“‘It was a huge gamble,” Mr. Maillot, the director of Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, said in a phone interview from Monaco. ‘Everything was in place for it to fail.’ It did exactly the opposite. A success since its 2014 premiere, The Taming of the Shrew has become a calling card at home and abroad for the Bolshoi.” Laura Cappelle reports on the difficulties and delights of the project.
About 25 years ago, at a rap concert in Canada, Homer Bryant had an idea: “I thought if I put rap and ballet together, I might have a hit on my hands.” Eventually, he did: video of his dancers went hugely viral (and got the pearl-clutchers a-clutching). Now (if he can find the donors) he’s hoping to go fully pro. (includes slideshow and video)
Makhar Vaziev: “When I accepted this position, [Bolshoi general director] Vladimir Urin set a concrete task before me about what he wanted to see from the troupe, and we came to a mutual agreement about that. In terms of classical ballet, I prefer irreproachable, ideal form, and that doesn’t change from theater to theater. What I demand of the dancers here today – the highest level of performing, both aesthetically and technically, among other things – is nothing new to them, but it’s possible no one paid attention to it before.”
“Many people see dance and choreography as separate pursuits, or view choreography as a dance career’s second act. For some dancers, however, performing and choreographing inform one another. … Though a dual career can be fulfilling, simultaneously inhabiting the roles of dancer and choreographer requires focus, organization and a great deal of energy.”
“Enter the new National Center for Choreography at The University of Akron. Its mission: to support the research and development of new dance by providing choreographers, dance companies, arts administrators and dance writers access to [its] world-class facilities … seven dance studios, two black-box theaters and main-stage theaters of two different sizes.”
Choreographer Adam Weinert has developed a specialty in recreating the oeuvre of Ted Shawn and his early 20th-century troupe, Men Dancers.
“Soon after becoming the ballet director at the Bolshoi Theater, Makhar K. Vaziev installed a large flat-screen television next to his desk that allows him to monitor the rehearsal rooms and the two main stages – the screen divided into nine squares. On a recent afternoon, … he watched as Elvina Ibraimova rehearsed onscreen, then called the studio to tweak a variation. … At first, the dancers and ballet teachers were startled at this Big Brother method of remote supervision, he said, but he seems to want them to know that he is always there.”
“It’s difficult to imagine a Batsheva Dance Company without Ohad Naharin at the helm. The provocative choreographer has been the Israeli troupe’s artistic director since 1990, during which time the company, its lead choreographer and his movement language, Gaga, have become more or less synonymous. But changes are afoot. Batsheva quietly announced on its website this weekend that Naharin will be stepping down from his post as artistic director in September 2018.”
The City of Light is the first stop of a European tour. But “while the Alvin Ailey dancers perform nightly to urbane audiences at a concert hall on the western edge of Paris, another scene unfolds during the day across town at the Georges Bizet public conservatory.”
Judith Mackrell gives us a brief 200-year history.
In January, the company’s board of directors decided not to renew the contracts of Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, who had led Sacramento Ballet for three decades and developed it into a fully professional outfit. They’re being replaced, as of next season, by Amy Seiwert, who spent most of the 1990s dancing in the company under Cunningham and Binda.
Each of the ballet’s sections is said to represent one of the art form’s great stylistic schools: French (“Emeralds”), American (“Rubies”) and Russian (“Diamonds”). Marina Harss talks with stars from the companies that embody those schools – the Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet – about Jewels, which they’ll be performing together at this year’s Lincoln Center Festival.
“I’ve been strapped in – physically strapped into pointe shoes, strapped into a leotard and tights, my hair’s been strapped up – for my whole entire life. … I was terrified to be unconstricted, and now I don’t know another way I’d rather be.” (audio)
“When invited by the Joyce Theater to return to its Ballet Festival, a biennial event spotlighting independent and emerging ballet choreographers, [Emery LeCrone] thought back to the 2015 festival when her troupe made its Joyce debut, performing for two nights. Despite selling out both shows, she came out of that experience in a state of what she calls ‘burnout, completely.'” Happily, “financially, this time is different.”
Aurélie Dupont: “Normally when you’re a ballet dancer, you do not ever show the effort when you dance, so you never breathe. Because breathing means that you need air, and if you need air that’s not good, and, anyway, you never learn how to breathe in school. Never.” Reporter Gia Kourlas talks with Dupont, former étoile and current director at the world’s oldest and most august ballet company, and choreographer Saburo Teshigawara.
Speaking to journalists Monday, Bolshoi director Vladimir Urin denied reports that the show had been scrapped because of its frank portrayal of Nureyev’s gay relationships. The dancer was diagnosed with HIV in 1984 and died in 1993.
Whoa. “Creative developers are proving that Apple’s AR tech can actually be useful, too. The latest: two salsa-dancing programmers are putting Apple’s ARKit to a clever new use with augmented reality dance lessons.”
Having the 3,800-seat Metropolitan Opera House to dance in is a blessing and a curse for the ballet as it has to balance creativity with getting people in seats. “When dancing elsewhere, its repertory consists more largely of one-act ballets; when at the Met, it has tended to model itself on the old Royal: full-length ballets with impressive scenery and costumes, storytelling and acting.”
Just days before the ballet was set to premiere, the Bolshoi shocked the dance world with this move. Its director, Kirill Serebrennikov, “has fallen out of favour with Russia’s cultural authorities in recent years and has denounced increasing censorship of the arts.”
An artistic director, a dance-career-transition counselor, and a ballerina who’s been fired and rebounded offer advice on “how to part ways like a professional, regain your confidence and have greater success in your next gig.”
“The luminous principal dancer Xiao Nan Yu, who just marked two decades with National Ballet of Canada, shares how she’s kept her body strong for long-term success.” (For one thing, never blow off morning class.)
“The films, which I consider the two best ever made about the art, didn’t just record tap history; they became part of it, helping to stoke a revival.
“10000 Gestures … may be a one-line idea, but it’s an extremely complicated one. [Boris] Charmatz’s concept is that no gesture – a word he uses to refer to any single movement, be it a dance step or a shoulder shrug – is ever repeated; and that every dancer’s sequence is unique.” Says Charmatz, “If you don’t repeat, you are throwing your material away all the time. You cannot do ‘good’ choreography like this. … It takes the pressure away.”
“With so few male dancers in classes, a sense of alienation, as well as bullying and a lack of recognition are common experiences. ‘I allowed the boys we were approaching to tell us what they need, what is missing in their dance studios, what they’re looking for,” [co-founder Michael] Vadacchino says about programming [the first Male Dancer Conference, to be held next month in New York’s West Village]. ‘There are little to no all-male large group settings in the dance world. With the exception of some major ballet competitions and large ballet conservatories, there is no event designed specifically for male dancers and their needs.'”
“Veronika Part, the Russian-born ballerina who has been a principal dancer with American Ballet Theater since 2009, will retire from the company at the end of this season because her contract was not renewed for another year.”
“He has signed a five-year contract with the Royal Swedish Opera and will arrive in Stockholm mid-August. … Like his predecessor, Le Riche sees no difference between classical ballet and contemporary dance: ‘both are facets of the same Art,’ he says.”
What deserves interrogation is not the question of whether or not to move beyond “tradition.” It is the rhetorical use of the term “tradition” and the presumption of an uninformed critic to police black choreographers’ prerogatives. When will we be done with these tired tropes of authenticity and “tradition” that continue to plague contemporary black performance?
Two American Ballet Theatre dancers learned and choreographed a rumba routine between ABT duties. “Their routine, peppered with dramatic pauses, tricky partnering moves and quick, flashy turns, opened with a comic flourish. She stumbled on, teetering in her high heels, pretending to be drunk. He acted the part of the overbearing roué, dragging her onto the dance floor.”
A public art project – Prismatic Park – makes Madison Square Park an interactive dance experience. One of the choreographers: “I tell the dancers, ‘You’re going to be confronted by people, a squirrel is going to run by, you’re going to stop to say hello to your boyfriend — all of that is what we’re doing.'”