By Steve Sucato
DANCECleveland Executive Director Pam Young describes programming a new season as being like a puzzle where a number of disparate pieces have to fall into place for it to be a success. Things like theater availability, artist availability to match that theater availability and the right balance of known and lesser known dance companies that will not only attract audiences but also challenge their expectations as to what dance can be.
“People will buy tickets for what they know and be more reluctant to do so for what they don’t know,” says Young. “We have been lucky in that our subscriber base has come to trust us that if we have put it on our season it must be something worthy and they come even not knowing what it is. I have always felt that a successful season is one that tries to show the breadth of the art form.”
Founded in 1956, DANCECleveland is one of only a few stand-alone-dance-only presenters in the United States. The organization has presented performances by more than 200 national and international dance companies as well as numerous dance workshops and master classes.
Another important piece of the puzzle to a successful season says Young is adaptability. When economic times are tough people tend to tighten their belts and entertainment such as live dance performances are one of the first places that get looked at in that tightening.
During the most recent U.S. economic downturn, Young says DANCECleveland weathered the storm and maintained affordable ticket prices by investing solely in American dance companies. Young eliminated booking international companies who are normally less expensive because of subsidies from their governments (unlike in the U.S.) but became more expensive due to cuts in those subsidies when the global economy tanked. That strategy proved successful over the past several years and it was only after a 3-year moratorium on international companies that this past season DANCECleveland presented Israel’s Inbal Pinto & Avshalom Pollak Dance Company.
That return of international programs will continue in DANCECleveland’s upcoming 56th season as they will for the first time in the organization’s history present a dance company from Italy.
Here is a look at what’s in store for DANCECleveland’s 2012-2013 season:
Technically an add-on event to the season’s main offerings, New York’s Doug Elkins and Friends return August 10 & 11, 2012 to Cleveland and the Hanna Theatre at PlayhouseSquare Center for reprise performances of their award-winning dance farce Fräulein Maria. The Elkins’ cult classic deconstructs Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical The Sound of Music. Danced to the complete film score including favorites such as “My Favorite Things,” “The Lonely Goatherd,” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain”, the campy and humorous dance-theater work blends ballet, hip-hop and modern dance with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments. See it for the last time during the company’s farewell tour of the work.
DANCECleveland’s season officially opens October 6, 2012 at Akron University’s E.J. Thomas Hall with a performance by Idaho’s Trey McIntyre Project. A rising star choreographer Trey McIntyre has created works for many of the world’s leading dance companies such as American Ballet Theatre, Stuttgart Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and New York City Ballet. Cleveland-area audiences got a taste of McIntyre’s choreography this past March when Ballet Memphis performed McIntyre’s masterful tribute to the music of Roy Orbison, In Dreams at PlayhouseSquare Center’s Ohio Theatre. (Program TBA)
Rome-based Spellbound Contemporary Ballet makes its Cleveland debut November 10, 2012 at PlayhouseSquare Center’s Ohio Theatre. Founded in 1994 and led by artistic director/choreographer Mauro Astolfi, Spellbound gets its name for the type of breathtaking and poetic style of dance Astolfi has cultivated with the company. Beyond Italy, the company has performed to rave reviews in Spain, Croatia, North Korea, Germany, Austria, France, Thailand and the United States. (Program TBA)
The new year then kicks off with San Francisco-based Alonzo King LINES Ballet January 26 & 27, 2013 at PlayhouseSquare Center’s Ohio Theatre. Led by Alonzo King, one of America’s most celebrated choreographers, LINES Ballet’s performances are a potent mix of athleticism, elegance and power. The award-winning King’s choreography draws inspiration from artists, musicians and the shared sense of our humanity. He has created works for Frankfurt Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and North Carolina Dance Theatre. Entering its 30th season LINES Ballet has thrilled audiences across the U.S. and the globe. (Program TBA)
One of the most recognizable and acclaimed names in American dance, choreographer Mark Morris and his New York-based Mark Morris Dance Group have for over 30-years entranced audiences with innovative dance works that are accessible, musical and masterful. The company, affectionately known as America’s dance company, takes the stage March 2, 2012 at PlayhouseSquare Center’s Palace Theatre to perform three of Mr. Morris’ works: 1982’s “Canonic 3/4 Studies” set to a piano waltzes and short piano pieces by several composers, “Festival Dance” (2011), set to Johann Nepomuk Hummel’s Piano Trio No.5 in E Major, Op.83, and “Socrates” (2010), set to music of the same name by composer Erik Satie. (Program subject to change)
Rounding out the new season will be Chicago’s Lucky Plush Productions May 3 & 4, 2013 at PlayhouseSquare Center’s Allen Theatre. The company will perform 2011’s The Better Half, a comedic spin on the film noir classic Gaslight. The dance-theater work co-created and co-directed by Lucky Plush’s Artistic Director Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig of 500 Clown, playfully captures the claustrophobia, escapist tendencies and resilience of domestic relationships through dance. The company and Rhoads’ bold choreography are known for their witty commentary on contemporary culture and artful integration of dance, theater, and visual design.
For tickets, season subscriptions, and more information visit dancecleveland.org or call (216) 991-9000.