Must-sees in dance (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

September 10, 2017

By Ellen Dunkel

Summer is always light on dance performances, but fall more than makes up for it. Philadelphia’s largest companies are all performing, and visiting companies include some that are rarely seen — and some of the best in American dance.

The Pennsylvania Ballet performs three times this fall, presenting new ballets, the classic story-ballet Sleeping Beauty, and the perennial favorite The Nutcracker. BalletX performs twice — for its regular season at the Wilma and a “tour” engagement at the Annenberg Center. Philadanco makes its regular December appearance at the Kimmel Center.

Touring groups include Paul Taylor, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, as well as an intriguing visit from an all-male Muslim troupe from Algeria.

BalletX (Oct. 6-7, Annenberg Center). Philadelphia audiences get an extra, preseason chance to see the troupe this fall, as the Philly company makes a local stop on its national tour with Trey McIntyre’s Big Ones, Cayetano Soto’s Malasangre, and Jorma Elo’s Gran Partita. (215-898-3900,

Sleeping Beauty (Oct. 12-22, Academy of Music). Pennsylvania Ballet artistic director Angel Corella continues revisiting the classic story-ballets, this time opening the season with his take on Petipa’s 1890 fairy tale. This ballet has many difficult roles and variations, which will highlight different company dancers. (215-893-1999,

Compagnie Herve Koubi (Oct. 12-15, Prince Theater). The all-male Muslim troupe from Algeria makes its first visit to Philadelphia. They’ll dance Koubi’s Ce que le jour doit a la nuit (What the day owes to the night), a mixture of contemporary dance, gymnastic moves, and martial arts that is both high-energy and spiritual. (215-422-4580,

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Oct. 20-21, Annenberg Center). This fantastic jazzy contemporary dance company hasn’t performed in Philadelphia for a decade. But it’s coming back, with a program to celebrate its 40th anniversary that includes works by some of the hottest choreographers working today: William Forsythe’s N.N.N.N., a four-part work for four dancers; Nacho Duato’s ViolinCello, a duet to Bach’s Suite No. 1 in G major; and Crystal Pite’s Solo Echo, set to Brahms. (215-898-3900,

Paul Taylor Dance Company (Nov. 2-5, Prince Theater). This company returns to Philadelphia after seven years. They’ll dance a trio of Taylor classics, including the 1975 Esplanade, set to Bach; Company B, a 1991 work set to the Andrews Sisters (which Pennsylvania Ballet has performed); and the 1981 Arden Court, set to the music of baroque composer William Boyce. (215-422-4580,

Raphael Xavier (Nov. 4, Annenberg Center). An alumnus of Rennie Harris Puremovement, Xavier presents Point of Interest, a full-length hip-hop work. (215-898-3900,

On Edge (Nov. 9-12, Merriam Theater). This Pennsylvania Ballet fall repertory program features new ballets by choreographer-in-residence Matthew Neenan and Helen Pickett — both highly sought-after artists — as well as Alexander Ekman’s Episode 31. This will be Pickett’s first work for Pennsylvania Ballet, although Philadelphia audiences have seen her choreography with BalletX. (215-893-1999,

BalletX (Nov. 29-Dec. 10, Wilma Theater). After a summer program at the Prince and the October pit stop at the Annenberg, the company returns home to the Wilma for its regular fall season. They’re bringing back Nicolo Fonte’s evening-length Beautiful Decay, a gorgeous piece about memory and aging. (215-546-7824,

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker (Dec. 8-31, Academy of Music). Like every good holiday show, The Nutcracker only gets better with repeat viewing. The magic never fades, and it’s always fun to see new dancers in the roles, particularly the adorable children. (215-893-1999,

Ronald K. Brown/ Evidence (Dec, 14-17, Prince Theater). We don’t see enough of this company in Philadelphia. They make a rare visit with a program of premieres blending African and contemporary dance. (215-422-4580,

Philadanco (Dec. 15-17, Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater). For this season’s appearance, Joan Myers Brown and her world-class dancers highlight the works of African American choreographers. The program includes Walking with Pearl, about dancer-choreographer Pearl Primus. There’s also a new ballet by Sonia Dawkins based on the poems of August Wilson and a Geoffrey Holder ballet performed by his wife, guest artist Carmen de Lavallade. (215-893-1999,

Stomp (Dec. 26-31, Merriam Theater). Dance as music — specifically percussion — is the name of the game in this popular touring show. (215-893-1999,