Sarah Kaufman is not kidding about the “painful” part: as former and current Graham Dance Company performers tell her, dancing on those things hurts.
Bereishit – a fast-rising young company that fuses modern dance, hip-hop, and martial arts – has already had to cancel its first date on the tour, Feb. 28 in Minneapolis; March performances in Pittsburgh and San Diego are in doubt. (South Korea isn’t on anyone’s travel-ban list, right?)
The 1960s-inspired video was posted Wednesday on the website of the downtown shopping and dining development CityCenterDC. The dancers are from the Washington Ballet, and the video was choreographed by Septime Webre, the company’s former artistic director. Design Army, a D.C.-based design firm, approached Webre last summer about conveying the ad’s tagline “District of Joy.”
Sarah Kaufman writes about “a new video ad pokes fun at the city’s colorless rep and shows the limbering-up effects of a little retail therapy.”
“The daunting auditions of Soviet legend—teachers scrutinizing preadolescents for the slightest physical imperfection—found an ideological parallel in the required inspections by censorship boards at the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky–Kirov theaters.”
“On paper, Mr. Brooks is the choreographer, and Ms. Whelan the dancer and his partner onstage. But, as a recent conversation revealed, the lines between creation and interpretation have become increasingly blurred.” Marina Harss shares excerpts from that conversation.
Susan Stamberg: “The scene was filmed with 30 professional dancers and more than 100 extras on a 104-degree day. They first rehearsed in a parking lot, and later the actual freeway at 3:00 o’clock in the morning. On paper, Moore and director Damien Chazelle mapped out where the cameras would go. That morphed into 3D on a model ramp with toy cars. Then it was show time, which meant shutting down the freeway ramp for two days of shooting. All in all, it took 47 takes — for a three-minute and 48-second dance number that occurs entirely before the movie title looms up on screen.”
He injured his foot 2½ years ago – far more seriously than he first realized. More than a year afterward, when he realized he still couldn’t perform, he traveled to the other end of the globe and put himself in the hands of Australian Ballet’s physiotherapy team. They healed him, and he’s very grateful.
Basically, “signed pointe shoes often become gift-shop items or special giveaways for ballet fans. But Copeland’s worn-out shoes are different. The principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre has achieved rare celebrity status.” In an auction that closes today at 7 pm Eastern, they – and some other memorabilia – are being sold as a Washington Ballet fundraiser.
This photo essay shows that the three-day festival “gives a lot of hope to the youth,” according to host Chouaib Cheu. “Tunisia’s hip-hop culture stems from the frustrations of the country’s disillusioned youth, who have sought to paint a picture of a society torn up by social injustice.”
“Encouraging people to attend the ballet more often was less about increasing their familiarity with productions and more about bridging an uncertainty gap. “Familiarity is about information,” notes Martin, “whereas uncertainty about how an experience will feel is much more personal. You can give somebody a lot of information but that’s not necessarily going to reassure them that they’re going to belong in that audience.”
Marina Harss talks with company artistic director Janet Eilber and rehearsal director Denise Vale about recreating the stark 1931 piece Primitive Mysteries – and with PeiJu Chien-Pott, who’s dancing Graham’s own role and says it’s the hardest one she’s ever done.
The hugely popular opera festival at the Arena di Verona is, like almost all Italian opera houses, in deep financial trouble: it nearly went into liquidation last spring, until Rome sent a turnaround specialist to the rescue. Last week, as a cost-cutting measure, the 19 dancers of the festival’s ballet company were laid off – despite the fact that their shows regularly sell out. (in Italian; Google Translate version here)
With a sharp, if veiled, rebuke – “the Opéra has been working for several months to define a new balance between reduced resources and ambitious artistic activity … [an effort] which assumes commitment, trust, and close collaboration” – the board president of the Opéra national de Bordeaux has suspended Charles Jude, the house’s director of ballet. The action follows months of dispute over how to allocate dwindling state funding and whether or not to fill vacant positions in the corps de ballet. (in French; Google Translate version here)
“While the advantages – including physical conditioning and the instillment of such welcome habits as discipline and cooperation – are clear, so are the dangers.” (For instance, the increased risk of eating disorders.) “That suggests dance training may produce or exacerbate some less-than-healthy psychological pressures. New research from Portugal finds evidence of just such a dynamic among young ballet students.”
“It came as something of a shock, one night in January, when people high on the corkscrew ramp of the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral rotunda started beating on the balustrade with sticks.” (includes video)
“For this piece, the first that the Works & Process series at the Guggenheim has commissioned for the rotunda (as opposed to the museum’s theater), the interior architecture serves not just as a stage for movement but also as a musical instrument. Those sticks were tuned plastic tubes known as Boomwhackers. The performers were drumming a melody.”
“No choreographer in history has so naturally prompted museum exhibitions as Merce Cunningham. For more than 65 years, his form of radical dance theater was a vehicle for historic artistic experimentation, with brave breakthroughs of color, idiom, content.” Alastair Macaulay visit the new (and large) Merce exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.
“Similar to many sports, ballet involves discipline and physical demands, competitiveness, highly critical and perfectionistic attitudes of trainers, and acceptance of emotional and physical suffering.” It’s easy to see how that could inspire students to cut themselves off from negative emotions in the moment — a process that can allow fears to accumulate, and ultimately build into serious anxiety.
In The Sleeping Beauty, Mearns usually dances the Lilac Fairy, Princess Aurora’s protector – but she’s just performed Carabosse, the evil fairy, for the first time. Mearns talks to Gia Kourlas about how she approached the new role.
David Bintley of Birmingham Royal Ballet: “I have lived, performed and managed dance within a generation that has, to a large extent, accepted arts funding by government as more of a right than a privilege. This financial safety net has been slowly but surely disappearing and the bald fact is: it’s not going to come back.”
Cunningham, with John Cage, changed everything: “The dance marked a crucial turning point for both Cunningham and Cage, as it pivoted around the notion that time, rather than melody or narrative, should constitute the underlying relationship between dance and music. … Cunningham and Cage were free to create independently of one another, with their shared aesthetic only fully revealed in the performance itself.”
Anthony Huxley is “a dancer of superlative refinement with the air of a silent-movie star, caught somehow between the world of the speaking and the world of dreams. In ballet, where dancers fight to show their best angle, Mr. Huxley is prized for his line and poetic sensibility.”
Hired to run the ballet school after the previous staff member quit over the firings of a huge number of dancers, a married couple quits. “The couple, graduates of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy, had danced in Russia and the United States before opening a dance school, the Academy of International Ballet, in Media. Their son, Aleksey Babayev, is a Pennsylvania Ballet corps de ballet dancer.”
“In the study, his team asked 39 female university students in Britain to dance alone to a drum beat. The researchers used a motion-capture system to track the women’s moves. They animated each dancer as an avatar to try to make sure that only the dance movements — and no other physical features — would affect ratings. Then they recruited 57 men and 143 women to watch 15-second clips of the avatars and rate them each on a numeric scale. Hip movements were the key predictor of how positively a dancer was rated in this study.
Yes, Martha did one comedy, a Punch-and-Judy piece from 1941. And audiences did find it funny. The Martha Graham Dance Company found some archival footage of the piece, and hired choreographer Annie-B Parson (herself a “wait, what?” choice) to devise a new piece based on it. Siobhan Burke talks with Parson about how she did it.
Historian Simon Morrison (Bolshoi Confidential) talks with Here & Now‘s Robin Young about how turmoil has abounded at the theater for all of its 241 years, and how the ballet company has stabilized following the horrific attack on former ballet artistic director Sergei Filin (and after Filin’s subsequent involuntary departure from the company). (audio)
Can dance change lives? In “The OA,” it does. “When people say, ‘I was crying when I was watching it,’ it’s like, exactly. That is exactly what dance has the power to do. Whether or not it’s true — which I think is a beautiful question in the series — I know that it can heal.”
After 20 years at the theater, including 13 as a principal, Maria Alexandrova has resigned. Bolshoi management says “This was Ms. Alexandrova’s personal decision,” and that they asked her several times to stay on. She herself posted on her Instagram page, “I’ve made a decision and I’m turning this page.”