“His intention had always been to return to Broadway after the Army to try acting as an adult. For now, he’s dancing and will perform in “On the Town” through mid-June, after having successfully filled in as a last-minute replacement in February.”
Alastair Macaulay: “How should we react to a waltz in which the man’s opening move is to lift the woman and hold her horizontally along his chest as he turns? Had you thought of ‘Send in the Clowns’ as a Viennese waltz? Me neither. … It’s a tribute to the three-part PBS series America’s Ballroom Challenge … that the show broke down some of my prejudices.”
“‘It is opening night at the Metropolitan Opera – the gala performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aïda. It is the first time in the history of the venerable opera house that it has a black artist on its roster. Let me tell you, my friend, I am just as surprised as anyone else.’ It was 1951, and Janet Collins, the author of these words, was that black artist.”
Shelley Eva Haden: “When choreographer Rosie Kay cast me as the only woman in a revival of her work 5 Soldiers, I didn’t fully appreciate what it meant until I spent five days with 4th Battalion the Rifles. The infantry were undergoing a full-battle exercise and I was the only female among more than 80 soldiers.”
“Many opera and ballet companies employ stitchers on a freelance basis, making it an unattractive career choice for fashion graduates. And unlike general tailoring, which leading fashion houses now outsource to China, tutu-making is so specialised that it can’t be done on the cheap on the other side of the world.”
“As purely Russian as Diana Vishneva appears, she is one of the most cosmopolitan ballerinas of her generation. For over a decade she’s been a principal with both the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg and American Ballet Theatre in New York, as well as jetting between numerous other companies worldwide.”
“It wasn’t about dropping a bombshell – if I didn’t give a shit about young dancers, then I’d just keep quiet. I don’t need to work with British-trained dancers as we have a bunch of dancers from Asia and get half of those in our company from PARTS [in Brussels]. The only reason why I am saying this is because I care for these young people.”
In response to serious criticism from three major choreographers of the quality of UK-trained contemporary dancers, Judith Mackrell considers the nature and purpose of the dance education on offer – and allows as how British dance is healthy enough that lots of artists from elsewhere want to be part of it.
“A quick glance at Dance UK’s website would suggest an art form that was in very good shape. It reports a dramatic increase in the number of professional dance companies over the past two decades, as well as pointing out that audiences have risen significantly, and students studying the subject at school have grown by more than 200%. But behind the scenes the situation appears less rosy.”
“The pre-2004 company associated with these particular works, which call on a variety of leading, solo and ensemble dance forces, eventually numbered as many as 44 dancers. The one now under Ms. Johnson’s guidance has 18. She has stressed that in the years since it was reformed in 2012, Dance Theater of Harlem has evolved into a touring company.”
His staging (direction as well as dance) of the Gershwin show, just opened on Broadway after knockout success in Paris, “perfectly encapsulates the artistic character of the boyish-looking, 42-year-old Wheeldon: a sophisticated balletmaker who is a hopeless fan of razzle-dazzle.” Sarah Kaufman tells how he came to the project.
“The show opens with a big dance number, closes with a 14-minute ballet and, with ballet dancers in the leading roles, it relies on dancing all the way through to propel the plot. It perfectly encapsulates the artistic character of the boyish-looking, 42-year-old Wheeldon: a sophisticated balletmaker who is a hopeless fan of razzle-dazzle.”
“The pain that dancers experience—I don’t know if it can be compared to any athlete, or anything. There’s something that is engrained in us as ballet dancers where we constantly have a poker face on. Even on stage, we experience some of the most extreme physical pain. You go through a ballet that’s three hours long and have to still put on a face that you’re enjoying yourself and performing. It takes a lot of mental strength to not let all those negative thoughts come into your mind, to just push them out and stay focused in the moment for a very long period of time. I think we’re some of the strongest people.”
“Classical ballet is coming to your workplace. The past couple of years has seen an influx of traditional ballet and ballet-based classes, squarely aimed at the busy office worker. It might not seem an obvious combination, but pure classical ballet technique is the ultimate antidote to a high pressured, stressful working environment.”
“We live in a society that rewards fast success based on little talent or commitment, which is transient and a dangerous place to be. Do we want to promote instant success and instant failure, or do we want to promote self-esteem and hard work? … I had a strong technique and was hard-working – I trained for six hours, six days a week from the age of 11.”
“There is never a sense that Bourne is berating his dancers or psychologically buffeting them into shape, and he certainly is not a shouter. … But although he is a self-effacing presence for much of the time, the dancers are keenly attuned to his gaze; when he does speak to the entire cast, the studio falls silent on the spot.”