On Pointe 

Richmond's fall dance season steps up with varied offerings including Cuban- and Latino inspirations and a Balanchine classic.

click to enlarge Dancers Caitlin Cunningham, Jordan Glunt, Brittany Judge, Katie Branca, Heather Rhea and Egbert Vongmalaithong bring to life Starr Foster Dance Project’s “Page to Stage” series, which uses flash-fiction stories from across the country.

Doug Hayes

Dancers Caitlin Cunningham, Jordan Glunt, Brittany Judge, Katie Branca, Heather Rhea and Egbert Vongmalaithong bring to life Starr Foster Dance Project’s “Page to Stage” series, which uses flash-fiction stories from across the country.

Richmond has a dance scene, to say the least — and it isn’t just “The Nutcracker,” though that’s an option. Classic ballet, modern and contemporary are here. Take your pick of the highlights.

Malposa Dance Company of Cuba comes to the Modlin Center on Sept. 16 and 17. There, Grammy-winning composer Arturo O’ Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble will play live for a piece by Artistic Director Osnel Delgado. As the New York Times says of the company’s dancers, “They have the pristine technique but none of the rigidity that comes with that kind of training. … They are both humble and sparklingly present.” Expect the electricity to be palpable.

The Richmond Ballet presents Studio On from Sept. 29 to Oct. 4. This program offers revival and new work created for Richmond Ballet. Jerome Robbins’ “Fancy Free” was a rousing success in 1944 and hasn’t lost its shine. A humorous, upbeat tale of three sailors on leave in New York, it features music by Leonard Bernstein. The new work is a world premiere of Val Caniparoli’s sixth creation for Richmond Ballet. One of his previous offerings is the elegant “Swipe,” a Richmond Ballet audience favorite. Caniparoli is a wide-open, eclectic choreographer that many people consider a master. It will be especially interesting to see his latest.

The first day of October brings Starr Foster Dance Project to Grace Street Theater for “Page to Stage.” Foster came up with the idea, a collaboration between writers and dancers, because of her love for fiction. A successful HatchFund raised money for the project and a call for submissions brought in sudden flash-fiction stories from across the country. Eight were selected by the company and used for choreographic inspiration — as wide-ranging as a woman falling from an airplane and a girl’s connection to an angel statue. The diverse stories promise new material for a choreographer and a dance company that have a reputation for delivering accessible, emotionally powerful work.

K Dance Yes Dance Invitational will take place at Dogtown Dance Theatre on Oct. 16 and 17. In its 17th year, the annual contemporary dance festival selects and presents companies from across the country to perform. Located in historic Manchester in the beautifully restored former Bainbridge Junior High gymnasium, Dogtown Dance Theatre is a venue that adds to the experience.

Bessie Award-winning Dorrance Dance comes to the Modlin Center on Oct. 22 and 23. Musical collaborator Toshi Reagon accompanies this work, which honors the history and tradition of tap dance. Choreographer Michelle Dorrance adds to the form with new rhythms. The Chicago Tribune calls it “a seemingly impossible marriage of tap and modern dance that comes off edgy, seductive and smart.”

The Latin Ballet presents “The Little Prince” Oct. 22-25. The classic story by Antoine de Saint-Exupery is interpreted with the fire, passion and pageantry of Latino inspired dance. Look for flamenco, complete with a traditional red dress, and a particularly spectacular snake dancer.

The VCU Dance 35 Alumni Concert is at Grace Street Theater on Oct. 23 and 24. VCU is known for turning out creative, technically astute graduates, and it’s celebrating 35 years. Here’s a chance to see a concert of what undoubtedly will be a broad and interesting body of work. Also in the works — and free — is the alumni informal on Saturday.

“The Four Temperaments” is considered a Balanchine masterpiece. Richmond Ballet brings this work to the stage Nov. 7 and 8. Premiering in 1946, “The Four Temperaments” is Balanchine’s first “black and white ballet,” so named because dancers wear black and white practice clothes instead of costumes. In addition, the reconfiguring of classic ballet movements into the off-balance, angular positions of modern dance marks this work as a groundbreaking moment in dance history.

Also on the program is Artistic Director Stoner Winslett’s “Windows,” a visual representation of ballet history from the mid-19th century to the turn of the 21st century. These glimpses into French romanticism, Russian imperialism and contemporary ballet show the styles that gave rise to the art. Richmond Ballet’s artful programming is sure to impress both visually and intellectually.

A production by Light Pours In will take place at Dogtown Dance Theatre on Nov. 21. Billed as “a healing journey through the creation myth guided by live music, storytelling, circus flair and dance,” the show is a lively combination of circus arts and dance. The group also will hold workshops on stilt walking, contact juggling, diabolo and rolling globe on Sunday, Nov. 22.




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