How the Dance World is Responding to Orlando
The Orlando massacre hit everyone hard. It was on my mind last week when I saw Jane Comfort’s You Are Here, her premiere about the urban experience presented by American Dance Institute. The piece had a scene where two male dancers were grooving together as though at a gay bar. Darrin Wright and Paul Hamilton’s dancing to club music was sensual, seductive and delicious to watch. Although I knew Comfort must have planned this scene way before the Orlando shooting, my unconscious reaction was to expect gunshots. I cringed and covered my ears.
Paul Hamilton and Darrin Wright at The Kitchen in Jane Comfort's You Are Here, photo by Paula Court
In order to get a sense of the dance community's reaction in Orlando, I emailed my Youth American Grand Prix colleague Dierdre Miles Burger, who is director of the Orlando Ballet School. Although she has been away from Orlando running a summer intensive, she is in tune with the feelings of her school and her city. Below are sections of her reply:
“We are, as you can imagine, reeling from the tragedy. The club Pulse was often frequented by our dancers and their friends, but thankfully none of our dancers were there that night. A dear friend and supporter of the Orlando Ballet, Ron Legler, was integral in the founding of the club, so we truly feel a connection. Many of the dancers and supporters have gone to the vigils as has Robert Hill, our artistic director."
Candlelight vigil held in Orlando, attended by some of the Orlando Ballet dancers, photo courtesy Dierdre Miles Burger
“It is a painful time in our community right now. Orlando is oddly small for such a sprawling city, especially in the arts and LGBT community.”
Orlando’s pain has reverberated across the country, and there are many gatherings to commemorate the tragedy. Here in NYC, Danspace Project joins with New York Theatre Ballet and the Poetry Project to mourn Orlando victims. They are holding a Gun Violence Awareness Vigil with performances, on Wednesday, June 29. #loveisloveisloveislove
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."