By Sarah L. Kaufman
10 December 2019
Strong storytelling defined my favorite dance performances this year. The events took vastly different forms but offered a great deal to think about, whether the curtain opened on fresh retellings of familiar tales, true stories of courage and optimism, new stories about everyday struggles and universal themes, or short sketches that opened a window on the vulnerability, frustrations and messiness we all experience. Creating a sound dramatic arc is a triumph for choreographers and dancers alike, and can make the visual and kinetic pleasures of dance that much more meaningful. Here are my top picks, in no particular order. What are yours?
The Washington Ballet’s ‘Sleeping Beauty,’ at the Kennedy Center
This traditional account of the beloved 19th-century ballet was a sparkling platform for new company member Katherine Barkman in her first major role with the troupe, and it was a personal achievement for Artistic Director Julie Kent and her husband, Associate Artistic Director Victor Barbee. Exceptional care and passion for detail were evident in a production that was visually beautiful and an artistic high point on every level.
This series celebrated female artistry in a profound way, with two female-led companies — Dance Theater of Harlem and Miami City Ballet — performing works by female choreographers, in collaboration with female composers and musicians. Both programs offered top-notch works, though the world premiere by Pam Tanowitz was the hands-down highlight. Titled “Gustave Le Gray No. 1,” it brought together four dancers, two from each company, along with onstage pianist Sylvia Jiang in an evolving exchange of musical and visual rhythms. The title comes from the music: Caroline Shaw’s 2012 “Gustave Le Gray” for solo piano, named for the French photographer. Throughout the music and the dancing, there’s a play of textures and endless invention; surprises upon surprises.
Read the full article in The Washington Post.