“It’s a style of dancing that’s both hidden and mainstream – simultaneously a part of everything from underground clubs to Beyoncé videos and dance routines, including her recent Coachella extravaganza. … The style was originally invented by women” – in fact, by the marching band’s dance team at a historically black college in Mississippi – “but bucking was soon adopted by gay men in the south, who took what they saw on the college sports field and moved it to the club.”
“This time last year, Catherine Conley was already living a ballet dancer’s dream. After an exchange between her home ballet school in Chicago and the Cuban National Ballet School in Havana, she’d been invited to train in Cuba full-time. It was the opportunity of a lifetime, and one that was nearly unheard of for an American dancer. Now, though, Conley has even more exciting news: She’s a full-fledged member of the National Ballet of Cuba’s corps de ballet.”
Tania Castroverde Moskalenko, a Miami native who has spent the last two years at the helm of the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, will take the reins at MCB later this summer. “Thursday’s announcement noted that under Castroverde Moskalenko’s leadership the Auditorium ‘experienced a significant financial turnaround … and is projected to end Fiscal Year 2018 in August with a surplus.”
“[Frances] Turner’s two and a half years at the head of New Zealand’s national ballet company were marred by trouble at the end of last year, when the board commissioned an independent review to investigate claims of workplace bullying and foreign dancers being preferred over New Zealanders. The review eventually cleared RNZB of those allegations but did make some recommendations for how [things] could be improved.”
Guthrie Theatre artistic director Joseph Haj: “I really wanted to make a production where we could believe the difficulty of these young people’s lives a bit more than we’re typically given to when we see this musical. … It’s really the choreography where we thought, this is where we can shorten the distance between then and now, and this is where we can create a movement world that is rawer, harder in some places, tougher than what the Robbins choreography was.”
“This choreographic competition gives emerging ALAANA (African, Latino(a), Asian, Arab and Native American) choreographers the opportunity to hone their skills creating on the Joffrey Studio Company and Academy Trainees. … The program was originally funded for just one year by the Sara Lee Corporation in 2011. Yet the artistic staff at Joffrey was committed to the cause, and not only decided to continue the program but expanded it.”
“The modern dance tree has abundant roots, and two of its thickest and oldest belong to Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Their Denishawn company and school in Los Angeles, which lasted from 1914 to ’29, toured the world with a new spirit of dance — barefoot and weighted, exotic and spiritual. They were celebrities of their day. Their costumes were often extravagant and the opposite of Coco Chanel’s dictum: ‘Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.’ That was the cue, at least for St. Denis, to add another bauble.”
There’s a long tradition in India of intersex and trans women called hijras who show up at weddings and other celebrations and dance for money. Except for those special occasions, however, hijras are severely marginalized in Indian society, and many must turn to begging or sex work to survive. But one group in Mumbai has banded together to create a performing company called Dancing Queens. Reporter Priti Salian meets them.
“It’s a performance venue, a dance company, a rehearsal space, an internship possibility — a Rubik’s Cube of resources bundled into two sites at 280 and 890 Broadway. And in March of this year, Gibney (having officially dropped ‘Dance’ from its name) announced a major expansion of its space and programming; it now operates a total of 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces across the two locations.”
Indian classical dance proponent Sharmila Mukherjee says, “The graceful movements, elegant postures, sculpturesque poses and intricate footwork in the Russian ballet lends itself naturally into the fabric of Odissi. … The story of Swan Lake has a lot of strong emotions. These emotions work very well for Indian dance forms as well.”
As the former Citie Ballet – now Ballet Edmonton – takes a name change the company will also start a new partnership with the Fine Arts & Communications Faculty at MacEwan University involving a performance space and other possible collaborations. Finally, Ballet Edmonton has announced that one of Canada’s most acclaimed choreographers Wen Wei Wang will take over as its new artistic director for the 2018-2019 season.
“American Ballet Theatre [has] announced a new initiative to foster the development of choreography by company members and freelance dancemakers. Aptly titled ABT Incubator, the program, directed by principal David Hallberg, will give selected choreographers the opportunity to spend two weeks workshopping new dances.” (This is not to be confused with ABT Women’s Movement, the program to develop work by female choreographers that was announced last month.)
“Under the trees near the Metropolitan Opera House on a warm afternoon, [NYCB’s Russell Janzen talked with Marina Harss] about writing, his love of ballet — as well as his doubts about it — the performance of gender and sexual preference onstage, and the increasing number of outside projects he’s taking on.”
Company dancer Janel Meindersee, who teaches Glissade, the class tailored to wheelchair-users: “We teach a lot of the same things as a normal ballet class — how to spot your head when you move, the quality of arm movements, how to count music and how to stay in line when dancing together.”
“On Wednesday afternoon, Aran Bell, at just 19, makes an important debut: as Romeo in Kenneth MacMillan’s production of Romeo and Juliet. At Ballet Theater, such a leap for a relatively unknown dancer is rare. Dancers wait — and sometimes really wait — for a featured variation in a full-length ballet. But a lead like Romeo? It’s as if Ballet Theater plucked a page from the casting manual of New York City Ballet, which often throws young dancers into principal parts.”
Joseph Carman: “where are the great prima donna roles of the 21st century? Many of today’s top choreographers concoct ballets with impressive corps de ballets that form dizzying, computer-graphic-like patterns. Numerous male and female soloists grab the audience’s attention and then disappear back into the group. … But are they quick to spotlight those juicy ballerina roles? Not really. To many current choreographers, building a ballet around just one commanding female dancer feels like a moth-eaten method of choreographing. To others, it feels too restrictive.”
James Whiteside, who’s also a pop singer, creates the podcast The Stage Rightside. It’s “one of the most unabashed glimpses behind the curtain of a major American ballet company. During the American Ballet Theatre’s spring performances at the Metropolitan Opera House, Whiteside took listeners backstage as he dove into the ballet season, training an equal spotlight on dancers and those who do not necessarily perform, but are in the dance company.”
Chicago artist Nick Cave has made it official now, at the Park Avenue Armory in New York: He wants to use massive art/dance projects to inspire and encourage those feeling pretty down these days. “‘Empowerment’ is the word that performers have been using to describe their take on the project, and what they want to convey to the audience, [a dancer said]. In an onslaught of negativity, ‘you have two choices,’ he said. You can be discouraged and tormented, ‘or have the audacity to say, ‘I’m not going to let this break me.’'”
For the first time in modern ballet history, a male dancer is performing as part of the female ensemble at an international ballet company, signaling an important moment in an art form that often celebrates a particular ideal of femininity. Or, as the great choreographer George Balanchine said, “ballet is woman.” But in a world with a heightened awareness of gender fluidity, and with transgender people increasingly accepted in a variety of professions, including acting and modeling, ballet is taking its own brave leap.
Why does de Mille’s choreography seem so dated now, while Fosse’s still looks as fresh and provocative as ever? It’s particularly puzzling considering that de Mille was the more revolutionary of the two. She created a startling new approach to integrating dance into the musical via character development, and established the standard for the widely imitated (and later much-parodied) “dream ballet,” an expressionistic choreographic sequence probing deep into characters’ psyches. Fosse’s great contribution to Broadway dance, on the other hand, is largely limited to his creation of a compelling physical vocabulary,
“For the first time in modern ballet history, a male dancer is performing as part of the female ensemble at an international ballet company, signaling an important moment in an art form that often celebrates a particular ideal of femininity. … ‘I want to be seen as a ballerina,’ said Mr. Johnsey, who identifies as gender fluid but uses male pronouns. ‘My hair is up, I wear makeup, female attire. I am able to do female roles and look the part, so that is artistically what I do.'” In January, he left Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo after 14 years, claiming that the famous drag company had been harassing him for being too feminine.
“Rising star Velicu, who was born in Bucharest, is certainly one to keep your eye on. Earlier this year, she picked up an Olivier Award, named the winner of Outstanding Achievement in Dance for her performance in Pina Bausch’s Le Sacre du Printemps. She joined the English National Ballet in 2016 and was quickly promoted to First Artist the following year. … We caught up with her in rehearsals to find out more about what it takes to become a ballet dancer, and how she spends each day.” (video)
“Among the award winners at the Prix Benois ceremony in Moscow was the ballet’s original choreographer Kirill Serebrennikov, who is awaiting trial on what his supporters say are charges trumped up to punish him for challenging the Russian establishment. The Nureyev ballet – which was completed by a stand-in choreographer because Serebrennikov was under house arrest – won in the best male dancer, best composer, and best choreographer categories, in addition to Serebrennikov’s gong for best production design.”
Many of the winners have gone on to good careers, but even more than dancers, the show has changed the discussion for choreographers. “‘Unless you were in the dance world, you didn’t even know the word ‘choreography,’’ said Mia Michaels, a three-time Emmy winner for her work on the show. ‘Choreographers became household names, which was incredible for our industry.'”