The dance world tends to take some time off in the summer, as major companies ramp up for their upcoming fall seasons, but that doesn’t mean that fans of gorgeous human movement have nowhere to turn in August. On the contrary: Dance is more accessible to everyday New Yorkers than ever this month, thanks to free dance festivals in scenic outdoor locations around the city. Here is a quick guide to some of what you can see in the weeks ahead. (Click on the links for full details.)
BAAND Together Dance Festival (Lincoln Center, August 9–August 13 at 7:30pm):
Five of New York City’s most prestigious dance companies—Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Hispánico, Dance Theatre of Harlem and New York City Ballet—perform together at Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park in five free shows. Each lineup is slightly different, but they all include a performance of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s One for All, which features dancers from all five troupes. Admission is mostly first-come-first-served, but advance reservations are available; the window for making them starts at noon on Monday, August 8.
Battery Dance Festival (Robert F. Wagner Park, August 13–20 at 7pm):
This beloved annual fest takes place way downtown at Robert F. Wagner Park, in front of the sparkling New York Harbor. The 41st edition’s lineup includes multiple U.S. or world premieres, and the participating companies include visiting groups from Singapore, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and Canada. The first seven shows are general admission, but reservations are required for the 6pm finale on August 20 (indoors at the Schimmel Center).
Beach Sessions (Rockaway Beach, August 20 at 5:30pm):
Rockaway Beach’s outdoor dance festival returns with another free, sandy offering. This year’s edition celebrates the natural-world inspirations of the late experimental groundbreaker Trisha Brown with a program that includes early Brown works—staged along the shore, with audiences following the dancers from site to site—and concludes with 1980’s Opal Loop (1980), the first piece from her Unstable Molecular Structure cycle. An afterparty follows at the Rockaway Hotel.
SummerStage Dance (Various locations through August 28):
The City Parks Foundation’s free outdoor festival SummerStage graces various green spaces around the city with dance, music and theater. In the dance department, the offerings include Maimouna Keita African Dance Company (Corporal Thompson Park, August 5), Urban Bush Women (Crotona Park , August 12), excerpts from The Jazz Continuum (Marcus Garvey Park, August 19), a tribute to Greg Tate featuring Burnt Sugar/Danz (Marcus Garvey Park, August 20) and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago (Central Park, August 28).
Fall for Dance Festival (New York City Center, September 21–October 2)
This one isn’t free or outdoors and doesn’t start until September, but City Center’s super-affordable festival is an unmissable smorgasbord for dance lovers. Each evening features a sampling of international superstars and local favorites: 15 companies or teams of artists take part in five different programs, each performed just twice for only $20 a pop. Here’s where the August part comes in: Tickets get snapped up very fast, so it’s essential to get in the virtual waiting room before 11am on Sunday, August 28. Good luck!
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.