A New Year in Dance: What’s on Stage in Early 2023

Big-stage spectacles abound, as dances are suspended in air at UW’s Meany Hall, a favorite tour goes through Tacoma and Olympia, ghosts take over Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Tacoma City Ballet and Tacoma Opera combine for a big show. 

We invited companies to tell us what makes their upcoming shows unique. 

 

 

Touring Pick 

Ailey II
Ailey II performs Robert Battle’s The Hunt. Photo by Eduardo Patino.

The rising-star branch of the legendary dance company is a must-see

Performs January 28 (Pantages Theater in Tacoma) & January 31 (Washington Center for the Arts in Olympia)

Its parent company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, is legendary. But the early-career professional cohort injects a different energy into newer works and Ailey classics alike. Ailey II rivals the mastery of the parent company with a palpable hunger.

In Tacoma, the company is scheduled to perform an assortment of the new and familiar from its repertory: Francesca Harper’s Freedom Series (Doomed, (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano, Little Fly, Roaming Rogue, Fury, Without, and Welcome); Robert Battle’s Takademe and The Hunt; and Alvin Ailey’s Revelations (Pilgrim of Sorrow, Take Me to the Water, and Move, Members, Move).

Presented by Tacoma Arts Live and Washington Center. Tacoma show info and tickets here (1/28 matinee); Olympia show info and tickets here (1/31 night). 

 

 

Locally-Based Ballet & Modern  

 

UW Dance Presents

A dynamic lineup featuring UW dancers
Performs January 20-22 at Meany Hall (Seattle – UW main campus)

What’s special about your year-opening show?

UW dancers Audrey Byrne, Nene Kondo, and Hannah Wang perform choreography by Rachael Lincoln. Photo by Jim Coleman.

This year’s concert will premiere new works alongside excerpts from critically acclaimed repertory. Choreographers include UW Department of Dance faculty and esteemed guest artists Ronald K. Brown (artistic director of EVIDENCE, a dance company, based in NYC) and Nia-Amina Minor (named one of Dance Magazine’s 25 Artists to Watch).

If your show were making a New Year’s resolution, what would it be? 

Let’s get lost in the music, dance, and make real connections with one another!

Who will love it? 

Anyone who wants to lose themselves in music, use their imagination to create stories, and feel a kinesthetic response.

Why did you select this show for your season? 

It is part of our annual season, providing students with opportunities to perform new creations by esteemed faculty, acclaimed repertory by guests from across the country, and to connect with the broader Seattle community in addition to our own here at the UW.

What might surprise people about the show? 

Three out of the five new works use jazz music, with pieces ranging from 1915 to the 2000s; and one work includes dancers in suspended coats that are rigged from cables. 

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Show info and tickets here

 

 

Pacific Northwest Ballet: Giselle 

Ballet’s premier ghost story
Performs February 3-12 at McCaw Hall (Seattle Center)

What’s special about your year-opening show?

Pacific Northwest Ballet company dancers in ‘Giselle’. Photo by Angela Sterling.

PNB’s production of Giselle, “ballet’s preeminent ghost story,” is the first American production based on original source material. (An overview of the creation of this staging is here, and a more detailed history in the current production’s program notes here.)

What might surprise people about the show? 

That there are a lot of ghost stories in the ballet canon (read about a few here); that PNB’s production of Giselle features unique-to-Seattle sets and costumes (read about them here); and that Giselle is one of the most popular ballets of all time.

The show’s mood is fairly happy in the first act, and spooky in the second half. (Spoiler alert: She’s dead!)

If your show were making a New Year’s resolution, what would it be? 

If Giselle the person (not the ballet) were making a New Year’s resolution, it would be to not fall in love with a dude who’s hiding his true identity. Also, don’t dance too hard if you have a bad heart.

Who will love it? 

Balletomanes, goths, the lovelorn, lovers, dance historians, and ghosts.

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Show info and tickets here. Pay-what-you-choose tickets available for the 2/9 (Thursday) performance, 90 minutes before showtime; see info here. Venue accessibility info here, and social narrative guide (with Sensory Access) here. Streaming version also available.  

On the horizon: Boundless (3/17-26); Snow White (PNB School, 3/19-25)

 

 

Tacoma City Ballet & Tacoma Opera: Carmina Burana 

Companies combine for one epic of dance and music
Performs February 11-12 (matinees) at Pantages Theater (Tacoma)

What’s special about your year-opening show?

Carmina Burana. Photo courtesy of Tacoma City Ballet.

This is not your average ballet, as it begins with dancers suspended on horizontal crosses 15 feet above the stage. They’re joined by the Tacoma City Ballet Orchestra, Tacoma Opera soloists (soprano Anna Galvis, baritone Darrell Jordan, and tenor Robert McPherson), the Pacific Lutheran University Choral Union, and the Vivace Treble Choir.

What is the mood of the show?

Carmina Burana covers a range of moods — exciting, peaceful, exhilarating, joyous.

Why did you select it for your season? 

Carmina Burana was selected to celebrate the 30th birthday of this renowned neo-classical ballet. Throughout the years it has become one of Tacoma City Ballet’s signature works.

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Show info and tickets here.

On the horizon: Pinocchio (Tacoma City Ballet & Orchestra, 3/25-26); Tacoma Method (Tacoma Opera, 3/31-4/2) 

 

Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas: Showing Out – 10th Anniversary  

Performs January 21 at Axis (Seattle – Pioneer Square)

A celebration of the series centering Black choreographers and dancers, with food and drinks.

Show info and tickets here

 

Coriolis Dance: Wielding Forms Dance Festival

Performs January 21 at Yaw Theater (Seattle – Georgetown)

A program of new works, featuring Kyrin Grey, Nicole Cardona, Shenandoah Harris, and Meredith Pellon.

Show info and tickets here

 

Velocity Dance Center: Bridge Project 2023 

Performs January 26-28 at Base (Seattle – Georgetown)

A program of new works, featuring Nicole Cardona, Maia Melene Durfee, and Symone Sanz.

Show info and tickets here

On the horizon: Sean Dorsey Dance (3/2-5); Gabrielle Civil (3/9-11); claire barrera (3/17-19); Made in Seattle: Black Collectivity (3/30-4/8) 

 

Jerboa Dance: Unhinge

Performs February 3-11 at Yaw Theater (Seattle – Georgetown)

A modern dance show exploring the labels and boxes too small to hold our whole selves, featuring a cyr wheel, magician, and violin.

Show info and tickets here

 

Base Residency Open House: NEVE & Rana San

Performs February 25 at Base (Seattle – Georgetown)

A presentation of work created at the artists’ residency.

Free to attend; show info here

On the horizon: 12 Minutes Max (3/19-20) 

 

 

On the Radar: Top Touring Picks Further Out  

 

Kidd Pivot: Resistor @ The Moore Theatre  
Kidd Pivot performs in ‘Revisor’ by Crystal Pite. Photo by Michael Slobodian.

Performs March 1 only
In Downtown Seattle

Dynamic, intense, breathtaking, and theatrical are some of the most apt descriptors of works by Crystal Pite, the choreographer responsible for some of Pacific Northwest Ballet’s most enthralling shows of late (Plot Point, The Seasons’ Canon).

Whether you caught those or not — and I hope you did — Pite’s own company (Kidd Pivot) is coming to town, and this is one to watch.

Co-presented by Seattle Theatre Group and On the Boards. Show info and tickets here.

 

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo @ Pantages Theater 

Performs March 9 only
In Tacoma

When it comes to ballet, Les Ballets Trockadero (the “Trocks”) are about as playful as it gets — a great night out for the ballet lover and introduction for the ballet-reluctant alike.

An all-male troupe of dancers in drag, the “comic ballet company” was founded in the mid-’70s to showcase “the astounding fact that men can, indeed, dance en pointe without falling flat on their faces.” These days, they’re an established touring act, performing ballet and modern dance.

Presented by Tacoma Arts Live. Show info and tickets here

 

Responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

For shows by date, see the Performance Calendar


Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.