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Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer  |  September 19, 2014

Dance fans in Cleveland awash with options this season: Dance preview 2014

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- We aren't the only ones who see Cleveland as a dance destination. Artists around the state, nation and world see us that way, too, as evidenced by the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference coming to Northeast Ohio in January and Cleveland's recent hosting of the OhioDance Fall Festival.

But the real proof of Cleveland's dance strengths lies in the paragraphs below, in these listings of what the region's many companies are up to this and next year.

Clearly, it's a great deal. DanceCleveland, for instance, the area's top presenter, has an eclectic season in store, including its first presentation of hip-hop dance; and Verb Ballets, a greenhouse of new and contemporary works, brings to life three variations of Martha Graham's iconic "Lamentation."

Much more in that vein, meanwhile, can be seen from Cleveland's GroundWorks Dance Theater, Inlet Dance Theatre and Dancing Wheels. And that's to say nothing of the region's top dance schools, including Case Western Reserve University, Oberlin College and Cleveland State University, or of Playhouse Square, the venue this year for two high-level ballet events: "The Ashley Bouder Project" and Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker" with the Cleveland Orchestra.

Just don't be a bystander. When it comes to dance in Northeast Ohio, we of all people should be the best informed.

Case Western Reserve University Department of Dance: A two-weekend run of "Horizons," featuring works by Mark Morris and Pascal Rioult and new pieces by Gary Galbraith, Karen Potter and Shannon Sterne, kicks off the year Oct. 31-Nov. 8. Students Hannah Barna and Amanda Clark present their MFA thesis concert titled "Illuminated" March 26-29. A group composed of students, faculty and members of the Cleveland dance community offer two rounds of the Mather Dance Collective (MaDaCol) Nov. 20-22 and April 16-18. Information at, 216-368-5246.

DanceCleveland: An exceptionally eclectic year at Cleveland's premier dance presenter gets underway Oct. 5 with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron. A parade of internationally and stylistically diverse troupes follows, including Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (Nov. 8 and 9); Pilobolus (Jan. 31); Compagnie Kafig (March 7); and Wendy Whelan: Restless Creature (April 25). Information at, 216-991-9000.

Dancing Wheels: Busy year-round, Cleveland's unique company of dancers with and without disabilities next hits the public stage Oct. 15 with a noontime performance at Trinity Cathedral. The year also ends on a high note, with the world premiere of "Babes in Toyland" at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts (Dec. 4-6). Information at, 216-432-0306.

GroundWorks Dance Theater: Another enterprising year under David Shimotakahara commences Oct. 24 and 25 with performances in partnership with Cleveland State University at Playhouse Square. On the program: works by Ronen Koresh, Gina Gibney and Johannes Wieland. The fall season also includes a creative residency with choreographer Robert Moses. Information at, 216-751-0088.

Inlet Dance Theatre: Bill Wade's welcoming group of new and experienced dancers kicks into high gear Jan. 18 with a concert at the Church of the Saviour in Cleveland Heights. The company also will be featured at DanceWorks 2015 at Cleveland Public Theatre April 23-25 and present another free program next July at Cain Park. Information at

MorrisonDance: Invigorated by a grant from the Rauschenberg Foundation, Sarah Morrison's modern-dance troupe concludes a monthlong series titled "The City is Our Playground" with a presentation of improvised choreography Sept. 21 at the Tremont Arts and Cultural Festival. Information at, 216-281-9558.

Ohio Dance Theatre: Oberlin and Cleveland remain the two places to catch this vibrant professional company led by choreographer Denise Gula. Start out with "Ballet Uncorked" Oct. 24, Feb. 6 and April 24 in Oberlin, and continue with an appearance on DanceWorks 2015 April 9-11 at Cleveland Public Theatre. Information at, 440-774-6077.

Playhouse Square: The national tour of "So You Think You Can Dance" launches the dance season Oct. 20. After that comes "The Ashley Bouder Project," a presentation by Ballet in Cleveland (Oct. 25); the Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker" with the Cleveland Orchestra (Nov. 26-30); "Stomp" (Jan. 16-18); Shen Yun (Feb. 10 and 11); the Cleveland State University Spring Dance Concert (March 26-28); and "Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host" (May 2). Information at, 216-241-6000.

Verb Ballets: A high point in Verb's 2014-15 season comes up Feb. 20 and 21, when the contemporary dance company honors Martha Graham by hosting three variations on the choreographer's "Lamentation," on the occasion of the iconic work's 85th birthday. Also this season: The company appears on the International Association of Blacks in Dance Showcase in Cleveland Jan. 23-35; at Christ Episcopal Church in Shaker Heights (Jan. 30); and on DanceWorks 2015 at Cleveland Public Theatre (April 16-18). Information at, 216-397-3757.

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