Dance for all

Trisha Brown Dance Company is known for its innovative and influential postmodern pieces and its collaborations with the likes of Laurie Anderson, Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage.

It’s that time of year again, when music wafts through the streets, art hangs on extra walls and actors and dancers grace our stages. Two sister festivals, full of dance, a full calendar of events from artists across the ocean and around the corner.

Spoleto Festival USA has four big dance shows on tap this year. The Scottish Ballet will present a creative interpretation of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” on May 22, 23 and 24 at the Sottile Theatre, replete with wordless narrative and gorgeous movement.

Last seen when it made its American debut in 1986, Scotland’s national dance company offers both classical and contemporary works. It kicks off opening weekend with this classic tale of love, lust and disillusionment, accompanied by Peter Salem’s New Orleans jazz-inspired score.

Director Nancy Meckler and choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa intertwine the aesthetics of theater and cinema, brought alive by virtuosic dancing. It’s sure to please balletomanes and newbies alike.

“You don’t have to know the story to know what’s going on,” Spoleto Festival General Director Nigel Redden said.

Lil Buck and Ashley Bathgate present “What Moves You,” May 29-31 at the Woolfe Street Theatre.

A moment of genius in 2011 posted to YouTube showed Lil Buck, a unique hip-hop artist dancing to classical music played live by cellist Yo-Yo Ma. It became an instant sensation. The dancer displayed a vocabulary of movement that blended street dance and aspects of classical styles in a way no one else has done. For Spoleto, Lil Buck pairs with the young cellist, Ashley Bathgate, for a performance at the Woolfe Street Playhouse.

“Lil Buck has a wow quality,” Redden said. Audiences are left marveling at his physical prowess.

Trisha Brown, an icon of modern dance, has been a major artistic influence for 45 years. The Trisha Brown Dance Company, now led by artistic associates Carolyn Lucas and Diane Madden, return to the festival for performances May 29, 30 and 31 at the Sottile Theatre.

The company performs around the globe and shows how great choreography remains relevant and thrilling. A seminal piece, the geometrical “Set and Reset,” uses music by Laurie Anderson and set design by Robert Rauschenberg. It’s been hailed as a beacon of postmodernism. “There’s a fluid inevitability to it,” Redden said. “The energy flows freely through the movement.”

In the work “PRESENT TENSE,” Brown’s aerial choreography combines with music by John Cage. Two other pieces, “If You Couldn’t See Me” and “Rogues” round out the program.

The inventive Shen Wei Dance Arts will perform on June 5, 6 and 7 at the Sottile Theatre. The piece “MAP” is set to music by Steve Reich. The group also will offer a new work recently presented at Art Basel-Miami Beach, conceived for a museum setting and featuring Shen Wei’s abstract paintings.

This contemporary dance company includes some of the most talented and stunning dancers working today.

“It’s abstract work that has some kind of classicicm to it,” Redden said. And it displays a painterly quality in its breadth of movement.

The Piccolo Spoleto Festival, organized by the city of Charleston’s Office of Cultural Affairs, has programmed two concerts in the Stelle Di Domani series at the College of Charleston featuring works from emerging young choreographers (May 30), as well as a collaboration with Annex Dance Company called “Intersection” at the Chapel Theatre (May 29).

The Charleston City Ballet will present “Beauty and the Beast” May 30 and 31 at the Charleston Music Hall, showcasing both young and professional dancers.

A visiting troupe of pre-professional dancers from Georgia called the Great Gig Dance Co. will perform May 30 at Footlight Players Theatre.

Annex Dance Company has created a site-specific piece for the City Gallery at Waterfront Park, which will be offered on June 2. “Throughout the performance the audience will move through the gallery to see the different sections of the piece,” Annex Artistic Driector Kristin Alexander said. “In addition to the spatial design of the gallery influencing the choreography, I will be using the theme of personal journey and crossroads to drive the creative process.”

Tickets for Spoleto Festival events can be purchased at, by calling (843) 579-3100 or by visiting the box office at the Charleston Visitor Center, 375 Meeting St. Tickets for Piccolo Spoleto Festival can be purchased on line at, by calling (866) 811-4111 or in person at the Visitor Center box office.