5 NYC Dance Performances We’re Grateful For In 2019

by Michael Mahany | 11/26/2019 8:11 PM

The cast of ‘Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’ led by Adrienne Warren. Photo credit: Manuel Harlan.

Thanksgiving means time with family, turkey and stuffing, and a lot of travel hassles, but it's also a time to reflect on the things for which we're most thankful.

This year — on top of being grateful for your viewership (and, hopefully, subscription to Dance Network) — we’ve compiled a list of five of our favorite 2019 New York City dance performances for which we’re thankful. Check out the list below, and give us a shout out if you agree!

1. Camille A Brown’s ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf’

'For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf’ at The Public Theatre. Video courtesy: The Public Theatre.

In 2019, there’s perhaps no bigger name in New York City dance than Camille A. Brown. Brown, who’s contributed dance and choreography to a multitude of genres and venues this year, was not only nominated for a 2019 Best Choreography Tony Award for ‘Choir Boy’, but also created the movement for the first Metropolitan Opera revival of ‘Porgy And Bess’ in 30 years, re-staged her choreography for the national tour of ‘Once On This Island', and continued the work of her own company —Camille Brown & Dancers — for a sold-out series of performances of ‘Mr. Tol E. Rance’ at the Joyce.

One of the most striking pieces Brown created this season, however, was that of the now FOUR-times extended production of ‘For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf’ at the Public Theatre. The heralded piece —designated a “choreopoem” — continues its run through December 15th at the Public’s Martinson Hall.

Dance Network's Michael Mahany spoke with Camille A. Brown at the 2019 Chita Rivera Awards.

More: Camille A. Brown Has Cornered NYC's Dance Market 

2. Lauren Lovette’s ‘The Shaded Line’ at New York City Ballet

Georgina Pazcoguin partnering Unity Phelan in ‘The Shaded Line’. Photo credit: Andrea Mohin/The New York Times.

Lauren Lovette — one of only five female dancers to have been asked to contribute choreography during their time as dancers within the long and storied history of New York City Ballet — built a new piece that threw tradition to the changing winds when it premiered at NYCB’s Fall Fashion Gala this past September. 

Featuring soloist, Georgina Pazcoguin, Lovette’s premiere piece, ‘The Shaded Line’, discussed, through movement, the traditional definitions of gender lines and barriers within ballet.

According to New York Times dance critic, Gia Kourlas’ review, “[Lovette’s] dance wasn’t about homage, but about the future of the art form: how ballet might a find a way to sit within the larger world, where gender norms are unraveling, where women can become ballet choreographers and where all dancers can express their strength and fear.”

Lauren Lovette speaking with Dance Network’s Michael Mahany at the 2017 New York City Ballet Fall Fashion Gala.

More: Wendy Whelan and Jonathan Stafford Were Just Announced As NYCB's New Leaders -- And That's A Big Deal

3. James Whiteside’s ‘New American Romance’ at American Ballet Theatre

Dance Network was invited to an exclusive behind the scenes rehearsal for ‘New American Romance’ before its premiere. We also spoke with the danseur after the rehearsal.

James Whiteside checked another box off his list of successes this fall when the principal danseur made his ABT choreographic debut with ‘New American Romance’.

The new piece, which Whiteside was able to premiere at the Vail Dance Festival earlier this summer, takes a “progressive” look at classic style, yet still “pays homage to romantic ballet by injecting it with the social relevance of modern love.”

Whiteside, while continuing to dance, has begun to dabble more and more into the choreographic side of things. On top of the major achievement of making his ABT choreographic debut this year, he’s already built major pieces like ‘City of Women’ for ABT Incubator, ’Sway’ for Lincoln Center’s Midsummer Night’s Swing, and ‘On the Water’, ‘Zero Hour’, and ‘Bells & Whistles’ for Boston Ballet. Whiteside has also popularized the #OneMinuteWhiteside hashtag that links viewers to pieces he's created and posted to Instagram.

A look at the Vail, Colorado world premiere of ‘New American Romance’ prior to the NYC engagement. Video courtesy: ABT.

More: James Whiteside Makes His ABT Choreographic Debut This Month

4. ’Ain’t Too Proud: The Life And Times Of The Temptations’

Clips from the Broadway production of the Sergio Trujillo choreographed, ’Ain’t Too Proud’. Video courtesy: Broadway.com.

Ever since ‘Ain’t Too Proud’ opened at the Imperial Theatre back in March, the show has been bringing impressed audiences to their feet eight times a week, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the Tony-winning musical on our list. 

The cast, the music, the dance, the choreography — all top-notch Broadway at its best.

And, Sergio Trujillo, the now Tony-winning choreographer behind the jukebox musical, won the 2019 Tony for Best Choreography for his work on the production.

“I arrived in New York City over thirty years ago, as an illegal immigrant,” Trujillo said in his memorable Tony acceptance speech back in June. “And, I stand here as proof for all those Dreamers, and I want you to hear this, that I stand here as proof, that the American Dream is still alive — you just have to keep on fighting because change will come.”

What's more, Ephraim Sykes who was nominated for a Tony his work in 'Ain't Too Proud', has been named the star in the upcoming  'MJ The Musical'. The new production, set to start in the summer of 2020 will feature choreography by Christopher Wheeldon and tell the story of King of Pop, Michael Jackson, in the lead up to his 1992 'Dangerous' album tour.

Dance Network's Michael Mahany spoke with Sergio Trujillo and his husband, actor Jack Noseworthy, at the 2019 Chita Rivera Award ceremony.

More: From Beyoncé to Broadway; Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Is Conquering The Dance World 

5. Adrienne Warren and the cast of ‘Tina: The Musical!’

Adrienne Warren as Tina Turner in ‘Tina: The Musical’. Photo credit: Manuel Harlan.

Adrienne Warren is no stranger to the stage — she made her Broadway debut back in 2012 in the Andy Blankenbuehler choreographed ‘Bring It On: The Musical’ and was nominated for a 2016 Astaire Award for her work in ‘Shuffle Along’ — but we are currently witnessing her star turn as Tina Turner in ‘Tina: The Tina Turner Musical’.

The tour-de-force that is Adrienne Warren is on full display nightly at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre and there’s already buzz about a triple crown sweep (Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, and the Tony). While there’s still a lot of theater left in the 2019/2020 season, Warren is certainly a triple threat powerhouse — and her performance in ‘Tina’ alongside a stunning ensemble of Broadway’s best is without a doubt on our list.

Adrienne Warren and the West End cast of 'Tina: The Tina Turner Musical' singing 'Proud Mary' on the live finale of 2018's 'Britain's Got Talent!'. Video courtesy: 'Britain's Got Talent!'.

More: New Interview Sparks New (& Resurges Old) Controversies At 'West Side Story'

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Here’s something else for which we’re also very thankful — these two: 'Broken Ballerina' stars Sean Lew and Kaycee Rice. Check out our interview from the 2019 IDance4ACure event in New York City.

Michael Mahany serves as Dance Network’s New York correspondent. He is also a professional actor, singer, dancer who appears nightly in the 10th Anniversary production of Rock Of Ages in New York City as well as a co-host of the Pod De Deux dance podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Story tips, questions, comments? Tweet Michael!

Keep Reading