Season of Surprises (Philadelphia Inquirer)

September 18, 2016

By Ellen Dunkel


The dance world in Philadelphia and beyond will be watching the Pennsylvania Ballet this season, as artistic director Angel Corella replaced more than 40 percent of last year's roster of dancers. Will the company still look like the Pennsylvania Ballet? Along with five new principal dancers and one new soloist, the changes include world and company premieres and a new format for the season. There will be three programs in 2016, including Nutcracker, and three in 2017, with a shorter period between programs.

Cinderella (Oct. 13-16 and 20-23, Academy of Music). The Pennsylvania Ballet opens its season with Ben Stevenson's version of the fairy tale classic. (215-893-1999,

RUBBERBANDance Group (Oct. 13-16, Prince Theater). This Montreal company will perform a "best-of" program called Vic's Mix. It comprises works by artistic director Victor Quijada, including Prokofiev's "Dance of the Knights" from Romeo and Juliet. (215-422-4580,

The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence (Nov. 3-5, Annenberg Center). Step Afrika! comes to the Annenberg Center with a high-energy program based on a Jacob Lawrence painting that depicts African American people moving North in the early 1900s. (215-898-3900,

Martha Graham Dance Company (Nov. 3-6, Prince Theater). Highlights will include the Graham masterpiece Appalachian Spring, as well as Lamentation Variations, based on Graham's 1930 solo on grief, and reworked in 2007 to commemorate the anniversary of 9/11. (215-422-4580,

Revolution (Nov. 10-13, Merriam Theater). The Pennsylvania Ballet's first repertory program of the season includes Square Dance, a Balanchine favorite; The Third Light, by David Dawson; and a world premiere from Brian Sanders, a former MOMIX dancer whose Philadelphia company JUNK has presented weird, wonderful Cirque du Soleil-type shows since 1997. (215-893-1999,

Sunset, 0639 Hours (Nov. 16-20, Wilma Theater). Matthew Neenan and Rosie Langabeer's evening-length piece for BalletX is one of the finest works created in the company's first decade, and Philadelphia's contemporary ballet company is bringing it back for another run. (215-546-7824,

Straight Outta Philly (Nov. 18-20, Perelman Theater, Kimmel Center). This year, Philadanco conducts its annual season at the Kimmel Center in collaboration with another premiere Philadelphia dance organization, Rennie Harris Puremovement. Expect a high-quality mix of hip-hop and classical dance. (215-893-1999,

Parsons Dance (Dec. 7-11, Prince Theater). The program includes a world premiere commissioned by the NextMove series at the Prince and will combine dance and robotics in a work developed with Drexel's ExCITe Center. (215-422-4580,

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker (Dec. 9-11, 16-18, 23-24, and 26-31, Academy of Music). The Pennsylvania Ballet's perennial holiday favorite is back for another season of charming children, dancing candy, and magic. (215-893-1999,

Great Russian Nutcracker (Dec. 12-13, Annenberg Center). The version of theNutcracker by the Moscow Ballet, a touring Russian ballet troupe, is dedicated to world peace. Instead of a Land of Sweets, the second act of this ballet visits the Land of Peace and Harmony. Local dancers will fill the children's roles. (215-898-3900,

Nutcracker 1776 (Dec. 16-17, Merriam Theater). The Rock School for Dance Education presents a Philadelphiacentric, patriotic, 70-minute version of the holiday classic, with all the roles danced by the students of the school, from the tiny tots to the preprofessionals. (215-893-1999,