To accompany this photo journal, the dancer-choreographer writes about Xenos, about an Indian colonial soldier fighting for Britain in World War I. “In my work, I need a character I can relate to – but also a character who can relate to me. So we decided that this colonial soldier was a dancer who is thrown into the trenches somewhere in Europe. Most of the piece takes place in a trench, at least in an abstract sense.”
“Everything was against Marie-Agnes Gillot becoming a ballerina – never mind a great one. She was too tall, broad-shouldered and most of all, she had a double scoliosis, which sometimes gives her a hump when her back is swollen. … The last great French ballerina of her generation, she hid her problem from her teachers after leaving home at nine to go to ballet’s elite school in the French capital.”
“[The video is of] Copeland performing [the] Swan Queen last week in Singapore, where she wasn’t able to finish her 32 fouettés (she was criticized for doing the same thing when she debuted the role in 2015). … Why would ballet’s biggest star want to promote a video of herself messing up, and a tweet saying that she doesn’t deserve to be in American Ballet Theatre? Because she’s bravely proving some important points.”
The city of Hamburg extended has extended the choreographer’s contract for four more years, to 2023. He is already the world’s longest-serving ballet company head, and at the end of this contract extension he’ll have been with Hamburg Ballet for a half-century. (in German; Google Translate version here)
“Facing an uncertain future with the departure of its longtime artistic director” – W. Earle Smith, who’s been at the helm since 1999, leading the company’s transition from community-based to professional and adding a ballet school – “Madison Ballet plans to cut its company of dancers by more than half and drastically trim its season for 2018-19. But its leaders insist the company – part of the city’s artistic landscape for decades – will keep dancing.”
What if composers, instead of translating into music what they see in dance and dancers, could build scores directly from their own bodies? Dancers master the art of embodying existing music in such a way as to reach and affect their audience. How much more of an impact could work be when dancers can literally craft the score to their movements?
“The decision to relieve [Kenneth] Greve of his managerial role followed accusations by some dancers that Greve had engaged in inappropriate conduct, including comments about their appearance or on matters relating to their private lives. … Greve will continue as a director until the end of his contract on 31 July.”
“The low status of dance in schools is derived in part from the high status of conventional academic work, which associates intelligence mainly with verbal and mathematical reasoning. The studies collected by Nielsen and Burridge explore how a deeper understanding of dance challenges standard conceptions of intelligence and achievement and show the transformative power of movement for people of all ages and backgrounds. Dance can help restore joy and stability in troubled lives and ease the tensions in schools disrupted by violence and bullying.”
“Such groups are expanding their structures and missions, but for the successful artists who built them decades ago, doing so means making major changes to the way they’ve always operated. For some, it means passing the baton. The best-case scenarios emerge with input from the one person—the founder—who usually (and understandably) doesn’t want to talk about her own mortality. Still, avoiding the problem only increases the risk that one’s work will no longer be performed and philanthropic supporters will walk away.”
“The F-word isn’t usually used to describe a dance by Merce Cunningham. But after Rashaun Mitchell watched members of the Stephen Petronio Company rehearse the sextet from Signals, a rarely performed Cunningham dance from 1970, he went there.”
“Alexandre Paulikevitch is one of the few male baladi dancers in the Middle East. He learned how to dance from watching Egypt’s black and white movies and now performs as a soloist, challenging his audiences to think differently about baladi – not only as a post-colonial dance that’s distant from ‘belly-dancing’ or ‘danse orientale’ but as a dance that men and women alike can perform. … We went to his class in Beirut to find out what he’s doing to revolutionise this Eastern dance.” (video)”
“The mayor, Mohammad Ali Najafi, attended a celebration last week amounting to an Islamic version of Mother’s Day. There he encountered six [grade-school-aged] girls dancing in traditional costumes and throwing the rose petals in honor of a female saint.” Islamist hardliners were predictably outraged: said one mullah: “One cannot argue that these were children. They were young girls who incited arousal. They made the most atrocious movements. This cannot be justified.”
“Vania Masías vividly remembers the first time she saw acrobats somersaulting at a traffic light on a visit to her home city in 2004. She was at the peak of an illustrious career as a ballet dancer in Europe – but before long, she would leave it all behind it to nurture the raw talent she found in the streets of [Lima,] the Peruvian capital.”
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.