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Everything We Wish for the Dance World in 2018
2017 was full of memorable dance moments, but as we start the new year, we can't help but wonder what it will bring to the stage and the field at large. Here's what the Dance Magazine team is wishing for in 2018.
A Can't-Miss Show
"What I'm dying to see in 2018 is Akram Khan's new—and last-ever—solo show, Xenos. It's premiering in Athens, Greece, in February, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed so hard that he announces some tour dates to the U.S. He's one of those artists whose works can make you see the world differently, and his brilliant hybrid contemporary/Kathak technique is simply magnetic when performed by his own body. Treat us one last time, Akram!" —Jennifer Stahl, editor in chief
Innovative Leadership and Safer Workplaces
"The interim management team assembled at New York City Ballet following Peter Martins' leave was a smart surprise. For all arts organizations, I wonder about the potential for more innovative leadership structure. Also, how can arts organizations and their leadership inspire and encourage innovation in all aspects of operation, production, artistry and engagement? In light of what motivated the moves at NYCB, my wish is for workplaces free of the abuses reported, and for the broad organizational shifts required to accomplish that." —Raymond Mingst, creative director
More Work from These Women, Plus Cheaper Rehearsal Space
"More ballets from Lauren Lovette, Gemma Bond and Gianna Reisen. More affordable rehearsal space in NYC (but elsewhere, too). More kindness, not just to our fellow dancers and dancemakers but to ourselves." —Courtney Escoyne, assistant editor
Musicals with Original Stories, Plus More Positivity Onstage
"I'd love to see some fresh, completely new stories on Broadway next season. Songbook musicals and film-to-theater projects can be fun, but getting swept up by something totally original is exhilarating. I'd also like to see more art that uplifts audiences and performers alike, by celebrating the differences and similarities that make the dance community—and the world—a rich place." —Madeline Schrock, managing editor
Policies That Advocate for Art
A protest in Phoenix. Photo by Einar E Kvaran.
"Federal threats of decreased funding for the arts, changes in tax and health-care policies, and limits on access to information suggest that 2018 could be a scary year for dancemakers. I wish for state and local policies that push back and advocate for artists, and for solidarity amongst the dance community." —Lauren Wingenroth, assistant editor
More High Fashion Onstage
"I would love to see more collaborations between dance and fashion. New York City Ballet and Paris Opéra Ballet worked with some really cool designers this past year—NYCB with Off-White's Virgil Abloh and POB with Balmain's Olivier Rousteing—and I think it's a fun way for both sides to reach new audiences. I'd love to see this expand to more companies and include younger/up-and-coming designers." —Marissa DeSantis, assistant editor
Grants for Newer Artists, Plus Dance That Addresses Cultural Issues
"I want to see more grant opportunities for newer artists. We know about the MacArthur Fellows Program, MAP Fund and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, but those are for artists who are already very much established. I also would like to see more crossover between dance and cultural issues (harassment, bias in dance criticism, etc). Certain projects like Wise Fruit and Gibney Community Action are doing a great job of this, and I think more organizations could do the same." —Kelsey Grills, assistant editor audience engagement
Whether playing a saucy soubrette or an imperious swan, Irina Dvorovenko was always a formidable presence on the American Ballet Theatre stage. Since her 2013 retirement at 39, after 16 seasons, she's been bringing that intensity to an acting career in roles ranging from, well, Russian ballerinas to the Soviet-era newcomer she plays in the FX spy series "The Americans."
We caught up with her after tech rehearsal for the Encores! presentation of the musical Grand Hotel, directed and choreographed by Josh Rhodes and running March 21–25 at New York City Center. It's another tempestuous ballerina role for Dvorovenko—Elizaveta Grushinskaya, on her seventh farewell tour, resentfully checks into the Berlin hostelry of the title with her entourage, only to fall for a handsome young baron and sing "Bonjour, Amour."
When Andrew Montgomery first saw the Las Vegas hit Le Rêve - The Dream 10 years ago, he knew he had to be a part of the show one day. Eight years later, he auditioned, and made it to the last round of cuts. On his way home, still waiting to hear whether he'd been cast, he was in a motorcycle accident that ended up costing him half his leg.
But Montgomery's story doesn't end the way you might think. Today, he's a cast member of Le Rêve, where he does acrobatics and aerial work, swims (yes, the show takes places in and around a large pool) and dances, all with his prosthetic leg.
Last week in a piece I wrote about the drama at English National Ballet, I pointed out that many of the accusations against artistic director Tamara Rojo—screaming at dancers, giving them the silent treatment, taking away roles without explanation—were, unfortunately, pretty standard practice in the ballet world:
If it's a conversation we're going to have, we can't only point the finger at ENB.
The line provoked a pretty strong response. Professional dancers, students and administrators reached out to me, making it clear that it's a conversation they want to have. Several shared their personal stories of experiencing abusive behavior.
Christopher Hampson, artistic director of the Scottish Ballet, wrote his thoughts about the issue on his company's website on Monday:
When you spend as much time on the road as The Royal Ballet's Steven McRae, getting access to a proper gym can be a hassle. To stay fit, the Australian-born principal turns to calisthenics—the old-school art of developing aerobic ability and strength with little to no equipment.
"It's basically just using your own body weight," McRae explains. "In terms of partnering, I'm not going to dance with a ballerina who is bigger than me, so if I can sustain my own body weight, then in my head I should be fine."
Camille A. Brown is on an impressive streak: In October, the Ford Foundation named her an Art of Change fellow. In November, she won an AUDELCO ("Viv") Award for her choreography in the musical Bella: An American Tall Tale. On December 1, her Camille A. Brown & Dancers made its debut at the Kennedy Center, and two days later she was back in New York City to see her choreography in the opening of Broadway's Once on This Island. Weeks later, it was announced that she was choreographing NBC's live television musical Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert, to air on April 1.
An extraordinarily private person, few knew that during this time Brown was in the midst of a health crisis. It started with an upset stomach while performing with her company on tour last summer.
"I was drinking ginger ale, thinking that I would feel better," she says. Finally, the pain became so acute that she went to the emergency room in Mississippi. Her appendix had burst. "Until then, I didn't know it was serious," she says. "I'm a dancer—aches and pains don't keep you from work."
A flock of polyamorous princes, a chorus of queer dying swans, a dominatrix witch: These are a few of the characters that populate the works of Katy Pyle, who, with her Brooklyn-based company Ballez, has been uprooting ballet's gender conventions since 2011.
Historically, ballet has not allowed for the expression of lesbian, transgender or gender-nonconforming identities. With Ballez, Pyle is reinventing the classical canon on more inclusive terms. Her work stems from a deep love of ballet and, at the same time, a frustration with its limits on acceptable body types and on the stories it traditionally tells.
The latest fitness fad has us literally buzzing. Vibrating tools—and exercise classes—promise added benefits to your typical workout and recovery routine, and they're only growing more popular.
Warning: These good vibrations don't come cheap.
My life is in complete chaos since my dance company disbanded. I have a day job, so money isn't the issue. It's the loss of my world that stings the most. What can I do?
—Lost Career, Washington, DC
Dance Theatre of Harlem is busy preparing for the company's Vision Gala on April 4. The works on the program, which takes place on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., reflect on the legacy of Dr. King and his impact on company founder Arthur Mitchell. Among them is the much-anticipated revival of legendary choreographer Geoffrey Holder's Dougla, which will include live music and dancers from Collage Dance Collective.
We stepped into the studio with Holder's wife Carmen de Lavallade and son Leo Holder to hear what it feels like to keep Holder's legacy alive and what de Lavallade thinks of the recent rise in kids standing up against the government—as she did not too long ago.
The encounter with man-eating female creatures in Jerome Robbins' The Cage never fails to shock audiences. As this tribe of insects initiates the newly-born Novice into their community and prepares her for the attack of the male Intruders, the ballet draws us into a world of survival and instinct.
This year celebrates the 100th anniversary of Jerome Robbins' birth, and a number of Robbins programs are celebrating his timeless repertoire. But it especially feels like a prime moment to experience The Cage again. Several companies are performing it: San Francisco Ballet begins performances on March 20, followed by the English National Ballet in April and New York City Ballet in May.
Why it matters: In this time of female empowerment—as women are supporting one another in vocalizing injustices, demanding fair treatment and pay, and advocating for future generations—The Cage's nest of dominant women have new significance.