Since the Ballet Company of Spokane shut down in 1993, only amateur and student dance performances have been available in the city. Vincas Greene is trying to fill that gap with his Vytal Movement Dance Company.
For some time now, Alastair — who celebrated 40 years of reviewing this May — has wanted to spend more time in Britain, his home country; scale back on his daily reviewing responsibilities; and work on a variety of projects, including teaching and lecturing at Juilliard, the 92 Street Y and City Center, and a research fellowship with the Center for Ballet and the Arts.
Says Precious Adams about her decision to wear brown tights henceforth, “It changes the aesthetic, you want there to be continuation between your upper and lower body and there’s a big disconnect if I put pink tights on. … I’m not colourblind and I think it ruins the line of my body.” She’s getting pushback from traditionalists, but her colleagues are entirely supportive.
The dance-theater-visual artist won the prize in the Arts and Humanities category, one of six. “During more than four decades of performance-making, Lemon has explored race and memory, as well as experiences of grief and spirituality, through nonhierarchical movement and language.”
The cover note accompanying this mysterious missive, sealed with wax and dated 12/02/1963, says, “Please file it unopened, with the date carefully noted. It is the outline for a play, and I have no means of copyrighting it except this way. The material is eminently stealable and I’m discussing the matter with people of similar ambitions.” The current possessors of the letter, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, don’t plan to open it just yet, but they are choosing five choreographers to create short pieces based on what they imagine the letter says.
One consequence of the Metropolitan Opera’s recently-announced changes to its season schedule — Sunday performances, going dark in February, adding weeks in May and June — is that the available time for American Ballet Theatre’s spring season there is being reduced from eight weeks to five. Marina Harss explains why the move might just make sense to the company, and she offers a suggestion for where they might go instead.
“The fact is, Balanchine had much more than a “roving eye” and his behavior can no longer be ignored or rationalized. His toxic relationships with women are one of many reasons that NYCB finds itself in the position it is today, struggling to understand how bad behavior was allowed to flourish for so long, both at the highest levels of leadership and in the lower ranks as well. At this moment, coming to terms with this unflattering side of the Balanchine legacy is arguably more important than preserving his choreography for future generations. Without an honest reckoning about its past, NYCB will never truly be able to move forward.”
Madison Mills: “What does it take to make it as a dancer in New York? I have no idea. I’ve never done ballet, I prefer jazz hands to leaps, and I’m more uncoordinated than most. Regardless, I decided to find out. So I auditioned for Alvin Ailey, one of the most prestigious dance companies in New York. It wasn’t pretty.” (video)
“Small- to medium-sized companies based in cities outside dance meccas … are often written off as ‘regional,’ or somehow lesser than their big city counterparts. But in recent decades, a few have defied such categorization as they’ve gained traction on the national and international scene. So how does a company build an international profile without losing connection to its hometown? We asked the directors of Tulsa Ballet, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and Sarasota Ballet to share their strategies.”
Toni Bentley: “The company has now formally hit its nadir after 35 years under the direction of Peter Martins, who succeeded Mr. Balanchine. As a lead dancer for Mr. Balanchine, Mr. Martins embodied a singular purity that made him one of the great male dancers of the 20th century. But the company, under his guidance, is now proffering vulgarity, narcissism and amorality … [and] this descent into moral vacuity has been in the works for decades.”
“With the company’s fall season at New York’s Lincoln Center starting Tuesday, audiences must decide whether buying a ballet ticket means checking their consciences at the door. This is because [Alexandra] Waterbury’s lawsuit goes beyond blaming specific dancers — it accuses the entire institution.”
Jennifer Stahl reports on the statements released by the two fired dancers, how the dancers’ union is handling the dismissals, reactions on social media, and one way in which this scandal is affecting City Ballet’s search for a new artistic director.
The two, including “leading light” Amar Ramasar, were named in the same lawsuit that said City Ballet had a “fraternity atmosphere” in which one dancer – Chase Finlay, who resigned before he could be fired – was “accused … of sending explicit pictures and videos of Alexandra Waterbury, a young woman he had been dating, to his friends without her consent, and asking others to send back explicit photos of their own.”
Katie Dorn: “The Lucinda Childs Dance Company just gave its final performance of her 1979 masterpiece, DANCE, at The Performing Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi. … DANCE is the first piece of Lucinda’s choreography I learned and it was the first piece that her newly-formed company performed. … For close to ten years, I was fortunate to dance this evening-length work all over the world. I’m not entirely sure I’m ready to say good-bye.”
“It’s understandable to experience feelings of shock, fear and even abandonment if your director leaves. It’s not just that you’ll have a new boss — a shift at the top can have a domino effect on casting, programming, rehearsal structure and branding. Here’s how to forge a relationship with your new director and take advantage of the opportunities that come from having fresh eyes on your dancing.”
“The troupe grew out of the gay liberation movement in America in the 1970s; gender-bending satirical treatments of theatre, opera and dance aimed to increase the visibility of gay performers and to celebrate the extravagant traditions of those artforms. The Trocks, as they are now affectionately known, are the only company from that time still thriving.” Why? Respect for the form and very skilled dancing (plus the fact that ballet is fun to make fun of).
Zoé Emilie Henrot was terminated by the St. Paul Ballet board last month, after five years on the job, for reasons she says she still doesn’t fully understand. Within a couple of days, financial backers approached her about forming a new company – now called Ballet Co.Laboratory – and every one of the old company’s dancers joined. (Meanwhile, St. Paul Ballet is searching for a new artistic director and has formed a partnership with the gym next door.)
Harrell was exposed, sort of, to hoochie coochie during his rural Georgia childhood, when his father would take him to traveling fairs but leave the boy with friends while he went out at night. “As I got older, I started to realize that they were going to see naked ladies dance. They were going to see a hoochie coochie show, and that was my first understanding of dance as a spectacle. Because I never actually saw it and we never talked about it, it’s always something that’s been lurking in my consciousness.”
“The goal in [Fortnite: Battle Royale], as in most multiplayer shooter games,” writes Sarah Kaufman, “is to blow your enemies to shreds.” What does that have to do with dance? Well, players can buy preprogrammed moves for their avatars called “dance emotes,” which they use to dance on the dead bodies of the enemies they’ve blown to shreds. Dance emotes are so popular that the game pulls in $126 million every month, and players are starting to bust those moves themselves offline.
With the company due to open its autumn programme on 18 September, one of its principal dancers has publicly declared that the NYCB needs “a moral and fair individual to lead us out of this darkness”. Signs also seemed to be emerging that the NYCB may face a boycott over Ms Waterbury’s claims that her ex-boyfriend Chase Finlay, while a principal dancer at the company, shared nude photos of her and joked about abusing ballerinas
Here’s the thing, haters: “Far more than a frothy break in the action, de Mille’s original choreography revolutionized musical theater. She had stage and film in her blood: Her father was a playwright, and Cecil B. de Mille was her uncle. That made her a natural to create dances for Oklahoma!, but de Mille did more than build on the western theme: Her ballet for the dream sequence advanced the narrative in ways singing and talking couldn’t.”
Sarah Kaufman doesn’t just mean lofty ballet companies like New York City Ballet and ABT or lofty venues like the Kennedy Center: “In Dorrance’s pieces you might find a high-tech electronic floor that enhances the music of her dancers’ feet. Or maybe there’ll be a live funk-blues band, or flamenco dancers. Dorrance has knocked about, vaudeville-style, with Bill Irwin, the stellar clown. She’s made a site-specific work on the spiral ramp of New York’s Guggenheim Museum.”
Annmaria Mazzini, Eran Bugge, Michael Trusnovec, and new Taylor company artistic director Michael Novak tell writer Ann Votaw how, as Novak puts it, “Human movement never lies,” and why what Taylor wanted to watch dancers do in auditions was walk.
“The complaint was filed on behalf of Alexandra Waterbury, against NYC Ballet and her former boyfriend Chase Finlay, and alleges … [that a] ‘fraternity-like atmosphere’ … led [him] to share naked pictures and videos of her in intimate situations with fellow dancers, NYC Ballet employees and donors.”
“This month, Naharin, 66, will transition from artistic director to house choreographer, handing the management reins to Gili Navot, a former dancer with the company. … Navot comes to the position as a longtime member of the Batsheva family, having performed with the troupe for nearly a decade, from 1999 to 2008, before serving as rehearsal director and as a senior Gaga instructor — teaching both that method and Naharin’s work at companies around the world.”
“An idea hits me and I think, Oh, that’s cool. I usually don’t follow it when it first happens. And then it will recur and recur, over and over again. It gets to the point of obsession. Making a dance will help me process it, think about it on multiple levels … Then I have to ‘get rid of it,’ which means incorporating it into my everyday existence. Then it stops being disruptive.”
Canadian choreographer Pite, Miami City Ballet artistic director Lopez, African-American choreographer Brown, and longtime Paul Taylor Dance Company stalwart Trusnovec are this year’s honorees, and the magazine has added a special Leadership Award for Redden, longtime director of both Spoleto Festival USA and the now-discontinued Lincoln Center Festival.
The increase in activity is exciting, but as more and more dance residencies and presenters crop up, some of the people in charge have begun to express concerns about overcrowding even as they float dreams of synergy. Will the competition for financial support and audiences be zero sum? Or might the influx be beneficial to all, turning the region into a cultural destination, like the Berkshires?
The Paul Taylor Foundation’s new artistic director, Michael Novak, and executive director John Tomlinson tell reporter Colin Moynihan about some of the measures the choreographer took in the year before he died and some of the particular plans they have to preserve both Taylor’s dances and his company.
“The dancers themselves meticulously organize these tours. They are in charge of fielding requests aligning schedules and flight itineraries, securing their own costumes and music, and then rehearsing for their guest roles — sometimes with an entirely new partner.” Meryl Cates talks to several of them, including such stars as Sara Mearns, about everything that goes into planning the tours and what makes them rewarding.