“A 20% decrease in the number of paid attendees at live performances emerged in the study, to be released Friday by the advocacy group Dance/NYC. The study looked at 172 dance organizations over a six-year period. The audience decline appears to have been led by drops at the largest organizations, those with budgets of more than $5 million.”
“Many company directors – consciously or not – think, ‘I don’t know if it looks like ballet if it doesn’t look like 12 identical swans.’ … While dancers and company directors … say it’s extremely difficult for black dancers to get a job in a ballet company – especially if that company already has a ‘token’ black ballerina – they acknowledge that the task of diversifying dance troupes is made more difficult by social attitudes besides racial division.”
“After the final curtain on Wednesday, still drenched in sweat, feet red and raw, [Alban] Lendorf sat down in his dressing room to talk about his first night as a full member of the company. Below are edited excerpts from that conversation.”
“The hard work of dancing is too often undernoticed and underpaid. Enter the New York Dance and Performance Awards, better known as the Bessies, which bestow some much needed recognition and a touch of glamour on the profession once a year, if not a whole lot of money – though this year’s ceremony, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Tuesday, began with an announcement that all nominees would receive a $500 honorarium. (It’s a start?)”
“A lot of people don’t come out for the companionship anymore. They can get it in other ways for much cheaper. Why go to a strip club just to live out the fantasy, when you can pay $100 dollars for somebody to sleep with you for the evening and actually get the fantasy come to you? … We don’t really get a lot of people who are paying customers anymore. We get a lot of people who are looking for girlfriends.”
“When the French choreographer Jérôme Bel unveils MoMA Dance Company next week at the Museum of Modern Art, the 25 performers will have had just three rehearsals as a group. Mr. Bel is the first to acknowledge that the experiment, as he calls it, might not work.”
“Communist-led Cuba is renowned for its rigorous, state-subsidized ballet education and has produced an outsized share of dance stars, such as Carlos Acosta and José Manuel Carreño, for a small island of 11 million inhabitants. Cuba’s National Ballet School, which claims to be the world’s largest with 3,000 students, has long trained many foreign dancers. But no American had joined its full-time program during the half-century long conflict between Cuba and United States.” Until now.
“As the decline of arts education in recent decades has increasingly alarmed cultural institutions, a new $4.36 million gift aims to bolster dance education by taking a different approach. The gift, from Jody Gottfried Arnhold and her husband, John, will allow Teachers College at Columbia University to establish a new doctoral program to train those who train dance teachers.”
“Initially founded in 1974 as organization providing dance classes, Hubbard Street evolved in 1977 to include a troupe of professional dancers under founder Lou Conte. … The growth of the dance organization has prompted the board to seek possible alternatives to the 53,000-square-foot facility where Hubbard Street Dance is now based.”
“What I took from this season was a strengthening dislike of dancing in the dark—piece after piece began without lights, and many of them never got much brighter—and the sad realization that dance is growing further and further detached from music.”
“Ms. Lang, 41 years old, graduated from the Juilliard School in 1997 with a job in hand, dancing for acclaimed contemporary choreographer Twyla Tharp . But soon the reality of being a professional dancer—repeating the same dances on tour, without time to develop new work—ended the dream. ‘I toured the world,’ she said. ‘And I just didn’t like being a dancer.'”
“‘I became very aware of the hetero-normative standard in ballet very early,’ said Mr. Whiteside, who realized he would mainly play straight men onstage. ‘And that made me sad. I will never get to express myself as my true self.'”
Directed, choreographed and performed by the US dancer and filmmaker Jo Roy, the result is a delightfully charged piece of performance art that’s utterly engaging, whichever side of the dance divide you tap your feet.
Simon Morrison describes “the thuggish Bolshoi as having survived revolution after revolution because the “narrative respects its own laws of storytelling,” the struggle time and again the perfection of ballet’s eternal laws. “To dance, after all, is to condition the body, and with it the mind, to let go,” he writes. Yet it is this very inability to let go—to let anything go—that has divided what used to unite the love of millions.”
“Pushing boundaries is something of a habit for [James] Whiteside, 32, who joined American Ballet [Theater] as a soloist in 2012 and became a principal a year later. Yes, he professionally plays Prince Charmings, but he also leads alternative artistic lives: as a pop singer, JbDubs, and drag queen, Uhu Betch.”
Corbin Bleu, who started out as a star in Disney’s High School Musical and went on to star on Broadway in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights and the 2012 revival of Godspell, talks about his role – one originated by Astaire – in the revival of the Irving Berlin musical Holiday Inn.
“So how did ballet come to Canada? Like so much else, it arrived in waves, beginning with ambitious 17th-century colonists who brought European culture to the shores of North America in the form of dance lessons for indulged children. Only in the early 20th century did professional ballet training begin; pioneers of Canadian ballet such as Ottawa’s Gwendolen Osborne brought their tradition and training to students who could manage almost perfect 180-degree turnout. The country’s first major choreographers then looted indigenous cultures in search of something saleable.”
One of Italy’s leading dailies is reporting that the company dancers’ public rebellion against Mauro Bigonzetti’s repertoire choices did indeed figure in his resignation last week – and that, while his back troubles were a deciding factor, the concern wasn’t solely about Bigonzetti’s own well-being.
“Mauro Bigonzetti, who was appointed as head of the La Scala Ballet at the beginning of this year, has been forced to step down. A severe back problem has persisted since the beginning of the summer.” In May, more than four dozen of La Scala’s dancers publicly protested Bigonzetti’s planned repertoire for this season.
“The pathways that were most affected were bundles of fibers that link the sensory and motor regions of the brain and the fibers of the corpus callosum that run between the hemispheres. In the dancers, these sets of connections were broader (more diffuse); in musicians, these same connections were stronger, but less diffuse, and showed more coherent fiber bundles.”
“As precise as Kawaguchi is at duplicating Ohno’s twisted body moves and ascetic style, his primary purpose is something other than the creation of an exact copy — because he knows that’s impossible.”
“I was talking to a former dancer, Pauline Golbin, who’s had two babies, and she said, ‘Doesn’t your dancing just feel more efficient?’ I said, ‘That’s a great word for it.’ I don’t use way too much energy anymore, and I can just dance. I’m calmer.”
“The idea goes against the grain in arts marketing, as venues increasingly provide preview trailers, rehearsal clips and artist interviews for audiences to watch in advance.” But London’s Dance Umbrella festival is giving it a try. “A lack of knowledge about the art form can stop audiences from coming to dance, so [festival director Emma] Gladstone wanted to free them from worrying about what they didn’t know.”
“Many people argue that we’ve gone too far, and competitors shouldn’t be so focused on double-digit pirouettes and flips. Dance is an art form, and there must be ways to judge a performer that have to do more with quality than quantity. But can a dancer take home a medal without pyrotechnics?” It depends …
“For every one step in Hamilton, I probably cut eight steps. Only one makes the final cut. For the transition out of the opening number, I choreographed a 30-second transition for the entire ensemble. That 30-second transition is now one second long, a drum beat and a pose.”
“Groundbreaking took place in 2014. The dance school welcomed its first class in fall 2015, with 33 students collaborating with dance professionals while studying styles including ballet, ballroom and hip-hop. Classes were held in a temporary facility on campus, then moved into the new 54,000-square-foot building in August. “
Kobborg: “Actually, you could say I’m still waiting to hear, because the last thing I heard in the meetings I had in July were that the management was going to contact me with a proposal. But I see they’ve hired someone else [the Italian Renato Zanella]. So I guess that’s it.”
“Whether you’re attending your first convention or your 20th, spending a weekend in a crowded ballroom with hundreds of other dancers can be equal parts exciting, intimidating and overwhelming. Conventions are a chance to learn new styles, take classes from top teachers and network with the people who may someday hire you. So how do you take advantage of this opportunity and stand out from the crowd?”
“Of course none of this adjusts for the impact of price or capacity or run length, but 10,000 tickets sure does suggest that dance has a ready-made audience in the city, that dance isn’t just a fringe interest, and that if you advertise well and offer affordable, high-quality material, the demand for dance is there.”
“Despite his reputation as a punkish provocateur and iconoclast as well as his own self-destructive behaviour, the Michael Clark Dance Company is now 32 years old, an achievement that, one senses, surprises its founder as much as the rest of us.” And he himself has a CBE.