“For as long as anyone can remember, theater and movie directors, rich sponsors of art, dancing masters and acting coaches here in Russia have demanded sex from young actresses, ballerinas, and students in exchange for a part in a movie, a role in a play, or promotion in the ballet.”
25 years ago this month, the choreographer suffered a fatal heart attack backstage at the Royal Opera House during a performance of his ballet Mayerling. Crisp, who was there, remembers the fateful evening and pays tribute to MacMillan’s “fascination with the psyche rather than the fouetté … [his] interest in movement’s capacity to convey psychological complexity.”
Marina Harss talks with the choreographer and Leonid Desyatnikov, the only composer from whom Ratmansky has ever commissioned a score. Their sixth collaboration is about to open at American Ballet Theater.
Up to last year, the company was based in a cramped building with three studios and a leaky roof. In February they acquired a former fitness center, which has now been renovated into a spacious, light-filled, multi-studio headquarters. To celebrate, the family of the company’s founding donor has made a major new gift.
“Taking inspiration from the rotoscope – an early filmmaking device that allowed animators to trace over live-action – the Japanese design group EUPHRATES used an innovative computer algorithm to capture outlines and extract other information from a video of a ballerina, Kurimu Urabe of the Bolshoi, dancing in a ballet studio.”
Siobhan Burke: “I can’t remember when I first sensed disgruntlement toward the E-word. But in speaking with dancers and choreographers over the years, I’ve noticed that more often than not it elicits an eye roll, head shake, groan, sigh or shrug of ‘whatever that means.'”
“At his final curtain call, Mr. Fairchild, the youngest dancer to have a farewell event at City Ballet” – he’s 30 – “choreographed an unusual flower presentation: he stood by a basket of roses and handed a flower to fellow principal dancers, who came onstage one by one.”
“The 2018 ballet season will be cut in half, from a two-week run in 2017 to just one week. … [Saratoga Performing Arts Center CEO Elizabeth] Sobol said the board decided to reduce City Ballet’s stay because it lost more than $1 million on the NYCB residency. She said continuing to lose money on the residency is ‘not prudent’.”
Over a year and a half, older adults who took weekly dance classes showed gains in their balancing ability. There were no such improvements in the traditional exercise group. Researchers also found hints that all those mambos and cha-chas had extra brain benefits.
“We must trust that the intelligence that has allowed humanity to stave off death, make medical and engineering breakthroughs, reach the stars, build wondrous temples, and write complex tales will save us again. We must nurse the conviction that we can use the gentle graces of science and reason to prove that the truth cannot be vanquished so easily. To those who would repudiate intelligence, we must say: you will not conquer and we will find a way to convince.”
The director of the National Portrait Gallery: “The corporeal verve of dancers is a perfect remedy for the typically static environment of museums. ‘All these artificial boundaries between art and poetry and performance need to come down,’ Sajet says. ‘Our goal is to bring a sense of emotion about who we are as humans into the Portrait Gallery.'”
Fair question, but: “Whether Corella is shifting the company away from its heritage or not, a larger question hovers: Does it even matter? If the choice is ‘Change or die,’ who cares if the dancing is different? It’s a classic ‘would you rather’ moment: Ballet fans, would you rather have a different-looking company or no company at all?”
Terminus Modern Ballet Theatre, launched this past spring by five dancers who left Atlanta Ballet following the arrival of a new artistic director last year, has its organizational structure and early donors lined up, its first performances this month and next, and home venues secured in downtown Atlanta and the suburbs. Where to now? “As the group coalesces,” reports Candice Thompson, “[de facto leader John] Welker expects it will remain a company of five core dancers, performing in-house choreography. But there are plans for growth.”
“After 12 seasons dancing with the Rockettes, Rhonda Kaufman Malkin knows a thing or two about becoming one of Radio City’s iconic dancers. … At the most recent Rockettes callback, over half of the 25 dancers were Malkin’s students – and seven of them were offered contracts. Here’s how to get to Radio City, according to Malkin.”
Sara Michelle Murawski was personally recruited by incoming artistic director Ángel Corella, only to be told – four months into her first season and right before she went onstage as the Sugar Plum Fairy – that her contract would not be renewed because she was too tall for any of the company’s men to partner. (She’s 5’10½”.) She writes here about getting through the shock and disappointment, how her height has and hasn’t been an issue throughout her studies and career, and how she came to headline a new company that’s getting started this year in Charleston.
“Ballet is slower to change than most art forms, but in the span of just two weeks, New York City Ballet, one of the world’s premier companies, will have shown two ballets featuring significant same-sex duets.” Gia Kourlas talks with the choreographers of those ballets, Lauren Lovette and Justin Peck, and the men who’ll be dancing those duets.
Says Pranita Nayar, who has studied the form for decades, “My audience is not from a thousand years ago, so what are we preserving? For whom am I preserving it? … [What’s more,] the bharatanatyam of today is only about 100 years old.”
“Indianapolis City Ballet, founded in 2009 by the late Robert Hesse and now led by his son Kevin, presents an alternate paradigm: start with building an audience. After several attempts to sustain a professional company in Indianapolis failed, Hesse and his team are experimenting with a new model: a non-profit producing organization that seeks to bolster the city’s dance community by sponsoring events like gala performances, master classes and competitions.”
“The 43-year-old dancer-choreographer” – one of Britain’s most celebrated – “said he would still dance smaller roles and cameos, but the physical rigours of performing solo onstage for more than an hour were becoming too much.”
“From July 2016 to February 2017, directors came and went at five major contemporary dance hubs below 23rd Street: New York Live Arts in Chelsea; Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side; Skirball Center for the Performing Arts at New York University in Greenwich Village; Gibney Dance Center, in TriBeCa and near Union Square; and the temporarily nomadic Performance Space 122 (PS122), whose East Village home, under renovation since 2013, is poised to reopen soon.”
And then there’s the networking of dance groups and individual dancers from across genres. “We want to try and bust open people’s ideas, … to create a container that is peer-based. We want people to say I’m a working artist and you’re a working artist and we’re going to share work.”
Between the 1920s and the 1970s, dance halls – including, perhaps especially, in Scotland – created places where women had far more freedom than they did in other areas of life.
It’s a real problem: “Teenage boys reported having been teased ‘forever’ and ‘ALLLLLLLLLL the time,’ and more than half said the most significant challenge they confront as boys in ballet is the harassment that serves to police their masculinity — ‘the homophobic attitude of some’ and ‘the assumption that ballet is only for girls and gay men.’ More than 85 percent said more boys would study dance if boys and men weren’t teased and harassed so much for dancing.”
Even though 43 percent of New York’s Dominican population (which is, by the way more than the number of people who live in Seattle) live in the Bronx now, this club will not die: “Around the dance floor, conversations were kept brief. ‘No drugs, no trouble,’ said Enrique Acevedo, a labor organizer, shouting over the music, as he listed the club’s attributes. Had he had a little to drink? ‘A little? A lot! But I’m not driving! … A bailar! A bailar!’ he said, herding a group onto the dance floor.”
“Back home, [EunWon] Lee was the National Ballet’s youngest principal ballerina and a dance celebrity. Her performances sold out the Seoul opera house in minutes. … With her lithe form and delicate, childlike features, she modeled for Swarovski jewelry and tossed out ceremonial pitches at ballgames. But it wasn’t enough.
About a month after he arrived as artistic director, Corella said, “People started to put their arms across and say, ‘This is not going to happen.’ I heard that some dancers said, ‘The same way we got rid of the previous artistic director, we’re going to get rid of this one.’ Dancers were laughing at my face. A dancer even insulted me in front of everyone, just called me an [expletive]. You had people who didn’t even show up to class – I didn’t see them for three or four months – others that were injured for a very long time. … People from all around the world were knocking on the door – we had 2,000-something people sending in audition tapes.”
Roy Kaiser, who spent two decades as the Philadelphia-based company’s artistic director (and 18 years at the company before that), is the new artistic director of Nevada Ballet Theatre in Las Vegas. “He replaces James Canfield, who served as NBT’s artistic director from 2009 until his contract expired June 30. Kaiser is just the fourth artistic director of the Nevada Ballet Theatre, which is entering its 46th season.”
The statistics on boys, ballet and bullying are staggering. According to a study by dance sociologists Doug Risner and Maggie Allesee of Wayne State University in Detroit, 93 percent of boys involved in ballet reported “teasing and name calling,” and 68 percent experienced “verbal or physical harassment.” Eleven percent said they were victims of physical harm at the hands of people who targeted them because they are boys who study dance.
The “resident brainbox of British dance” tells David Jays about how he got a lab to sequence his entire genome (“three billion bits of information,” McGregor says excitedly, “60 volumes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica”), created a series of “choreographic events,” and uses a software algorithm based on his DNA to sequence those “events” differently for every performance. (Yes, he knows that’s hard on his dancers.)
This Saturday, Rebecca Krohn performs with the company where she has danced for 19 years; next week, she starts her new role training and coaching her colleagues. Terry Trucco talks to Krohn about her career journey.