The sheer quality of the Savannah Music Festival invites comparisons to Charleston’s Spoleto Festival, which also runs 17 days and features world-class performances in beautiful venues.

Organizers of the two festivals generally downplay comparisons, but it’s worth noting that Spoleto has been around longer, has a markedly higher budget and draws local support from a much larger metropolitan area.

It is a testament to the Savannah Music Festival that it compares so favorably in terms of artistic quality.

But while the SMF focuses on music, Spoleto has always included a broad mix of genres. I am among a contingent of Savannahians who attend Spoleto each year primarily to enjoy dance and other performances that we just don’t get often here.

So it’s always good news when the SMF programs dance, and two shows this year look especially exciting.

Choreographer Örjan Andersson of Stockholm-based Andersson Dance and Jonathan Morton of the Scottish Ensemble string orchestra joined forces in 2015 to create “Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia.”

The show includes five dancers accompanied by 11 musicians performing Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s 1985 strings transcription of Bach’s seminal “Goldberg Variations”

The performance is at 7 p.m. April 4 at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Tickets range from $37 to $85.


“Sin Salida” is a collaboration between choreographer Kate Weare, who founded her New York-based dance company in 2005, and Esteban Moreno of the French/Argentinian tango troupe Union Tanguera.

The performance will include live music by Argentinian composer Gustavo Beytelmann, who began his impressive career at age 13 when he joined his father’s orchestra.

“Sin Salida” will be performed at 7:30 p.m. April 11 at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts. Tickets range from $37 to $85.

“Goldberg Variations – ternary patterns for insomnia” and “Sin Salida” follow the same winning formula as previous SMF dance productions. With live accompaniment, a cross-pollination of styles and the beautiful staging at the Lucas, the shows promise to be both provocative and fulfilling.


Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged ( and hissing lawns ( Email