Together, the Japanese-American duo Eiko and Koma had a successful decades-long career performing what one might describe as New York neo-Butoh. But Koma had to give up dancing after a foot injury several years ago, and Eiko eventually began performing alone. Now, thanks to what he calls a “miracle,” Koma is onstage again, with scenery he designed and painted himself.
Frédéric Olivieri had been director of the Milan opera house’s ballet company from 2002 to 2007. His successor, Makhar Vaziev, left in late 2015 to bring order to the wildly-troubled Bolshoi Ballet; his successor, modern-dance choreographer Mauro Bigonzetti, was a poor fit with Italy’s most august classical ballet company and resigned after eight months. So the return of a familiar face with a steady hand was greeted by La Scala’s dancers with applause.
“You feel the age and the injuries, and you realize the importance of character,” she said in a recent interview. “I used to muscle through these things. I can’t do that anymore. There needs to be something more, something else.”
“Receiving it [in 2013] at the age I received it – I definitely felt that I didn’t deserve it. And that became a distraction from the work – I was thinking about so many of my mentors and idols who don’t have that award and asking, ‘Why do I have this and they didn’t have it?’ I allowed that to play a part in the work I was trying to make. And that’s tricky.”
Audience engagement researcher Ben Walmsley writes about his project called Respond, “a responsive online platform … [which] attempted to break down cognitive barriers to dance by showing and explaining the rationale behind certain choreographic decisions and giving audiences demystifying insights into the rehearsal and development processes.”
When Birmingham Royal Ballet tours David Bintley’s “Cinderella,” for instance, says the company manager, they “transport the set, costume, props and lighting up and down the country, including 1,000 hair pins, 250 hair rollers, 78 wigs, 44 tutus, eight baskets of shoes, two washing machines plus [his] touring office.”
That’s right, with virtual reality, the watcher can move along with the dancers – or just enjoy experiencing more of the dancers’ full dimensionality. Director and choreographer Lily Baldwin: “Virtual reality can puncture what we think is real and return us to our body in a way that flatty cinema can’t.”
Andreas Cross: “Doing these really big jumps, going down into splits, I just thought it was amazing.”
Wait a second. ED Joe Volpe “insisted the company had been planning to ‘reorganize’ since he took over more than a year ago — long before the union’s arrival — and that the downsizing is simply part of that restructuring. He also denied the reduction had anything to do with financial distress and said it is ‘completely unrelated’ to a new 10-year contract that director Iain Webb signed in late March.”
The director of L.A. Dance Project (and former director of the Paris Opera Ballet) will make a music-and-dance adaptation of Carmen, with the heroine crossing the deserts from Mexico to Los Angeles.
Lauren Wingenroth recommends a video series in which top Broadway gypsies “dance through their resumes.”
“There were stained futons that you wouldn’t even let your college freshman sit on,” said Amy Astley, the glossy mag’s editor-in-chief and a ballet fan. A donor took care of construction costs, and Astley convinced the designer and all the furnishings suppliers to donate the rest. Here’s the story, with before-and-after pics.
Here’s the story of Joel Kioko, 16, who was discovered in a Nairobi slum and now, after only three years of training, has won a full scholarship to the English National Ballet School. (includes video)
Throughout the last 50 years, the ballet world has frequently been seen as completely out of touch with the importance of diversity. The litany of men — geniuses, admittedly, in their own right — says nothing about the creative, choreographic power of women. This lack of equality not only reads as troubling but a bit safe. Why is it so difficult to see women taking the stage not just as fouetteing prima ballerinas, but as dance-makers as well?
“The minute I got myself out of leotards, my body opened up: I didn’t feel so strict and tight and bound. I never expected you could change so much from the outside-in.” The former New York City Ballet star talks to Jennifer Stahl about the post-classical career she’s been building for herself and about the hip replacement she got in late 2015.
“A new festival in Goma in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo aims to encourage young people to express themselves through dance.” (video)
“Class can be a whirlwind of information. Your teacher throws out multiple corrections at once – often in the middle of a combination – and as much as you want to apply them, they don’t always stick. Though some are notes you’ve heard time and time again, you get too overwhelmed trying to fix all of them to correctly incorporate any of them.”
Its director: “We’ve made it to middle age. That we are still dancing, still producing ballets and still engaging new audiences is amazing.”
Irina Dvorovenko plays a Russian woman who finds herself depressed and lonely in the U.S. It’s a big difference from being a principal for American Ballet Theatre, but not so different from her youth: “Ms. Dvorovenko, born in 1973, grew up in Ukraine with dancer parents and studied gymnastics before entering ballet school at 10. For her, the show’s time period has brought back a flood of memories. Many have to do with hunting for food. (In the transcript of our interview, that word comes up 21 times.)”
In the mid-70s, Luft was “hired as the director of dance programming, arts and culture for the Montreal Olympics. During the Games, he organized 100 dance performances in the city, bringing in performers from all across Canada. After the Olympics, Mr. Luft worked as the director of Quebec’s nine conservatories of music and drama and in 1978, he also co-founded the artists agency Specdici. At the agency, he was instrumental in promoting emerging dance companies, including La La La Human Steps, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal and dancer-choreographer Margie Gillis, to an international audience.”
Alessa Rogers of Atlanta Ballet: “I see you. I know who you are. If you think you are hiding your self-loathing, you are deceiving only yourself. It is time to stop. … Don’t be seduced by the feeling that berating yourself makes you a better artist. I know you are trying to protect yourself by saying self-judgmental things so that it won’t sting if others do. But putting yourself down will not endear you to the people in the front of the studio.”
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been seriously getting into dance lately. But now it’s taking its love affair one step further: Gallim Dance director/choreographer Andrea Miller was just named the museum’s artist in residence for the 2017-18 season – the first dance artist ever chosen for that distinction! We caught up with Miller to find out exactly what this means.”
Brief answers by the three (male) star dancemakers to this question (evidently texted to them after the main conversation recorded in the article was over) – “Most of the major choreographers in classical dance are men. Why is that?” – led to a ferocious response from The Observer‘s Luke Jennings, after which “Twitter went mad.” Courtney Escoyne surveys the battlefield.
“Annie Hanauer, 30, has achieved what many thought impossible for a performer with a disability: a thriving career in the mainstream dance world. After performing with the UK’s Candoco Dance Company from 2008 to 2014, she is now an in-demand freelancer.” (includes video)
Benjamin Millepied’s young company “has signed a five-year lease for its own rehearsal and performance space in the downtown Los Angeles arts district, and will move to its new headquarters in October. [Its space will] include two studios and a performance space with a seating capacity of about 300.
Sara Michelle Murawski made headlines in January after the Pennsylvania Ballet told her (shortly before she went onstage) that her contract wasn’t being renewed because she’s too tall to fit in visually with the company’s other dancers. Now she’s joining the American National Ballet, a new company, launching this fall in Charleston, that’s making a point of engaging gifted dancers of varied physiques and skin tones – and giving them a decent standard of living. (Oddly, neither Charleston City Paper nor The Post & Courier seem to have reported on the ANB yet.)
And the Garment District is even more specialized, and special, than regular consumers know: “Several of his go-to shops won’t ever be seen by the public — they’re tucked onto upper floors of old commercial buildings. But the people who rely on them — Broadway costume designers, theater shoppers, fabric sellers and buyers, fashion designers and more — are all clued in to Choo’s hidden world.”
“The chairman of the ballet’s board of trustees, David Hoffman, said he was sorry the company was losing them but added: ‘I wish them well. People should take opportunities when they get them.'”
Deborah Riley, longtime co-director of Dance Place, steps down in August, and finding the next director is hectic. “‘It’s been my family,’ she acknowledges. But she won’t miss the constant worries that go along with managing morning-to-night classes for adults and children, after-school programs, summer camps, visiting artists and performances nearly every weekend — and always, always, the funding concerns.”
So this is how it started, two decades ago: “Joedy Cook was a 40-something stay-at-home mother in 1996 when she decided the Quad-Cities needed a professional ballet company. She went to the board of directors of the Cassandra Manning Ballet Theatre, where she volunteered at the time, and got the go-ahead. Ballet Quad-Cities kicked off with one paid dancer and a $25,000 budget.”