Two of this fall's dance performances will tell Halloween-style stories — a reprise of Viktor Plotnikov's THE WIDOW'S BROOM, by Festival Ballet Providence, and a premiere of Miki Ohlsen's DRACULA, by Island Moving Co. The latter company has made a name for itself in doing site-specific performances, especially with their NUTCRACKER at Rosecliff (this year November 27-December 4), in which the scenes of the story are shifted, along with the audience, from room to room in the Newport mansion.
Envisioning a ballet set in another Newport mansion, artistic director Miki Ohlsen thought of Belcourt Castle and readily got permission from owner Harley Tinney, who "loves doing adventurous things and doesn't treat her castle as a museum," according to Ohlsen. Brainstorming with her son, Ohlsen came up with a ballet of Dracula that will move among the rooms and furnishings of the historic house, which will add its own sense of eeriness and mystery to the tale.
Along with the choreography, Ohlsen has been working with composer Felix Ventouras on original music for the ballet, as well as figuring out such special effects as film projections and two of the dancers "working in the silks" — i.e., "flying."
"For every person, the essence of this story is different," Ohlsen pointed out, "and although the opening scene is a masked ball with 16 to 18 people — and we're encouraging audience members to come in masks — I've distilled the story down to my nine dancers. Through them, I think we can create a full and intimate experience."
For more information about Dracula or The Nutcracker at Rosecliff, go to island movingco.org
Festival Ballet Providence has had such success with the UP CLOSE, ON HOPE series at their Black Box Theater that they're introducing another two-part fall-winter program, chatter-BOXtheater, designed especially for children. The first will be Valerie Cookson-Botto's PETER AND THE WOLF (October 3-4 and 10-11). The Up Close, on Hope fall program (November 7, 14-15, and 21-22) will feature world and Rhode Island premieres from guest and resident choreographers, but the program will also highlight pieces by George Balanchine. Main-stage productions will be THE WIDOW'S BROOM (October 30-November 1) at the VMA Arts & Cultural Center, based on the tale of a broom brought to life in Chris Van Allsburg's story; and the holiday favorite THE NUTCRACKER, (at PPAC December 11-13, festivalballet.com).
FUSIONWORKS DANCE COMPANY will present its annual fall concert on November 20 and 21 at Rhode Island College. The second performance is an "unwrapped" version, meaning that there are short explanations of each dance before it is performed. They are also presenting the Downcity Fusion Fest on October 17 and Firehouse Friday on November 6 (fusionworksdance.org).
Everett Dance Theatre and the Carriage House continue to present improv theatre and dance on a weekly basis with its FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE extravaganza. See everettdancetheatre.org.
PAULA HUNTER is back in town, from a successful summer run at chashama in New York City, where she presented We Are Karen Finley with two of the dancers from her youth company called JUMP! Now in its 10th year, this company of young dancers collaborate and improvise with Hunter to create their own choreography, which they will perform at Firehouse 13 on October 16 and 17 and at the Providence Children's Museum on November 20. They will reprise their annual SCENES FROM THE POLAR EXPRESS on December 12 and 13 at the Bishop Middle School in Providence. For more information, go to jumpdancecompany.org or paulahunterperformances.com.
Two organizations that bring dance groups from across the country or around the world are the FIRSTWORKS FESTIVAL (firstworksprov.org) and the Performing Arts Series at Rhode Island College (www.ric.edu/pfa/pas.php). First Works will present the YELLOW BIRD INDIAN DANCERS (October 17), Native American dancers whose performances encompass Apache, Southwest, and Northern Plains traditions and feature the 2008 World Champion Teen Hoop Dancer; HORSE (October 24), Taiwan's first all-male dance company that combines theater, drama, mime, and movement in Velocity; and CIRQUE MECHANICS (November 14), veterans of Cirque du Soleil, Pickle Family Circus, and Moscow Circus who will present Birdhouse Factory, a collage of acrobatic hijinks. The Performing Arts Series at RIC is hosting FIVE BY DESIGN (October 1), performing its musical Club Swing, spotlighting America's swing era; the SHAOLIN WARRIORS (October 21), a troupe of Zen Buddhist monks from China in a fully-choreographed program of martial arts; and CIRCO AEREO (November 5), another group which utilizes circus arts with creative movement and theatre.
Also at RIC, the RHODE ISLAND COLLEGE DANCE COMPANY will present percussionist/rhythm dancer, "body musician," and Guggenheim Award winner KEITH TERRY on October 9. The piece Crosspulse will explore the creative possibilities of percussion and movement. The RIC Dance Company will feature Connecticut College professors and award-winning choreographers Lisa Race and Heidi Henderson in an evening of contemporary modern dance on October 23.
The ROGER WILLIAMS UNIVERSITY DANCE THEATRE will be in concert December 3-5, with new works by faculty, students, and guest artists Elizabeth Spatz and A'Keitha Carey. At PROVIDENCE COLLEGE, the fall dance concert will be that same weekend (December 4 and 5), with guest choreographers Nikki Carrara, Lise Brody, Jamie Jewitt, Eva Marie Pacheco, and Lindsay Guarino.
BROWN UNIVERSITY's Family Week-End Dance Concert is October 16-18 and features students performing works by faculty and guest artists. The annual fall dance concert is November 19-22, with all-student choreography.