One of the boys – and we’re talking children, not young men – has 140,000 followers on Instagram, and another teaches dance moves to his friends at recess. So don’t think boys aren’t into dance; they are – especially online.
“Ideals are fantastic, but we have to be realistic. When there are hordes of young dancers waiting to take the place of anyone who complains or cracks under the pressure, will public shaming be enough to inspire real change? If the bad PR scares away ticket buyers or donors, it just might. Aside from sheer decency – and living up to 21st-century HR standards – there are many reasons why treating dancers fairly is actually in companies’ best interest, both artistically and financially.”
“Mr. Taylor turns 88 this year. What is it like to be in this company with a modern master in the twilight of his life?” Michael Trusnovec, Laura Halzack, Alex Clayton, Parisa Khobdeh, and Michael Novak answer the question.
“In a country bloodily divided by ethnic and religious strife, the National Central African Ballet is a rare unifying factor – a melting pot, professing no favouritism or allegiance to any group or sect. For at least two days a week, the conflicts that ravage most of the country seem far away in downtown Bangui, where 30 or so professional artists come together. … The trials of everyday life are forgotten for a while – and so are the armed militias patrolling a few kilometres from the capital.”
The organization’s founder and leader, Gina Gibney, said that while dance was still central to its mission, the name Gibney Dance no longer captured the breadth of what it does for artists and its public outreach.
“I was a ballet dancer and choreographer for 10 years. Now, six years after leaving dance, I am shocked by the elements of the culture that I once accepted as normal. In the ballet world, disordered eating is dismissed as ambition, and dancers have no job security and little ability to voice concerns or opinions about how they’re treated in the workplace. Yet it’s difficult to separate culturally sanctioned, low-level abuse from the necessary stress of a demanding art form.”
“Department store Barneys New York has teamed up with Samsung and the Martha Graham Dance Company for what’s possibly the most intriguing dance-meets-fashion collaboration to date. Today through April 8, you can visit select Barneys stores or their website to experience Mantle, a surreal 11-minute virtual reality experience featuring current and former Graham company members in eerie choreography by Cynthia Stanley.”
“French choreographer Medhi Walerski has given up a commission from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens for next season after widespread criticism that the program for which he was hired, entitled Femmes, would feature new works by three men and no women. Mr. Walerski’s replacement, however, will be another man, the company says.
“The Montreal-based Grands Ballets Canadiens has changed the name and theme of its show Femmes, after women” – and not only women – “criticized the company for commissioning a ballet touted as a tribute to women but choreographed by three men. The Grands Ballets was also criticized for the way it promoted Femmes, which included online ads with a picture of three male dancers trapped in ice.”
“Over the past 18 months Swedish photographer Fredrik Lerneryd, who is based in Nairobi, has joined [teacher Mike] Wamaya and the girls for about two dozen of their Wednesday ballet lessons.”
Luke Jennings: “The problem with Femmes – a new triple-bill from Les Grands Ballets Canadiens – “apart from the sheer, kitsch ghastliness of the concept, is that it epitomises the lack of agency of women in classical dance. The reverence for the feminine implied by Balanchine’s quote [‘Ballet is woman’] has always been contingent on women knowing their place. Ballet relies on women to make up most of its performing workforce, but overwhelmingly reserves positions of artistic power for men.”
He was performing alongside Natalia Osipova in the Royal Ballet’s Giselle in London when he somehow hurt himself (no details were given) early in Act One. While he finished the act, he did not return to the stage after intermission. “Mr. Hallberg returned to the stage just 14 months ago, after a two-and-a-half-year injury-filled break and a painful, painstaking fight back to physical prowess. (Dancing with Ms. Osipova again, he has said, was one of his strongest motivations.)”
Supply and demand is one thing, but it’s heartbreaking to hear that lousy conditions follow. Does it have to be that way? The idea of self-value brings me back to the Ailey dancers, and why their disobedience — their independence — is encouraging. As artists elsewhere have been speaking up about their treatment, the Ailey dancers, in their acts of wordless absence, have joined those ranks. Theirs is a story of dancers finding a voice in a very public way, and drawing strength from one another. Dance can be seen as a passive world, until a group of artists boycotts their gala. By spotlighting the economics behind what they do, they reveal another facet of a dancer’s life.
New York’s churches have been home to some pretty radical dance – and dancer/choreography Reggie Wilson wants to bring some of that cross-platform work back to life.
When one such community in England did this, many tongues were clucked and pearls clutched. “Why inappropriate?”, writes Michele Hanson, “It looked more like gymnastics than rudeness to me. … [The residents] were perhaps sick and tired of bingo, singalongs, banging tambourines, crosswords, telly, chair-yoga, arts and crafts, mindfulness and reminiscences. Not that I want to criticise these pastimes – they’re all lovely, if that’s what you like – but pole dancing makes a refreshing change.”
“I think they were really committed to being as accurate as possible, so they wanted a principal dancer, a real ballerina,” Boylston says. “Justin Peck, the choreographer, is a good friend of mine — we had worked together before on our own film that premiered at Tribeca Film Festival a couple of years ago. He called me and was like, ‘I think you’d be a great fit for this project.’ And I was like, Francis Lawrence? Jen Lawrence? Sign me up.”
Experimental dancemakers “often imply that the process, not the product, is the most valuable part of their work – at least to them. Performances, by these lights, are more like peepholes. Is there a way to widen the aperture? This appears to be the goal of the ‘The Making Room,’ a project led by the veteran choreographer Bebe Miller.”
“I wanted her to understand what muscle groups were involved, and how most people walking on the street are internally rotated with their shoulders — their palms are facing back. With ballet dancers, you have to spin that back so it looks more like their arms are an extension of their back, and that whole alignment lengthens your neck. It widens your shoulder line.”
The former Royal Ballet star and current artistic director of English National Ballet has been catching some flack for her romance with principal dancer Isaac Hernández (who’s 16 years younger). SDhe insists there is “not even a possibility” of conflict of interest: “He has won all the awards you can possibly win, so there was nowhere I could promote him.”
“I have commissioned over 60 works, both new and revivals, for the Rambert dancers, who in my opinion have the richest embodied knowledge in the world. This is the beginning of my 16th year as artistic director which is the longest stint of any artistic director of this company, and I think it is the perfect moment to hand over. I arrived as a choreographer and my heart tells me it is time to return to that,” he said.
ABT principal dancer Isabella Boylston, who does the dancing body double work for the star in the new movie Red Sparrow, says the adjustment from stage to screen wasn’t big – it was small: “When I performed in the Met in front of 4,000 people, everything had to translate to the back row, so you had to do things really big, dance big, with acting and gestures. Everything has to be magnified to carry through the theater, and for film it’s the opposite; everything has to be subtle because you can read every little detail.”
As City Ballet is run by a team of four (three ballet masters and a choreographer), Alistair Macauley sums up a few recent changes: “Whoever takes over City Ballet long-term must address not just the legacy of Mr. Martins but also the achievements of this interregnum, too. A controversial slap in Mr. Martins’s Romeo + Juliet has been deleted; the ballerina Patricia McBride has coached a role she created. There have been impressive debuts in individual roles.”
Here, white administrators can experience what it feels like to be one of a few, to stick out, to not know if you are authentically welcome or just being tolerated. I had conversations with some who were uncertain if their voices would be welcomed. Welcome to the African American experience.
“I’d like to see politicians dancing. I’d like to see the world practicing art. Because the introspection from true art practice can’t lie.” (video)
Copeland said that ABT and ballet in general are naturally moving in a direction that favors gender equality and more diversity on stage, but key to ballet’s survival is the diversification of its patrons, too. “Bringing diversity into the theater is going to keep ballet thriving and relevant and alive. To me, that’s so critical and so important,” she said.
“The internet sank its teeth into a now-defunct Winter Olympics event this week: ski ballet. And it makes sense. When you see footage of actual ski ballet competitions from years past it’s hard to deny the novelty of it all, while simultaneously taking in the raw athleticism and artistry of the event. There’s also an extremely ‘What the hell am I watching?’ quality to ski ballet. … But really, no words can truly do it justice.” (includes video)
Gia Kourlas: “To me, no team, gold medal or not, matches the artistry of Ms. Papadakis and Mr. Cizeron. … Suddenly, a competition is a conduit for more than skating. It’s a window into another space and time: eerie, quiet, floating.”
“Dance for PD is a program developed by [Mark Morris Dance Group] that gives people with Parkinson’s an opportunity to experience the joy of dance while creatively addressing symptoms of the degenerative neurological disorder that affects one in 100 people over the age 60.” Reporter Jane Fries sits in on a class taught by MMDG members David Leventhal and Lesley Garrison.
“Anderson may be a familiar face to Boise dance devotees, having performed in the past with the Trey McIntyre Project and local dance nonprofit LED. In addition … [he has] chaired the Dance Department at New Mexico School for the Arts and has danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet Chicago and the Belgium-based Royal Ballet of Flanders, among others. He will take up the post of artistic director in July.”
“Eventually, around the beginning of the 19th century, ballet class took the form and structure of what professional ballet dancers now do every day, beginning at the barre with pliés and ending in the center with allégro. … Yet today’s ballet dancers need to be much more versatile.” Emma Sandall talks with dancers, artistic directors, pedagogues, and researchers about what in ballet training could change for the better.