Regular ballet slippers are no good for dancers’ feet, and pointe shoes? Forget it. “While they may run, jump, squat, leap and pivot like any NBA star, dancers do it without shock absorption, arch support or any foot-comfort features whatsoever.”
“I often get calls when a spot opens up, but I don’t see myself in that position. I believe myself to not be a director because of the system. Having a male artistic director is a tradition that’s passed down, and it becomes ingrained and it’s like, ‘Oh, fuck off.’ It’s a fake system. It’s hard to break it down unless you talk about it, and I think talking about it will slowly open it up, but even a feminist ballerina like me can still realize that I can be biased at times without knowing it.”
The idea is to teach staffers about both non-verbal communication (with customers and each other) and about gracefully negotiating tight spaces. Says one restaurant choreographer, “I went into it thinking it would be almost like movement coaching, but the amount of dance terminology, spatial composition, effort and tempo decisions left me feeling each experience couldn’t be more of a choreography gig if I tried.”
Unlike some incoming directors, Ms. Kent has not tried to remake the company in her image by quickly replacing large numbers of dancers with her recruits. (S he has not let anyone go, though she has added four dancers.) Ruthlessness is not her style.
“I went silent with shock [on hearing the news]. I have never been the type of person to burst into tears or visibly show my emotions, and my immediate thought was that I didn’t have the right to feel emotional about this. I had just arrived on the scene and had no real history with the man, or his work for that matter.”
“The production, called Within the Quota, criticized restrictive immigration laws that had been passed by Congress [in the 1920s]. … Now, to protest President Trump’s anti-immigrant stance, the Princeton University Ballet is reviving the production.” (includes audio)
Merce Cunningham might be gone, but his work lives through his dancers. “It’s hard to overstate the brilliance of the dancers — Dylan Crossman, Silas Riener, Jamie Scott, Melissa Toogood — who catapult Cunningham’s spirit into the present more than any tangible artifact possibly can. Their movement lives on a precipice, reads like a succession of narrow escapes: almost collapsing, almost colliding. Yet it springs from an unshakeable foundation, from knowing the rules deeply enough to transcend them.”
“One of the 21st century’s greatest choreographers is taking another drink from the fount of classical ballet: Alexei Ratmansky plans to create a new Harlequinade next year for American Ballet Theater, a reconstruction of Marius Petipa’s ballet Les Millions d’Arlequin.”
“Ballet abounds in self-contradictions. It continually shows mere mortals becoming works of ideal geometry, and helps us see music in terms of three-dimensional space. It can turn silliness into enchantment, make myth real, or — even in a work of pure dance — make us feel how the sublime coexists with the comic.”
“Before Terminus Modern Ballet Theater even puts a pointe shoe onto a Marley floor, it is already one of the most prominent dance troupes in Atlanta. First, there’s the star power of their five company dancers — perhaps the most recognizable faces in the Atlanta dance community from their tenures at Atlanta Ballet.”
“It’s an unusual choice for a playwright, especially one prone to having his characters gush torrents of words. Speaking over the phone from London last week, Mr. Walsh said he knew early in the writing of Arlington that the middle segment had to be dance.” Brian Seibert reports.
It’s even in Utah. “A breath of fresh choreographic air is coming to Salt Lake City. Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute has invited companies from across the country to join Ballet West for the first annual National Choreographic Festival, May 19–20 and 26–27. Over the course of two weekends and two different programs, premieres and recently acquired repertory will be performed in the new, state-of-the-art Eccles Theater.”
Benjamin Millepied’s “ambitious vision is redefining what an independent dance company can do: grow into an online dance platform and a lifestyle brand, host a building and performance space, and build an international presence.”
FLEXN, created by opera and theatre director Peter Sellars and flex pioneer Reggie “Regg Roc” Gray, has grown and changed a lot in the two years since its premiere. Courtney Escoyne talks with Regg Roc about flexing as a dance form and how social justice messages were integrated into the piece.
“Shelby Shellz Suzie Q Felton is a rarity in the flex world: a woman. However, as her name implies, she’s not just one woman, but three, wrapped into a single, articulate body. There is the day-to-day Shelby, who is quiet but given to quick humor. Then there’s Shellz, who ‘is very smooth, very relaxed,’ Ms. Felton said. And Suzie Q? ‘Suzie is more cutthroat.'”
If such sleek, unexamined images of violence against women — this wasn’t the only one in “Odessa,” but to me the most prominent and inexplicable — weren’t so pervasive in contemporary ballet, I might have felt differently. But they are, and I’ve seen enough.
After seeing New York City Ballet this weekend, Siobhan Burke posted a photo of her annoyed self on Instagram with the caption, “No more gang rape scenes in ballets, please.” Among the first responses she got: “Did you see Odessa?” As a matter of fact, she did – and, she argues, that new work by Alexei Ratmansky is but one part of a long pattern in contemporary ballet choreography.
“[Fear] is a messaging system that we have more work to do before we try something. … You can’t hedge your bets.” She also says, “Failure of flight is the most exciting moment.” Wow. (video)
The girl started late for a classical ballerina, and her teacher doesn’t usually send in kids so young for the Joffrey summer program – but Dayanara Villanueva is heading to the summer intensive in New York.
Things went badly wrong for the National Ballet during the Arab Spring and the conservative religious backlash that followed. “The company is still recovering from the turmoil. Most foreign dancers fled amid the 2011 uprising. Foreign ballerinas are back, but now the company — like the rest of Egypt — struggles with austerity measures imposed by the government to repair the damaged economy. Funds are tighter. After devaluations, even the best paid dancers make the equivalent of only a few hundred dollars a month.”
“In other industries, paying a future employer for an interview would be considered unethical. Yet in dance, it is common practice. Many companies offer the explanation that it is expensive to hold open calls and in exchange for that fee, they are providing a class. Now, cash-strapped dancers and even some company leaders find themselves questioning this norm.” Candice Thompson looks at the two sides of the debate.
Justin Peck selected his old friend (and company star) Robert Fairchild to dance the lead in the premiere run of his The Times Are Racing. But he conceived it as a unisex part, and he chose Ashly Isaacs to take over from Fairchild for the current season. Alastair Macaulay reports on how she looks in the role. (Very good.)
“Previous Aesop research showed how the Dance to Health programmes could address a problem that costs the NHS £2.3bn a year, as the rates of completion for dance-based alternatives to NHS exercise courses are 55% higher. An evaluation of the Dance to Health pilot programme in February 2017 also concluded that dance artists could be trained to deliver classes which were an enjoyable artistic challenge, faithful to healthcare objectives, and would deliver measurable reductions in loneliness for participants.”
Two performances in Marguerite and Armand at Covent Garden in June were to be his first performances with the company – which trained him and where he became a principal at age 19 – since he walked away without warning five years ago.
The company’s dancers have reportedly notified both Australia’s labor commission and their union that they may begin a work stoppage if negotiations, which have continued for several months, grind to a halt. At issue is pay, which dancers say is too low for a workload that has risen to more than 250 performances a year.
Together, the Japanese-American duo Eiko and Koma had a successful decades-long career performing what one might describe as New York neo-Butoh. But Koma had to give up dancing after a foot injury several years ago, and Eiko eventually began performing alone. Now, thanks to what he calls a “miracle,” Koma is onstage again, with scenery he designed and painted himself.
Frédéric Olivieri had been director of the Milan opera house’s ballet company from 2002 to 2007. His successor, Makhar Vaziev, left in late 2015 to bring order to the wildly-troubled Bolshoi Ballet; his successor, modern-dance choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, was a poor fit with Italy’s most august classical ballet company and resigned after eight months. So the return of a familiar face with a steady hand was greeted by La Scala’s dancers with applause.
“You feel the age and the injuries, and you realize the importance of character,” she said in a recent interview. “I used to muscle through these things. I can’t do that anymore. There needs to be something more, something else.”
“Receiving it [in 2013] at the age I received it – I definitely felt that I didn’t deserve it. And that became a distraction from the work – I was thinking about so many of my mentors and idols who don’t have that award and asking, ‘Why do I have this and they didn’t have it?’ I allowed that to play a part in the work I was trying to make. And that’s tricky.”