“With apologies to James Brown, the hardest working people in show business may well be ballet dancers. And at New York City Ballet, none work harder than the dancers in its lowest rank, the corps de ballet.” Michael Cooper spent six days shadowing one corps member, and he found even that “exhausting.” (includes video)
The choreographer has cast Ashly Isaacs as Robert Fairchild’s understudy in The Times Are Racing. “I don’t know if it’s a first time, but it certainly feels like it might be one,” says Peck. “[Isaacs] has stepped in a few times, and she looks great.”
The founder of the London Boys Ballet School says that he had only 15 students when the place opened 2½ years ago – and it now has 170.
“As a fashion influence, ballet has come and gone for decades: legwarmers cycle in and out of style, and American Apparel spent years trying to convince hipsters everywhere that leotards are comfortable. Ballerinas from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater are currently serving as models for luxe clothing brands like Wolford, Thakoon and Negative Underwear. But ballet’s current mainstream moment goes beyond fashion, crossing over into fitness culture and serving as a revealing reminder of the kind of female athleticism ― the kind of female bodies ― that American culture deems acceptable and admirable.”
Sydney Dance Company and the Art Gallery of New South Wales created a show for which Rafael Bonachela choreographed dances to be performed alongside such artworks as Rodin’s The Kiss and Francis Bacon triptych. Then they took the slowest-selling performance and branded it nude-audience-only; tickets sold out that day. Kate Hennessy went, and she writes about her experience there – as an art-lover and as a female.
Corinne Haas, former member of Alonzo King LINES Ballet: “When your heart is pounding and your knees are trembling, it’s hard to cultivate a calm, confident persona at an audition. But if you practice that feeling before stepping foot in the room, you can improve your chances of success.”
“[He] stops short of calling it a protest dance, but his newest ballet, The Times Are Racing, is certainly of the moment. The dancers wear sneakers, and T-shirts and hoodies emblazoned with words like Unite, React, Act, Protest and Fight.”
“Full festival details, including associated activities and events, will be made public at the time of the 2018 season announcement three months from now, but the list of participating choreographers has been announced: David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Yuri Possokhov, Dwight Rhoden, Stanton Welch, and Christopher Wheeldon.”
To go down the list: Melissa Hayden was born Mildred Herman; Allegra Kent — Iris Margo Cohen; Suzanne Farrell — Roberta Sue Ficker; Violette Verdy — Nelly Guillerm (even the French were doing it!); Merrill Ashley — Linda Michelle Merrill…
Seventeen-year-old Sara Pore: “Lion dancing started 2,000 years ago — that’s incredible. … But what makes you a competent lion dancer is that there is a sense of imagination involved. Lion dancing teaches competence in leadership because of this. You’re constantly forced to push yourself past your limit.”
Things are going well for the ballet, which “opened” in September 2016: “So far, Night Fall has been a success, and not just with art critics. It has garnered attention from tech blogs and dance publications alike, bringing a diverse crowd together.”
Says one of the dancers in Sean Gandini’s 4×4: Ephemeral Architectures, “The juggling props are pretty light, so it doesn’t really hurt if you get hit by them, especially when compared to the pain of wearing pointe shoes.”
As a teaser for his new ballet, The Times Are Racing, Peck has made a video with himself and Fairchild jeté-ing, sashaying, tapping (in tennis shoes), and sliding down the bannisters of the 34th Street-Javits Center station in Manhattan.
“While the Rockettes are an American symbol — as much as Radio City Music Hall or Mr. Trump and his branded buildings — the group’s individual dancers remain fairly anonymous. They don’t speak unless deemed interview-appropriate by the Madison Square Garden Company, which has fiercely protected them against criticism surrounding the inauguration.”
“In a two-part feature, we first hear from [board president Nancy] Garton about why the board has decided to move forward with retiring [artistic directors Ron] Cunningham and [Carinne] Binda. After that, the two will talk about what happened from their end and their next steps in life.” (audio)
A photo journal of a visit to the Kibera ballet school in Nairobi, where the best students get chances to perform at Kenya’s national theatre.
Dance has become a popular acquisition of museums in recent years. Immersive, participatory, and often silly, “The Museum Workout” could be seen as a cheeky response to the trend. But the work also tackles serious questions that dance artists have long been asking about the relationship between artists and audiences and about what constitutes dance.
“Embodiment” and “the intelligent body” are buzz terms both in dance and academia: the idea is that the brain doesn’t have dominion over human experience. “We still hugely privilege the mind over everything else,” says Siobhan Davies. “I think the mind is bloody wonderful, but the whole of us lives in the world, the whole of us communicates, the whole of us can fantasise and imagine. I’d like us to turn the world around.”
“How do you know if the negatives are outweighing the positives?” Sarah Wroth helps with yet another instance of things that should be obvious but never are when we’re the ones in the middle of them.
Middle school student Sarah Hansen has a progressive disorder that had left her unable to take more than one or two steps without holding on to something or falling. Then she found Bonnie Schlachte’s studio, Ballet for All Kids. Schlachte usually teaches developmentally disabled kids, but she knew that, thanks to neuroplasticity, she could help Hansen. (includes video)
As in 7 million YouTube views. “When people look at a full-figured girl, automatically they just think, they can’t do. But there are lot of plus-sized people that can really dance and move. I mean, you have to know your body as a dancer. You have to know how to transfer your weight. Of course, you know, being a woman of my aesthetic, I know my body. I know what I’m capable of doing. So you just have to be comfortable in your own skin.”
“The participants range from young adults to senior citizens and have varying degrees of sight, but they all agree on the positive effects” – better balance, improved range of motion – “of the class. Sessions include a mix of barre and center work, as well as some weight-sharing and partnering exercises.” (video)
This is the way way partner artists (have to) talk when they’re working in elementary schools: “Dance offers a fun way to learn science. Young students want to move around. Dance will represent what things mean in weather science and complement our core curriculum.”
“When German break-dancer Vartan Bassil came up with the idea for Red Bull Flying Bach, he hoped to bring together those who sneer at pop culture and those who snore at high culture. And he hoped to impress the other parents in the room.”
“Artists fail when they aren’t able to make their art a brand,” says the choreographer and dancer, who is lean in an almost feline way, with thick muscles that propel him into lithe motion at the slightest provocation. “We want to be at the intersection of dance and fashion — of dance and advertising. How do we get dance to a wider audience?”
“[That view is] one that privileges the woman, certainly, but on terms that let her shine only by doing what no man can. Should we agree with the choreographer George Balanchine (1904-83) that ‘ballet is woman’? Or do we qualify this, as the choreographer Pam Tanowitz (born in 1969) has recently done, by saying that ballet is a man’s idea of woman?”
“As he saw it, that job, teaching, was his main job. Most of us think of him preëminently as a choreographer, but he insisted that he was above all a teacher. Class or not, he said that all dancers had to do a complete barre (supported exercises, executed while holding onto the rail) every day. It was like brushing your teeth, he said. You didn’t think about it; you just did it.”
“By the time type comes up on screen telling us that Millepied left the Paris Opera Ballet after little more than two years on the job, we have seen the reasons for that departure writ large on the screen.”
“The greatest challenge was to try to change the existing culture from one that was transactional to philanthropic, removing the need for tiers and associated benefits. The Directors’ Circle was our upper-level membership scheme, designed with its own set of tiers (silver, gold and platinum) and associated benefits. The scheme itself had been relatively successful, particularly in the development of our Sponsor a Dancer appeal. The drawback to the scheme was that it was not cost-effective if supporters drew on all of their benefits. This meant that rather than creating a community of supporters we were at risk of turning those closest to us into transactional givers.”
“Expectation: The American dance community is super competitive and hardcore.
Reality: Coming from a world of Russian discipline, I was surprised to find out how joyful American dancers, choreographers and teachers are about what they do.”