CLEVELAND, Ohio – Clocks aren’t all that spring forward during daylight savings time. In Cleveland, now is also the season when dance gets a push.

This, of course, is thanks to DanceWorks, the annual four-weekend festival presented by Cleveland Public Theatre, during which patrons in a few sittings can witness the best and widest variety Northeast Ohio has to offer.


DanceWorks Cleveland 2016

What: MorrisonDance and Elu Dance Company.

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, March 17-19.

Where: Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland.

Tickets: $12-$30. Go to or call 216-631-2727.

“You really see the diversity of our community,” said Raymond Bobgan, executive artistic director of CPT. “You see the huge panoply of what we have here in Cleveland.”

Never, in DanceWorks, are there patterns or through-lines. That’s because the series, this year commencing March 17, isn’t conceived around specific work so much as the companies, all of whom are either invited or approved to participate.

Still, the 2016 edition stands out from its predecessors in that it’s the first to overlap with DanceCleveland, the region’s top dance presenter. This year, the series ends April 7-9 not with a local troupe but rather with DC’s next offering, the New York tap group Dorrance Dance.

“This is quite different for us,” Bobgan explained. “We’re very interested to see how this goes and whether it could turn into a new relationship.”

Most other relationships in the spotlight this year are tried-and-true. Inlet Dance Theatre, for instance, slated for March 24-26, is a DanceWorks regular.

In honor of its 15th anniversary and longstanding presence at DanceWorks, Inlet will present both a retrospective and a sampling of current work, including “Among the Darkest Shadows,” a theater piece inspired by human trafficking, and “What Do You Do With An Idea?,” a new dance work based on a popular children’s book.


March 17-19

MorrisonDance and Elu Dance Company

March 24-26

Inlet Dance Theatre

March 31-April 2

Verb Ballets

April 7-9

Dorrance Dance

“For us, it’s basically a highlight of the year,” noted Bill Wade, artistic director of Inlet Dance. “It’s a way of looking back and forward at the same time.”

The rest of the 2016 lineup consists of old favorites as well. Cleveland’s Verb Ballets, for instance, March 31-April 2, needs no introduction, except for Bobgan’s insight that the troupe will be performing “Fresh Inventions,” works created not by guest choreographers but rather by the company’s own dancers.

Ditto the first two names on the calendar: Elu Dance Company and MorrisonDance.

An anchor of the local dance scene, MorrisonDance kicks off DanceWorks March 17-19 with “HUManIMALS,” an exploration of animal movement. Elu, meanwhile, though new (formerly known as Without Words Movement), has deep roots here; both its founders are former members of Inlet. They’ll be performing “Barefaced,” a dance retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth.

As Bobgan and Wade observed, DanceWorks looms large on the calendars of Northeast Ohio dance troupes. But it also figures prominently in the minds of Cleveland’s artistic crowd in general, attracting an equal mix of devoted insiders and newbies curious to take a quick pulse.

“There’s definitely an audience,” Bobgan said. “We’re reaching people who might not normally go to dance, and those who have a real passion for it. We’re the place for local dance companies to come together and perform on the same stage.”