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Zachary Lewis  |  September 14, 2019

For dance lovers, Cleveland’s a plum: Fall preview 2019

CLEVELAND, Ohio – There’s a reason the service organization Dance/USA held its annual conference in Cleveland last June: this is a vibrant dance community.

Movers and shakers in the dance field descended on Northeast Ohio last summer only to confirm what those who live here have long known, what the 2019-20 season calendar makes clear beyond doubt.

Even early in the season, before many groups have made or announced plans, the listings below are full of attractive offerings.

Cleveland Ballet, for instance, is staging not one but two story ballets: “Carmen” and “The Magic Flute.” Verb Ballets, too, is raising its profile, and adding to its already long list of collaborative partners.

Veteran presenter DanceCleveland also has made some of its boldest choices yet, searching ever further and more widely for the true cutting edge, and Cleveland Public Theatre continues to perform the great public service that is DanceWorks.

Our schools, meanwhile – Cleveland State, Kent State, and Case Western Reserve Universities – remain dance hot-houses, fertile grounds from which the new generation of leading dancers and choreographers are always springing.

Those members of Dance/USA? They were here in the summer, during the art form’s traditional off season. They thought dance in Cleveland was thriving then. If only they could see it now, as you can.

Case Western Reserve University: Dance at Case Western Reserve University gets underway Nov. 1-9 with a new program called “Avanti,” featuring new work by Pam Tanowitz and Gary Galbraith along with existing work by Larry Keigwin and Doris Humphrey. The year continues with Mather Dance Collective, aka MaDaCol (Nov. 21-23); “Kaleido,” an MFA thesis program by Brandon Gregoire and Yuting Zhao (March 26-29); and “Imagatorium,” with works by Christian Mintah and Katie Nabors (April 16-19). Information at, 216-368-5246.

City Ballet of Cleveland: Courtney Laves-Mearini reprises City Ballet of Cleveland’s popular local twist on the holiday classic, “The Uniquely Cleveland Nutcracker,” Dec. 14 and 15 at the Breen Center for the Performing Arts. Information at, 216-848-9088.

Cleveland Ballet: A fresh spin on the “Carmen” tale (made famous by Bizet) kicks off Cleveland Ballet’s new season at Playhouse Square, in a new production featuring live music (Oct. 18 and 19). After that comes an expanded run of “The Nutcracker” to meet popular demand (Dec. 5-15) and a new production of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute,” conceived by artistic director Gladisa Guadalupe (May 8 and 9). Information at, 216-320-9000.

Cleveland Dance Fest: Now a full-fledged dance tradition, this two-day series of master-classes and inventive performances organized by The Movement Project is back for its fourth year at Pilgrim Church in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood (Nov. 8 and 9). Details TBA. Information at

DanceCleveland: Cleveland’s premiere dance presenter may be one of the oldest organizations of its kind, but it’s as lively and groundbreaking as ever. The 64th fall season commences Oct. 12 with Parsons Dance at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron and continues Nov. 9 at Playhouse Square with Rubberbandance Group. The rest of the season features Cie Herve Koubi (Feb. 15) and Stephen Petronio Dance (March 14). Information at, 216-991-9000.

DanceWorks 2020: The expansive annual showcase of cutting-edge local dance presented by Cleveland Public Theatre takes place a bit earlier than usual this year, April 2-25. Program information is TBA but tickets are already on sale. Information at, 216-631-2727.

GroundWorks DanceTheater: Only one performance is currently on the official calendar at GroundWorks DanceTheater: A fall showcase featuring new work by Brian Brooks and reprises of works by Eric Handman and artistic director David Shimotakahara (Oct. 11 and 12). Much more, however, is surely in the works. Information at, 216-751-0088.

Kent State University: Dance lovers in Northeast Ohio need to keep Kent State University on their radars. The school’s performance calendar this year includes “Dance ’19: Dynamic Fusion,” featuring works by faculty and guests; a student BFA dance concert and festival (March 13-15); and “Emerge,” a new program by the pre-professional Kent Dance Ensemble (April 3-5). Information at, 330-672-2082.

Playhouse Square: In addition to the dance performances by local troupes cited elsewhere here, Cleveland’s artistic hub also will host a “Hip Hop Nutcracker” (Dec. 13); Shen Yun (March 21 and 22); and the Cleveland State University Spring Dance Concert (April 3 and 4). Information at, 216-241-6000.

Verb Ballets: A vibrant new season is already well underway at Cleveland’s Verb Ballets. After a slew of performances last summer, the company is plunging ahead with an appearance on Tuesday Musical “Fuze” series in Akron (Oct. 10); Neil Zaza’s “One Dark Night” (Oct. 19); a showcase of female choreographers (Feb. 22); and two open-ended ventures: The Cleveland Havana Ballet Project (March) and NEO SonicFest (April). Also in April: performances at DanceWorks 2020. Information at, 216-397-3757.


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