Spring in your step 

A guide to the season's dance productions

The cherry trees are in bud, the mockingbirds are back and the Legislature is in session. Yes, the rites of spring are upon us, and our fair city's fleet-footed figurants are flexing their toes for a full season of fandangos. For some reason -- we'd blame the greenhouse effect, but the Feds say that's sloppy science -- this spring brings a bumper crop of dance shows. If this keeps up, soon the whole city will be knocking off work to dance in the pollen-dusted streets. (There's a musical in there somewhere.)

With so many dances in the next three months, CL is here to help you waltz on through to summer, whether you're into plies and pirouettes or Pilates. With this handy guide, no one expecting an evening of Tchaikovsky and tutus need end up in a warehouse performance of half-naked Rimbaud rock (and vice versa).

So get out your Palm Pilots, dance fans. Here are the mustn't miss dances of the season:

Ballet

- Shed Your Skin / The Indigo Girls Project, Atlanta Ballet
This energetic, heel-stomping ballet and folk-rock fusion was a huge success when it premiered in 2001. Emily Saliers and Amy Ray perform live on stage (singing, not sur le cou-de-pied) while the Atlanta Ballet dances aptly rough and raw choreography by Margo Sappington. March 25-28. $18-$67. Fox Theatre, 660 Peachtree St. 404-892-3303. www.atlantaballet.com. Also watch for An Evening of New Works, which will be, well, you know ... new works. May 7-8. Ferst Center for the Arts, 349 Ferst Drive. 404-894-2787. www.ferstcenter.gatech.edu.

Modern

- WET, Zoetic Dance Ensemble
Atlanta's Über-athletic, smart, but never too serious dance company will soak the stage (really) with a multimedia suite of dances on wetness. Expect Esther Williams and "Girls Gone Wild" inspired costumes, a Slip 'n' Slide and bodies of water projected onto the bodies of dancers. Also featured: more serious liquid reflections on internal flows and waterlogged burdens. Avoid the first few rows or bring a poncho if you don't want a Gallagher night. April 1-5. $12-$15. Dad's Garage Theatre, 280 Elizabeth St. 404-523-3141. www.dadsgarage.com.

- Paul Taylor Dance Company
One of the all-time greats of modern dance, Paul Taylor started his company in 1954 and quickly ascended to international prominence as both performer and choreographer. With a playwright's eye for characterization, he tells the unspoken stories of everyday life in ordinary motion. Now 71, he remains the reigning anthropologist of found movement. May 8, Rialto Center for the Performing Arts. $30-$55. 80 Forsyth St. 404-651-4727. www.rialtocenter.org.

Festivals and group shows

- The Nerve Series
Some of Atlanta's most accomplished avant-garde choreographers and dancers will come together again for a collaboratively created show of experimental work including "For the Moment ... (Dig Deeper)," developed through "improvography," Wayne Smith's choreography technique. March 19-21. $10-$12. The Beam, 750 Glenwood Ave. 404-931-0846.

- Spring Collection 2004, CORE Concert Dance Company
The "other CORE" (of Athens, not Decatur) has put together a diverse show of new and rep work. Sean Curran (formerly of Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane and Stomp) premieres "Another Metal Garden." Elsie Smith (formerly of Cirque du Soleil) sends the company flying on double trapeze, lyre and aerial silk. And the UGA Philip Glass Ensemble performs compositions by their namesake. March 24-28. $8-$12. UGA's New Dance Theatre. 706-542-4415. www.franklin.uga.edu/dance/.

- MAD Festival
This consistently strong adjudicated festival of Atlanta modern dance will include performances by some of the usual suspects (Coriolis Dance Project, Duende Dance Theatre, Good Moves Dance Consort) and some new arrivals (X Factor and George Staib). Festival host Full Radius Dance will premiere "As the Horizon Fades" (Section II), a mystical work inspired by Bach, a Victor Hugo quote and a painting by Levy-Dhurmer. April 3-4. $9-$15. Marcus Jewish Community Center, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. 770-395-2654. www.fullradiusdance.org.

Hablas español?

- Flamenco Con Gusto, Ulrika Frank Flamenco
I don't think flamenco without spirit is possible -- or it's not flamenco. Instead, expect flamenco with soul, with pleasure, with that ineffable spiritual thrill that joins a room in common catharsis. This theatrical flamenco production by Ulrika Frank and her Atlanta company thunders the art of suffering with emphatic style and rejoicing with weighty grace. March 19-20. $17-$20. Emory University's Cannon Chapel, 515 S. Kilgo Circle. 404-543-4059. www.frankflamenco.com.

Works in Progress

- The Mapping Project: Eastern DeKalb County, Beacon Dance
Having completed its masterful five-year, four-dance epic, The Elemental Project, Beacon Dance needed a new venture. Enter The Mapping Project, an ambitious, community-collaborative, multimedia dance project mapping DeKalb and other less tangible topographies. The work includes video of Decatur residents giving directions to area landmarks, fanciful maps drawn by members of the community and other meditations on the vagaries of "You are here." Also watch for guerilla theater performances in the months to come. March 12-13. $5-$10. Beacon Hill Arts Center, 410 W. Trinity Place, Decatur. 404-377-2929. www.beacondance.org.

thomas.bell@creativeloafing.com

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