Broadway to beyond, dance lovers have reason to jump for joy

January 2, 2014
The Detroit News
Andrea Daniel


Dance lovers will find this season picks up where last season left off — with contemporary and brand-spanking new pieces, and a few old favorites, from all over the globe, including works created right here in Michigan.

Dance gets to stretch out at the Michigan Opera Theatre, which offers three shows starting in February, with the return of the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

“They’re opening on Valentine’s Day,” says Carol Halsted, Michigan Opera Theatre dance director. “So it’s a perfect thing to do.”

DTH, which prior to last year had been on an eight-year hiatus, offers three new pieces out of the four on the MOT program. One piece Halsted is particularly excited about is the 22-minute “Past-Carry-Forward” based on the Harlem Renaissance.

In March at the MOT, look for performances by the Chicago-based Joffrey Ballet and Ballet Du Grand Theatre de Geneve, a company that Detroit-area audiences have never seen before, says, Halsted.

Just down the street from the MOT, the Detroit Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts is heating up for three performances. Vince Paul, Music Hall president and artistic director, is particularly proud of one because of the connections it makes and for the cutting-edge choreography it brings.

“It’s the ‘(313) to the (212)’ a choreography expo,” says Paul. “It’s with three choreographers from Michigan — that’s the 313, and three from New York — that’s the 212.

“You won’t find a Broadway show without a kid from Detroit in it, and the same goes for dance companies,” he says. The show’s only performance is March 22.

The season carries on at the Music Hall with the Moscow Festival Ballet performing “Giselle” in May, and in June Complexions returns from Chicago.

“Stomp,” the percussive dance performance, comes to the Fox Theatre on March 14 and 15. Performers dance with anything from brooms to hubcaps to create rhythms and movement.

“It’s been here a number of years,” says Tom Wilson president of Olympia Entertainment, programmers for productions at the Fox and several other Detroit-area venues. “But it’s one of those shows that they keep reinventing, and modifying. And they find new talent and new things to do the rhythms with.”

There is even more dance out west in Ann Arbor presented by the University Musical Society.

The super physical all-male Compagnie Käfig from Brazil, with artistic direction and choreography by Lyon, France, native Mourad Merzouki, comes to the Power Center in Ann Arbor on Feb. 14 and 15.

Michael Kondziolka, director of programming for UMS, says the group is self-taught, with high energy moves that include capoeira.

“Lots of pop-locking, movement vocabulary that people will recognize from the world of hip-hop and Brazilian social/street dance,” says Kondziolka. “It’s beautiful and has people screaming in the audience.”

On March 25, UMS presents its final dance performance for the season, “Restless Creature.” It is centered on ballerina Wendy Whelan who has danced with the New York Ballet for more than 25 years, as she comes to the end of her dance career.

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