This isn’t new; once digital designs became possible, and embroidery machines could run all day and night, the costumes had to step it up to match. The early days of change were harsh: “Irish dancing solo costumes went through a very bad period in the early 2000s. …There were feathers, animal prints. It was almost like the more gaudy you could make it, the better.” Now it’s all Swarovski crystals, and “classic Celtic patterns are once again in style, just a lot more blinged out, blindingly so.”
Erdem Moralioglu’s company is famous for its evening gowns and “decadent craftsmanship.” How will he work with dancers at the Royal Ballet in London?
“As dancers, we grow up in studios surrounded by people with similar abilities. We take for granted these incredible skills that we’ve spent years perfecting because everybody around us can do much the same as us. We sympathize with our friends who end up in “boots” for their broken metatarsals and we mourn the loss of the incredibly refined senior dancers once they retire. But the demands of being in a ballet company are such that we don’t waste much time considering the potential loss of our own career.”
Jennifer Stahl: “The bottom line: Readers agree it’s time to hold directors accountable, particularly to make sure that dancers are being paid fairly. But the good news is that change is already happening. Here are some of the most intriguing ideas you shared via comments, email and social media.”
“The review was commissioned amid speculation of a poor working culture at the [company] after it was reported close to half of the 36 dancers it employed were leaving, and not all by choice, at the end of 2017. The substance of any specific allegations made or the responses to them were not within the scope of the review, which looked more at how complaints had been managed and its general working policies.”
“Two years ago, when Atlanta Ballet appointed Gennadi Nedvigin as its fourth artistic director, he voiced a vision to increase the company’s size, add a main stage production in the fall, and appear in new venues in Atlanta and beyond. Despite a major turnover last spring, he’s well on his way to realizing that vision. Atlanta Ballet is announcing its 2018-19 season with plans to expand the company from 32 to 42 artists.”
“‘PBT: New Works’ marks the first time the company has mounted a full showcase of dancers’ choreography for a mainstage performance. However, nurturing emerging choreographers on PBT’s roster has been a mission for [artistic director Terrence] Orr for the past few years.”
Corps member William Moore on his Weighted Affair: “I wanted to create a simple narrative – a dinner party with friends – to try to show the sometimes conflicting nature between what someone thinks as opposed to what they choose to actually portray in reality.”
“This flowering of ballet in Egypt, an East-meets-West tale of Cold War cultural politics, happened long ago, in the 1960s and early ’70s. … The Egyptian ballerina Magda Saleh danced the dream role of Giselle in Moscow as a guest star with the mighty Bolshoi Ballet … and in the opera house in her hometown, Cairo – where to call a woman a ‘dancer’ was an insult – with a full troupe of Egyptians trained by Russians in an academy established by the Egyptian state.”
“[The MacArthur Fellow] will create three works for American Ballet Theater dancers, starting with a pièce d’occasion for Ballet Theater’s spring gala on May 21. The new works, announced on Tuesday by the company, are co-commissions with the Vail Dance Festival, where Ms. Dorrance will create the second piece.”
“Rumblings of the company’s demise began when their website and Facebook page were taken down. … [Then,] an email communiqué … stated that the board of LehrerDance had terminated company founder and artistic director Jon Lehrer as of February 7 and ‘in consultation with its attorneys and accountants, is in the process of determining the organization’s financial status but has declared a halt to all operations of the company.'” Yet this may not be just another case of a small dance company running out of cash.
Matthew Ball “was asked to rush back to the Royal Opera House and dance a key role in Giselle, a part he had performed only once before, after the American star David Hallberg injured himself during the first act. It had been Hallberg’s long-awaited comeback, almost three years after a devastating foot injury.”
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.”