‘I Would Have Jumped Off A Roof For Mao': Li Cunxin, ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’, From The Cultural Revolution To The 21st-Century West


“Forced into ballet as a child in Mao’s China, Li Cunxin defected to the US and had to work as a stockbroker to support his family back home. But he never quit dancing. As he brings the Queensland Ballet to Britain, he talks about his traumas and triumphs – and shock at seeing people take their privileged lives for granted.”

The “Ballet Body”? I’m Sooo Over It


“I studied classical ballet for sixteen years. I was never a prodigy, but I was good enough to seriously consider it a career option. I genuinely love ballet in all its forms. And I despise the “ballet body” fitness trend.”

How Poor Are Most Dancers? This Poor

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“More than half of professional dancers [in Britain] earn less than £5,000 a year from their performance work, according to a new survey. The statistics also show that around 50% of dancers’ jobs pay less than the minimum wage, and that 70% of dancers have performed in ‘unsuitable work environments’ in the past 12 months.”

Falling Back In Love With City Ballet


“These extraordinary dancers have breathed new life into Balanchine’s legacy. And suddenly, once again, as in the old days, I want to follow what they’re up to.”

The Campaign To Keep Ballet Going


“After Ms. Homans’s book was published, her assessment burned through the industry, sparking arguments and some resentment. It also caught the attention of the Mellon Foundation, which began a series of conversations with Ms. Homans about what could be done to change things. The idea of actively drawing in new thinkers won because ballet, in its very nature, can be cloistered.”

Vogueing: Still Dominant In New York


“While the ball honors vogueing’s pioneers, it also reflects the ways that the dance has evolved stylistically and demographically: its global expansion; the increasing participation of women; and a shift to bolder, more acrobatic dancing.”

Pole Dancing Is Becoming A Serious Art Form (If These Folks Have Anything To Say About It)

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“A pole, like most props on a dance stage, doesn’t mean much on its own. It stands ready and waiting for the bounds of a choreographer’s imagination, a means to provide a vertical space and fresh vocabulary for a story spelled out in movements. In this capacity, pole dance as an abstract art form is taking shape, growing in a starkly contrasting direction from its place in strip clubs and competitions.”

What Will Restored U.S.-Cuba Relations Mean For Ballet?


“Cuban dancers and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, founded by Alicia Alonso, are known all over the world. … Here & Now’‘s Meghna Chakrabarti spoke with José Manuel Carreño, a Cuban-born former principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, who is now artistic director of Silicon Valley Ballet.” (audio)

Jennifer Homans Was Wrong: Ballet’s Not Dying, It’s Being Rejuvenated – And Here’s Why


“It’s an exciting time for the art form, with new works and artists emerging: there is plenty to look forward to. It’s very different to the sense of gloom I remember when I started watching in the Nineties.” Zoë Anderson has a theory about why ballet was in a funk 20 years ago (like so much else in the world, it’s about the ’60s) and why things seem so much more promising today.

Three Black Female Dance Legends Sitting Around Talking


“Why is [Misty Copeland’s] breakthrough possible now, and what does this civil rights triumph mean for the future of ballet’s performers and its audience? Copeland and … Raven Wilkinson and Carmen de Lavallade joined us live on stage for a conversation on July 17, moderated by writer and producer Susan Fales-Hill.” (video)

How Three Boys From Utah Changed Ballet In, And Brought The Nutcracker To, America

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Every December, The Nutcracker comes to life in theaters all across the United States. But how did this 19th-century Russian ballet become such a big part of the holidays in 21st-century America? 

Meet Willam, Harold, and Lew Christensen, three small-town Utah boys who caught the ballet bug from an uncle in the early 1900s. They performed alongside elephants and clowns on vaudeville, immersed themselves in the New York City dance scene, and even put on a ballet featuring gangsters at a gas station. Russian immigrants shared the story of The Nutcracker with them, and during World War II―on a shoestring budget and in need of a hit―they staged their own Christmastime production in San Francisco. It was America's first full-length version and the beginning of a delightful holiday tradition.

“The restless Christensens couldn’t seem to stay put. Which turned out to be providential for American ballet, especially on the West Coast. Willam brought ballet to Portland, Oregon, and later established the formidable Salt Lake City company that would be known as Ballet West. In between, there was San Francisco, where he and Harold spun off the ballet troupe from the opera company.”

How Do You Get More Dance In Rural Areas? Here’s One Plan


“The Rural Touring Dance Initiative, a three-year project, has been launched by the National Rural Touring Forum and seeks to address an under-representation of dance in rural areas. A report by Arts Council England in March found just 2% of national portfolio dance companies toured to rural regions in 2012 and 2013.”

What Marcelo Gomes Fears About Choreographing


“When you’re choreographing you have to be able to try things out, and to fail, and the fear is always that I’m putting my reputation as a dancer at risk. But now that I’ve started, I can’t hold myself back.”

Dance, Disability And Stretching The Limits Of Human Movement


“There still seems to be a distinction between companies interested in presenting diverse bodies and companies committed to a long-standing aesthetic norm. For now, the solution still exists in parallel structures rather than full-scale integration – not so different from what’s happening in ballet or, for that matter, sports. What’s fascinating about this debate between “excellence” and inclusivity is that it doesn’t exist the same way in breakdance culture.”

Black Dancers, White Ballets – Misty Copeland Is Not Enough (Classical Dance Makes The NY Times Op-Ed Page)

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Laurie A. Woodard, formerly of Dance Theater of Harlem, now teaching at NYU: “Ms. Copeland’s career, on the stage and beyond, has brought ballet into the wider culture in ways Louis XIV could not have imagined. … [Yet] the insular world of classical ballet has limited not just the number of black ballerinas; there are only a handful of black classical choreographers. And for companies other than D.T.H., black spectators are rare. The days of whiting-up are behind us, but ballet still needs to change.”

New Thing: Dance Parties Early In The Morning


“The concept for Daybreaker came about in 2013 inside a Brooklyn falafel shop. Founders Radha Agrawal and Matthew Brimer were musing over their night of dancing when they had the idea to take the energy and inclusiveness of the nightclub scene and infuse it into the weekday morning routine.”

Mikhail Baryshnikov: Why I Finally Agreed To Play Nijinsky

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“It is a sign of Baryshnikov’s confidence in his director” – Robert Wilson – “that he has agreed to play Nijinsky, a role that has been suggested to him ‘at least 15 times’ in his life and which he had always turned down.” (One f those invitations came from no less than Ingmar Bergman.)

The Man Who Dared Create A Flamenco Dance About The Holocaust

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Israel Galván’s Lo Real/Le Réel/The Real “is tipped to be a highlight of the Edinburgh international festival this summer. Yet back in Madrid, something about its subject matter or discordant style so outraged the audience that they began chanting insults and calling for the performers to leave the stage.”

A Struggle For The Soul Of British Dance


“The students don’t believe you when you say it’s not good enough. Don’t take on board how hard you have to concentrate in class. Don’t warm up. Don’t get that you shouldn’t have to tell them more than twice. They just don’t really listen.”

What Does A Dancer Do After A Career-Killing Injury? [VIDEO]

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“Karine Newborn knew she wanted to be a professional dancer since watching her mother dance as a little girl in Paris. Her career as a dancer took a sharp turn though after suffering an injury while performing on Broadway. The single mother and dancer found herself unable to continue her career as a dancer, putting her in a financial bind.”