The annual Gotham Dance Festival takes place at the Joyce Theatre between May and June and features a programme of cutting-edge modern dance artists including Bryan Brooks Moving Company, the Kate Weare Company and Monica Bill Barnes & Company. Meanwhile the Fall for Dance Festival is held each year in October and November. The 2012 edition featured performances by highly acclaimed dance ensembles including the New York based American Ballet Theatre, the New York City Ballet, the Alvin Ailey Dance Company, the Martha Graham Dance Company, the Paul Taylor Dance Company and the Trisha Brown Dance Company. Both festivals showcase the wealth of talent in the New York dance world and the degree to which the city has become a true centre for this expressive sport.
American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, both of which participate in The Fall for Dance Festival, are among the top ballet companies worldwide. The dance groups perform a wide spectrum of works ranging from ballet classics such as Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Firebird to more contemporary pieces. Metropolitan Opera House in the Lincoln Centre is the principal venue for the American Ballet Theatre, hosting the company’s annual eight week season, whereas the Koch Theatre in Lincoln Centre is home to the New York City Ballet. Both ballet companies have hosted an array of talented dancers, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Carlos Acosta being two famous names.
Aside from the ballet scene, New York is also a crucial centre for modern and contemporary dance. Many pioneers such as Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey and Merce Cunningham have established their schools here, which have developed into widely acclaimed companies. Among these, The Martha Graham Dance Company continues to follow and foster its founder’s investigation of the expressive capacity of the human body. It adopts an inclusive vision for its programme, presenting masterpieces of Graham and her contemporaries alongside newly commissioned works by younger artists inspired by Graham’s legacy.
The Alvin Ailey Dance Company takes its place among the city’s internationally acclaimed modern dance companies. Its idiosyncratic style combining ballet, modern dance, jazz, and African dance techniques in a vibrant and dynamic way, was created by the founder Alvin Ailey. The Company’s works offer a theatrical experience through costumes, lighting and make-up and celebrate the uniqueness of the African-American cultural experience. The strikingly strong physicality of the dancers significantly intensifies the dramatic quality of the performances.
The performances by Mark Morris Dance Group, based in Brooklyn, are accompanied by live music. Founder Mark Morris, a master of contemporary dance, choreographs primarily to classical compositions combining modern and classical dance with a great sense of humour and joy. The group collaborates with leading orchestras, opera companies and musicians.
Offering a rich spectrum of dance performances throughout the whole year ranging from classical ballet to modern and contemporary dance, New York is a fascinating centre and a hotbed of experimentation for this physical art form.
Watch a video on Gotham Dance Festival: