During the pandemic, dance on camera really began to flourish. Creativity and the desire for connection drove unprecedented numbers of streamed performances as well as innovation, from Zoom classes to new work in Virtual Reality. That impetus will likely continue well beyond COVID, and the art form will be better — and more accessible to more people — for it.
But with the advent of warmer weather, dancers, choreographers, and presenters have pivoted quickly toward mostly outdoor programming. The thrill of dance live and in person is very much on the menu this summer. “Experiencing dance in person again will be a joy,” says Debra Cash, executive director of Boston Dance Alliance, which is renting its portable dance floor to organizations around Greater Boston for outdoor performances. “Dance is defined by embodiment — by all types of bodies expressing all types of ideas, feelings, and experiences. Audiences respond to those bodies in motion viscerally.”
Here’s a round-up of recommended festivals and independent artists you can see in real life and real time during the next few months.
PS21 Amid a full summer of free and ticketed outdoor events at Performance Spaces for the 21st Century in the Berkshires, two stand out as well worth the drive to Chatham, N.Y. Paul Taylor Dance Company performs two different programs, the second offering a rare opportunity to see Kurt Jooss’s powerful “The Green Table,” and guest artists from Caleb Teicher & Company add their distinctive tap stylings to a program by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. May 29-Sept. 6. PS21, Chatham, N.Y. 518-392-6121, ps21chatham.org
THE YARD The venerable Martha’s Vineyard dance institution plans to host six artist residencies this summer, each offering a public engagement component. Stefanie Batten Bland’s intercontinental dance-theater company presents a work centered around a shipmast to invoke reflections on the island’s post-colonial foundations and mythologies. Raphael Xavier’s “The Musician and the Mover” showcases traditions of freestyle and improvisation. Danza Orgánica and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribal members join together to explore traditional and contemporary stories. Other artists include Netta Yerushalmy, Jenna Pollack, and Christal Brown and Lida Winfield. June 1-Aug. 31. Various locations on Martha’s Vineyard. 508-645-9662, dancetheyard.org
FESTIVAL BALLET PROVIDENCE “Emergence” is an excellent name for the company’s re-entry into the art of live, in-person performance. This mixed repertory program includes classical works, a restaging of “Same” by artistic curator (and former Boston Ballet principal dancer) Yury Yanowsky featuring live music by Josh Knowles, and a new work by Eugenia Zinovieva. Day-time performances will be held at a temporary outdoor venue located at company studios on Providence’s East Side. June 17-27. 825 Hope St., Providence, R.I. 401-353-1129, festivalballetprovidence.org
DORRANCE DANCE AT JACOB’S PILLOW DANCE FESTIVAL Michelle Dorrance’s ever-popular company kicks off the festival’s outdoor performance season June 30 with a program on the amphitheater stage featuring the world premiere of a full-ensemble work by Nicholas Van Young. In addition, site-specific works by the company during the day will explore different facets of the Pillow campus. June 30-Aug. 29. Becket. 413-243-9919, jacobspillow.org
BANDEROLE A year in the making, this new work by choreographer/poet Ian Spencer Bell unfurls amid the lush forecourt and gardens of Edith Wharton’s National Historic Landmark estate The Mount. Bell’s choreography plays off the architectural and design elements of the house and gardens, and the work for three dancers includes a poem and dance unfolding by the waters of Laurel Lake. June 30-July 2, free with reservations. The Mount, Lenox. www.ianspencerbell.com
WINDHOVER CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS The Gloucester organization has a new outdoor stage to showcase a variety of arts performances this summer, with a series including professional dance companies from New York and featuring styles ranging from ballet to contemporary tango. Guest artists include Michael Trusnovec, BoSoma Dance Company, Continuum Contemporary Ballet, and Valetango. July 11-Aug. 28. Gloucester. www.windhover.org
BATES DANCE FESTIVAL This summer, the Lewiston, Maine, festival plans to take it to the streets, with predominantly site-specific outdoor performances all around the area. Highlights include “Funerals for the Ocean,” a work by Vanessa Anspaugh inspired by climate change, and a new work by Bessie Award winner Emily Johnson performed in and around Kennedy Park and featuring cultural practices and perspectives of the area’s indigenous peoples (including a ceremonial fire). July 11-31. Lewiston. 207-786-6381, batesdancefestival.org
EASTERN WOODLAND DANCES AT JACOB’S PILLOW With its performance season out of doors this season, the festival is programming works that invite artists and audiences to be in communion with the natural beauty and history of the land on which Jacob’s Pillow sits. No event epitomizes this intersection more than this one highlighting the depth and diversity of Indigenous traditions in the Eastern Woodland region. Dancers from the Mashpee Wampanoag, Seneca, Cayuga, and Nipmuc nations come together for this special performance. July 17. Becket. 413-243-9919, www.jacobspillow.org
DANCE COMPLEX/STARLIGHT SQUARE The in-person “Festival of Us, You, We & Them” (July 23-25) welcomes dance lovers to three days of free/low-cost classes and performances in the Dance Complex building as well as at the nearby outdoor venue Starlight Square. The event kicks off other live programming for the summer, including Black Dance Boston 2 (Aug. 14-15), dedicated to the life of the late dance community treasure Marianne Harkless Diabate, and “Seven Nights of Light,” beginning Aug. 16. Cambridge. 617-547-9363, dancecomplex.org
VIEWPOINT / BRIAN BROOKS IMMERSIVE TECHNOLOGY AT JACOB’S PILLOW Choreographer Brian Brooks’s “Viewpoint” offers a real-time augmented reality performance using a form of media called volumetric video that allows the viewer to superimpose the live performance into their own environment, using a smartphone app. The show can be experienced on the Pillow grounds or at home on your couch. July 24. Becket. 413-243-9919, jacobspillow.org
Karen Campbell can be reached at email@example.com.