Summer dance

The Yard launches its 2019 season.

Joanna Kotze — Maria Baranova

David White, artistic director of the Yard, and his team have curated what sounds like a fabulous season. I sat down with White at Little House Café, his favorite haunt, to get the lowdown.

“This season, as usual, there is an extraordinary diversity of work,” he says. It kicks off on June 8 with the Schonberg Fellows/Chicagoland. “The fellows are really here to create work, and then we do a performative outcome, which we distinguish from a regular performance in that the public will see the material that’s been developed here, but it won’t necessarily be finished. There’s Joanna Furnans, who is a formalist dance artist based in Chicago, and the Era,” says White. The Era is a creative collective founded by footwork dancers on the South Side of Chicago. White explains, “This is a really interesting subset of hip-hop. The focus is on this amazingly fast footwork. It’s not tap, it’s much more of rhythmic, fast rhythm steps.”

On June 13 and 15, Joanna Kotze will present “What will we be like when we get there?” a multidisciplinary collaboration that combines movement, sound, and visual art in surprising ways, and resonates with the social and political time we are living in now. Created after the 2016 presidential election, the work investigates physical, emotional, and artistic spectrums while reflecting on personal journeys and current events — bringing attention to our desires, flaws, strengths, and fantasies.

“All of Joanna’s work has this kind of intense passion, intense emotion, which is just barely under control if it’s under control at all,” White says. “She works with her husband Jonathan Allen, who is a collaborating painter in New York. Together, they create these kinds of active performative environments, which is what they will do in the theater.” Allen will have six related paintings on view, as well.

For June 20 and June 22, Leonardo Sandoval and Gregory Richardson are doing “Partido,” which explores the convergence of percussive dance with contemporary urban styles in African American and Afro-Brazilian culture, and “Phase,” which plays with rhythmic possibilities within the boundaries of Steve Reich’s legendary minimalist score. Both artists are veterans of the great Michelle Dorrance’s tap company.

As part of the Yard’s sixth annual Pride, Not Prejudice celebration, Ain Gordon, who is gay, and Josh Quillen, who is not, will be doing “Radicals in Miniature” on June 27 and June 29.

“It’s theatrical, a postmodern radio play with a deeply serious, poignant message, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots that launched the LGBTQ political movement,” White explains. “It memorializes lives lost that were too off the radar to be recognized except by a small coterie of friends and acquaintances when AIDS obliterated people, leaving their marginal lives by the wayside in terms of memory and history.”

Tuesday, July 2, will highlight the classic works of Paul Taylor 2 at the Performing Arts Center. White says for Saturday, July 6, “We will have the Gottabees doing ‘Go Home Tiny Monster.’ They are these terrific Massachusetts-based puppet artists whom we’ve had a couple of times, and part of our Quality Time Family Series.”


Kimberly Bartoski will perform “I Hunger For You” at the Yard on July 11 and 13. White describes her as “coming from a Southern fundamentalist religious family, and a lot of her work has to do with what I think of as ‘unrelenting passion.’ This idea of a wild spirituality is something that’s imbedded in her mind, and also a real concern with intimacy.”

Puerto Rican artist Yanira Castro takes the stage July 18 and 20. “She is investigating the relationship of audience to performer,” White says. “‘Cast’ is a performance piece that has a managed chaos that really tries to understand what performers do. ‘Author’ is a collaboration with Featherstone from June 30 to July 14. It’s an installation, a mini walled, spiral structure that an individual audience member goes into and eventually arrives at a plain table, chair, and computer, and the audience member enters into somewhat of a conversation with a computer. All the performers have contributed material to it, and various subjects are tagged. It feels like a stripped-down computer experience. You have this dialogue that goes back and forth. You type something and something comes back to you. It may be meaningful. It may not be.”

On August 1 at the PAC, the six-time Latin Grammy-winning Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro-Latin Jazz Ensemble will again join Cuba’s pre-eminent Malpaso Dance Company in live performance, in a rich marriage of Cuban music and dance. That evening Malpaso will also be performing “Tabula Rasa,” a work by Ohad Naharin, the distinguished artistic director of Israel’s Batsheva Company. “Malpaso are one of the most amazing technical companies around in terms of Cuban dance training and of creating worldwide repertory,” White says. On August 3, Malpaso returns to the Yard’s Nanon Theater with a separate program of extraordinary works in an intimate setting.

On August 17, the Yard brings back the spiritually infused Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, which focuses on the seamless fusion of traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word, doing one of their signature pieces, ‘“Grace @20,” also a mainstay of the Alvin Ailey dance repertory.

A.R.T. on the Vine (Artists Rising on the Vineyard: Island Grown Dance on the Vineyard) performs August 22 and 24, as well as music and dance hall nights that are participatory community dances in which the public is invited to dance, with local DJs such as Christopher Anderson and occasional veteran Yard artists like Dylan Termeque/Frida Calor as DJs. Dance halls are part of A.R.T. on the Vine (Tuesday) Music nights, which will feature such local artists as John Forte and Isaac Taylor in 2019.

Bookending the summer are the Schonberg Fellows/Boston on August 31 with Aysha Upchurch, a rhythmic movement storyteller who leans on the African diasporic movement to bring embodied stories of joy, connection, and liberation to the stage. Also on the bill are Subject:Matter, a tap company based in Boston, directed by Ian Berg, a Boston-based tap dancer.

It promises to be another exciting season that’s guaranteed to pique your interest, whether an initiate to dance or a sophisticate, and I can’t wait until it gets started.

For details and tickets, visit