Dance Theater Workshop
For forty years DTW has provided a standard of dance programming that is nearly unmatched. Consistently bringing in fresh talent from around the city and the globe while presenting established artists - DTW's Fall and Spring programs are incredibly rich and varied. DTW also offers far more than main stage performances - a studio series, Family Matters series, lobby talks, and artists resources are all apart of the package.
The Kitchen has been presenting avant-garde work to New Yorkers since its inception as an artists collective in 1971. I've never been to the Kitchen without feeling profoundly challenged by the work I see there and their mixed programming of music, dance, theater, and film and gallery pull visitors from their usual genre of interest into the larger world of contemporary art in New York. The performance space is fairly large and hugely adaptable - perfect for dance works in which the audience/performer relationship is questioned.
Monday Nights at Judson Church - Movement Research Performance Series
These free, weekly shows are an excellent survey of the new artists currently creating dance work of all kinds. Performances are varied and a wonderful way to introduce oneself to new talent. Judson Church and its long connection to the dance scene in New York is the perfect space for a series that presents such fresh inventive dance.
Also located in a church sanctuary, and also focusing on innovation and new talent, Danspace Project at St. Mark's Church affords artists a chance to present evening length works in one of the city's most inspiring spaces. Unlike Movement Research at Judson Church, audiences are more likely to encounter the "finished product" rather than a work in progress, yet an emphasis on experimentation still remains.
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Like the Kitchen, BAM (as it is so lovingly known) has provided a steady fare of theater, music, art, film, and dance since the 1960's. Often companies presented here are of the more established variety - the companies of Bill T. Jones, Trisha Brown, and Merce Cunningham have all made appearances here within the last year. Yet true to their mission of promoting the avant-garde BAM's Next Wave festival often features dance companies from around the world who have arrived upon the scene more recently. While BAMs theater spaces are more of the proscenium variety - and thus not always ideal for dance (in case these spaces haven't tipped anyone off already, I'm a strong believer in the black box concept) there is something incredibly, satisfyingly lush about the Harvey Lichtenstein Theater even when one is seated in the second balcony.
While these are my absolute favorite places to see dance - the places I use to guide me to new artists and that I return to again and again - the following joints aren't so bad either:
The Joyce Theater (see also Joyce Soho)
City Center (especially during Fall for Dance)
PS 122 this place really belongs on the original list, but as I have only seen one performance there (its a dark spot in my dance going career) it has yet to completely secure a spot in my heart.
The Chocolate Factory (a new space with much promise in Long Island City)