Sherrie Silver: “There are a lot of dark themes in it, so they wanted us to be the light of the video. You know how kids are innocent and kind of unaware of what’s going on? We were there to smile and bring joy to everyone watching it, because the background is bringing so much darkness and reality. … [We] wanted to bring joy to it, in the middle of madness. That’s what kids do and that’s what dance does – especially African dance.”
It’s not just that Donald Glover keeps dancing as violence spreads all around him, writes Aida Amoako. It’s our own kinesthetic empathy – the action of mirror neurons in the brain that makes us want to move along as we see someone else dance. “An internal struggle begins in the viewer’s body, which is pulled between joy and horror. Just as the video questions how we can dance when there is pandemonium all around, the audience struggles with whether to continue moving, too, after witnessing such brutality.”
“American Ballet Theater announced a multiyear initiative on Wednesday that will support the creation and the staging of new works by female choreographers. The A.B.T. Women’s Movement, which will support at least three female choreographers each season, grew out of Ballet Theater’s Women’s Choreographers Initiative, which has already funded dances by Jessica Lang, Lauren Lovette and Dana Genshaft.”
It was Kenneth MacMillan’s desire to drag the real world, kicking and screaming, into the prettified arena of ballet that unsettled people, then and now. “An idea grabbed him and he did it. I don’t think he had any agenda and was quite surprised when people were shocked. His ideas were triggered by everything that was going on around him. He brought real life to ballet.”
“‘I have no idea what’s happening right now,’ co-producer Jenny Stulberg said during a break from shooting. ‘I just know that my shopping list for today was for a watermelon, cucumber, two half-gallons of almond milk, a gallon of regular milk, two bottles of Prosecco and a bag of flour. And fish.’ Dead fish? ‘Yes.’ Nearby, three dearly departed striped bass cooled their heels on ice. ‘I brought sparklers, just in case,’ said costumer Jamielyn Duggan. ‘And rubber gloves.'”
“As an ensemble dancer in The Lion King, India Bolds, age 32, plays nine characters in every show, eight times a week. That’s a lot of entrances and exits, costume changes and choreography to remember. But after five years of dancing in the production, she has the show down pat. Dance Magazine followed her through a performance day to see what it takes to be in Broadway’s third-longest-running production.”
“As soon as the show was over on May 1st, we were hearing complaints that the administrative team did not like our dance at all,” said junior student Ibrahim Sesay. “Calling our whole performance nasty, calling us a disgrace to African culture, picking fights with one of our students and they were just attacking us and our whole performance.”
“It’s incredible that people are looking at dancers’ bodies as healthy, because that hasn’t always been the case. It’s been associated with us having eating disorders or being too thin, not being strong. For us to be in this moment and have [people] want to have a strong, lean, feminine body — I think it’s amazing. I hope going to these barre classes will introduce people to ballet in a way that they’ll want to step into an actual barre class.”
“When it was announced that the Royal’s feathery blockbuster was being entrusted to Scarlett, eyebrows were raised. It wasn’t his talent that was in question, it was his artistic unpredictability. He exploded on the scene in 2010, when, still a junior dancer, he created Asphodel Meadows, a beautiful one-act work that proclaimed his classical credentials. Yet he went on to wrong-foot audiences with dark and disturbing works such as Sweet Violets (2012), a gothic sex-and-death thriller about a Jack the Ripper serial killer, and Hansel and Gretel (2013), reimagined as a grotesque paedophile nightmare. But hey, he says, it’s only make-believe. ‘I was just trying to tell a good story. You don’t have to worry about me.'”
“[The retired ABT star’s] Sleeping Beauty Dreams, an avant-garde dance production about the internal world of the cursed princess during the one hundred years she was asleep, [is] premiering in Miami in December before going on to New York and then on … a 30-city tour in 2019.” Reporter Olivia Nuzzi does a profile of Michael Caputo, the show’s producer, who was interviewed by special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s office last week. Caputo is an erstwhile political operative in both the U.S. and Russia and was a senior communications adviser to the Trump campaign.
“Not only am I a black choreographer I’m a modern choreographer. I have a fear that if this piece is seen as a failure, they will never hire another black choreographer again. … I just want to make a beautiful work in the same way the other two choreographers on that program are going into a work, but they don’t have that same weight on them.”
Dancer Benedict Nguyen: “We make contributions to creative processes all the time. Some of these are obvious: We often improvise material or generate entire phrases to be incorporated into a work. Others are more innocuous: Dancers are sometimes asked to give feedback that ends up shaping the composition of a work. This is choreography. As working relationships between dancers and choreographers evolve, the dialogue on crediting authorship needs to reflect the collaboration at the heart of so many works.”
Chase Johnsey, a 14-year-member of the drag ballet troupe (and winner of best male dancer honors at last year’s UK National Dance Awards), quit the company
in January, saying publicly that he had been harassed for looking and acting too feminine. Now Tamara Rojo’s company has hired him at the rank of First Artist.
Even now, d’Amboise still comes to the Harlem building each day — that is, when he’s not traveling the country, visiting one of the 13 affiliate dance institutes (there’s also an exchange program in China) and working on fundraising. “Yes, he’s here every single day,” confirms Ellen Weinstein, NDI’s longtime artistic director, who met d’Amboise some 30 years ago as a student at SUNY Purchase, where d’Amboise was teaching “for a minute” (academics did not suit him). “And four to five times a day I get a call, ‘Ellen how about this?’ It’s always something exciting, always fabulous!” she laughs, mimicking her mentor’s enthusiasm.
Abilene Christian University spent many years quashing college students who wanted to dance on campus; the first on-campus dance was held a mere six years ago. But now a donor has stepped up to pay for a full-time dance instructor – and the head of the department says dance classes fit well within the university: “It’s missional because we’re helping students grow their God-given gifts.”
Robbins, who directed and choreographed On the Town, The King and I, West Side Story, and many more classic musicals, returned to ballet fully in 1969 – and changed American ballet as well. “He weeded out artifice and mannerism where he could. The naturalness he elicited was a particularly American style that then enriched the world of dance.”
“Gina Gibney runs two enormous dance spaces in New York City: Together they contain 23 studios, five performance spaces, a gallery, a conference room, a media lab and more. Gibney is now probably the largest dance center in the country. … The new branding calls for it to simply be called Gibney (as opposed to Gibney Dance), to reflect its range of public programs, affordable work space and commitment to social justice issues. … Gibney also houses the Gibney Dance Company, which was founded in 1991.”
“I never thought of music as just the basic energetic impulse that makes you want to dance; it was always like a textbook, something worth studying. If you consider choreography to be an organization of movement in space and time, then it is very instructive to look at scores and understand how composers organize their material. Both are embodiments of the same idea—music does it in a more abstract way and choreography is more concrete.”
“On a Friday night in central London, 176 shelled gastropods ‘dance’ around me … to a stretched-out, 47-minute long looping rendition of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, played at 35 BPM – the tempo of a snail’s heartbeat. The whole thing may sound like a Trent Reznor studio experiment (Nine Inch Snails, if you will), but this is in fact Slow Pixel, an interactive art installation that urges its audience to take life at a snail’s pace.”
“When Kevin ‘Iega’ Jeff saw Fana Tshabalala’s Indumba at the annual JOMBA! Contemporary Dance Experience in South Africa, he immediately knew he would ask Tshabalala to set the work on his company. … [Tshabalala] welcomed the chance to create an American-focused version for DRDT because he believes that ‘the impact of apartheid is the same as what America is experiencing internally … America is going through a social and political transformation, and Indumba could help in cleansing.”
“In George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, nobody dies, nobody falls to the ground, nobody falls in love. The only set is the sky-blue backdrop. The women’s costumes, minimal, are white tunics. Yet much does happen. A group of women becomes a vision of pulsating classicism and of gleaming American energy.”
Abi Stafford: “A new director might also spread out roles more evenly. In addition to having happier dancers, I think this would help everyone would perform better. Those who previously carried heavy workloads wouldn’t be dancing injured and exhausted. Dancers who were underutilized would feel more confident and in shape. I’d love to see casting against type, too. Give us a chance. We may surprise you!”
The way to document the finished works hasn’t been completed yet, but each will be accompanied by extensive musical notes, Labanotation — a method for recording dances — interviews with dancers and video from multiple angles. Designs for each dance will be created, though not built. And five to seven years after a work is first choreographed it will be restaged in the studio and additional notes added.
I’ve run a handful of races per year since my first 5K in 2008, and have done enough theme/costume runs to be used to seeing women (and occasionally men) in fluffy statement skirts—sometimes stiff ballet-inspired tutus, sometimes just sparkly costume skirts (utilitarian running skirts are a different sartorial category.) I stopped thinking of running tutus as a novelty, however, when I saw them being sold as official merchandise at the 2013 Color Run in Chicago.
“The piece spurring the conversation [at Pacific Northwest Ballet] is RAkU, created in 2011 by Ukranian-born Yuri Possokhov, who danced with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow before becoming the San Francisco Ballet’s resident choreographer. The subject matter is the true story of the Buddhist Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, Japan, which was burned down in 1950 by a mentally disturbed monk.”
“As conversations about bullying heat up throughout the country, with the role of social media and the effects on adolescent mental health emerging as related concerns, there’s no better time to consider what the dance world can do to help male students of all ages feel safe and accepted.” Ryan P. Casey does some considering.