Dance takes center stage at this year's Spoleto. A cutting-edge performance by ASzURe & Artists is guaranteed to get tongues wagging, and repeat appearances by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co. and the Paul Taylor Dance Co. at Spoleto Festival USA will surely dazzle. For Piccolo, the Charleston Ballet Theatre returns to the Angel Oak and opens its King Street studio for daily shows. A dance festival and numerous performances from a variety of troupes will keep dance lovers happy, and the appearance of Buckets and Tap Shoes will have the funk flying.

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Sacred Space

What is it? Nrityagram Dance Ensemble, an Indian company from the outskirts of Bangalore, presents the style of Odissi Temple dance, which concentrates on the "S" position and form of the body. Even if you're not schooled in Indian dance, you can appreciate its pure beauty. Sacred Space celebrates the parallel between the body in Odissi dance and the building in the Orissan (the city of origin) temples. Why see it? Dance, music, and costumes play equal parts in this ritual. Each note, each color, each bell is important to the story, and the dancers are known to convey much using their eyes alone. The history of Nrityagram is fascinating — it's not just a dance company but a commune. Dancers grow their own food, cook and clean at the school, and take lessons in not only dance but Indian literature and mythology, Sanskrit, music, spirituality, yoga, mime, philosophy, sculpture, and martial arts, all in order to form a multidisciplinary understanding of arts, universality, and union. Who should go? Anyone who appreciates dance, of course, along with those who can appreciate mesmerizing gestures, rich, swirling colors and sounds, and the sight of the dazzling, evocative movements of a world-renowned company. Which is probably everyone. Buzz: At this time, tickets are available for the May 29 performance only; all other times are sold out. Hot, hot, hot... (Jennifer Corley)


SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA • $30 • 1 hour 45 min. • May 27, 29, 30 at 2 p.m.; May 28, 31 at 8 p.m. • Emmett Robinson Theatre, Albert Simons Center, 54 St. Philip St. • 579-3100

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ASzURe & Artists

What is it? Aszure Barton is a beautiful young Canadian whose company has been receiving much acclaim as the new hot ticket for the modern dance scene. Her fresh choreography paired with virtuosic dancing promises to be an intriguing event. Why see it? Mikhail Baryshnikov, the prince of ballet and beyond, has endorsed Ms. Barton as a rising star and the buzz is high, which should indicate that even Charleston audiences will dig it. Who should go? Those who want to stay on the cutting edge of modern dance. A well-documented duet where dancers are literally lip-locked is sure to amaze. Buzz: Ms. Barton has also won kudos for her choreography in Broadway's new production of the Threepenny Opera. (Eliza Ingle)


SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA • $30 • 1 hour 30 min. • June 1 at 8 p.m., June 2, 3 at 5 p.m., June 4 at 2 p.m. • Emmett Robinson Theatre, Albert Simons Center, 54 St. Philip St. • 579-3100

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Under the Angel Oak

What is it? Charleston Ballet Theatre performs its titillating Rite of Spring with Stravinsky's magnificent score played by the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Scott Terrell. The performance takes place outside under the 1,400-year-old canopy of the Angel Oak on Johns Island. Why see it? This Piccolo tradition is a perfect opportunity to enjoy art and nature at the same time. Be sure to bring bug spray! Who should go? Probably not for audience members under 12, but for those interested in seeing a dramatic performance in an equally dramatic setting. Buzz: The natural setting will enhance the set design that is covered in dirt — word is even the mosquitoes will stop to watch the action. (Eliza Ingle)


PICCOLO SPOLETO • $25 • 40 min. • June 3 at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. • Angel Oak Park, Johns Island • 554-6060

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Paul Taylor Dance Co.

What is it? Paul Taylor is considered one of the greatest living modern dance choreographers today. His company celebrates 50 years of being top of the heap and turning out work which is entertaining and original. Why see it? The performance will include works that show the breadth of Mr. Taylor's career like the humorous 1957 piece 3 Epitaphs, his stunning Aureole, and the emotionally-charged Promethean Fire, which many say is his response to 9/11. Who should go? Those who need dance that is beautiful to watch and will not confuse or frighten them. This delightful company is a signature of American dance today. Buzz: Elegant, established, and contemporary make this a safe bet for a dance ticket. (Eliza Ingle)


SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA • $10-$80 • 2 hours • May 27 at 7 p.m., May 28 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. • Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. • 579-3100

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Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Co.

What is it? A postmodern blend of movement, text, music, and film. Blind Date is the new offering from controversial choreographer Bill T. Jones, whose work always seeks insight into the social, political, and spiritual issues of the moment. Why see it? Bill T. Jones is a seasoned and intelligent dance maker whose work is never dull. If art should imitate life, this is one way of looking at it. Who should go? Multitaskers who can think and watch dance and appreciate the Festival's more risky performances. Buzz: Blind Date explores patriotism in the post-9/11 era, among other things, and should prove to be fuel for thought. (Eliza Ingle)


SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA • $25-$45 • 2 hours • June 1-3 at 8 p.m. • Sottile Theatre, 44 George St. • 579-3100

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Sara Baras: Ballet Flamenco

What is it? Sara Baras leads this group of eight dancers and six musicians in a performance of authentic flamenco dancing with a twist — a female in the main role. Why see it? Ms. Baras is so popular in Spain that she even has her own postage stamp. She has been deemed the best flamenco dancer today. Think globally and come feel the heat in what promises to be a sizzling performance. Who should go? Those who enjoy the sound and soul of flamenco and those who may need a fiery reminder of what passion is all about. Buzz: This performer and her show have toured around the world to enthusiastic audiences; go ahead and spice up your usual festival fare. (Eliza Ingle)


SPOLETO FESTIVAL USA • $10-$80 • 1 hour 20 min. • June 7, 8, 10 at 8 p.m., June 10 at 2 p.m. • Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. • 579-3100

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Dancecentre South

What is it? A talented group of young dancers perform ballet, modern, and jazz dance in a short dance at noon for the daytime warriors. Dancecentre South is directed by Annie Day and Marcus R. Alford and is based in Woodstock, Ga. Why see it? Its energetic style will entertain those who prefer a pastiche of dance. Who should go? Young and old alike are sure to enjoy this group who has performed many years in the dance at noon series. Buzz: Dancers age 8 to 18 make this group a special draw for young audiences. (Eliza Ingle)


PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15, $12 seniors/students • 1 hour • May 29 at noon • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. • 554-6060

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Dancefx & Soundfx

What is it? Two different groups share one performance. Dancefx presents jazz dance works that incorporate ballroom and hip-hop elements. Soundfx is a Broadway-style musical theater group that sings and acts. Why see it? The attractive, young Dancefx group is high-energy and talented. Go to one show and get song and dance for the price of one ticket. Who should go? This will be fun family fare for those who need a quick shot of theatre and dance in an action-packed show. Buzz: Turn off MTV and see a live performance. (Eliza Ingle)


PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15, $12 seniors/students • 1 hour • May 28 at noon • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. • 554-6060

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Buckets and Tap Shoes

What is it? Minneapolis dance company Buckets and Tap Shoes combines high-energy percussion (performed on 5-gallon buckets) with blistering tap-dance moves in the vein of Savion Glover, backed by a four-piece band. Why see it? Developed on the downtown streets of Minneapolis, Buckets and Tap Shoes incorporates the sounds of tap shoes, buckets (you know, they hold water, paint, etc), and a four-piece band. Audience participation is encouraged, and this is your opportunity, in a festival dominated by choral events and chamber music, to get a little funky. Who should go? Those who enjoyed Savion Glover's show last year and anyone who wants to experience a music event at the Piccolo Festival without feeling like they've overdosed on Dramamine. Kids welcome. Buzz: Buckets and Tap Shoes was recently named the "Best Dance Performance of the Last 12 Months" by Minneapolis' City Pages: "Occasionally, members of the group banged on buckets or jammed with the live band, but mostly they gave up the spotlight to their phenomenal feet by daring one another to come up with a new mad skill or a far-out twist on an old favorite." (Elle Lien)


PICCOLO SPOLETO • $25, $20 seniors/students • 1 hour 30 min • June 2, 7 at 4 p.m.; June 4 at 8 p.m.; June 5 at 1 p.m.; June 6 at 3 p.m. • Charleston Music Hall, 37 John St. • 554-6060

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Brown Bag and Ballet

What is it? Charleston Ballet Theatre presents a lunchtime favorite that includes top-notch performances by hometown boys and girls showcasing an array of dance styles. Buy lunch there or bring your own. Why see it? Watching dance while you eat actually makes your body think you are exercising! This talented group works very hard this time of year and for those who missed their earlier season, you have another chance to support the locals. Who should go? Downtown workers with an hour to kill at lunch, and those who appreciate the work of classically-trained dancers. The informal setting of the company's studio is a pleasant venue for this noontime favorite. Buzz: Choreography by resident talent Jill Eathorne Bahr, as well as other exciting works, highlight the programs, which change daily. (Eliza Ingle)


PICCOLO SPOLETO • $20 • 1 hour • May 27, 28, 29, June 1,2,8,9,10 at noon • Charleston Ballet Theatre, 477 King St. • 554-6060


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