Lucky Penny. Atlanta dance company the Lucky Penny, founded by choreographer and Emory grad Blake Beckham and her partner Malina Rodriguez, continued its mission to foster new work by supporting the city's independent choreographers. Artists of the Work Room, the company's innovative program that provides Atlanta dancers with ample time to develop new ideas in studio space in East Point, had an especially impressive group show at Emory's Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts in June. But it was also individual shows by the program's independent artists — including Anicka Austin's "Chroma" in May, Beckham's own "OneAnother" at Emory's Mary Gray Munroe Theatre in August and MaryGrace Phillips' "Stairs" at the B-Complex at the end of September — that truly showed how the studio program creates crucial opportunities for collaboration and innovation.
Glo. The small but mighty Atlanta dance company had a busy and engaging year of programming, both in the city and around the state. The innovative site-specific troupe created performances along the Chattahoochee River, at St. EOM's newly restored folk art environment Pasaquan in Buena Vista and at the Center for Civil and Human Rights, as well as an on-going program to engage Georgia communities around buildings that once housed the Rosenwald Schools. The crown jewel among the many works was the meditative, spare and elegant collaboration with Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director Robert Spano, who composed and performed a stunningly beautiful new piano work for the company's performance of "Cloth(field)" at the Goat Farm Arts Center in September.
Dance Theatre of Harlem. The iconic dance company performed at the Cobb Energy Centre in late October, presenting a mixed program that included memorable works by Elena Kunikova, Darrell Grand Moultrie and resident choreographer and former principal dancer Robert Garland. But it was choreographic legend Dianne McIntyre's work "Change," celebrating the historic tenacity and courage of African-American women, that truly made the evening a stellar highlight of 2016. Atlanta audiences got to hear the Spelman College Glee Club perform the music live.