Hot Moves, Fresh Directions

Local dance scene offers eclectic, high-energy productions

Summer is winding down just as the dance season is heating up! This fall brings a host of delights from longtime companies as well as new directions for the local dance scene.

Kicking off Cincinnati Ballet’s season with a bang once again is the eagerly anticipated annual Kaplan New Works Series Sept. 8-18 at the Mickey Jarson Kaplan Performance Studio. As its name suggests, this showcase reliably features plenty of contemporary and experimental world premieres. It marks the Ballet’s primary opportunity to take risks on their home turf. Plus, it offers a rare chance to see the dancers in action up close, right in their studio.

Returning local choreographers include favorites Heather Britt and husband-and-wife duo Missy Lay Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard, the founding artistic directors of local contemporary jazz company, Exhale Dance Tribe. Britt is collaborating with spoken word artist/poet JaHipster, bringing a new voice and form to her work. Following their recent string of collaborations with musical luminaries Over the Rhine, Zimmer and Hubbard are choreographing to original musical compositions from local philanthropist Dianne Dunkelman. The Ballet’s Resident Choreographer Adam Hougland promises to deliver a more playful contribution in comparison with his recent works conceived for the company.

Rounding out New Works’ wonderfully diverse cast of choreographic contributors are the acclaimed James Kudelka, whose “The Man in Black” piece is performed in cowboy boots and is set to the music of — you guessed it — Johnny Cash, and the Ballet’s own Principal Ballet Mistress (and former company dancer) Johanna Bernstein Wilt. Tickets: 513-621-5282 or

Cincinnati-based singular modern dance company MamLuft&Co. Dance celebrates its five-year anniversary starting with a handful of area performances before they gear up for their main-stage production in February. Catch the company performing at Second Sunday on Main on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine Sept. 11, or take a short road trip south to Louisville, where the dancers will perform at Ursuline Academy as guest artists of Moving Collective.

You can also see them onstage in addition to some 14 area organizations, choreographers and companies performing in DanceCincinnati2011, an unprecedented and multifarious dance festival showcase presented by de la Dance Company in the Aronoff Center’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater over two weekends: Sept. 23-24 and Sept. 30-Oct. 1. A veritable laundry list of groups will take the stage, including arts innovation movement (AIM Cincinnati, formerly known as ballet tech cincinnati), ballet tech of ohio, Cincinnati Ballet, CCM Dance Ensemble, de la Dance Company, Demetrius Klein Dance Company, Pones, Inc., Northern Kentucky University Dance, SCPA Dance Ensemble and Tevlin Ballet, among others. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to check out a comprehensive sampler of what the Cincinnati dance scene has to offer. Tickets: 513-621-ARTS or

Here’s another new and exciting community dance development: A number of dance organizations, companies and supporters have joined forces to create the Greater Cincinnati Dance Alliance (GCDA), a new collective with a mission of supporting and bringing dance to a wider range of community audiences. GCDA is presenting DanceCincinnati2011 Workshop Fest, an all-day dance intensive on Sept. 24 at the School for Creative and Performing Arts. Coinciding with the first weekend of DanceCincinnati2011 performances, this special day of workshops open to all offers master classes in a range of forms and styles — from ballet and modern to African dance and drumming to workshops for meditation and Pilates mat training, in addition to photography and writing for dance. Registration and info:

Lastly, I always look forward to Contemporary Dance Theater’s consistently top-notch Guest Artist Series performances at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater. CDT kicks off its 39th season with acclaimed Philadelphia-based Koresh Dance Company Nov. 18-19. By all accounts, Ronen (Roni) Koresh and company bring it — hard. Featuring a potent, high-energy blend of ballet, modern and jazz styles, Koresh “creates choreography that’s both eloquent and explosive.”

The company will present Sense of Human, a new work bound to strip away artifice to reveal a more, raw, pure, human state of being. The Philadelphia Inquirer says, “If you like your dancing hard, fast and intense, the Koresh Dance Company is for you.” Indeed. Tickets: 513-621-ARTS or

Scroll to read more Culture articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.