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Contemporary dance companies bringing vibrant winter season to Boston

Susan Saccoccia

A recipient of NEA Arts Journalism fellowships in dance, theater and music, Susan reviews visual and performing arts in the U.S. and overseas.

Contemporary dance companies bringing vibrant winter season to Boston
A.I.M by Kyle Abraham,“An Untitled Love.” PHOTO: CARRIE SCHNEIDER

This winter, contemporary dance companies will visit Boston with works born of the African diaspora and its language of resilience, rebirth and joy. Their programs present novel collaborations that span continents, cultures, and generations — and a homegrown star.

In January, Global Arts Live brings its Winter Dance Fest to the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre. Among the events will be the Malpaso Dance Company on Jan. 15; Dorrance Dance on Jan. 22; and Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE on Jan. 29.

Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, “Come Ye.” Dancers Demetrius Burns and Hannah
Alissa Richardson. PHOTO: DAVID TORRENCE

“In March [2020], just as the Malpaso dancers arrived from Cuba for three sold-out shows, we had to shut down due to the pandemic,” says Maure Aronson, founding executive director of Global Arts Live from 1990 to 2021 and now its director of artistic programming. “We’re thrilled to bring them back. They’ll kick off our ’22 series.”

Malpaso’s Jan. 15 program includes two North American premiers: “Lullaby for Insomnia” by company cofounder Dailedys Carrazana; and an extended version of “woman with water,” by Swedish choreographer Mats Ek. The evening will also include “Indomitable Waltz” (2016) by Aszure Barton and “Tabula Rasa” (1986), by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, who in 2018 visited Cuba to restage his masterwork with the company.

Malpaso Dance Company “Indomitable Waltz” Dancers Fernando Benet and Osnel

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) presents A.I.M. by Kyle Abraham, a Pittsburgh-based company led by Abraham, a 2013 MacArthur “genius” Fellow. In three shows from Jan. 21–23, the ensemble will perform its new evening-length collaboration with R&B artist D’Angelo, “An Untitled Love,” which its website describes as “a thumping mixtape celebrating our culture, family and community.”

In March, the ICA honors artists at their peak as well as emerging talents. Over the weekend of March 11–13, the ICA presents “THE DAY” by Maya Beiser, Wendy Whelan, Lucinda Childs and David Lang. Exploring the earthly and post-mortal voyage of the soul, the work is performed by avant-garde cellist Beiser and former New York City Ballet principal dancer Whelan to choreography by modernist master Childs and music by Pulitzer Prize-winner Lang. The following weekend, the ICA hosts the New England Now Dance Platform. Co-presented by the ICA, the New England Foundation for the Arts and Global Arts Live, its three programs showcase 18 young dancers.

In the Winter Dance Fest on Jan. 22, Michelle Dorrance, a 2015 MacArthur Fellow, and her sensational company, Dorrance Dance, perform the Boston premier of their new evening-length work, “SOUNDspace,” an exploration of movement as music. 

The Winter Dance Fest concludes on Jan. 29 with Ronald K. Brown EVIDENCE, a company founded by Brown, a choreographer and dancer, in 1985 when he was 19. Its works plumb the spirit and conjure evidence of things unseen with a storytelling style that mingles African, Caribbean and American dance club moves.

EVIDENCE will perform the Boston premier of Brown’s “The Equality of Night and Day,” a new work co-commissioned by Global Arts Live. Its soundtrack combines original music by Jason Moran and narration by activist and educator Angela Davis. The evening also includes “Come Ye” (2002), a multimedia work inspired by the legacies of Nina Simone and Fela Kuti, and the Boston premier of “Mercy” (2019), a collaboration with composer Meshell Ndegeocello. Dancing in all three works is Demetrius Burns, Boston Arts Academy ’12 and Boston Conservatory ’16.

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