A breath of fresh choreographic air is coming to Salt Lake City. Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute has invited companies from across the country to join Ballet West for the first annual National Choreographic Festival, May 19–20 and 26–27. Over the course of two weekends and two different programs, premieres and recently acquired repertory will be performed in the new, state-of-the-art Eccles Theater.
"When I arrived at Ballet West 10 years ago, there had been no new choreography, so we began the annual Innovations Program encouraging company dancers to choreograph, and gave emerging choreographers a platform to create on Ballet West," explains Sklute. For the 10th anniversary of the program, Sklute decided to broaden it into two separate initiatives. Works from Within focuses exclusively on Ballet West company dancers, while the National Choreographic Festival is a collaborative program of new work by renowned and up-and-coming choreographers presented by visiting companies and Ballet West. "I approached a variety of companies. We wanted to present a broad swath of what American dance looks like," he says.
Ballet West will perform three new works at the festival, including premieres by current resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte and former resident choreographer Val Caniparoli, as well as a third piece, Oliver Oguma's Tremor, chosen from this year's Works from Within program that took place in March. As the festival develops, Sklute's dream is to present solely world premieres, but for this inaugural year the guest companies are showing works created or staged recently that have not yet toured. Pennsylvania Ballet is bringing Trey McIntyre's THE ACCIDENTAL. Oregon Ballet Theatre is presenting Helen Pickett's Terra. Sarasota Ballet will perform Ricardo Graziano's In a State of Weightlessness, and Pacific Northwest Ballet is staging Annabelle Lopez Ochoa's duet Before After.
Already planning ahead, next year's programming will highlight female choreographers and companies run by female directors. Further down the line, Sklute is excited for the possibility of fringe festivals, involving regional school programs and a choreographic competition. "We want this festival for choreography to do what the Sundance Film Festival does for film—create a hub for creativity in dance," says Sklute.
"I don't cook for just one or two people," says James Whiteside, stirring a pot on his stove. "My mom taught me to cook and she had five kids. So when I do cook, I go in!"
Aside from breakfast (usually bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin), the American Ballet Theatre principal rarely cooks for himself during ABT's seasons. He prefers to "forage" for his lunch and go out or order in for dinner, saving the real cooking for when he has friends or colleagues to feed. "I like to have a lot of people tell me my food is delicious," he quips.
We're not sure what we did to deserve the livestream generosity the dance world is giving us these days, but this weekend, it's getting even better.
PC Joe Toreno
L.A. Dance Project, Benjamin Milliepied's trendsetting contemporary troupe, has been in residence at The Chinati Foundation for the past few days. This weekend, they're showing us what they've come up with—for three days straight.
To create great work, choreographers need the freedom to tackle difficult subjects and push physical limits. But when your instruments are human beings, is there a limit to how far you should go? Five choreographers open up about where they draw the line.
Restaurants have always been a great source of survival gigs for dancers. But today's top chefs aren't just looking for waiters to carry dishes to the table. They're hiring choreographers to give the staff dance-like skills and compose a sort of choreography for the dining room.
Leslie Scott, artistic director of dance theater company BODYART, is one of those choreographers. After working in more typical food industry jobs for 10 years, she's been tapped by top restaurants in both New York City and Los Angeles to lead workshops that finesse servers' non-verbal communication and navigation of tight spaces.
Back in 2002, dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer founded an art space in Brooklyn called Chez Bushwick. As Manhattan and Brooklyn were quickly becoming unaffordable, and many studio spaces were closing, Bokaer seized upon "creative placemaking"—the idea that the arts can play an integral role in community-building—before it became a buzzword. "We have been sustaining and maintaining one of the most affordable dance studios in New York State since the very beginning of my career," he says.
Fifteen years later, the challenges for choreographers in expensive urban centers continue unabated, and Bokaer has found his original mission magnified. While Chez Bushwick remains a haven for the next generation, there is also a growing number of young dancemakers who have been inspired to create their own residencies, communities and, ultimately, opportunities.
The New York City premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's sugary sweet story ballet, Whipped Cream, made for one of the most exciting spring galas at American Ballet Theatre yet. While we're usually in awe of the gowns the dancers sport on the red carpet beforehand, this time around, it was all about Whipped Cream's colorful and over-the-top costumes by Mark Ryden—and, okay, a few major dress moments, too. Ahead, check out what went on behind-the-scenes.