“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.'”
Two staffers at London dance hub The Place write about what they learned when they asked young (and older) men why they stopped dancing – and how to keep the guys coming to class.
“When Xander Parish was offered a job at the Mariinsky Ballet he thought it was a joke. And wouldn’t you? Audiences had barely registered the existence of this young English dancer, languishing in the Royal Ballet’s lower ranks, when Yuri Fateyev, the Mariinsky’s artistic director, suggested that he join the elite St Petersburg company, once home to Nijinsky, Nureyev and Baryshnikov. That was seven years ago, and even now Parish can’t quite believe his luck.”
Marina Harss talks to Betsy McBride, who left her longtime berth at Texas Ballet Theater for a contract with ABT, about why she made the change and what it’s been like.
Some answers arose in New York, where Explode! Queer Dance hosted a four-day academic and artistic festival. The goals were ambitious: “Explode! set out to tackle inextricable challenges of strengthening ties among queer dance artists and dismantling racism, sexism, classism, transphobia and white supremacy. A tall order, but why aim for less?”
In a spirit of solidarity (or so they thought) with Communist rebels in Nationalist China, the Bolshoi developed The Red Poppy in 1927, and it became a huge hit all over the Soviet Union. When Mao and his delegation visited Moscow shortly after the Chinese Revolution, the Bolshoi enthusiastically revived The Red Poppy as a tribute. As writer Eveline Chao explains, the visitors from Beijing were not flattered.
The trailer containing the St. Paul Ballet’s portable stage floor, used for more than two dozen community outreach performances annually, was stolen from outside its headquarters over the weekend.
Choreographer Jody Oberfelder believes they do – and that thinking, that thoughts, come from the body. In a new work, she tried to connect the science and the choreography – to the detriment of dance, at first. “So I thought, why not get the audience to try to feel their brains, without telling them how? To set up situations where they’re interacting not only with their minds intellectually but passing that down through the body, being in a physical space with other bodies, making connections with others and with sensation?”
Christian Matijas-Mecca: “I train my students to know the ins and outs of dance classes of varying styles. In return, we sometimes wish our collaborative partners understood more about what we bring to the studio.” For instance, “Don’t use the piano as an ad hoc desk. I teach my students appropriate studio etiquette. They will not wear shoes in your studio, talk while you are teaching or leave their belongings lying about. Show them the same courtesy.”
What gives the dancing in modern musicals such athleticism and power? A style that can be traced back to Fosse. “The roots of Fosse’s signature style were actually in burlesque. As a young teenager … he had a tap act that he performed in burlesque houses. He translated that style to the screen in ways that directly foreshadow modern musicals and music videos.”
Dance Magazine asked Rennie Harris and two of his students, Nicole Klaymoon and d. Sabela grimes, “Over the years, how has increased acceptance and visibility on concert-dance stages affected hip hop and its artists? And how has hip hop influenced concert dance?” Here’s the conversation the three gave in response.
In 2011, Mariafrancesca Garritano (pen name Mary Garret) spoke out and eventually wrote about the anorexia she developed after being fat-shamed by instructors at La Scala’s ballet school – and the company fired her and charged her with libel. Last year Italy’s highest court ruled that she had been unfairly dismissed and should get her job back. Here she talks about her return to the company and the effects of four years away from ballet.
Amiruddin Shah, 15, was spotted by a visiting ballet instructor who saw him doing backflips and cartwheels and found that his feet have “perfect arches.” Now, after less than three years of study, Shah is headed to American Ballet Theatre’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School.
It’s a ritual: “A ballerina’s farewell — especially at American Ballet Theater — is a time-honored drama. Rose petals fall like rain from the rafters, fellow dancers parade out to deliver bouquets, and audience members crowd the aisles, roaring as if at a rock concert.”
The story is purely about royal succession, which you’d think wouldn’t appeal to Americans. (And indeed, the ballet used to be reserved for touring European companies.) But there’s more:
“The fairy godmothers whom the monarchs invite to the heiress Aurora’s christening in the Prologue take the drama into a new, larger dimension: pure classicism. They make this a ballet about ballet itself — ballet as a language of harmonious idealism, in which radiant physical geometry keeps marrying music.”
As early Americans adapted the country dances of Europe, African-Americans (often enslaved, alas) were right there – first as musicians, then as callers. Erin Blakemore gives us the history.
“Isn’t this the most royalist of all ballets? King Florestan XXIV and his queen have a daughter, you see, and the story hinges on her finding Prince Right. Dynastic succession is the name of the game. … So why is this classic danced so regularly and well across America? Is royalism merely its surface?” The answer, says Alastair Macaulay, is this: “The fairy godmothers whom the monarchs invite to the heiress Aurora’s christening in the Prologue take the drama into a new, larger dimension: pure classicism. They make this a ballet about ballet itself – ballet as a language of harmonious idealism.”
“Digital broadcasts of dance generally fall into two categories: behind-the-scenes glimpses into rehearsals, like those offered by ballet companies around the globe on World Ballet Day, and live streams of in-demand theatrical performances, like those presented by the Guggenheim for its Works & Process performance series. In these latter cases, the broadcast usually supplements the live event; even without people tuning in remotely, the show would go on. “Marfa Dance Episodes,” directed by Benjamin Millepied, with choreography by him as well as several company members, differ in that the broadcast itself was the event; the series was created exclusively for an online audience, and the episodes, ranging from about seven to twenty minutes, were choreographed for—and with—the camera.”
When Dance Magazine published its list last week, the editors asked readers to tell them whom they unjustly left out. And readers definitely did.
“‘It’s easy to talk about the issues facing the dance sector, but I thought we had to do something,’ McGregor says, citing the cost (“around £2,000 per week,” or over $2,500) of renting a studio in London. As part of [his] FreeSpace [program], 5,000 hours of studio time will be gifted to 25 artists over one year. In exchange, for each week spent in the Studio they are asked to devote one day to outreach projects.
She’s opening a studio in St. Petersburg that will teach yoga and gymnastics as well as ballet; she’s running a dance festival that covers both that city and Moscow; she loves being a guest with other companies and wants to do more of it. In a Q&A with Gia Kourlas, she talks about her plans, ballet training today, and what she loves about American audiences.
“Using the sports marketing model, where major brands advertise to capture the sporting fan market,” the National Performing Arts Funding Exchange “will target corporate underwriters for various [small and independent] dance organizations. [Founder Cliff] Brody is convinced that companies will jump on the bandwagon to put their names behind dance.”
“There’s very little ballet that I like. I’m not interested in most of what’s happening in ballet. And so I think that women have been drawn to contemporary dance because it’s a more interesting field where you can see more interesting work. It draws upon more fields of art, there are more diverse influences. I think the problem with ballet, in general, is its insularity and the education that results from that.”
Siobhan Burke: “‘Greetings, folks,’ the email began, addressing a BCC-ed list of recipients to which I was sure I had been added by mistake. I read it twice, three times, refreshed the page. Because it’s not every day that you hear from Yvonne Rainer – the choreographer, dancer, writer, filmmaker and game-changing force in dance history – with an invitation to dance in her work.”