The Austin Chronicle

Robert Faires' Top 10 Dance and Classical Treasures of 2017

Much outstanding new dance and music this year took its cue from the world around us and pressing social issues

By Robert Faires, December 29, 2017, Arts

1) BELLE REDUX: A TALE OF BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Ballet Austin) In a world of midnight intensity and unease, choreographer Stephen Mills revealed the light and shadow inside both beauty and beast – and in us all.

2) PANCHO VILLA FROM A SAFE DISTANCE (Ballroom Marfa/Golden Hornet Project/Fusebox Festival) You couldn't be safe seeing Graham Reynolds' chamber opera about the infamous bandit/revolutionary. It thrust you into his life, legend, and legacy with blazing music, performances, and visuals.

3) SOUTHWEST VOICES (Chorus Austin) A treasury of captivating new choral works by Texas composers sung with evident joy, care, and a sense of wanting to get all of it right.

4) MIDSUMMER OFFERINGS (Performa/Dance) Three choreographers working from different places, but all proving that whether it's warm and fluid, cool and abstract, or as tense as Hitchcock, new dance can compel.

5) FALL FOR DANCE (Dance Repertory Theatre, UT Dept. of Theatre & Dance) A remarkable program of new dances speaking to the here and now, using movement to address race, immigration, and technology.

6) 11:11 (Jennifer Sherburn and Natalie George Productions) Where in the city is Jennifer Sherburn? For 11 months, she was all over, and there was no joy like discovering where she'd be and how she and her artistic team would spark a space to life with dance.

7) BELONGING, PART ONE (Blue Lapis Light) Seaholm District Plaza inspired something fresh, urgent, and personal in Sally Jacques, and her dancers passionately twirled around its towering stacks and moved on the earth below.

8) FEAST OF VOICES (Austin Symphony Orchestra/Chorus Austin) A choral banquet to savor, from starter (Vaughan Williams' Flos Campi, with Bruce Williams' wistful viola) to main course (Bruckner's meaty Te Deum), all seasoned by Chorus Austin's fine singing.

9) CONSIDERING MATTHEW SHEPARD (Conspirare) Craig Hella Johnson's heartfelt work is an American requiem, musically as expansive as the American West but as intimate as a life lived in a small Utah town.

10) I/WE (Austin Classical Guitar) The moving words of refugees in Central Texas were transformed by Joseph V. Williams II into music that burrowed into your soul and made their journey your own.

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