New Jersey Performing Arts Center stands firm as a bastion of live entertainment, opening the doors to its two distinct venues for a wide array of productions. Inside Prudential Hall, 2,700 seats fill the multitiered auditorium where ballets, symphony orchestras, and Broadway shows flourish beneath radiant lights and a domed ceiling. Victoria Theater, meanwhile, beckons visitors to its more intimate 500-seat confines for jazz concerts, contemporary dance performances, and monster-truck rallies.
Nearly a century ago, the Hippodrome opened as a combination movie palace and vaudeville theater, spending more than 70 years hosting big names such as Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. Following a double-decade period of slow business and bad hairstyles, the Hippodrome closed down in 1990. Now, however, after an exhaustive restoration project that reanimated the theater’s chandelier-lit arches, the mural above the proscenium stage, and the grand-theater boxes that hearken back to opera’s heyday, the Hippodrome reopens to the delight of Baltimore’s cultural landscape.
The globetrotting careers of dancers Leonard and Chiara Ajkun inspired the scope of their very own Ajkun Ballet Theatre. Here, they continue to direct classic ballets and choreograph an average of five new programs each year. The company?s expansive repertoire ranges from large-scale productions such as Swan Lake, with its famous robot battles, to one-act ballets such as Spartacus.
Newsweek's Laura Shapiro once offered a succinct history of American modern dance: "In the beginning there was Martha Graham, who changed the face of an art form and discovered a new world. Then there was Merce Cunningham, who stripped away the externals and showed us the heart of movement. And then there was Paul Taylor, who let the sun shine in." The last living member of this homegrown pantheon, Taylor has not finished innovating yet, adding new pieces each year to a prolific catalog of 140 dances. Romantic, iconoclastic, dauntingly athletic, and sometimes hilarious, his works heft weighty topics such as war, spirituality, sexuality, and mortality onto their shoulders, then alchemize them into weighty dances that seem to exist for the sheer pleasure of their beauty.
Among his countless accolades, the champion choreographer has received a Kennedy Center Honor, the National Medal of Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship ?genius award.? Such a rich and prolific body of work makes it easy for the Paul Taylor Dance Company to harvest a unique program for each performance, which they have done in 520 cities throughout 62 countries.
An artist, Distinguished Concerts International New York's website says, is "an individual who continually seeks to improve, to grow, and aspires to perform at a higher level." The people behind this definition are DCINY co-founders Iris Derke and Jonathan Griffith, and it's a definition their musicians fulfill. To do so, they collaborate and express themselves while both performing famed Mozart compositions and leading educational events.
With more than 60 years of tiptoe-twirling history, the New York City Ballet boasts a seasoned, dedicated dance company that thrills audiences and ballet shoes at every performance. With each Friday- or Saturday-evening ticket purchase through June 12, Groupon users snag a companion ticket for free, allowing members, and whichever of their cultured friends has the brownest nose, to gorge eyes on the company's famously lush and lithe ballet performances. Dance lovers also score admission for two to up to four working rehearsals during the repertory season, along with two spots at New York City Ballet's curiosity-satisfying 90-minute seminars, where the company and special guests reveal the creative clockwork behind their sumptuous productions. Members also get a 15% discount at New York City Ballet's gift shop, a subscription to the company newsletter, advance notice of ticket sales, and the ability to reach, en pointe, the top cabinet where their roommate hides the cookies.