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Five dance companies highlighted in DANCECleveland's new season

Published: August 20, 2016 12:00 AM
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Northeast Ohio's premiere dance presenter, DANCECleveland, will launch its 2016-17 season of dance beginning October in Akron and continue its season in the newly renovated Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square.

With dance companies ranging from iconic to innovative, the season will celebrate the creative spirit of widespread cultures, embrace the story-telling abilities of dance and bring energized cutting edge artistry to Northeast Ohio stages again for its 61st season of world class dance.

The season will include the legendary Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, which opens the season with a Sunday matinee performance at 3 p.m. on Oct. 9 at The University of Akron's E.J. Thomas Hall. Then on Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 p.m., one of the hottest new dance companies in America, Los Angeles-based BODYTRAFFIC, will come to the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square. Amazing audiences with their contemporary approach to ballet, the iconic Dance Theatre of Harlem, will make their DANCECleveland debut with two performances Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The beautiful artistry of Jessica Lang Dance will return to the Ohio Theatre with her newest works at 7:30 p.m. on March 4, 2017. Concluding the season with a magical tale of Cinderella like you've never seen it before, Ballet Biarritz from France will astonish audiences with their hilarious and remarkably creative rendition of the tale with two performances; April 1 at 7:30 p.m. and April 2, 2017 at 3:00 p.m.

Pam Young, Executive Director of DANCECleveland, shares that for the upcoming season the idea of storytelling became a central theme.

"Dance is a language that can be understood across cultures and races, across continents and time periods. This season we are bringing together a series of performances that include amazing dance makers that share their artistry through the lens of story-telling. As we finish DANCECleveland's 60th Anniversary, we have been deeply imbedded in our own history and story so it seemed appropriate to flip the page into our 2016-2017 season with the presentation of choreographic storytellers. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane tells the story of his mother-in-law, a young Jewish girl during World War II in Analogy/Dora. Dance Theatre of Harlem will dance a new piece by Cleveland native and esteemed choreographer Diane McIntyre who shares both history and strength of women of color. Jessica Lang will share the story she created with War Veterans in her moving work, Thousand Yard Stare and Ballet Biarritz will tell the timeless tale of Cinderella with a modern twist. Putting together each season is a bit like writing a book, and we can't wait to share DANCECleveland's next chapter with northeast Ohio."

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Recognized as a leader and innovator of modern dance, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company has performed throughout the world with a wide array of exquisite and powerful repertory. Winner of two Tony Awards and recipient of a MacArthur "genius" Award, Jones has continually expanded the possibilities of dance. The Company has received numerous awards, including New York Dance and Performance Awards ("Bessie") for Chapel/Chapter at Harlem Stage (2006), The Table Project (2001), D-Man in the Waters (1989 and 2001), musical scoring and costume design for Last Supper at Uncle Tom's Cabin/The Promised Land (1990) and for the groundbreaking Joyce Theater season (1986). The Company was nominated for the 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for "Outstanding Achievement in Dance and Best New Dance Production" for We Set Out Early... Visibility was Poor. The Akron performance at E. J. Thomas Hall will include Analogy/ Dora, a remarkable work that blends theater and dance together on the subject of a Holocaust survivor and her family. Featuring live music, spoken word and raw emotion, the performance is a special tribute to Jones' mother-in-law, Dora, who inspired the work through her memories of life as a young Jewish girl during World War II. Company member and dancer, Antonio Brown, who is a graduate of The Cleveland School of the Arts will be returning to his home state to perform the work with the company of nine dancers. Both illustrative yet abstract in movement, the story of Dora will make for an unforgettable afternoon in Akron. Seating for this show will be on the floor level only for a more intimate experience.

"Like a dream, people and words come into focus and blur out; history becomes a deep well of associations." - Anna Reguero, Rochester Arts

Founded in 2007 by two influential women, Lillian Barbeito and Tina Finkelman Berrett, BODYTRAFFIC is helping to establish Los Angeles as a major center for contemporary dance. Deemed "the company of the future" by The Joyce Theater Foundation, and listed as one of Dance Magazine's 25 to Watch in 2013, BODYTRAFFIC is making waves from coast to coast with its universal appeal to new audience members and dance lovers alike. BODYTRAFFIC has performed for sold-out audiences at prestigious theaters and festivals throughout North America, including Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, New York City Center's Fall for Dance, Chutzpah! Festival in Vancouver, Laguna Dance Festival, The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, Annenberg Center in Philadelphia, and World Music/CRASHarts in Boston. Gaining international recognition for its works by choreographers, including Kyle Abraham, Sidra Bell, Alex Ketley, Hofesh Schecther and among others, BODYTRAFFIC will perform an evening of mixed repertoire from the hottest choreographers today. Additionally, in 2013 choreographer Loni Landon was awarded a Choreography Fellowship with BODYTRAFFIC from the Princess Grace Foundation. "It's not everyday that, even before a company finished the first piece, I think: 'And now I have a new company to love.'" --Susan Broili, The Herald Sun

Founded in 1969 by Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook, Dance Theatre of Harlem was considered "one of ballet's most exciting undertakings" (The New York Times, 1971). Shortly after the assassination of The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Mitchell was inspired to start a school that would offer children in Harlem, the community in which he was born, the opportunity to learn about dance. Now in its fourth decade and headed by Virginia Johnson, Dance Theatre of Harlem has grown into a multi-cultural dance company that has achieved unprecedented success, bringing innovative and bold new forms of artistic expression to audiences in New York City, across the country and around the world. Known for thrilling performances that challenge preconceived notions, Dance Theatre of Harlem performs an eclectic repertoire including treasured classics, neo-classical works by George Balanchine and resident choreographer Robert Garland, as well as cutting edge contemporary works. The January performances in Cleveland, co-presented with Cuyahoga Community College, will include several works including a new piece by Cleveland native and renowned modern dance choreographer, Dianne McIntyre that will carry a message of empowerment and beauty through the movement of contemporary ballet that can be enjoyed by audience members of all ages!

Jessica Lang Dance (JLD) will return to Cleveland after a standing ovation and rave reviews in Cleveland in 2014. The New York City based dance company, under the direction and vision of Jessica Lang, is dedicated to the creation, production and performance of dance works including choreography associated with music, opera and mixed media compositions. Often working together with mixed media artists, videographers, architects and musicians, Jessica Lang Dance embodies what it means to collaborate across art forms to create stunning contemporary dance works. Since its inception in 2011, JLD has garnered significant attention and acclaim, performing at The Joyce Theater Foundation's 9/11 commemorative event, New York City Center's Fall for Dance Festival, New York's Fashion Week and University of Richmond's Modlin Center for the Arts. JLD made its full company debut in July 2012 at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival's 80th Anniversary Season. The company recently expanded and opened a new dance center in Long Island in September 2016. The March performance will include several works including Thousand Yard Stare, a piece that debuted in 2016 set to Ludwig van Beethoven's late string quartet. Ms. Lang met, listened to and worked with veterans in order to create this deeply meaningful work. With continued growth and drawing "encores" from around the world, Jessica Lang Dance has become a leader in contemporary dance.

Ballet Biarritz cannot be discussed without focusing on Thierry Malandain, its founder, leader and, by all accounts, heart. Thierry Malandain has crafted numerous works for the French dance company that blends classic ballet and contemporary dance along with completely original works in perfect harmony. Using iconic stories, such as Romeo and Juliet, Malandain puts his own special mark on the story through his remarkable choreographic eye, quirky humor and imaginative mind. Co-presented with Playhouse Square, the spring performance of "Cinderella" includes dancing mannequins, hilarious step-sisters, and superb contemporary ballet dancers to produce the fairytale of Cinderella like you've never seen before.

For details or tickets, visit at www.dancecleveland.org or call 216-991-9000.


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