“While the Rockettes are an American symbol — as much as Radio City Music Hall or Mr. Trump and his branded buildings — the group’s individual dancers remain fairly anonymous. They don’t speak unless deemed interview-appropriate by the Madison Square Garden Company, which has fiercely protected them against criticism surrounding the inauguration.”
“In a two-part feature, we first hear from [board president Nancy] Garton about why the board has decided to move forward with retiring [artistic directors Ron] Cunningham and [Carinne] Binda. After that, the two will talk about what happened from their end and their next steps in life.” (audio)
A photo journal of a visit to the Kibera ballet school in Nairobi, where the best students get chances to perform at Kenya’s national theatre.
Dance has become a popular acquisition of museums in recent years. Immersive, participatory, and often silly, “The Museum Workout” could be seen as a cheeky response to the trend. But the work also tackles serious questions that dance artists have long been asking about the relationship between artists and audiences and about what constitutes dance.
“Embodiment” and “the intelligent body” are buzz terms both in dance and academia: the idea is that the brain doesn’t have dominion over human experience. “We still hugely privilege the mind over everything else,” says Siobhan Davies. “I think the mind is bloody wonderful, but the whole of us lives in the world, the whole of us communicates, the whole of us can fantasise and imagine. I’d like us to turn the world around.”
“How do you know if the negatives are outweighing the positives?” Sarah Wroth helps with yet another instance of things that should be obvious but never are when we’re the ones in the middle of them.
Middle school student Sarah Hansen has a progressive disorder that had left her unable to take more than one or two steps without holding on to something or falling. Then she found Bonnie Schlachte’s studio, Ballet for All Kids. Schlachte usually teaches developmentally disabled kids, but she knew that, thanks to neuroplasticity, she could help Hansen. (includes video)
As in 7 million YouTube views. “When people look at a full-figured girl, automatically they just think, they can’t do. But there are lot of plus-sized people that can really dance and move. I mean, you have to know your body as a dancer. You have to know how to transfer your weight. Of course, you know, being a woman of my aesthetic, I know my body. I know what I’m capable of doing. So you just have to be comfortable in your own skin.”
“The participants range from young adults to senior citizens and have varying degrees of sight, but they all agree on the positive effects” – better balance, improved range of motion – “of the class. Sessions include a mix of barre and center work, as well as some weight-sharing and partnering exercises.” (video)
This is the way way partner artists (have to) talk when they’re working in elementary schools: “Dance offers a fun way to learn science. Young students want to move around. Dance will represent what things mean in weather science and complement our core curriculum.”
“When German break-dancer Vartan Bassil came up with the idea for Red Bull Flying Bach, he hoped to bring together those who sneer at pop culture and those who snore at high culture. And he hoped to impress the other parents in the room.”
“Artists fail when they aren’t able to make their art a brand,” says the choreographer and dancer, who is lean in an almost feline way, with thick muscles that propel him into lithe motion at the slightest provocation. “We want to be at the intersection of dance and fashion — of dance and advertising. How do we get dance to a wider audience?”
“[That view is] one that privileges the woman, certainly, but on terms that let her shine only by doing what no man can. Should we agree with the choreographer George Balanchine (1904-83) that ‘ballet is woman’? Or do we qualify this, as the choreographer Pam Tanowitz (born in 1969) has recently done, by saying that ballet is a man’s idea of woman?”
“As he saw it, that job, teaching, was his main job. Most of us think of him preëminently as a choreographer, but he insisted that he was above all a teacher. Class or not, he said that all dancers had to do a complete barre (supported exercises, executed while holding onto the rail) every day. It was like brushing your teeth, he said. You didn’t think about it; you just did it.”
“By the time type comes up on screen telling us that Millepied left the Paris Opera Ballet after little more than two years on the job, we have seen the reasons for that departure writ large on the screen.”
“The greatest challenge was to try to change the existing culture from one that was transactional to philanthropic, removing the need for tiers and associated benefits. The Directors’ Circle was our upper-level membership scheme, designed with its own set of tiers (silver, gold and platinum) and associated benefits. The scheme itself had been relatively successful, particularly in the development of our Sponsor a Dancer appeal. The drawback to the scheme was that it was not cost-effective if supporters drew on all of their benefits. This meant that rather than creating a community of supporters we were at risk of turning those closest to us into transactional givers.”
“Expectation: The American dance community is super competitive and hardcore.
Reality: Coming from a world of Russian discipline, I was surprised to find out how joyful American dancers, choreographers and teachers are about what they do.”
“The Sacramento Ballet board of directors has announced the company’s 2017-18 season will be the last for co-artistic directors Ron Cunningham and Carinne Binda. … It will be their 30th season with the organization.” While Cunningham and Binda aren’t fighting the decision, they’re stating publicly that the board made it and they aren’t ready to go.
“‘We can’t walk barefoot, ever,’ explained Sara Mearns, a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet. Megan Fairchild, a principal dancer at the same company, echoed that sentiment: ‘We get up out of bed in the morning and put shoes on. We don’t go anywhere without something that’s shock absorbing.'” (includes video)
Kat Richter, responding to Pennsylvania Ballet’s firing of principal Sara Michelle Murawski because she’s too tall, reminds us that “ballet is, in fact, an ethnic dance form. As such, it embodies the social, cultural and aesthetic values of the time and place in which it developed (16th-century France)” – so height and skin color are far from the only factors in which it discriminates.
Someone’s got to heal this divided citizenry. Dance can do this and a nationally televised show presents an ideal platform. The Rockettes shouldn’t perform for Trump (like my friend was forced to dance for Putin), but rather for his supporters. That said, no artist should ever be asked to “tolerate intolerance”; they have a responsibility to challenge it.
The 1980s really are back: “”‘I used to be kinda nerdy,’ said Luke Yi Hao, a former violin prodigy who works in biomedical engineering and started taking weekly classes at PMT last fall. The 28-year-old’s colleagues enjoy fencing and salsa dancing, but Hao turned to break dancing because, he said, ‘it looked cool.'”
“The Red Detachment of Women, which was adapted from a 1961 film of the same name, was based on the true experience of an all-female Special Company of the Red Army during the Chinese Civil War. They survived a brutal attack on Hainan Island while their male counterparts did not, and were honored by Mao himself.”
Seeing this story, we can finally understand what Reynolds meant when she said that, excepting childbirth, her big number in Singin’ in the Rain was the hardest thing she’d ever done in her life. (includes video)
Christopher Connolly of Dance Manchester tells how one encounter with a homeschooling parent – along with “a few risks and a leap of faith” – led to a program for a difficult-to-reach community.
Remember when early January was basically a post-Christmas lull in the performing arts season? Those days are over: now it’s not uusual for a dancer to perform in three completely different works for different companies within 24 hours. “The reason – or the culprit, some might say – is the phenomenon known as APAP.”
Jenice Armstrong, on Sara Michelle Murawski’s dismissal from Pennsylvania Ballet because, at 5’11”, she’s too tall: “Murawski’s dancing abilities don’t appear to be in question. So if ballet officials had an issue with a tall dancer, why woo her here? Now that she’s finally here and performing beautifully, she gets a hard toe shoe up her backside, because they apparently don’t like the idea of a tall female looming over shorter male dancers.”
Yeah, it’s the city that throws garbage at their own team as well as at the opponents, that has a courtroom and jail in the sports stadium, that beat up a sidewalk Santa (okay, okay, that was a generation ago), that decapitated a friendly hitchhiking robot. In Philadelphia last week, Pennsylvania Ballet told a principal, about an hour before she went onstage, that this would be her last season there because she’s just too tall. (It’s a tough town.)
“David Hallberg, the American Ballet Theater principal dancer, who has been sidelined by injury for the last two and a half years, is returning to the company and planning to perform during its spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House.”
A secretly-made recording of a discussion between chief exec James Dolan (also chairman of Madison Square Garden and CEO of Cablevision) and a group of the dancers reveals disagreement and nervousness, as well as some seeming confusion about whether or not this event is mandatory for all dancers.