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NYC's Best Summer Dance Performances and Festivals

July 20, 2018 - by Alison Durkee
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New York City is home to some of the best dance performances in the world – and while summer sees some of the city’s biggest companies head out of town, there’s still plenty to discover this July and August. Enjoy dance styles from ballet to Broadway this summer at these upcoming dance performances and events.

Summer Dance: The Joyce Theater

The city’s primary home for dance, the Joyce Theater, will continue its programming this summer with performances by renowned companies. Israel-based contemporary group Batsheva Dance Company is currently featuring their young company on the Joyce stage through July 22, performing the Bessie Award-winning piece Naharin’s Virus. MOMIX will take the stage next from July 24-29, as the company of dancer-illusionists presents a selection of MOMIX’s whimsical classic pieces. Fans of classical ballet can head to the Joyce for Sarasota Ballet’s appearance from August 14-19, which will feature a selection of works by such renowned choreographers as George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp, Christopher Wheeldon and Matthew Bourne. 

Summer Dance: Mark Morris Group

Mark Morris Dance Group

Mark Morris Dance Group

Contemporary dance lovers can see the famed Mark Morris Dance Group at the city’s other major dance home, Lincoln Center, from August 9-12. The dance company will participate in Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival with an evening of choreography set to works by Monteverdi, Brahms, and Schubert. Younger dance lovers, meanwhile, can discover contemporary dance at the New Victory Theater’s Victory Dance series, which will continue on July 26. The program, which is specifically curated for young audiences, will feature pieces by Ephrat Asherie Dance, Paul Shah Dance Company, Calpulli Mexican Dance Company, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. 

Summer Dance: Broadway Musicals

Hello, Dolly

Hello, Dolly! Photo: Julieta Cervantes

Of course, New York’s dance scene extends to NYC’s electrifying collection of musicals, starting with New York City Ballet choreographer Justin Peck’s vibrant Tony-winning work in the current revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. And speaking of this season’s classic revivals, choreographer Christopher Gattelli’s work is worth its weight in star power in Lincoln Center’s My Fair Lady, which boasts the ultimate show-stopper in Norbert Leo Butz’s  “Get Me to the Church on Time.” Other Broadway musicals known for their dance dazzle include Hello, Dolly! with Bette Midler (closing 8/25!), Kinky Boots, SpongeBob SquarePants, and the Fosse-centric Chicago. Off-Broadway, the tunes of Lieber and Stoller provide the musical backdrop at Smokey Joe’s Café, a revue that doesn’t skimp on eye-catching moves, thanks to direction/choreography by Tony-nominee Joshua Bergasse (On the Town). Worth noting: Bergasse will be paying tribute to musical theatre dance legend Jerome Robbins in a special event at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum August 9. The event will feature a performance from On the Town staged by Bergasse on the deck of the Intrepid, followed by a panel discussion on Robbins’ enduring artistry.

Summer Dance: More Dance Companies 

Summertime is the perfect time to get outside in New York City – and a variety of dance companies will celebrate the season with free performances out in the sunshine. The New York City Parks Department’s SummerStage series will feature a variety of dance performances in the city’s parks this summer, including stints by ballet companies Alonzo King LINES Ballet (July 25) and Jeremy McQueen’s Black Iris Project (August 16), who use movement to celebrate black artists. Contemporary dance fans can see a performance by the Peridance Contemporary Dance Company on August 10 at East River Park, while those looking to discover a different style of movement can enjoy Bombazo Dance Co’s blend of Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Puerto Rican dance on July 27.

Summer Dance: Festivals

Mophato Dance Theatre Battery Dance Festival

Mophato Dance Theatre perform will pieces from their native Botswana at the Battery Dance Festival.

The Battery Dance Festival will bring a variety of dance companies down to the Financial District from August 12-17. The festival features free performances by companies from around the world, all set against the backdrop of the Hudson River and Statue of Liberty. Other outdoor dance series to watch out for this summer include the INSITU Site-Specific Dance Festival (August 4-5), which travels along the East River from park to park each evening with a series of site-specific dance sequences; Gibney Dance Company’s dance-mobile series (various dates), which brings contemporary dance to Union Square and Brooklyn Bridge Park; and the Beach Sessions Dance Series at Rockaway Beach (August 25-26). If you’d rather be dancing yourself, meanwhile, grab a partner and head out to Pier 45 on the Hudson River for Sunset Salsa dance lessons and parties on Tuesday evenings through August 28.

While New York City’s dance scene is mostly known for its stage performances, there are also plenty of chances to discover dance at the cinema this summer. The Film Society of Lincoln Center is now presenting their Dance on Camera Festival through July 24, which includes dance films centering on New York City Ballet dancers, filmmaker Spike Jonze, and more. The 92nd Street Y will also spotlight filmed dance with a Mobile Dance Film Festival on July 28, featuring two programs of dance films shot entirely on mobile devices. Those wanting to catch the classics on the big screen, on the other hand, can head to the some of the city’s top repertory houses: Metrograph on the Lower East Side will screen On the Town, which features dazzling choreography by Gene Kelly, on August 25, while the Museum of the Moving Image will present the iconic musicals West Side Story (August 10-12) and Hello, Dolly! (August 11-12) as part of their See It Big! film series.

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