The Ultimate Culture Guide 2009: L

Lake Effect

With just 18 dancers and a perfect black-box theater in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet is a streamlined operation. But the company, founded by Wal-Mart heiress Nancy Laurie, is not small in ambition. Artistic director Benoit Swan-Pouffer, a former Alvin Ailey dancer, has turned Cedar Lake into a scintillating showcase for new work by European choreographers—not often seen in this country.

The company’s latest coup is a work by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the audacious Belgian choreographer known for his visceral, highly charged style. The piece, which Cedar Lake will première at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in Becket, Massachusetts, July 8 to 12, and perform at New York’s Joyce Theater in October, is titled, appropriately, Orbo Novo, or New World—something Cedar Lake and Cherkaoui keep opening up for audiences.