A step ahead

Atlanta's dance season strolls through past and present

The 2000-2001 dance season in Atlanta offers enough diversity to satisfy dance fans of every taste: from international dance companies performing steps thousands of years old to contemporary choreographers innovating with the latest technology; from ballet steps done to rock 'n' roll to the latest modern dance moves done to the music of Chopin. In the Atlanta Ballet's first major production of the new season, British director Michael Pink, who oversaw Atlanta's productions of Dracula and Hunchback of Notre Dame, will return to the company to help mount a new production of Romeo and Juliet in early October. In May, the Ballet brings its production of Peter Pan stateside to Atlanta after its successful run in London and a North American tour. In March, the Atlanta Ballet will appear live with the Indigo Girls at the Fox for a collaborative work that will combine the Girls' folk-rock sound with ballet.

For those with a taste for the exotic and the international, the upcoming season offers plenty of chances to see dance companies performing folk and traditional dances. The China Dance Theater of Ghangzou will present a dance version of the ancient Chinese fairytale "The Celestial Phoenix" in February. In March, The Robert Ferst Center for the Performing Arts welcomes August Rising, one of the largest music and dance troupes in China which combines modern interpretive works and traditional dance.

The Rialto Signature Series gets its dance season off to an energetic start on Sept. 29 and 30 with Brazil's energetic folk dance company Balé Folclórico da Bahia performing traditional Afro-Brazilian dances and rhythms.

The Robert Ferst center also has a number of international and American touring companies. On Nov. 8, Ballet Hispanico, which blends modern, ballet and traditional Hispanic dancing styles, performs at the Ferst Center, and the Veriovka Ukranian National Dance Company appears later that month on Nov. 21, performing traditional Ukranian folk dances and music. An Irish-American company, Trinity Irish Dance Company, continues the international flavor of the Ferst season with a performance of Irish dance.

On Sept. 22 and 23, Japanese performers Eiko and Koma will present the Caravan Project, an outdoor installation at Emory University. Eiko and Koma use simple, natural materials in their dramatic performances. In addition to the fall and spring Emory Dance Company concerts, the college will present a dance presentation in celebration of Women's history month in March as well as a lecture by Richard Long, Emory dance scholar and historian, on the relationship between ballet dancer Anna Pavlova's work and Indian dance.

Well-known modern choreographers are well-represented, too. The Mark Morris company returns to town for the third year in a row at the Rialto, this time in February 2001, with Sang-Froid, a new show which examines some of the most familiar works of Chopin through dance.

In March, the Stephen Petronio Company will perform at the Rialto. Petronio, who has made a name for himself with his inventive style, has collaborated with artists as diverse as Yoko Ono and the Beastie Boys. In April, AEROS, a Cirque du Soleil-style production, hits the Rialto stage with Romanian gymnasts led by the likes of modern choreographers such as Daniel Ezralow, David Parsons, and Moses Pendleton.

The unique rhythms of Jellyeye Drum Theatre come to the Ferst Center in January with a performance of Blood Lotus. This company is cross-trained in dance and drumming and creates an exciting mix of percussion and movement. Hubbard Street Dance, one of the most respected and established dance companies of Chicago, performs in January at Ferst, presenting its contemporary blend of jazz, modern and classical ballet technique.

With brand new works choreographed especially for the Ferst and Woodruff Arts centers, the inimitable dance company Pilobolus returns in March with an added performance at Woodruff Arts Center, following two sold-out shows last season.

The athletic company Momix comes to Ferst Center in March with their new work Orbit. Known for presenting inventiveness, Momix is a company of dancer-illusionists under the direction of Moses Pendleton. For 12 years, Momix has been known for its otherworldly use of props (swings, ropes and mirrors), light and music with dance.

And lastly, for those who prefer their dance on the glitzy side, in November the Fox's Broadway Series presents the touring version of the show Fosse, which recreates some of the Broadway choreographer Bob Fosse's most famous dance numbers, as well as many early works and numbers that have never been seen onstage before.

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