7 performance picks we don’t want to miss in June

Summer is heating up, with major premieres, triumphant returns and thrilling lineups of mixed ventures taking place from coast to coast and across the pond. Here’s what caught our attention.

Reading date

MKArts by MK Abadoo. Photo by C. Stanley Photography, courtesy of John Hill PR.

SAN FRANCISCO ODC Theater’s annual summer festival is back with a new name: State of Play. Co-curated by Amara Tabor-Smith and Charles Slender-White with a focus on queer and BIPOC artists, the performance lineup (live and later via livestream) includes works by Riley Watts and Heather Stewart, MK Abadoo, SAMMAY Peñaflor Dizon, Rosanna Tavarez, Megan Lowe dancing, Erin Yen | Dance of the Dragons, Nicole Peisl, Kim Ip and Bianca Cabrera. Screenings of work in progress and discussions, debates and round tables are also offered. June 2-11. odc.dance. —Courtney Escoyne

From book to ballet

Marcelino Sambé and Francesca Hayward embrace in the air, eyes closed, wrapping their arms around the other's chest.  Their legs and feet have a beautiful classic shape.  Their bare feet and minimalist costumes give the impression of nudity.
Marcelino Sambé and Francesca Hayward of the Royal Ballet in Christopher Wheeldon’s Like water for chocolate. Photo by Rick Guest, courtesy Royal Opera House.

LONDON Laura Esquivel’s novel Like water for chocolate tells the story of a young woman who has the power to magically infuse her emotions into her kitchen, and the drama that ensues when she is unable to be with the man she loves. Christopher Wheeldon has collaborated with the author to bring to life a complete adaptation of the ballet, which will premiere at the Royal Ballet this month. A co-production with the American Ballet Theatre, the ballet reunites the choreographer with composer Joby Talbot and designer Bob Crowley, the team behind the literary blockbusters Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and The Winter’s Tale. June 2-17. roh.org.uk. —Julia Mary Register

Hometown Tour

DeMarco Sleeper grips the wheels of his chair, gazing stoically forward as Sara Lawrence-Sucato appears to be screaming into his ear, holding herself in a slight cleft with her hand downstage spread wide to close the distance between her mouth and her head.
DeMarco Sleeper and Sara Lawrence-Sucato in Catherine Meredith In secret for Dancing Wheels Company. Photo by Scott Shaw, courtesy of Dancing Wheels Company.

ON TOUR Dancers with and without disabilities come together in the National Festival of Physically Integrated Dance of three companies and three cities: Beyond Barriers, Borders and Beliefs! Featured are creations by Donald Byrd, Mark Tomasic and Brian Murphy for Cleveland’s Dancing Wheels Company, new work by Heidi Latsky for her eponymous New York-based troupe, and Miami Karen Peterson and Dancers in an excerpt by founder Karen Peterson Corash’s 2021 FOUND OBJECT. The festival was conceived by Dancing Wheels Founding Artistic Director, Mary Verdi-Fletcher, who said, “I thought it was important for our nation to recognize the distinct talents of performers who participate in physically integrated dance. The tour begins in Cleveland on June 10, followed by New York on June 14 and Miami on June 25. dancingwheels.org. —Steve Sucato

ABT come home

Aran Bell raises Catherine Hurlin by the waist while her back leg extends in an arabesque, the other folded under her long skirt.  Their noses touch as she smiles at him, her arms around his shoulders.  In the background, dancers in Greek costume watch and appear to be conversing quietly.
Catherine Hurlin and Aran Bell in Alexei Ratmansky Of love and rage. Photo by Gene Schiavone, courtesy of ABT.

NEW YORK CITY The American Ballet Theater returns to the Metropolitan Opera House for the first time since 2019, kicking off the season with a Don Quixote with a triple star-studded cast of lead roles on June 13. In addition to its usual array of feature films, the company will present the New York premieres of Alexei Ratmansky’s evening feature Of love and rage (carried over from 2020) and the recent Alonzo King single eyeand celebrate the 75th anniversary of George Balanchine’s seminal work Theme and variants. From June 13 to July 16. abt.org. -THIS

Closer to Taylor

Two dancers balance in a yogic dancer pose, their outstretched arms reaching out towards each other and connecting at the wrist.  Between them on the floor, a spoke and a wheel.
Rei Akazawa-Smith and Jake Vincent in Paul Taylor Tracer. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy of the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

NEW YORK CITY Paul Taylor Dance Company takes a break from the grandeur of Lincoln Center to moonlight at the more intimate Joyce Theatre. Curated by Artistic Director Michael Novak, the company’s early programming with Joyce demonstrates the connection between its origins and its future, combining early Taylor pieces, such as Events II (1957), fibers(1961) and Tracer (1962), with new work by Michelle Manzanales and the New York premiere of Peter Chu’s A call for softer landings. June 14-19. joyce.org. —JMR

The ballet is black

A dancer is lifted in arabesque on a diagonal from the back, pointing upwards.  A dancer is throwing it to another.  A group of dancers arrayed around them gaze upwards, arms rising as they step back, away from the uplifted dancer.
Dance Theater of Harlem in Annabelle Lopez Ochoa Balamouk. Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy of Jacob’s Pillow.

WASHINGTON DC Black ballet dancers and choreographers are at the forefront of Kennedy Center’s Reframing the Narrative week. Dance Theater of Harlem, Ballethnic Dance Company and Collage Dance Collective perform in two programs curated by Denise Saunders Thompson and Theresa Ruth Howard, featuring classic excerpts alongside works by company executives and commissions from recent years by Amy Hall Garner and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. The centerpiece of both programs is a Kennedy Center commission by Donald Byrd, featuring a dozen black dancers from companies around the world (including Precious Adams, Katlyn Addison, Jenelle Figgins and Ashley Murphy-Wilson) and a new score by Charles Simon. June 14-19. kennedy-center.org. -THIS

liberation meditation

Chanon Judson rushes to the side, one hand resting on her knee while the other opens up, one hand offered to whatever she's staring intently off camera.
Chanon Juson. Photo by Gennia Cui, courtesy Flea Theatre.

NEW YORK CITY As part of Flea Theatre’s Juneteenth lineup, Urban Bush Women Artistic Director Chanon Judson designed Time is up! A ritual of liberation, a public performance meditation undertaken by Judson and community participants. June 19. theflea.org. -THIS

Kimberly B. Nguyen