A native of Floyds Knobs, Indiana, Madeline studied ballet at Southern Indiana School for the Arts and was later introduced to modern dance by Bill Evans. While completing her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography at Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College, she was cast in a historical reconstruction of Alwin Nikolais' Noumenon celebrating the 100th anniversary of his birth. As an avid dance videographer and editor, she has worked on video projects for Bates Dance Festival and the Regina Klenjoski Dance Company in Southern California. She later served as a marketing and education manager for Lar Lubovitch Dance Company and is a former assistant editor—research for DanceMedia's various publications. She is currently the managing editor of Dance Magazine and Pointe.
Michaela DePrince is having one spectacular year. On New Year's Day, the Dutch National Ballet dancer was promoted to soloist. And yesterday, she scored a major endorsement as a face of Jockey's "Show 'Em What's Underneath" campaign. We've said it before: There's a right way and a wrong way to feature dancers in mainstream media. This campaign hits the mark by celebrating DePrince's grace, athleticism and story of hope.
If you need a refresher on her remarkable journey—from war orphan in Sierra Leone to being adopted and launching her ballet career—check out Jockey's video below.
DePrince's path has an uncanny connection to Dance Magazine. As a young child, she found the May 1979 cover of DM outside her orphanage. Mesmerized by the image of Pennsylvania Ballet's Magali Messac, she kept the treasured cover hidden in her panties, dreaming of becoming a dancer herself. After she was adopted, DePrince began training at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. The rest is history.
@michaeladeprince with the May 1979 issue of Dance Magazine that first inspired her to pursue ballet. We caught up with her in NYC to celebrate her latest achievement: becoming an ambassador for Jockey! #inspiration #vintagedancemag #jockey #showemhope
A post shared by dancemagazine (@dancemagazine) on Apr 26, 2017 at 4:28pm PDT
Congratulations to DePrince on this milestone in her career!
If you want to take more risks in your partnering (or just love jaw-dropping dance videos), we found the perfect inspiration: Amir Guetta and Hemda Ben Zvi. This amazing duo from Israel specializes in an acrobatic circus technique called "hand to hand" blended with creative choreography and influences from martial arts, like capoeira.
The result is a seemingly effortless flow of weight-sharing, leaping, catching, falling and balancing, not to mention a constant questioning of how-did-they-do-that? While most of their routines are choreographed, they "listen" with their bodies in a way that's reminiscent of contact improvisation.
Guetta and Ben Zvi started collaborating together four years ago—and almost by accident. They were both taking an acrobalance class at a circus school in Israel. When students began pairing off, "most of the big guys wanted to work with a small girl," they wrote over email. That left Guetta, a compact mover with a background in capoeira, with Ben Zvi, who grew up training in a youth circus. Both were interested in being lifted. They flipped the usual roles of the male base and female flyer and began experimenting.
"We started working on our own movement straight from the beginning," they say, leveraging each other's natural skills like "Amir's good jump and Hemda's stability. Like in the language of capoeira, we try to make a conversation with our movement. Every action brings a reaction from the partner. That conversation is what actually moves us."
Now, they're based in Toulouse, France, and recently began creating a show called ZOOG (which means "couple" in Hebrew). They plan to combine acrobatic movement, partnering and hand-to-hand technique with elements of humor and surprise.
Though they work mainly in the vein of acro and circus, Guetta and Ben Zvi say they definitely consider themselves "movers." "Every person that expresses himself with movement is a dancer," they say.
Each year, the Benois de la Danse selects the best male and female ballet dancer and a top choreographer from an impressive group of international artists. But just because it draws on a worldwide talent pool doesn't mean the names are all unrecognizable. This year's Moscow-based awards highlight the performances of many Dance Magazine favorites—and no less than three former cover stars. Plus, American Ballet Theatre received a nomination in each of the three categories.
This past November, we wrote about Boston Ballet's Misa Kuranaga and her incredible globetrotting career. She's been nominated for her portrayal of Tatiana in Onegin and Medora in Le Corsaire.
Misa Kuranaga as Tatiana. Photo by Gene Schiavone via Boston Ballet Instagram
Choreographer Akram Khan, who appeared on our September 2016 cover, is being lauded for his reimagining of Giselle at English National Ballet. He dished about the creation process in this Q&A, confessing, "This is my first full-length ballet, god help me." Seems like it turned out pretty well.
Back in April 2010, ABT artist in residence Alexei Ratmansky nabbed a DM cover. Needless to say, he's still one of the hottest names in ballet choreography. His nomination is for his Serenade after Plato's Symposium, which we singled out as one of the best performances of 2016.
Ratmansky's Serenade after Plato's Symposium at ABT. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT.
The winners won't be announced until the end of May, but that gives you plenty of time to study up on the international artists you're less familiar with. Check out the full list of nominees below. Let the Google searching, YouTube treasure-hunting and Instagram consulting begin!
María Riccetto. Photo by Santiago Barreiro, Courtesy Ballet Nacional Sodre.
Stella Abrera for Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, American Ballet Theatre
Nina Kaptsova for Short Time Together, Bolshoi Ballet
Misa Kuranaga for Tatiana in Onegin and Medora in Le Corsaire, Boston Ballet
Ludmila Pagliero for Other Dances, Paris Opéra Ballet
Seul-Ki Park for Aegina in Spartacus, Korean National Ballet
María Riccetto for Tatiana in Onegin, National Ballet of Uruguay
Gustavo Carvalho for Don Jose in Carmen, National Ballet of Uruguay
Davide Dato for Abderakhman in Raymonda, Vienna State Ballet
Jae-Woo Lee for Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty, Korean National Ballet
Brooklyn Mack for Theme and Variations, The Washington Ballet
Hugo Marchand for Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Paris Opéra Ballet
Denis Rodkin for Solor in La Bayadère, Bolshoi Ballet
Jeffrey Cirio for Colas in La Fille mal gardée and title role in Prodigal Son, American Ballet Theatre
Pite's Seasons' Canon at Paris Opéra. Photo by Julien Behamou, Courtesy POB.
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui for Exhibition, Royal Ballet of Flanders
Edward Clug for Handman, Nederlands Dans Theater
Hyo-Hyung Kang for Into the Pulse, Korean National Ballet
Akram Khan for Giselle, English National Ballet
Crystal Pite for The Seasons' Canon, Paris Opéra Ballet
Alexei Ratmansky for Serenade after Plato's Symposium, American Ballet Theatre
Demis Volpi for Salomé, Stuttgart Ballet
At the start of the 2017–18 season, Atlanta Ballet will have a new look. According to an article on ArtsATL, many of the company's well-known faces won't be returning. Some departures can be attributed to the regular turnover all ballet companies experience at season's end: Dancers simply retire or sign a contract elsewhere.
Still, there's another major factor at play: recently instated artistic director Gennadi Nedvigin, who is continuing to shape the company. Whenever a new director takes the helm, roster shake-ups are to be expected. (Pennsylvania Ballet is still experiencing reverberations from Angel Corella's arrival. ) Nedvigin, the Bolshoi-trained former San Francisco Ballet principal, told Dance Magazine last year, "I want to broaden the repertoire by unifying the dancers in their technique." He also mentioned that he intends to add more classical and neoclassical ballet to Atlanta's repertoire, which in recent years has had more of a contemporary ballet lean.
One way to do that is to bring in dancers who are more experienced with classical and neoclassical styles, or younger dancers who are more easily moldable. For instance, Monika Haczkiewicz, a young dancer who finished her training at the classically slanted Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, came on board this season.
Atlanta Ballet's contracts, like many companies', are up for renewal each season. In a way, this functions as a natural "refresh" button, allowing Nedvigin to realize his vision more fully. ArtsATL reached Nedvigin via email, and reports that "[Nedvigin] said it's important that the artistic vision of each dancer aligns with the company's new artistic vision." For several of the dancers, AB no longer feels like an artistic home.
Kiara Felder. Photo by Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet.
Who's leaving? Thirteen of the current 28 (a total which includes company members and apprentices), so almost half of AB's dancers. Five chose to leave on their own. Tara Lee will remain connected to the company; the veteran of 21 seasons is also a burgeoning choreographer who has been commissioned to create a work for Atlanta next season. Christian Clark decided to leave last month but has been invited back as a guest artist for parts of the upcoming season. Rachel Van Buskirk departs after 10 seasons, as will Alessa Rogers after 9. Kiara Felder, the company's sole African American female, is also leaving.
Alessa Rogers. Photo by Charlie McCullers, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet
An additional eight dancers were not offered contracts for next season: Heath Gill, Sara Havener, Devon Joslin, Otar Khelashvilli, Brandon Nguyen, Ransom Wilkes-Davis, and apprentices Kristen Marshall and Laura Morton.
For some, the next few months may be a rocky transition period as they determine the next step in their career. Others, however, are already anticipating their future: Rogers is joining France's Ballet du Rhin, and Felder is moving to Les Grands Ballet Canadiens. We wish the rest of the departing dancers successful futures.
Since January, we've been tracking the possibility that the U.S. government may reduce funding for or completely eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts from the federal budget. Earlier today, President Trump released the proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year, and needless to say, we're feeling frustrated.
The drafted budget cuts the NEA, along with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which benefits PBS and NPR). Trump claims that by taking away the money that powers agencies like the NEA, he'll be able to bolster the nation's defense spending. But the NEA's budget is only $148 million, a mere 0.004 percent of the federal budget. To that, we say "Make art, not war."According to a release from dance advocacy organization Dance/USA, this is the first time a president has actually proposed to completely cut the NEA. Previous presidents have suggested a decrease in NEA funding, but none have gone this far.
It is important to note that this budget change is proposed. This is just the first step toward creating a budget for 2018, and at this time, the NEA has announced that its 2017 operations will continue as planned. It will also be accepting applications for 2018 grants. However, it's not a time to be complacent. Here are a few ways you can get involved. Many have been recommended by Dance/USA, and some are our own.
- Use this form to write to your Congressional representatives and advocate for arts funding. It's super-easy. The letter is already written, and all you have to do is enter a few fields.
- Invite lawmakers to your performances.
- Invite them to community programming or outreach efforts that are put together by dance studios, schools and companies. These events highlight how dance creates richer, more vibrant communities.
- Schedule an appointment with your lawmakers to discuss why you value the NEA.
- Participate in Arts Advocacy Day on March 21. Contact members of Congress using the same form letter, or personalize it with your own experiences.
- Share the cause with your fellow dancers, friends and family, and encourage them to get involved in any way they can. Stir up meaningful conversation and speak out about why the arts matter.
- Use social media to positively spread the word about the good work that NEA funds.
- Fill out this form to stay updated on what you can do to help.
To promote its revival of Stanton Welch's Cinderella, Houston Ballet recently posted a short video on social media. It wasn't the regular teaser of expertly edited performance footage, but instead a parody on the hit show "The Office." While ballet and comedy may seem to be unlikely partners, this works. Trust us; we laughed more than a few times. Check out the video below and watch Cinderella (who plays the equivalent of "The Office's" Pam) navigate her day with an impossible group of employees.
Houston Ballet's Cinderella runs through March 12 at the Wortham Theater Center.
At this point, I don't think we can bear to see another botched ballet video. How many times do non-dancers have to don pointe shoes or a leotard and prance around for popular outlets like Vogue Spain and Vanity Fair? (No, Kendall Jenner, we don't think you're owning those pointe shoes. And Elle Fanning? We don't want you to show us how to "make a ballet turn." *Face palm.* Don't even get us started about this ballet tutorial where Petra Collins "teaches barre" to Vanity Fair staffers.)
Dancing is for everyone, absolutely, but let's leave the professional representations to the professionals. It's not about being elitist. It's about respecting and honoring the incredible hard work and dedication that dance requires.
*Steps off soapbox.*
But all is not lost. Who has been shining a positive light on dance lately? The advertising industry. Between touchdowns and Lady Gaga's Super Bowl halftime show, Lil Buck jooked his way around a Lexus. Just weeks earlier, he promoted Apple's AirPods in a video that's racked up more than 10 million views. And Puma recently teamed up with New York City Ballet for its new ballet-inspired activewear line. (These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. We dove into love affair between dance and advertising in this feature.)
Now, computer company Acer is the latest business to use dancers' considerable talents to sell something that has nothing to do with dance. And we don't mind one bit.
Acer just released two spots for its #DareToBeSwift campaign, aimed at selling a sleek new laptop. What else is sleek? And daring? Yup, ballet and contemporary dancers. That's why the advertisements feature captivating slow-motion footage of New York City Ballet star Ashley Bouder springing onto pointe. And American Ballet Theatre's Gillian Murphy performing gravity defying leaps. "So You Think You Can Dance" winner Lauren Froderman even makes an appearance, along with contemporary dancer/model Dakota Moore.
The bottom line: Ad execs, keep up the good work. And I think I might need a new laptop...
What makes a ballet truly Canadian? Sprinkle in a some lumberjacks, says Will Tuckett. That's just one of the many details we're loving about the brand-new production of Pinocchio that the British choreographer is creating at the National Ballet of Canada. Though it doesn't open until March 11, the company has offered several glimpses into the creative process with an ongoing video series. Check out Episode 2 below, which lets you be a fly on the wall during rehearsal. First soloist Skylar Campbell's movement as Pinocchio isn't what you'd expect to see in a ballet—he's all angles and no flow, but then again he's a puppet. This is one time we actually prefer a dancer's movement to be wooden, at least until he becomes a real boy.