Talking Ballet History With Jennifer Homans And Kevin McKenzie

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Homans, author of the survey of ballet through the ages Apollo’s Angels and director of NYU’s new Center for Ballet and the Arts, and McKenzie, former star and current artistic director of American Ballet Theatre, discuss the long Paris-to-Vienna-to-St. Petersburg-to-America trajectory of the art form with host Leonard Lopate. (audio)

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How George Balanchine Found His Ideal “Nutcracker”

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“Fifty years ago, George Balanchine finally staged the Nutcracker of his dreams, a triumph for the New York City Ballet in its then new Lincoln Center home. Laura Jacobs tells how Balanchine’s childhood Christmases, his youth in St. Petersburg (dancing multiple roles in The Nutcracker himself), and his 41-foot tree sparked an American holiday tradition.”

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Dancing With Fractals (It Changes The Way You Think About Moving)

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“I realized that when I dance I use all the space around me with my arms. But in this case the fractal responded to motion in some parts of space more than others. For example, moving my arms up and down made the fractals change much more than moving them side-to-side.”

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“The Happiest Ballet Studio In The World”

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Sarah Kaufman: “The happiest ballet studio in the world may be the one just down the street from a Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery [in Charlotte], inside a bright purple building bearing the words ‘Patricia McBride/Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux Center for Dance’.”

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The Dancer Who Chose Ballet Over Harvard

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Elizabeth Mateer of the Pennsylvania Ballet: “Ballet is a young career and you only get one shot at it … My admissions officer told me, ‘Elizabeth, you worked really hard and you are so multitalented, but Harvard is always going to be here.'”

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Venezuela Presents A Hugo Chávez Ballet

Supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro hold a picture of late president Hugo Chavez during a May Day demonstration in Caracas

“The state-sponsored work, Ballet of the Spider-Seller to Liberator, is to show at a Caracas theater on Saturday in homage to Chávez’s life from poor boy selling homemade spider-shaped sweets in his rural hometown to president for 14 years.”

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Do Choreographers Need Editors?

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Judith Mackrell: “In dance, however, there’s no real equivalent, no institutional version of an outside eye to spot a weak narrative, a slack structure or an idea that’s not quite working. … Nor is it even clear who that figure might be. … [Even so,] I think the art form is suffering needlessly from this lack of systematic editorial input.”

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Becoming The World’s Tallest Ballet Dancer Wasn’t Easy

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Fabrice Calmels (6’6″): “I knew I had the technique and could do a lot of things principal dancers could do and I wanted my chance. But everyone was like, ‘You know, I think you’re really tall. I don’t think you’ll ever have a career. I think you should be doing something else from ballet.’ And when you’re young, that really f***s with you.”

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How Dance Came To Be Used To Treat Parkinson’s Disease

English National Ballet: Dance for Parkinson's

“Westheimer knew how valuable the dancers’ expertise in balance, rhythm, control and sequencing might be to sufferers of Parkinson’s. … Two members of the Mark Morris Dance Group, with a composer and pianist, began giving free monthly classes for the [Brooklyn Parkinson Group]. The sessions have since developed into an extensive programme.”

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ABT To Open A Second Ballet School In Southern California

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“Classes at the ABT William J. Gillespie School” – headquartered at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa – “will begin in September for students ages 3 to 14 years old and will follow the same curriculum as the children’s division of the nationally known dance company’s Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School [in Manhattan].”

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What Misty Copeland Thinks About “Black Swan”

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“I really enjoyed it, but I understood what it was. It was a horror film. I mean I’m a dancer and I knew that it wasn’t supposed to be portraying what we are. The great thing about the movie was that it provoked people to think about ballet, which is always a great thing. But once they open up that conversation, it’s educating them on what ballet is.”

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How Indian Classical Dance Healed A Down’s Syndrome Patient

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Hema Ramaswamy, after 13 years of study, recently gave a 2½-hour solo recital. “She was able to achieve this despite her diagnosis and despite two major surgeries for a dangerous leak of cerebrospinal fluid. Her father said dance has strengthened Ramaswamy’s muscles and given her fine motor skills she simply didn’t have before.” (includes audio)

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National Dance Company Wales Finally Stabilizes With New Leaders

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“Ann Sholem, who co-founded the company formerly known as Diversions, with her husband Roy Campbell-Moore, quit as artistic director last year – months after Campbell-Moore left his post as artistic associate.” Gustavo Ramírez Sansano has been named the new artistic director, with Paul Kaynes as CEO.

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“It’s About A Community”: Bill T. Jones On His Dance Company And “Story/Time”

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“There are others who are actually my arms and legs. When I’m fantasizing about a new work, it’s not about me doing it, it’s about individuals in a community. […] The company is the world as we want to live in it, not as the world may be. But a social vision exists in a larger context. And we have to be aware of that.”

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