Dance for the non-‘Nutcracker’ crowd includes hip-hop, flamenco, film and more
Many dance enthusiasts experience the magic of movement-based art for the first time at a performance of The Nutcracker. (Check out ArtsATL’s guide to this year’s holiday-themed dance concerts).
The guide below, however, is for those who enjoy an occasional break from sugar and spice and everything nice. From Thanksgiving through December, from hip-hop to flamenco and dance on film to dance battles, the last several weeks of 2023 provide numerous opportunities to explore what Atlanta’s movement-based artists have to offer.
The everything-but-the-holidays selection of dance performances below is organized alphabetically by city or neighborhood.
Founded by Sam Neas, who began his dance training in Atlanta, Articulate Dance Company is currently based in New York. With a mission to combine contemporary theatrical dance with evocative story-telling, Neas is presenting the company’s first performance this month. It comprises On the Surface, which explores relationships that delve into the depths of human experience and emotion.
Several Atlanta-based dance artists will share the bill, including SOMOS Dance Company, which launched this year with an impressive debut show in August. Visual art curated by Caroline Vanstrom, Megan Arizmendi and Katie Jones will also be on display at the venue, a 4,000 square-foot gallery located in the Shops of Buckhead.
Dance battles emerged in hip-hop and have since been embraced by a variety of dance forms, even ballet. Spontaneous, improvised and interactive, they feature dancers — solo or in groups — who match skills by performing in turn for short stints — usually five minutes or less — in a series of rounds. A panel of judges or the audience picks the winners.
CORE Dance’s Inside:Out activates the square in downtown Decatur with a series of films projected nightly in the storefront windows of CORE’s studios. The current installment, Together, was commissioned by Town Hall Seattle and debuted in 2020, and it has since been screened as part of Filmfest by Rogue Dancer, Dance Camera Istanbul and Screen Dance Festival Stockholm.
Together features an original score by Judd Greenstein, choreographic direction by Sue Schroeder and film direction, cinematography and editing by Adam Larsen. The cast includes a deep roster of Atlanta’s contemporary theatrical dance talent: Walter Apps, Juana M. Farfan, Humlåo Evans, Dana Lupton, Laith Stevenson, Lori Teague and Nadya Zeitlin.
December 13, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Five Points Station
As part of MARTA’s Artbound initiative, physically integrated dance company Full Radius Dance will offer a free performance (with MARTA fare) at the Five Points rail station. The company comprises dancers with and without disabilities and seeks to dismantle ableist assumptions about the bodies of dancers who can and cannot dance.
December 21 at 7 p.m., Mike Stasny’s Your Mom Said It’s Fine (Underground Atlanta)
This is the tenth performance in Sean Nguyen-Hilton’s astrology-inspired project. Each iteration of Astro Show features the sign of the zodiac ascendant at the time of the event, which in this case will be Capricorn. For believers in astrology, or those just interested in an unusual show, co-hosts Nguyen-Hilton and Lucy Smith will parse the monthly forecast for those born under that sign, while the dancers use a process called “dave,” created by Fly on a Wall, to embody the energy, tone and imagery of the reading through improvisational dance.
Artistic director and Morehouse graduate N. K. Condua founded The Adinkra Project in 2019 to celebrate art of the Black diaspora through dance. After a six-month hiatus, the company is back with a fresh look at repertoire such as Caged Bird and Mercy, and a company premiere, As She Goes, from choreographer Xavier Charles DeMar.
Through his work with The Adinkra Project, Condua aims to challenge assumptions about and to diversify the themes and aesthetics of Black art. The pieces in Artistic Excellence will explore the many ways in which art embodies the experiences of those who make it. In addition to dance, the program will include spoken word and original music by local artists.
At the heart of a cypher is a group of musicians — including vocalists, DJs, beatboxers — and breakers making improvised music and dance together. The community that gathers to enjoy and support their work is also an integral part of the experience. Anthony “Fyrefli” Gasaway Jr. and Joy “Kuma” Rowe founded WeOnFyre in 2020 to create cypher events that emphasize collaboration, emotional healing and social repair.
The couple see the cyphers as an extension of their work in the studio with students of hip-hop dance. As Gasaway and Rowe have expanded their reach nationally and internationally, they have opened the cyphers to include local vendors where the gatherings occur. This one promises to be a well-organized pop-up festival where attendees can grab a bite to eat or get some holiday shopping done before returning to the dance floor.
December 2 at 7 p.m. and December 3 at 3 p.m., 7 Stages Theatre
This is the first season and first proscenium stage performance for Music and Movement, a professional intensive dance education program founded by Frankie Freeman and Paul Jenkins, and the multidisciplinary company, Msquared, that emerged from it. Since August, Msquared has been based at the Windmill Arts Center, hosting community cleanups and dance battles along with weekly classes in just about every movement style one might think of, including body mechanics, yoga and martial arts.
Seasons develops characters and stories constructed around the strengths of the individual Msquared performers in a series of pieces designed to take the audience on a journey filled with surprises and unexpected turns through fall, winter, spring and summer.
December 1 and 2 at 8 p.m., December 3 at 4 p.m., 7 Stages Theatre
Lauren Overstreet founded Atlanta Contemporary Dance in 2022. This concert is an encore performance of Overstreet’s Breathe, which debuted in March. Breathe explores the limits of emotional and physical endurance through large ensemble work, intimate duets and trios and solos that showcase the company’s strong foundation in contemporary theatrical dance.
Flamenco was born and came of age in the tavernas of Spain, and Madrid Spanish Taverna goes to great lengths to reproduce the experience of that cultural context. Throughout the year, Berdolé Productions, led by Julie Galle Baggestoss, brings together flamenco artists living in or visiting Atlanta for performances grounded in improvisation and collaboration, the hallmarks of traditional flamenco. The shows are unrehearsed jam sessions among an always-changing group of performers, each one a singular experience that emerges moment to moment from the interaction among them. The shows take place every other week during the winter months and weekly during spring, summer and fall.
Finally, as a change from It’s a Wonderful Life or Krampus, Filmfest by Rogue Dancer: Performance Art, is available for free through December 3. Rogue Dancer, brainchild of Jennifer and Christopher Scully-Thurston, has been curating selections of dance on film since 2019.
Robin Wharton studied dance at the School of American Ballet and the Pacific Northwest Ballet School. As an undergraduate at Tulane University in New Orleans, she was a member of the Newcomb Dance Company. In addition to a bachelor of arts in English from Tulane, Robin holds a law degree and a Ph.D. in English, both from the University of Georgia.