From Invertebrate Life Forms To the Big Guns at A.B.T.

030606 article spring gott2 From Invertebrate Life Forms  To the Big Guns at A.B.T.Spring has already begun, with Paul Taylor just starting his annual season at the City Center. There are two new works—Spring Rounds and Banquet of Vultures (guess which is the light-hearted one)—and a wealth of old favorites, plus revivals of his groundbreaking From Sea to Shining Sea and the deeply disturbing Speaking in Tongues. Esplanade, Mercuric Tidings, Promethean Fire—don’t delay, you only have till March 19.

Mark Morris celebrates his 25th-anniversary season at B.A.M. from March 8 to 25 with three programs. One of them features his ravishing Dido and Aeneas, to Purcell, paired with the Virgil Thomson–Gertrude Stein Four Saints in Three Acts—two operas, get it? Another includes V, Grand Duo and his famous Gloria, himself conducting. And finally a mixed bill, with two pieces new to New York.

Also coming to B.A.M. (May 2-6), the Forsythe Company, William Forsythe’s first appearance in New York since the company ceased life as the Ballett Frankfurt. It’s presenting the American premiere of Kammer/Kammer, based on two narratives: Outline of My Lover, a novel by Douglas A. Martin, and Anne Carson’s “Irony is Not Enough: Essay on My Life as Catherine Deneuve.” Music: Bach, country and who knows what else.

Finally at B.A.M., May 26-28, the 29th(!) annual DanceAfrica festival.

As usual, America’s two major ballet companies, New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, bump into each other up at Lincoln Center. NYCB is at the State Theater from April 25 to June 25, and A.B.T. appears at the Met from May 22 to July 15. In the good old days of the Dance Explosion, critics and other fanatics would jump back and forth across the Plaza at intermission time, to catch Baryshnikov and Makarova here, Farrell and Martins there. No one will be jumping this year, but there are some interesting things to look out for.

City Ballet will be presenting its sixth Diamond Project—this year, newly commissioned ballets by seven choreographers, including (of course) Martins and Wheeldon, plus some repeaters like Eliot Feld and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux. But the big question mark is Alexei Ratmansky, whose The Bright Stream was the surprise joy of last year’s Bolshoi season. Previous Diamond Projects have offered up 47 works by 26 choreographers, and offhand I can’t think of more than one or two that I’d choose to see again, but hope springs eternal. On the bright side, Balanchine’s masterpiece Liebeslieder Walzer will be back (its most recent performances have been glorious), and so will A Midsummer Night’s Dream—another transcendent Balanchine work—which usually looks fresh and alive.

The A.B.T. spring season brings out the big guns—that is, the full-evening ballets with the sexy names: Giselle, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Manon, Le Corsaire. How else can the company hope to fill the Met? If you can catch Diana Vishneva in any of them, don’t hesitate. And this may be your last chance to see the famous Ferri-Bocca partnership, in Manon: He’s retiring. The company’s big new entry in the full-evening sweepstakes is a Cinderella by Canada’s James Kudelka. Eleven performances! Why A.B.T. would choose Kudelka’s version when presumably they could have had Ashton’s is a mystery to me, but you never know. We will get four performances of Ashton’s wonderful Sylvia, though, and a full week of an all-Stravinsky program (Apollo, Petrouchka and John Cranko’s Jeu de Cartes. John Cranko?) But let’s remember that these days we mostly go to A.B.T. for the guys, and they’ll all be on hand, from Corella and Stiefel to Cornejo, Carreño, Hallberg and Gomes.

At the Joyce, we get the usual mix of local and import: Dancebrazil this week, and then—March 14-19—a run of Benjamin Millepied’s company with a mixed bill including a new piece featuring Gillian Murphy on a busman’s holiday from A.B.T. There’s Tero Saarinen (“Finland’s hot, young modern dancemaster”), including a solo for himself that “reinterprets Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, and transforms Tero into a primal force of nature” (March 28–April 2); the Children of Uganda (April 11-16); a week of Stephen Petronio (April 18-23), including a piece to an original score by Rufus Wainwright; and from April 25 to May 7, the junior companies of Alvin Ailey, A.B.T. and Paul Taylor.

A few oddities: The Baryshnikov Foundation and MoveOpolis! are presenting the New York premiere of The Show (Achilles Heels) at the Kitchen from April 27 to May 6. It’s a work by Richard Move, and it features Deborah (Blondie) Harry as Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. And for those suffering from Trock separation anxiety, there’s a one-night stand of Les Ballets Grandiva at Symphony Space on April 10.

As always, Dance Theater Workshop has a full schedule of events lined up, from the much-admired Susan Marshall (March 8-18) to novelties like Jennie Marytai Liu’s Learning in Lower Animals—“a three-part sonata tackling the survival strategies of invertebrate life forms” (April 13-15).

And in case your dance card isn’t full, we’ll have the extravagantly praised Miami City Ballet circling the city from April 28 to May 2, bringing their new production of Dances at a Gathering to the Tilles Center at the Long Island University in Brookville, the Performing Arts Center at Purchase College, and the McCarter Theatre in Princeton. The Tchaikovsky Ballet and Orchestra from Perm, Russia present Sleeping Beauty on March 11 at the Lehman Center in the Bronx, and Swan Lake on March 17 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. A little further afield, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., from June 13 to 18, you can get your fix of the Kirov (Giselle and a Forsythe quadruple bill) and the following week of England’s Royal Ballet, featuring the company’s new Sleeping Beauty—that is, if you didn’t happen to make it to Covent Garden a few weeks earlier.