Fall arts preview: Dance critics' picks: Big names and big ideas

Music stars, choreography gods, and local innovators shake up dance scene.

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      Critics’ Picks

      Wayne McGregor. La La La Human Steps. Louise Lecavalier. William Forsythe. Good God, even Johnny Cash and Elton John appear (well, sort of) on the dance stage this season. And I haven’t even mentioned our own local stars who are set to debut new full-length pieces.

      As far as subscriptions, both DanceHouse and Ballet B.C.’s lineups (the latter includes both the National and Alberta ballets) seem like ridiculously bankable bets. In short: the dance scene is really shaking this season.

      The National Ballet of Canada (September 23 to 25 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
      Karen Kain and co. celebrate 60 with three Vancouver premieres: Crystal Pite’s Emergence, William Forsythe’s the second detail, and James Kudelka’s The Man in Black. Also on deck is Jerome Robbins’s Other Dances.
      The Draw: On one hand there’s the chance to see the work of local star Pite on the same bill as her Ballett Frankfurt mentor Forsythe, but then there’s Kudelka’s shit-kicker ode to Johnny Cash and the working class.
      Target audience: Those whose iPod playlists span techno to twang.

      Heart As Arena (October 4 to 8 at the Cultch Historic Theatre)
      Sometime Holy Body Tattoo artist Dana Gingras debuts another ultra-hip full-length, multimedia work with her new company Animals of Distinction. Five red-hot dancers—including Gingras herself, Amber Funk Barton, and Shay Kuebler—rip open the heart as a place for electrical and emotional sparks.
      The Draw: The promo photos say it all: surreal and sexually charged visions of high heels, metallic-red heart balloons, and pencil skirts.
      Target Audience: Cool kids and those who think with their hearts instead of their heads.

      10x10x10 (October 12 to 15 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre)
      As part of its 10th-anniversary celebration, the Dance Centre pairs up 10 choreographers with 10 well-known composers and gives them 10 minutes to create new works about life in Vancouver. Dynamic duos include the plastic orchid factory’s James Gnam and Stephen Chatman; Jennifer Clarke and Leslie Uyeda; Co.ERASGA’s Alvin Erasga Tolentino and François Houle; and Joe Ink’s Joe Laughlin and Marcus Goddard.
      The Draw: Throw together this much talent on-stage and the results are bound to be amazing.
      Target Audience: Those who believe dance and music make the perfect marriage.

      Love Lies Bleeding (October 13 to 15 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
      Fourteen hits by Elton John and Bernie Taupin serve as the soundtrack for the Alberta Ballet’s fantastical, stylized journey into the life of Reg Dwight. The Toronto Star called choreographer Jean Grand-Maître’s creation “hugely entertaining”, and “risky and risqué”. So glitzy you might want to wear your own oversize sunglasses.
      The Draw: Eye-popping costumes that include a rollerblading Rocket Man outfitted with fireworks that appear to blast out of his butt.
      Target Audience: Pop fans who like their ballet to crocodile-rock.

      Ballet British Columbia (November 17 to 19 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
      Our own regional ballet company opens the season with 3 Fold, an evening of contemporary works by Italy’s Walter Matteini, Vancouver’s Simone Orlando, and Toronto’s Robert Glumbek.
      The Draw: Orlando’s gender-bending play on doppelgänger ballerinas looked like great fun in an excerpt in ’09, and we’re betting emerging Euro talent Matteini is another cutting-edge find by sharp-eyed A.D. Emily Molnar.
      Target Audience: Anyone who’s heard the rumours and is ready to act: Ballet B.C. is back in a big way.

      The Response (December 7 to 10 at the Firehall Arts Centre)
      Emerging Vancouver choreographer Amber Funk Barton’s Portraits and Scenes of Female Creatures plunges into the world of sea myths and the inner lives of women.
      The Draw: Witnessing Barton, who in the past has drawn on a loose, athletic mix of everything from breaking to boxing to pirouettes, diving into something more conceptual.
      Target Audience: Audiences allergic to pretentiousness.

      The TCP Show (January 11 to 14 at the Firehall Arts Centre)
      Here’s a shout-out for one of the smallest but most innovative troupes in the city, the Contingency Plan. Subtitled tripping.closely.perception, this production finds the trio creating a new work and commissioning one by always hilarious local star Tara Cheyenne-Friedenberg.
      The Draw: You never know what the TCP has in store: in the past, they’ve brought to life everything from battling gnomes to deranged ’50s prom queens.
      Target Audience: Dance fans longing for something new.

      Louise Lecavalier’s Fou Glorieux and La La La Human Steps (Lecavalier: November 4 and 5 at the Vancouver Playhouse; La La La: January 21 and 22 at the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts)
      DanceHouse brings back two icons that rocked the dance world: hypercharged, platinum-haired Louise Lecavalier and, later, the groundbreaking company she made her name dancing with, La La La Human Steps.
      The Draw: This is bucket-list stuff. Montreal’s La La La regularly sells out European houses, but rarely comes here. Both shows offer the chance to watch dancers sweat to choreographer Edouard Lock’s body-crashing brilliance.
      Target Audience: Eighties nostalgics and people who believe pointe can be punk rock.

      Wayne McGregor’s Random Dance (February 10 and 11 at the Vancouver Playhouse)
      DanceHouse delivers one of the hottest and most gifted choreographers on the planet, with his throbbingly sexual show Entity, a work set to a soundtrack created by Coldplay and Massive Attack collaborator Jon Hopkins and composer Joby Talbot.
      The Draw: Miss this and it sucks to be you.
      Target Audience: Those who fancy themselves cutting-edge.