Over the last 15 years, Philadelphia's dance climate has improved dramatically. Festivals such as the Live Arts/Fringe and the now-dormant DanceBoom! cultivate ever-larger audiences, and excellent university dance departments turn out performers who often plant roots here instead of heading north. The funding climate lures out-of-towners - Headlong Dance Theater, Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers - to relocate here, providing both competition for the community's dancers and mentoring in alternative styles and dance vocabularies.
And the word about the exceptional work of local dance-makers is getting out in new ways. Dance-loving Web guru Steven Weisz started a listserv a few years ago that has grown into PhiladelphiaDANCE.org, a rich site serving the dance community and its audiences. And my fellow critic Ellen Dunkel, a producer at Philly.com, has built a dance page that will lead you to reviews, video, and information on any kind of dance you like at http://www.philly.com/dance/.
Ellen and I have culled the season's bounty and chosen some programs from now till spring that we think will stand out. So, aficionados, book your tickets, check out those Web sites, and go forth and multiply.