Who's Hot In Modern Dance

In Crystal Pite’s Lost Action, a crouching dancer extends his left leg and suddenly explodes into a split leap. In Pite’s Dark Matters, a dancer dives onto the stage, her long leg windmilling her body around, then suddenly is still. These moments of opposition are a hallmark of Pite’s choreography, as most frequently danced by her company, Kidd Pivot. Her movement is both fluid and sharp, melodic and percussive. A dancer can be undulating one minute and popping and locking the next. “I like things that stop and things that flow,” Pite says. “I like conflict in the body and love the look of ease. I like precision, but I also like freedom.” Her blend of jazz, hip hop and modern asks the audience to question its understanding of dance and puts Kidd Pivot at the forefront of what’s hot in modern dance today.

Created in 2002, Kidd Pivot was born out of Pite’s desire to make her own work. “I wanted a structure in which I could create and perform and bring other artists together who inspired and challenged me,” she says. The result is a pickup company of six to seven members who come together for a few months out of the year to create and tour new pieces.

Kidd Pivot mixes cool intellect with sensuality and muscularity. Pite, who hails from Canada, is a former Ballet British Columbia and Ballett Frankfurt dancer who spends most of her time traveling between Sweden, to set work on the Cullberg Ballet; Montreal, to work with Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal; and NYC, to create pieces for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet. But when she’s home in Vancouver, she plays around with new works for Kidd Pivot.

Pite doesn’t just direct—she also dances, performing alongside the other Kidd Pivot members. By gathering the world’s top modern dancers—like Cindy Salgado, an NYC-based dancer who performs with Aszure and Artists, and Jermaine Spivey, a Maryland native dancing with Hofesh Shechter Company in England—Pite has formed a group with vast and varied experience. “The dancers and I are all composites of the countless influences and inspirations we’ve had in our careers,” Pite says. “We all have involvement with other companies, so we come together carrying things we’ve learned.”

Salgado, a Juilliard graduate, says of being in Kidd Pivot, “I’m constantly learning from Crystal. She’s challenging and fun, and she draws from the creativity of all of her dancers, but she’s still in control of the process.”

A collection of witty, collage-style pieces danced by world-class performers—what’s not to love? If you aren’t already convinced that dancing for Crystal Pite would be awesome, Spivey says each day working with Pite is like seeing dance for the first time. “Crystal’s choreography is like watching TV and always finding the programs you want to see. It’s perfect channel surfing,” he says. “She knows when to change the images she’s putting forth, so it’s constantly engaging and it feels young and fresh and new."

Four more hot modern dance companies you should know

Rubberbandance Group

Location: Montreal

Year formed: 2002

Number of dancers: 5, although Victor Quijada and Anne Plamondon are the company’s only permanent members

Choreographer: Victor Quijada

Known for: Its fusion of ballet and hip hop. Quijada formed Rubberbandance Group out of his desire to combine his ballet training with his hip-hop lifestyle.

Fun fact: Victor studied with Judson Church Dance Theater pioneer Rudy Perez as well as ballet giant Eliot Feld.

Why Rubberbandance Group is hot: The company’s multimedia-infused work is entrancing. For videos that are darkly adventurous and feature balletic hip hop, check out rubberbandance.com.



Location: San Francisco

Year formed: 1971

Number of dancers: 10

Choreographers: Brenda Way, KT Nelson and Kimi Okada

Known for: Athletic dancing, interdisciplinary collaborations and fresh musical commissions.

Upcoming performance: March 12–28, ODC’s Downtown

Fun fact: Not only is ODC/Dance a full-time dance company, it also has its own theater space, a school and a healthy dancers’ clinic!

Why ODC/Dance is hot: Even President Obama recognizes how cool ODC/Dance is! The company was selected to be part of the presidential DanceMotion USA initiative and tour to Thailand, Burma and Indonesia to connect with local audiences.


LAFA & Artists

Location: Taiwan

Year formed: 2007

Number of dancers: 2 full-time dancers, others vary by event

Choreographer: Bulareyaung Pagarlava

Known for: Intensely athletic dancing merged with funky mime-style acting. The group performs work that is about “the human touch,” according to Pagarlava.

Upcoming performances: Rumor has it the company will be performing at the Vancouver Winter Olympics this month!

Fun fact: The founders, both from Taiwan, have danced with major companies—Fang-Yi Sheu is a former principal dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company and Pagarlava is a former member of the Cloud Gate Dance Theatre.

Why LAFA & Artists is hot: The company has the Baryshnikov seal of approval—Sheu was given an artist-in-residency grant at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in 2007. The young troupe packs a punch with its aggressive-meets-farcical style, unlike anything else out there.


Keigwin + Company

Location: NYC

Year formed: 2003

Number of dancers: 6

Choreographer: Larry Keigwin

Known for: Making audiences laugh with pieces such as Mattress Suite and Elements, and wowing crowds with more serious works like Natural Selection (where the dancers literally run up the walls!).

Upcoming performances: March 16–21 at The Joyce Theater in NYC

Fun fact: It’s not just a modern dance company! The Keigwin Kabaret is a contemporary variety show featuring burlesque, comedy and dance that the company performs in addition to its modern concert works.

Why Keigwin + Company is hot: The über-athletic Keigwin dancers are fun, young and have a sense of humor. They’re making modern more exciting and lively than ever before!

Amanda LaCount showing off her skills (screenshot via YouTube)

There's a common misconception that a dancer's body has to be thin. But the truth is that talent knows no body type, and the number on the scale never determines an artist's capabilities. Here are some extraordinary dancers fighting the stereotype of what a dancer "should" look like.

Keep reading... Show less

Leap! National Dance Competition offers dancers of all skill levels an opportunity to showcase their talents in an event where the focus is on fun and competing is just a bonus!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

Getting corrections from our dance instructors is how we grow, and as students, it's important that we do our best to apply every correction right away. But sometimes—whether it's because we're in physical pain, or have a lot on our minds, or are just not paying attention—those corrections don't sink in. And from a teacher's standpoint, giving the same corrections time and time again gets old very fast. Here are 10 important corrections dance teachers are tired of giving. Take them to heart!

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
The School at Jacob's Pillow's contemporary program auditions (photo by Karli Cadel, courtesy Jacob's Pillow)

Summer intensive auditions can be nerve-racking. A panel of directors is watching your every move, and you're not even sure if you can be seen among the hundreds of other dancers in the room. We asked five summer intensive directors for their input on how dancers can make a positive impression—and even be remembered next year.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB

Mark your calendars, bunheads! On Monday, January 29th, at 2:45 PM (EST)/11:45 AM (PST), Pacific Northwest Ballet will be streaming a live rehearsal of Act II of Kent Stowell's Swan Lake.

Keep reading... Show less
Watch This
Tavaris Jones dancing with the Cleveland Cavaliers' Scream Team hip-hop crew

We always love a good halftime performance. And we LIVE for halftime performances involving talented kids. (Fingers and toes crossed that Justin Timberlake follows Missy Elliott's lead and invites some fabulous littles to share his Super Bowl stage.)

So obviously, our hearts completely melted for 5-year-old Tavaris Jones. Tavaris may have just started kindergarten, but during Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, the Detroit native danced with the panache of a veteran pro at halftime.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Joe Toreno

The coolest place she's ever performed:

I'd have to say the Super Bowl. The field was so cool, and Katy Perry was right there. And there were so many eyes—definitely the most eyes I've ever performed for!

Something she's constantly working on:

My feet. I'm flat-footed, so I'm always hearing, 'Point your toes!' And I'm like, 'I am!'

Signature look:

My hair! That, and a pair of leggings with a T-shirt or tank top.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer
Photo by Travis Kelley, courtesy Kathryn Morgan

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

For a long time, I was the strongest dancer at my studio. But this year there's a new girl in my class who's very talented, and my teacher's attention has definitely shifted to her. I'm trying not to feel jealous or discouraged, but it seems like my whole dance world has changed. Help!


Keep reading... Show less
Screenshot via YouTube

*suddenly feels the overpowering urge to purchase a million bottles of Pocari Sweat*

Keep reading... Show less
Dance News
Mandy Moore (photo by Lee Cherry, courtesy Bloc Agency)

In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win. Dance Magazine caught up with her to find out how she's balancing all of her dance projects.

Read more at dancemagzine.com!


Want to Be on Our Cover?





Get Dance Spirit in your inbox