanity Dance, a leading jazz/contemporary modern company from Boston. Thursday, 8:30pm (wine reception, 7:30pm), $15; Friday and Saturday, 8pm, $20 ($15 for students with valid ID and seniors). For more info, visit dancegalleryfestival.com.

October 13–16
RAW at Manhattan Movement & Arts Center
The Above and Beyond Dance troupe aims to push the boundaries of dance movement by weaving in circus-arts disciplines like aerial work and acrobatics. Its latest performance, Raw, pairs grace and muscle in pieces that explore the landscapes of human emotional and physical vulnerability. As its name suggests, the show is not for those looking for a pretty pas de deux. The title piece, which focuses on the human body as pure flesh, involves female performers writhing like animals in a slaughterhouse, coupled with photographs of dancers hanging from meat hooks in the Meatpacking District. Original chamber music by graduates of Julliard and the Berklee College of Music will serve as either soothing counterpoint or chilling enhancement to the spectacle. Thursday–Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 7pm; adults, $22; children, $15. For more info, visit aboveandbeyonddance.com.

October 19–22
DanceNOW at Joe's Pub
The DanceNOW festival is nothing if not ambitious, offering 40 acts in four nights by New York's dance pioneers (solo performers and groups) pushing their creativity into levels of innovation that might well venture, as the event's website explains, into the "most audacious of their artistic dreams." Included in the lineup: Adam Barruch Dance, whose creator held gigs on Broadway and in film, and the hilarious and quirky choreography of dance makers at AlexanDance Performance. Other performers include small apple co., Doug Elkins Choreography and Gibney Dance, which professes a love of performing in unconventional spaces. That's just as well, because Joe's Pub offers a diminutive 9-by-11-foot stage. 7pm; $15 in advance, $20 at the door. For more info, visit dancenownyc.org.

October 25–30 
Morphoses' Bacchae at The Joyce Theater 
The Bacchae is an ancient Greek tragedy by Euripides based on the myth of King Pentheus of Thebes and his mother Agave and their punishment by the god Dionysus when they refused to worship him. Watch this story unfold through director Luca Veggetti's first evening performance in which 11 company dancers, as both the chorus and the story characters, will portray the battle between man, god and world order. Award-winning Italian composer Paolo Aralla entwines three flutes and electronic beats for a suspenseful soundtrack, while lighting designer Roderick Murray drapes the setting with black silk and envelops it with dramatic lighting for an ancient and eerie atmosphere. Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:30pm; Thursday–Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm; $10, $19, $35, $59. For more info, visit morphoses.org.

October 27–November 6
Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center 
While New York always abounds with world-class, cutting-edge dance, the annual Fall for Dance Festival offers the chance to see highlights from a number of prominent troupes on City Center's grand stage for 10 shows in 10 days—and at just $10 per ticket, you can catch them all. Participants include Vertigo Dance Company, The Australian Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Joffrey Ballet and much more in this five-program extravaganza. October 27–30, 8pm; November 1–5, 8pm; November 6, 3pm. (Tickets for the festival are sold out, but those returned to the box office will be made available for purchase on the day of the performance at 6:30pm for 8pm shows and 1:30pm for the 3pm show.) For more info, visit nycitycenter.org.

October 31
Career Transition For Dancers 26th Anniversary Jubilee: "A Halloween Thriller" at New York City Center 
New York City Center is hosting "A Halloween Thriller," inviting attendees to show up wearing "ghoulishly clever or elegant masquerade" (or, at the very least, a mask). If you're game, wave the trick-or-treaters good-bye early and prepare for a nightlong encounter with ghosts, ghouls and vampires from the American Repertory Ballet, the New York City Ballet, the Houston Ballet and more. Other gory guests of honor include Bebe Neuwirth, Ne-Yo, Carmen de Lavallade, Judith Jamison and host/musical superstar Chita Rivera. Befitting its name, the event is known to conclude with a rendition of Michael Jackson's Thriller dance, performed by students from 150 NYC schools. 7pm; $45–$130 for performance only; patron tickets are available and include a dinner with the masquerade stars. For more info, visit careertransition.org

Save the dates!
January 24–29, 2012
David Dorfman Dance Presents Prophets of Funk at The Joyce Theater This triple-D threat makes its final tour stop in New York City for a performance set for the soul. The show celebrates the music of Sly and the Family Stone, the groundbreaking San Francisco funk and soul band and inductees of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (think "Family Affair" and "Everyday People"). Get ready to relive the "Soul Train" era with an evening full of big afros, white pants and a lot of rainbow patterns. Tuesday and Wednesday, 7:30pm; Thursday and Saturday, 8pm; Sunday, 2pm; $10, $19, $25, $39. Note: David Dorfman Dance also offers classes for all levels of experience that go beyond the standard tap, jazz and ballet schedule. Take courses in partnering, strength training, repertory and vinyasa yoga if you're really serious about honing your skills. For more info, visit joyce.org

If October performances move you to get up and dance, see below for some of our picks for affordable, accessible classes around the City.

Broadway Dance Center  opens its doors to anyone with an interest in dance. It offers a variety of classes, including beginner workshops, hip-hop street-style and jazz funk courses and even a Rockette-experience program.

Dance Manhattan  offers all types of partner dancing: ballroom, swing, salsa, Argentine tango and even a wedding "first dance" course for the big day. Class sizes are generally on the smaller side, for those wanting a bit more individual attention.

Steps on Broadway  celebrates 30-plus years as a dance community and offers performance opportunities like the Performance Lab Series and Celebrate Dance. If you want to take an intro to flamenco or a weekly Zumba class, this is your best bet.


related venues/(4)

  1. 1
    Ailey Citigroup Theater
    405 W 55th St
    Manhattan – Midtown West
  2. 2
    Manhattan Movement & Arts Center
    248 W. 60th St.
    Manhattan – Upper East Side
    NY 10023
  3. 3
    The Joyce Theater
    175 Eighth Ave.
    Manhattan – Chelsea
    NY 10011
  1. 4
    New York City Center
    W. 55th St. betw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.; mail: 130 W. 56th St.
    Manhattan – Midtown West
    NY 10019

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