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Courtesy of Houston Ballet Company

Dance in New York City is anything but cheap.

Enter New York City Center’s 12th Annual Fall For Dance Festival, which takes place from Sept. 30 to Oct. 11. The brainchild of Columbia alum Arlene Shuler, GS ’77, Law ’78,

features 20 international companies and artists—and tickets are only $15.

“It’s totally accessible,” Shuler said.

Past festivals have featured performances from the Australian ballet, the National Ballet of China, the Black Grace dance company from New Zealand, and the New York City Ballet.

“It’s been a very diverse and artistically strong festival,” Shuler said, “so we very carefully curate every evening so there’s a mix of different companies and emerging choreographers and dance from across the world that people may not have had an opportunity to see in the past.”

Some critically acclaimed companies like Alvin Ailey participate in the festival every year, while some companies are making their debut at this year’s Fall for Dance.

“Every night is a mix of different dance forms, so I think the variety that you get in one night comes with the quality of the companies and the dancers is probably the primary reason it has been as successful as it has over the years,” Shuler said.

On the opening night of this year’s festival, ticketholders will get to see Argentinian company Che Malambo, a group of male dancers with a gaucho style.

“They’re really fun and different and exciting. They’ve only been to New York once, so it’s a big opportunity for people to see them,” Shuler said.

Performed to live music, Che Malambo’s routine combines contemporary ballet with musical and rhythmic work, including stomping, singing, drumming, and whirling boleadoras—lassoes with stones on each end.

“Fall for Dance and New York City are among the greatest moments in the life of a dance company,” Gilles Brinas, the artistic director of Che Malambo, said. “Fall For Dance will be the most important event of our season.”

“The Malambo is a very attractive dance for its power and virtuosity. And the dancers are beautiful, dancing with all their heart without restraint,” Brinas said.

High-energy crowd-pleasers are a common theme of Fall for Dance this year. Michael Sean Breeden, one of the corps dancers for the Miami City Ballet, spoke about his group’s performance of ‘Allegro Brilliante,’ a ballet choreographed in the 1950s by renowned choreographer George Ballanchine.

“Ballanchine famously said about ‘Allegro Brilliante’ that it was everything he knew about classical ballet in 13 minutes,” Breeden said. “It’s really a shot-out-of-a-cannon feeling, and you have to sustain that energy nonstop pretty much for the entirety of the piece, so it’s one of the most physically demanding pieces in the rep.”

The Houston Ballet is performing a piece titled “Maninyas,” choreographed by Houston Ballet’s artistic director, Stanton Welch.

“It is high energy and very physical. I hope the audience experiences as much energy and excitement as the dancers feel when we perform it,” Houston Ballet demi-soloist Elise Elliott said. “Every time we have performed Maninyas, the audience has loved it.”

In addition to group performances, the festival will also feature solos and duets such as a tap number from Steven McRae, a principal dancer at the Royal Ballet in London, and a duet between Bill Irwin, a Tony Award winner, and Tiler Peck, a principal dancer with New York City Ballet.

Shuler is particularly excited for McRae’s tap performance. “He’s doing an extraordinary tap number, which will just bring the house down.”

The mixed bag, according to Shuler, means that the audience is sure to be pleased.

“Each thing is so different,” Shuler said. “I always say if you don’t like something, wait 20 minutes, and you might like the next thing.”

gabrielle.iorio@columbiaspectator.com | @gabiorio

 
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