Prior to working at NEFA, Sara Nash managed the USArtists International grant program at Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation. She also worked as senior producer at Dance Theater Workshop (New York Live Arts) for more than six years, where she oversaw the international program, the Suitcase Fund, and developed residency programs for commissioned artists. Nash’s international experience includes working at Tanec Praha, a contemporary dance festival in Prague, and at the British Council in London.
Mackrell: “Dance has been so very generous to me as a writer, and The Guardian such a fantastic platform, that I feel I’m walking away from my own dream job. But I’ve been doing it for 32 years (nine of them at The Independent before I joined The Guardian) and if it’s time for me to focus on other projects it’s also time to hand the mic to another voice.”
Robert Lepage has returned to filmmaker Norman McLaren for his latest project Frame by Frame, teaming up with the National Ballet of Canada and the National Film Board to create a multimedia dance production that marries ballet and abstract film animation in hopes of pushing the boundaries of ballet for our technological era. The ballet took four years to make and cost $1.4 million.
“In Morocco, where state funding and institutions for the arts is scarce, break dancing has empowered young people to make their own entertainment since its arrival in the 1980s. … While protesters and outspoken artists were targets, dancers flew under the radar because they were seen as apolitical. When a second generation of Moroccan B-boy crews emerged in the early 2000s, their art really began to flourish.” (photo journal)
Marius Petipa created the commedia dell’arte-themed ballet in 1900, and it remained in repertory in St. Petersburg for almost 30 years; when later versions were choreographed by Lopukhov, Gusev, and Balanchine, the actual movement was a combination of steps passed down orally and newly created in Petipa’s idiom. For American Ballet Theater, Alexei Ratmansky went back to the Stepanov notation of the Petipa original made when it was new – and what he discovered was a surprise.
While the company had its challenges this year – most notably, having to find an alternative venue for its Sydney season, with the Sydney Opera House’s Joan Sutherland Theatre under renovation – its staging of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, sold 75,840 tickets over 41 performances in Sydney and Melbourne.
“The statistics are certainly compelling. The five highest earning workers in the Ailey organization make more than all 34 dancers and stage managers combined. [Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater] is the fourth largest American dance company based on budget, but the dancers make 30-35% less than their colleagues in other companies. AAADT performs 175-200 times per year, more than any other major dance company in the United States.”
Well, techy things definitely occurred. But were they also cool – or, more to the point, useful for the dance company? “Some projects were more successful than others, but all were well worth watching: Dancers moved silkily inside 3D environments that were then projected onto screens for mixed-reality experiences. Graham’s ‘Lamentation,’ from 1930, was reimagined using archival imagery of the solo projected onto a moving dancer. And a Graham dance was captured in 3D, transforming Anne Souder, in a motion-capture suit, into an avatar.”
Lauren Wingenroth: “Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We’re all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic. Part of it is the fact that they plan to provide these women with ‘guidance and feedback from ABT’s artistic staff.’ Though they surely mean for this to be supportive, not condescending, Debra Levine points out … that they wouldn’t dare suggest that male choreographers need ‘guidance and feedback.’ … But what’s really troubling is the way that ABT suggests that they’ve already been doing the work of supporting women, they’ve just now decided to ‘formalize it.'”
Amy Seiwert, who was a Sacramento Ballet dancer for eight years in the 1990s and created a ballet company in San Francisco, will succeed co-artistic directors Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda, a husband-and-wife pair who choreographed performances for 30 years . Seiwert’s term begins July 1.
The standard devices of the traditional ballets can read as so many clichés. In multiple ballets, for example, those companions surround their heroes and heroines with dancing entourages: The heroine often has six or eight female companions known as “little friends.” But don’t knock them! Those companions take the heroine’s feminine spirit and fill the stage with it.
In what seems to be an attempt to calm the tensions caused by the (let’s say) fraught departure of Peter Martins, City Ballet’s search committee is conducting an extensive “listening tour,” talking with dancers, staff, donors, and board members about what they’d like to see in a new artistic director and in the direction of the company.
“Pennsylvania Ballet, which long planned to renovate a white terracotta-clad building on its property at North Broad and Carlton Streets as part of its expansion a few blocks north of City Hall, now says it will demolish the building instead. … The troupe says it has determined that keeping the historic four-story building fronting Broad Street isn’t feasible.”
“Choreographer Kim Brandstrup’s new work was inspired by Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s 17th-century play [Life is a Dream] about a prince imprisoned in a tower by his father. … Inspired by the play’s themes of ‘the longing for authentic experience, and the need to dream’, the Olivier-winning choreographer has transposed the action to a rundown 1959 rehearsal room.” (photo journal)
“I am trained in the classical Indian dance of Kathak, a tradition passed on through non-technological means, carried in the memory, the body and the mind. So each time we share it, it’s evolving. It’s like telling a story – no one ever tells it the same way twice. It changes each time you tell it, because you are human, because you are alive. By contrast, digital preservation of work and its perfect, infinite reproducibility – freed of context – potentially creates a more sterile transmission mechanism for ideas and art.”
The cases of Peter Martins and Marcelo Gomes are the only ones from the dance world to have hit the national media in the #MeToo era, and the movement’s momentum seems to have faded in the field seems to have dissipated. “[Yet] we’ve barely scratched the surface of the dance world’s harassment problem. One reason why: The same culture that makes harassment possible in dance makes it uniquely difficult for artists to speak up,” writes Lauren Wingenroth in an essay exploring the issue.
Scott Gormley, filmmaker and dance dad: “I’ve spent the last two years creating a documentary about the struggles that young men face when they choose to dance ballet ― when they choose to thumb their nose at what boys ‘should do.’ … What I found the most upsetting were the attacks that came directly from family members: fathers, stepfathers, uncles, brothers, many of whom feared that ballet would ‘turn’ boys gay.”
These are not dances with deep spiritual meanings, but rather they’re the most prolific forms of creative expression for young Africans right now. That has since evolved into a professionalization of these dances, as tutorial videos crop up on these very dances and professional choreographers increasingly incorporate them.
Copeland says she feels lucky, and like her success is almost unbelievable – but she wants some compatriots at the top. “She is adamant that a large part of her purpose as a public figure is to make sure up-and-coming black and brown dancers know they belong in the world of classical ballet – and feel welcome there.”
The surprise successor will be 35-year-old Michael Novak, who has been with the company since 2010. For Novak, “the appointment came out of nowhere. Just after the company’s Lincoln Center season ended in March, he went to Mr. Taylor’s apartment for a meeting. ‘Paul said, ‘I have been thinking a long time and I have decided that you’re going to be the one to take over the company once I buzz off,’’ Mr. Novak said. ‘I don’t think ‘shocked’ even begins to describe the feeling.'”
Deborah Jowitt: “Robbins wanted dancers to approach classical steps as if rising onto pointe was no more unusual than an intake of breath, and a turn could seem a giddy impulse (no showing a planted preparation to spin as if it were interesting in itself). … He came down hard on artificiality and dancers who played to the audience. He wanted them to look ‘real’ despite their virtuosity, to see and react to the others onstage. If a plot was involved, he might want a dancer to know what his/her character had eaten for dinner the night before.”
“Showcasing dance, without the audience’s necessarily seeing it, is [blind performer and choreographer Mana] Hashimoto’s life’s work. Her performances and workshops bring dance, a medium with a strong visual component, to those without sight while also providing a new experience for a sighted audience.”
Toby Ansin, a South Florida philanthropist who founded the company in the 1980s with Villella says she just wants to write up the story of her life as it happened. Villella, who signed a reciprocal non-disparagement agreement with the MCB board as part of a settlement after he was forced out as the company’s artistic director in 2012, is not going along with what he sees as an attempt to escape that agreement.
Third year students, who were halfway through a tour of England and Wales when the van was taken, launched an appeal to find the costumes and raise money to replace other items in the van, which included lighting, sound and rehearsal equipment. Last night (May 14), a member of the public found the costumes in an open garage in Bromley-by-Bow in London, close to where the tour vehicle was last tracked, and called Ballet Central to report the news.
“Tap isn’t being used as a dance language here, much less as music. It’s being used as a sparkly outfit, and as a symbol of Broadway’s past. These numbers are fantasies. Two of the new ones are hallucinations.” Brian Seibert on the incongruous tap routines that have been turning up in new and recent shows from Mean Girls to SpongeBob SquarePants to Escape to Margaritaville and back to The Book of Mormon. (Seibert doesn’t entirely approve.)
That’s what the New Ballet in San Jose is offering for a performance of Sleeping Beauty this weekend: a group of patrons will sit together in the balcony, dial into a conference call, and listen on earbuds to live commentary as well as background on the ballet and interviews with dancers. Says company director Dalia Rawson, “It’s a bit radical, … but I think context and additional information will enhance the experience, just as it does when watching football or the Olympics.”