Dance at Spoleto doesn't miss a step

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There are easier acts to follow than the finish of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre’s 50th anniversary tour, arguably the highlight of last year’s Spoleto Festival USA, but it’s clear that organizers haven’t sounded the retreat. In fact, the hottest lineup at the annual 17-day performing arts bacchanal is often the cavalcade of troupes from around the globe that strut their stuff at Gaillard Municipal Auditorium and other choice Charleston sites. From what I’ve seen so far – Gallim Dance and Les Ballets Trockadero – the 2010 lineup doesn’t miss a step.

For 2010, there are three troupes invading Galliard, one each weekend of the festival, while Memminger Auditorium, never used for dance before, is coming out with a double dip. I’ve already checked out the first dance presentation at the Memminger (Gallim), and it’s the best alternative dance site that Spoleto has had since the days before the Garden Theatre evolved into Urban Outfitters – and the best smaller modern dance venue the festival has ever had.

If you can snag tickets, I’d heartily recommend that you join me, at both the Gaillard and the Memminger, as I return to the Port City for Spoleto’s final weekend. The National Ballet of Georgia, headed by Nina Ananiashvili, brings Giselle to the Gaillard tonight, with Ananiashvili dancing the classic title role on Friday and Saturday nights. Meanwhile the Inbal Pinto and Avshalom Pollak Dance Company opened their four-day engagement last night at the Memminger and, like the troupe from Tbilisi, will perform through the last day of Spoleto on Sunday. Inspired by a short story by filmmaker Tim Burton, Pinto & Pollak’s phantasmagorical Oyster is described as “part dance, part theater, and part carnival sideshow.”

Giselle ticket prices range from $10-$85 at the cavernous Gaillard. All ticket prices for the hour-long Oyster at Memminger are $32.

Of course, if you plan to gorge on the offerings of Spoleto this weekend as I do, this dance card is only the beginning of the gluttony. Late this afternoon at 5pm, before Oyster at 8:00, Sue and I will take in a concert at Simons Recital Hall by jazz guitarist Julian Lage. Tomorrow at 11am and 1pm, we’ll camp out at Dock Street Theatre and take in the last two programs of the Bank of America Chamber Music series – potluck programming, as always, so I can’t tell you what we’ll hear. Then at 6pm, two hours before Giselle, we’ll investigate the Colla Marionette Company’s take on Cinderella and see if we can count all 150 marionettes enlisted in the production.

Those aren’t the only options for overindulgence. The Gate Theatre’s production of Noël Coward’s Present Laughter has three more performances at the Dock Street Theatre and another piece I’ve reviewed, Flora, an Opera, forms its final gracious tableau at Dock Street tomorrow night. Anything else? The Carolina Chocolate Drops – and the traditional fireworks – are the headliners 8:30pm on Sunday at the Festival Finale at Middleton Place.

Next week, I’ll catch you up on all the dance, orchestral, and theatre that I didn’t cram into my Dock Street roundup earlier this week.

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