“‘I wanted to explore what would happen if you could allow a person to perform on pointe 100 per cent of the time,’ said [Jae-Hyun] An, who developed [the] Marie-T over the course of four months. ‘How would ballet change? I wanted to create a tool for someone to take and let their imagination define the capabilities of the product.'”
“It’s like a cult,” says Alexandra Waterbury, the accuser at the center of the New York City Ballet nude photo-sharing scandal, of the deference that was given to the bad behavior of the likes of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins. As for why women don’t speak up and male dancers get a pass — as one former NYCB dancer puts it, “Women are a dime a dozen.”
Participants in a small-scale study scored higher on two measures of creativity after swallowing a tiny serving of hallucinogenic truffles—about one-tenth of a recreational dose. The drug did not stimulate similar improvement in an intelligence test, suggesting that its effects may be limited to enhancing innovation.
“Q: Did you ever write something that you later regretted or reconsidered?
A: I’m not complacent. I regret commas, adjectives, clumsy turns of phrase, even if nobody else is bothered by them. Worse, I’m dismayed by the factual inaccuracies I’ve committed. Opinions I regret less. So what if you hated the world premiere of The Rite of Spring or Waiting for Godot? Those are tough pieces that are easy to misunderstand even now.”
“[Artistic director Mikko] Nissinen [has] established the new ChoreograpHER Initiative. It begins Thursday and Friday with sold-out performances in the company’s BB@home series — a showcase hosted at Boston Ballet’s South End headquarters — that, for the first time, will feature six emerging women choreographers who are dancers within the company.”
“Waltz says that the Staatsballett dancers’ initial resistance to her leadership was rooted in miscommunication and fear. ‘After we met them and answered, like, 50 questions, there was a big change and an opening up,’ she says. ‘Now it’s a different atmosphere, there’s a strong engagement in the company. There’s a lot of new dancers and they’re all willing to transform and be active in this practice.'”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan: “I am determined to ensure that all Londoners get the opportunity to experience our cultural riches regardless of their background or where they live, and to increase the level of participation in culture across London.”
“So how do you compete in this kind of vocabulary? According to the rules, judges are looking for performers who are ‘fluent in contemporary concert dance vernacular.’ Dancers are given separate scores for their artistry, technique and future potential, with particular attention paid to physical expression, response to the music, use of space and technical skill as well as strong choreography and movement invention.”
“The postmodern choreographer and director came to prominence in the 1960s and ’70s, first with Judson Dance Theater and then with her own eponymous company. She shut down her troupe almost two decades ago to work as a freelance director, relaunched it nine years later to stage a couple of revivals … and then just kept going.” Rachel Elson talks to Childs about how having her own company has been different the second time around and why she’s decided to stop.
Sure, there was a voiceover saying it was, er, a “tribute” to the Day of the Dead, but “many fans on social media called out the theme and branded it ‘cultural appropriation,’ observing that the Day of the Dead is not the same as Halloween. Others were unhappy with the use of a Calypso song against traditional Mexican traditions.”
“Jacques d’Amboise, Patricia Wilde, Allegra Kent and Edward Villella talk about the roles they danced at the theater, which is celebrating George Balanchine and its 75th anniversary as a palace of the arts.”
“The Cincinnati Ballet is pressuring FC Cincinnati to pay it $1 million for land it doesn’t own, knowing the team needs at least some of the land it uses for a Major League Soccer stadium, the team president says. … ‘This sure feels like a shakedown to me.'” Responds the CEO of the ballet company, “This is patently false.”
After 20 years with American Ballet Theatre, Gomes resigned last December after someone (not with the company) accused him of sexual misconduct eight years earlier. In a Q&A, he discusses building a life as a freelancer and the colleagues who’ve been inviting him to perform with them.
Dancing, moving your body around, and trying to be sexy are all fairly vulnerable acts. Because if you do a bad job, people think you look stupid, you get rejected, and you wind up embarrassed. This fear of embarrassment often makes people stiff and uncomfortable on the dance floor.
“Indra Jatra, an eight-day festival celebrated mostly by the Newar community, the native residents of Kathmandu, is also known as the festival of deities and demons. It especially honors Indra, the Hindu god of rain, to mark the end of the monsoon. The masks and dances can be fearsome, entertaining and awe-inspiring, depending on the performers’ movements.”
Two years after she took the helm, “it appears that Kent’s fame has not attracted enough ticket buyers and donors to fund the new vision of the Washington Ballet, with more and better dancers performing the ‘Great Books’ of ballet. It’s a big risk, because the transformation will be costly and take years. And then there are the questions no one seems to have asked in the planning stages: Does the public want this kind of company, and will enough donors fund it?”
Alastair Macaulay: “How many admirable policies can any company honor at one time? Currently it looks as if Ballet Theater has discarded Fokine, Ashton, Tudor, and — a big departure — the international stars from its scheduling. And who can notice Ballet Theater’s admirable purity of classical style? Its too-many-cooks approach to ballet obscures that.”
Svetlana Zakharova has devoted her life to ballet since she was a child, and as an adult, she’s been one of the Russian president’s favorite dancers. She’s also been a member of the culture ministry in Russia, and she’s one of Vladimir Putin’s favorite dancers. When asked about Putin, she says, “The most important thing for me is that everyone, not only the Russian president, but all the world leaders talk to each other and avoid war. … But I’m not the person to answer this question. I live in my own closed world.”
A pair of essays, by Gia Kourlas on how New York City Ballet’s dancers are standing up for decency and respect rather than defending the behavior of their now-departed colleagues, and by Siobhan Burke, wondering why the union that’s supposed to represent all the dancers is fighting for the two who were fired rather than the colleagues they demeaned in their texts.
“Dance to Health started with a hunch: that the arts have the potential to deliver health improvement more effectively and more cost-effectively than the NHS. We needed a major health challenge that the arts might solve. We lighted upon older people falling over.”
Companies are finally getting there, but, as Theresa Ruth Howard reports, it’s taken a while for darker-skinned dancers to get the right to wear tights that actually match their skin tone.
Rocío Molina conceived (ahem) the work, titled Grito Pelao, with singer Sílvia Pérez Cruz as a celebration of pregnancy and motherhood. “I will stop performing [the piece] in October because I will no longer be able to dance,” says Molina, “as I’ll be almost eight months pregnant. I’ve always liked the idea of the piece dying when I give birth to a new life, so I think that is ultimately what will happen. I can’t talk about being pregnant if I no longer have the baby inside of me.”
Brazil’s economic crisis ravaged Rio’s Teatro Municipal, home to the city’s ballet and opera; many of the dancers were reduced to accepting food donations. This past June, the ballet performed for the first time in a year, and here’s a report from backstage.
Ben Duke’s dance-theatre piece Stroke Odysseys, now touring Britain, puts five stroke survivors onstage, alongside dancers and musicians, to tell their stories — including how performing Duke’s specially-tailored choreography has improved their conditions.
“New York City Ballet, which forced out three male stars this year after a nude-photo-sharing scandal, is replenishing its ranks: The company announced Saturday that it was promoting seven dancers, including Joseph Gordon, who was named a principal dancer.”
Last year, Crossover Into Business program director and HBS professor Anita Elberse was developing a case study on ABT, and reached out to the company executive director Kara Medoff Barnett, an alumna of HBS. “Anita mentioned the Crossover Program as an experience that has been transformative for professional athletes,” says Barnett. “We looked at each other and had the same idea: How about inviting the ABT dancers to sit next to the NBA players?”
Choreography, like a lot of artistic endeavors, can make for lonely, frightening times … and so you need someone to talk to about it. “Most people would glaze over on the second sentence. … You’re developing an idea while you’re talking just because someone is receiving it who understands what you’re doing.”
The competition – where dancers from three different areas in Mali are asked to perform dances from other areas or traditions – was imagined as a way to bring some unity to a country wracked by tensions among the groups. “Over six weeks, TV audiences shared the fate of eight young men and women from different regions, who shared a house Big Brother-style in Bamako, the capital. Each week they performed before an audience and the TV cameras, their numbers progressively falling as a competitor was eliminated by a vote by the public and the jury.”
“It can be anything from the dancers performing at a birthday party or on the banks of Loch Ness, or even the chance to get on stage and be part of a Scottish Ballet show.” A judging panel including Susan Calman, Fred MacAulay and Dame Darcey Bussell will decide which of the wishes are granted in 2019.
“It’s hard to deny that traditional ballet causes more pain to women than to men. And the fallout from ballet’s year of #MeToo will force us to examine whether it still has inherent value as an art form, despite the pain it can cause and its structural and gendered imbalances. The fact that we’re exposing ballet’s structural injustices seems like a promising start.”