Lauren Lovette, whose “Not Our Fate” for New York City Ballet featured a pas de deux for two men, says she’s proud to be a part of this ballet-world conversation. “A lot of times, we talk about things but we don’t actually do them. … We’ll post on social media, but when you actually make art that represents what you’re trying to say, you’re a part of the action.”
With input from three choreographer-dance scholars, fine art journalist Natalie Cenci answers the questions “What is contemporary dance?” (and how does it differ between the U.S. and Europe), “How does contemporary dance differ from performance art?”, and how a beginner should approach watching the genre.
inquiry, done by attorneys hired by the company and its school, into
allegations of sexual harassment, bullying, and physical abuse that led the longtime chief of City Ballet
to retire reportedly found no verification for the accusations. However, several former dancers, including some interviewed by the attorneys,
argue that the entire exercise was meant more to “whitewash” the case than to find the truth.
Why have even senior City Ballet dancers been deprived for so long of interpretive wisdom about this (and many other) Balanchine ballets? When Peter Martins was ballet master in chief (1983-2018), Ms. McBride was among the many creators of Balanchine roles who — as if in exile — were seldom if ever invited to coach their roles at City Ballet. Mr. Martins retired under pressure on Jan. 1 after allegations of physical and sexual harassment. Over the decades, no single feature of his artistic policy has caused more grievance than this disinclination to bring in Balanchine alumni.
“Akram Khan’s much talked-about reworking of Giselle, created for English National Ballet in 2016, will come to the United States next year, the company’s first trip across the Atlantic in 30 years. The Harris Theater in Chicago will present English National Ballet in four performances of Mr. Khan’s work, Feb. 28 to March 2, 2019.”
“Rumours of bad human relations and plummeting morale had been circulating for years, seemingly validated by a staggeringly high turnover of staff year after year. … Fifteen dancers left the company last summer alone. And yet the Times report was the first time allegations of unacceptable managerial conduct in the company came out into the open. … Why have people with compelling stories to tell not spoken out before? Or sought redress in-house? We talked to twelve ENB dancers past and present, as well as support staff, and had sight of relevant documents. And the answer we consistently got was ‘fear.'”
As Michael Cooper reports, City Ballet has “no intention of editing him out of the company’s history, the way Kevin Spacey was cut out of the film All the Money in the World after he was accused of misconduct. The Martins ballets remain important to the ticket sales and continuing the company’s fortunes.” Even so, there are occasional moments in his choreography that now look, well, problematic …
Graham Spicer talks to Bocca about why he’s leaving and what he achieved, and to Igor Yebra, the incoming director, and Franceco Ventriglia (who recently
departed the Royal New Zealand Ballet), the new adjunct artistic director.
“It doesn’t matter what Isaac Hernández’s skill set is, he will be the dancer that got to where he is because his girlfriend is also his boss. Ms. Rojo is the AD who gave prominent roles to her boyfriend and the management at [English National Ballet] are the ones who left a publicly funded dance company open to litigation from dozens of dancers claiming discrimination or constructive dismissal because the boss is sleeping with one her dancers. Should their relationship go south, which of course never happens, …”
After a well-received performance at the Kennedy Center, the performers stayed away from the annual gala after-party. “On Instagram, the dancers are directing followers to a new account called Artists of Ailey, which references their union. They have been in contract negotiations since December. … AGMA, the dancers’ union, said in a statement … that the artists boycotted the gala ‘based on management’s failure to adequately address the group’s substandard wages and benefits.'”
“Dance and devotion have a long, rich relationship in Judaism. And dance continues to be used by some groups, including the Hasidim, as a form of ecstatic spiritual expression. For the members of Ka’et, all of whom identify as dati leumi, or religious Zionists (akin to modern Orthodox in America), dance also offered a way into prayer. As Rabbi Schwartz said, ‘I can’t fully express myself spiritually without connecting to my body.’ But putting that body on a theatrical stage, in front of an audience, was a bold and unusual move.”
“‘Our main goal is really to help dancers,’ says David Makhateli, a former principal with The Royal Ballet who launched the Grand Audition with his wife, dancer Daria Makhateli. With 10 artistic directors from a wide range of countries present, a dancer who might not fit one company’s requirements has many more opportunities to be noticed. … Most [participating] companies are based in Europe, but American directors have also taken part in past editions.”
Siobhan Burke: “I’ve often wanted to make a map tracing who mentored and influenced and studied with whom, to make some sense of the present — not to impose order on dance history, but to do justice to its sprawl. Where do generations begin and end? What little-known links connect them? How does one movement become another? Maybe the map would illuminate stories we hadn’t seen.
One of Balanchine’s most famous maxims, for better or worse, was “ballet is woman.” Yet at City Ballet, he produced a number of extraordinary male dancers, including Jacques d’Amboise and Arthur Mitchell, both 83, and Edward Villella, 81 — American treasures who overcame stereotypes about men and ballet and, on Mr. Mitchell’s part, racism, to devote themselves to the art form and to Balanchine.
Algeria has no dance studios or companies, so when an Algerian French choreographer wanted to hold auditions, he started looking in other directions. “There are groups of men who train themselves by imitating YouTube videos and each other in the arts of hip-hop and the Brazilian martial-arts-cum-dance-form capoeira. … Much like the early hip-hop crews in the Bronx in the seventies, these men (only men) would gather on the beach to dance for each other, for the pleasure of it.”
“The man behind these moves is Roberto Campanella. A former National Ballet of Canada soloist and current artistic director of the contemporary ballet troupe ProArteDanza, he’s no stranger to film sets. For the last 13 years, he’s contributed movement coordination and choreography to a variety of projects, such as the Silent Hill horror movie franchise, Hallmark’s A Nutcracker Christmas (with Sascha Radetsky) and [Shape of Water director Guillermo] del Toro’s vampire show on FX, The Strain. We spoke with Campanella about his latest collaboration.”
Site-specific work isn’t new, particularly among contemporary dance circles. The scale, however, of these recent efforts from companies who customarily present work in big, proscenium settings is notable. Choreographers are looking to every corner of their home venues, getting off the stage and changing the rules about how theatrical spaces are used.
The company is Evidence, choreographer Ronald K. Brown’s troupe, and the dancer is Bessie winner Arcell Cabuag, now the company’s associate artistic director. In honor of Cabuag’s 20th anniversary with Evidence, Brown is creating a new duet for the two of them – and Gia Kourlas went to their studio to talk with the two of them about it.
“English National Ballet has lost a third of its dancers in two years amid claims of verbal abuse and a hostile working environment, with some former dancers claiming they felt pressured to work while injured … Sources said the dancers held Tamara Rojo, the artistic director, responsible for the company’s culture.” Adding to the problems, say some dancers, is Rojo’s relationship with dancer Isaac Hernández.
Eight hours of rehearsal with cameras blocking every move and choreographers telling them what angles look best, then on set with two hours of hair and makeup, and – for a two-minute on-screen dance – three to four hours of takes. Plus the bacting, of course (that’s “background acting,” for those not in the know).
There’s a lot going on in New Zealand: “The Royal NZ Ballet’s new artistic director is said to have given her American husband a job. The revelation comes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern met the RNZB’s board this week to express her concerns over the publicly-funded company ignoring New Zealand dancers.”
“You’ve done your variation, you run offstage, you have a moment to collect yourself, and you just go. If you were to give yourself time to think, ‘I have to do 32 fouettés now,’ I don’t think you’d go back out on stage.” Elizabeth Murphy, Lesley Rausch, and Laura Tisserand, principals at Pacific Northwest Ballet, explain how they do it, physically and mentally. (includes video)