Helgi Tomasson (And The Rest Of Us) Celebrate His 30 Years With San Francisco Ballet

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“What Tomasson has done here over these three decades is to transform a respected regional American ballet company into an international-caliber organization that commands worldwide respect for the depth of its repertoire and its superb technical standards. In fact, the S.F. Ballet’s history of the past 30 years has rendered the term ‘American regional company’ rather outdated.”

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Merce Cunningham Trust Makes Cash Grants For First (And Maybe Last) Time

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“The Merce Cunningham Trust, established in 1990 to further the choreographer’s legacy, has announced an award of $250,000 to the Baryshnikov Arts Center and of $375,000 to the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. … [A trustee] said that this was the first time the trust had awarded cash grants, and that it was unlikely to happen again.”

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The Dance World’s Quiet Revolution

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“This is an extraordinary time in the dance world, when five of the greatest ballerinas of our time, from leading American ballet companies, have, coincidentally, all announced their retirement within months of each other.”

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They’ve Gone Mad For Tango In Tbilisi

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Caminar, cruce, gancho, ocho. The dance steps are not usually associated with the South Caucasus, but thanks to a prolonged period of stability following Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution the country is increasingly connected to the outside world – and starting to enjoy pastimes that come from afar.”

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How Shostakovich’s “The Bolt” Changed Ballet History

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“Despite its seemingly impeccable narrative of industrial espionage being routed by heroic factory workers, its creators were too tempted to have fun with their cast of baddies (the Lazy Idler, the Petty Bourgeois Woman, and the decadent, western types satirised by the local amateur theatre troupe). They were too obviously bored by the decent workers, the earnest members of the local Komsomol group – the young communist league.”

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How “The Nutcracker” Conquered American Ballet

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“When the San Francisco Ballet company performed the first complete version of The Nutcracker in the U.S. on Christmas Eve, 1944, they had no way of knowing that in time it would become as American as leaving the milk and cookies out for Santa.” (includes video)

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What Does Dance Have To Do With Video Games?

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“How do games and dances both incorporate four characteristics that demonstrate the realm of possibility, the realm of predictability, and hard work? These themes — simplicity, surprise, transformation, and repetition — became clear to me when, as a choreographer, I began working in the field of computer game design.”

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Keeping Alvin Ailey’s Company Vital, 25 Years After His Death

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Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director Robert Battle, only the third person to head the company in its history (and the first not to be an original member of the company) talks about keeping Mr. Ailey’s technique and works alive as well as adding other choreographers’ work to the repertoire. (audio)

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A Dance Critic Looks At The Physicality Of Wrestling

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“The intensity of wrestling is so airless and complete—body on body, the skeleton being pulled and twisted more than it seems possible to withstand, every muscle driving for that inch, or a fraction of an inch, that allows one set of shoulders to be pinned or another to resist. Wrestlers are so crushingly close they make boxers look distanced and clinical.”

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Dancer With Severe Autism Says Ballet Saved His Life

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“The stage is the one place Philip Martin-Nelson feels right at home. But it wasn’t always that way. Diagnosed with the most severe form of autism, Philip was unable to speak, make eye contact, or even allow someone to touch him for the first three years of his life.” (includes video)

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Will These Twin Ballet Dancers Be Among The Last Cuban Artists To Seek Refuge In The US?

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“When they set foot in the U.S. almost three months ago, they had no idea what was next — where they might end up, where they’d be sleeping a week later. (A lucky break connected them to someone at the San Diego Ballet, which intends to hire them when their work authorization papers come through; for now they are not paid, said the ballet’s executive director, Robin Morgan.) They understood they might never again see the mother they adored.”

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The Art Of Making A (Perfect) Tutu

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“Bacon only takes on a handful of commissions per season—this year, she has five in the works. They’ll keep her busy until competition time rolls around early in 2015.”

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La Monnaie, Belgium’s National Opera House, Eliminates Dance Programming

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Faced with huge funding cuts from the federal government, the Brussels theater – home to Maurice Béjart’s company for 27 years, the place where Mark Morris created his most popular works, the base for Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker and her company – must abandon dance, says its chief executive, so that it can continue its core function as an opera company. (in French)

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Police Investigate Corporate Philanthropy Chief’s Grant To His Partner’s Ballet Company

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“The chair of supermarket chain Asda’s charitable foundation … resigned from his twin roles as vice president of corporate affairs and head of the £8.6 million foundation in September following the discovery that he had sanctioned [£180,000 in] payments … to the MurleyDance company, without the approval of the foundation’s board.”

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The Essential Ballet? It’s About Generosity

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“Again and again among dancers and teachers, I saw examples of generosity that were not simply random, but intrinsic to this world. The real-life counterparts of the ballet teacher who nurtures Billy Elliot and his talent turn out not to be the exceptions but the rule. The die-for-your-art histrionics of The Black Swan and The Red Shoes mercifully exist mostly in the realm of fiction.”

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OMG! Our City Is OVERRUN With Nutcrackers! WHY???

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“I would call our Nutcracker The Great American Way Nutcracker! You get your Nutcracker in a half an hour, you can sit with your family, enjoy coffee, bagels, muffins, a balloon twister and dancing with the Nutcracker characters. And… photos with Santa! No mall lines!”

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Alexei Ratmansky Recreates One Of Petipa’s Classic Ballets

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Marius Petipa more or less created what we now think of as classical ballet, but very few of his works have survived intact. “Together with Doug Fullington, an expert in Stepanov notation, he[Ratmansky] has painstakingly pieced together this 1881 Petipa ballet [Paquita], created for the Mariinsky Ballet of St. Petersburg.”

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The Dancer Who Conquered Autism Through Ballet

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“I was diagnosed with autism when I was three, and I was always obsessed with dance. Anything movement-related I loved. My mother tried to put me in sports when I was younger even though I said I wanted to dance; she wanted to see if I could do anything else besides dance, maybe so I wouldn’t get bullied. But when I was six, she finally let me do my first ballet class. I stuck with it ever since.”

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Grant Saves Dance/UP – For A Time

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“The William Penn Foundation has decided to provide short-term funding for Dance USA/Philadelphia, the service organization whose grant application was unexpectedly denied by the foundation last month after many years of support.”

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