“Trisha Brown’s dance made a singular impression, but it’s hard to remember specifically what she did. Most photos of her show her aiming in several directions at once, but they’re deceptive. They make her dancing look static when she never was still. I’ve never seen such a fluent body. Yet she didn’t look as if she was just flinging herself around.”
“I’m interested in how we can amplify space and proximity for artists who want to explore an idea bigger than just their next project. For example, there’s the Dancing Laboratory, which will initially center around BODYTRAFFIC, an LA-based company that commissions two or three pieces a year. The commissioning model generally suffers, because the artist must write the grant without knowing what the work will be yet, they raise the funds, and then put all the energy and resources into a few weeks, and expect the commissioned choreographer to make an amazing work. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t; there’s no room for failure or trying new ideas. We decided we want to disrupt that system, as well as offer additional opportunities that would cultivate female choreographic talent.”
Young British choreographer Ruth Brill: “It’s made me more want to strive and achieve, and if I can help redress that balance by doing what I want to do, then brilliant.”
Christopher Morgan’s second job as new artistic director of the beloved Dance Place: “zeroing in on how to make his studios available to local choreographers. He’d like to develop ‘space grants.'”
The managing director of the Dutch National Ballet: “I was surprised by what he had been able to achieve with the patchiness of the training he had. … It’s a bit late for him to be a classical [ballet dancer] but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an artist, a dancer.”
Boston Ballet, Ballet Austin, and Colorado Ballet have all done it, and Ashley Rivers gives a look at the strategies they’ve used.
“On a large plaza in the city last week, company staff diligently set up more than one thousand of the 18-inch robots to attempt the dancing record. You’ll be pleased to know that the team achieved the feat, with a total of 1,069 Dobi robots strutting their stuff in sync with one another, and as a consequence delighting the Guinness World Record officials who had traveled to Guangzhou to verify the effort.”
“She has friends. She goes out. She has a sense of humor. What she’s not? ‘Totally depressed and anorexic,’ said the filmmaker Valérie Müller, who, with her husband, the choreographer Angelin Preljocaj, directed the film Polina.”
“The partnership will team the Russian composer Ilya Demutsky, who has been commissioned to compose a new score, with the Russian choreographer Yuri Possokhov. A former Bolshoi dancer, Possokhov currently is choreographer in residence at the San Francisco Ballet.”
“DMP recognises body movement as an implicit and expressive instrument of communication and expression. DMP is a relational process in which client and therapist engage in an empathic creative process using body movement and dance to assist integration of emotional, cognitive, physical, social and spiritual aspects of self.”
Kent says that the adjustment from being a dancer in New York to being an artistic director in D.C. is a challenge, but that it’s good for her two young children to see their parents taking on new work. “My service to the art form is now creating opportunities for other people. … My focus is on them.”
“This fall, the University of Utah’s School of Dance welcomes the first class of candidates to its newly reinstated Master of Fine Arts in Ballet program, currently the only ballet-specific MFA in the country.”
“In 14 months of affiliation with the company – only two as its artistic director – [Hope Muir] has hired an astonishing array of new choreographers, rehired all but two members of the first company, endeared herself to donors from Charlotte to Chautauqua, N.Y., begun to investigate national and international tours, created a choreographic lab to inspire new dancemakers, put together a collaboration for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra’s Classical series in April, said goodbye to resident choreographer Dwight Rhoden and instituted family matinees for mainstage works beyond the inevitable Nutcracker.”
“‘Many older techniques have a strong inner logic,’ says [Countertechnique creator Anouk] van Dijk, who now directs Melbourne-based Chunky Move. ‘But I found they didn’t prepare the body for when the dancer has to be highly versatile.’ Countertechnique equips dancers with a range of skills and teaches them to apply them within familiar movements. This gives dancers more agency, which van Dijk believes can reduce anxiety in performance and even help dancers prevent and recover from injury.”
“Isabella Boylston doesn’t remember the time, years ago, when she and Gemma Bond tried to choreograph a ballet together. Ms. Bond does, though. ‘I got so bossy,’ Ms. Bond recalled. ‘I was like, ‘Isabella, this isn’t going to work.” But now they’ve found a way to be creative together – and circumstances in which they both can act a little bossy.”
“While there is nothing specifically dance-related in the plan, many dance companies and artists within marginalized and lower-income communities stand to benefit from increased funding. Here are the key takeaways.”
Gia Kourlas offers a step-by-step analysis (with plenty of GIFs) of Lil uck’s revamp of The Dying Swan: “This eloquent combination of jookin’ – a Memphis-born style that relies heavily on footwork and comes from the Gangsta Walk – and Camille Saint-Saëns’s wistful strings gives the sensation that Buck is levitating.”
The American National Ballet, its founders say, is a “start-up,” and they have plans for a company rooted in Charleston and a touring company. But then “there’a for-profit dance conservatory that enrolls talented young dancers from across the country, a for-profit marketing and media company called Jete Digital, a for-profit dancewear company and a performing arts foundation that can lend financial might to the enterprise.”
“The prize – which comes with $50,000, access to the [Baryshnikov Arts Center’s] John Cage and Merce Cunningham Studio for eight weeks and administrative support to create a new work – goes to an artist who reflects the innovative spirits of Cage and Cunningham, life partners and collaborators who were titans of 20th-century music and dance.”
Gia Kourlas writes about step – ” a percussive-movement tradition that uses the entire body as well as the voice and is popular in African-American fraternities and sororities” – and a new documentary about The Lethal Ladies, the girls’ step team at a Baltimore high school.
In an article with the hopeful headline “The Future of Ballet Is Inclusive and Queer,” Trina Mannino surveys the strides (ahem) that are being made, both at mainstream companies and in new troupes.
Just a week into his term as artistic director of the Hong Kong Ballet, Webre says he’s impressed with the dancers’ technical standards and classical rep, and wants to inject “a higher level of sophistication into the [new] work made for the company.” He wants to create dances reflecting the city’s culture, and says he’s being inspired by Hong Kong films and Cantonese opera.
“The choreographer has long believed in ‘colliding different sorts of intelligence in one place’. Increasingly, academic research suggests that creative imagination is impossible without collaboration: such findings are being embraced by organisations such as Second Home, which offers cross-disciplinary co-working opportunities in London and Lisbon (and claims its businesses grow ten times faster as a result) or Pioneer Works in Brooklyn, whose international residency programme provides free space to creators across the arts, science and technology.”
Recent studies “reveal that dancers use multiple areas of their brains simultaneously while dancing: one part controls movement without expressive intention, another part imagines movement qualities and these parts work to execute movement while also making higher-level decisions.”
But presenters need to consider accessibility. “Disability is the mother of invention. We have been cattle truck lifted onto an outdoor stage. In Siberia, we had to charge my wheelchair batteries by driving them around in a Fiat and swapping them out daily. Feral dogs chased us on the tarmac in Moscow because we could not be driven to the plane like others. In Germany, we changed in a broom closet with a skeleton”
Salon Los Angeles has seen Frida Kahlo dance with Leon Trotsky, Che Guevara and Fidel Castro with dance hall regulars and revolutionaries, and a lot more. And so, “Miguel Nieto, whose grandfather opened Salon Los Angeles 80 years ago this week, refuses to quit, even as his gray-haired regulars dwindle, even as developers dream about turning the nightclub into condominiums like the concrete apartment tower going up across the street.”
Theresa Ruth Howard: “How can you truly comment on what you are seeing when you have no technical knowledge of a specific genre like African or hip hop? Critics who stand on the outside of a culture cannot write about what they do not know. … The black body on stage is never neutral, and the effects of its inherent politicization as it relates to the subconscious cultural ignorance and biases held by critics is seldom addressed.”
“The voguing balls of Harlem, the hoochie koochie dances of rural America, the elaborate, prancing gait of runway models – these aren’t influences that routinely feature in contemporary dance. Yet for the American choreographer Trajal Harrell they’ve proved extraordinarily fertile. … His pieces might feature a man posing semi-naked in a pair of Hermès scarves, a woman encased in a small black cube meticulously removing her swimsuit, or a man in a gaudy oriental skirt, gravely shaking his booty.”
While Instagram has become a go-to forum for dancers recording themselves in class and rehearsal, Marlee Grace has managed to stand out, though it’s hard to pinpoint why. Maybe it’s her musical selections, which range from Justin Bieber to wind and waves; her playful, impulsive choices as a mover and iPhone videographer; or the sense that she’s not working toward anything in particular, just dancing for herself and anyone who happens to cross her virtual path.
“You know Philadanco and Pennsylvania Ballet. But other than those staples, you may not think of Philadelphia as a huge dance hub. We’re here to prove that Philly is filled with underrated dance talent – and these six companies are just the start.”