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FALL GUIDE '11: Dance Preview

This town’s got moves: Local and traveling troupes highlight the 2011-12 dance season

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It's not easy to select only a handful of dance performances to recommend among the many offered in Rochester over the coming year. Dance is an art form with great variation, and people's preferences for one form over another -- say, contemporary rather than ballet, or African over tap -- are as personal as the type of music a person programs into her iPod. So, variety plays into my consideration, but talent is the decisive factor. Better to see a superb performance in a type of dance you don't usually prefer, than to see a mediocre performance in your usual choice of fare. You may even discover your dance palate to be more adventurous than you had supposed.

Bill Evans Dance will appear this fall at Geva's Nextstage. "Autumn Leaves: Hot Jazz/Cool Tap" (September 30-October 8, billevansdance.org) will feature Rhythm Tap Rochester with Evans, Cheryl Johnson, Courtney World, and guest artists Don Halquist and Leanne Rinelli, with accompaniment by the No Mean Feat Jazz Trio featuring Gabe Condon, Alex Dugdale, and Dominic Sbrega, and guests Danny Lopa (bass) and Tamara Wilcox (piano). The performance will pair tap with live jazz, both vocal and instrumental. Evans was named one of America's three favorite tap artists in the most recent Dance Magazine Reader's Poll. See him in performance and you'll understand why. The speed and precision of his footwork is breathtaking.

Garth Fagan Dance will grace its home stage at Nazareth College Arts Center for six days this fall (November 29-December 4, garthfagandance.org), and, while the company is local lore, its well-known name a recognizable commodity and proof of our city's cultural sophistication, I would be remiss in not including the company's upcoming Nazareth performances here. Fagan and his dancers have talent dripping from their fingertips. And, as always, Tony Award-winning choreographer Fagan will have yet again another new work (to be premiered at New York City's Joyce Theatre earlier in the fall) ready for Rochester in November. "Madiba," inspired by and based on former South African president Nelson Mandela's heroic anti-apartheid activism, was a work-in-progress when the company gave the audience a peek during its opening performance of Nazareth's Dance Festival this summer. I can't wait to see how much higher the airborne VitolioJeune's jumps will have become in the duet he shares with apprentice Tere Lyn Jones. Norwood Pennewell's "Liminal Flux," his second work for the company, will be presented as well.

Rochester City Ballet's "The Blood Countess" proved its seductive power in sold-out performances last year. Maybe that explains why the full-length ballet is running closer to Valentine's Day than Halloween this year (February 3-5, NazarethCollegeArtsCenter, rochestercityballet.com). Besides, vampires have mainstreamed. When aren't they in vogue these days? Artistic director Jamey Leverett created and choreographed the piece based loosely on the story of the late 16th century Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory, infamous for her alleged penchant for bathing in the blood of virgins. In last year's debut, company member Tara Lally was compelling as Bathory, while Brandon Alexander's portrayal of Dracula grew in power and complexity with each performance. Leverett's original artistic vision included live performance of the commissioned score by the Grammy Award-winning Ying Quartet. This February, Leverett's vision will be complete, as pianist Elinor Freer will perform alongside the quartet.

Among the national and international dance troupes making stops to Nazareth Arts Center this year are New York City-based Rioult Dance (October 1), known for its sensual movement, expressive power, and striking athleticism; the National Acrobats of China (October 28); Spain's CompaniaFlamenca Jose Porcel(November 11); stars from the Russian Ballet (March 24); and renowned modern-dance company Parsons Dance (May 5). Check artscenter.naz.edu for details.

Another local group I'm looking forward to experiencing this year is RIT/NTID Dance Company, which is presenting "Off The Wall" (February 9-12, Panara Theatre, RIT campus, rit.edu/ntid/dccs/performingarts), dance inspired by visual art, music, architecture, nature, and poetry, directed and choreographed by Thomas Warfield. Notably, the company features both deaf and hearing performers.

Finally, Bush Mango Drum & Dance's annual holiday concert is always one of the most happening performances in town (December 16, 34 Elton St., bushmango.org). The group's West African djembe drumming and dance creates an energy that is both powerful and unique. Artistic Director Colleen Hendrick and company will be presenting "Waking D'mba," a dance and drum work that tells a story of drought and famine in a West African village that is restored to health and vitality by a benevolent deity called D'mba. At this concert, Bush Mango will introduce its newest company member, Kerfala "Fana" Bangoura, a native of Guinea, West Africa. Fana was named a master drummer by the Guinean Ministry of Culture in 2008 and has more than eight years of experience as a featured soloist with Les Percussions de Guinee and Les Ballets Africains in addition to his work as percussion director of Ballet Fareta.

For a comprehensive listing of dance performances in the 2011-2012 season visit the 2011 Fall Guide at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

In This Guide...

    FALL GUIDE '11: Art Preview

    Falling for art: Interesting exhibits come to schools, the city, and beyond this season
    I crush on autumn so hard. You must understand, my fellow art enthusiasts, that besides being the moody, cozy-layering, tea-drinking time that it is, fall is also when my desk fills up with previews for exhibits taking place now through the springtime.

    FALL GUIDE '11: Classical music preview

    Break out the GPS: The sprawling new classical-music season will have you visiting all corners of the Greater Rochester area
    If the 2010-2011 season was the best classical programming Rochester has seen in 20 years -- anchored by the grand finale season of Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Conductor and Music Director Christopher Seaman -- the 2011-2012 season will be the year of the GPS. Classical music fans: start your engines, because we are going to be going out and about downtown and beyond to get to all of the wonderful offerings large and small, professional, student, and community.

    FALL GUIDE '11: Introduction

    We’re going to need a bigger calendar
    When will smart people finally perfect cloning? This is what I wonder while scanning the upcoming arts and cultural events listed in this year's Fall Guide.

    FALL GUIDE '11: Movie preview

    One week at a time: A reason to visit the cinema every weekend this fall
    By now you know how Hollywood works, saving its finest films for year's end, with a couple of non-prestige (read: fun) offerings counterprogrammed against all that Oscar bait. You've probably also noticed that the studios tend to cluster their most promising submissions around a holiday.

    FALL GUIDE '11: Music preview

    Let the music play: Ten great concerts coming to town this fall
    Given the number of venues, musicians, and concerts taking place any given week, it would be impossible for us to give you a comprehensive look at all of the popular-music concerts coming our way this fall. Instead several of the City Newspaper music writers have selected their picks for 10 can't-miss shows.

    FALL GUIDE '11: Special events

    BY ALEXANDRA CARMICHAEL AND ERIC REZSNYAK While the new fall arts and cultural seasons are exciting, you shouldn't spend all your time inside.

    FALL GUIDE '11: Theater preview

    Curtains rising :Rochester’s 2011-2012 theater season will take audiences to Urinetown, Vichy, the South Pacific, and beyond
    By Michael Lasser Anybody who can't find something to see in the five pages of single-spaced listings I perused for the 2011-2012 theater season must be bloody hard to please.

    FALL GUIDE '11: Nature

    Roots in the community: Get out and take in the diverse and majestic trees of Rochester
    BY KATHERINE STATHIS There's something about the strong, silent type.

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