Breaking Stereotypes

Everything We Wish for the Dance World in 2018

Paris Opéra Ballet dancers in Olivier Rousteing's designs. Photo by Paola Maria Grandi, via Drezzy.

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

From left: Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, Jonathan Stafford and Craig Hall. Photo by Erin Baiano, via The New York Times.

"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

Never let it be said that The Cindies lack studio swag. Via Instagram @jamesbwhiteside

It is a great tragedy for dance history that iconic ballet partnerships like Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev or Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov weren't able to document their backstage shenanigans on social media. (Okay, maybe not a great tragedy, but you have to admit that you're curious.)

Lucky for us, that isn't the case with today's star dancers—like American Ballet Theatre principal dancers Isabella Boylston and James Whiteside, aka The Cindies. These two aren't just onstage partners. They're serious #BestieGoals. Our evidence, as documented on Instagram, is as follows:

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Rant & Rave
The instant screens light up, the spell is shattered. Original performance photo by Rosalie O'Connor.

-Hey. U up?

-Ya. I'm at the ballet.

-Oh ok. Talk later.

-Nah, it's cool, it's a slow part right now.

Nope, it's not cool. Put your phone away. In the hushed darkness of an auditorium, light explodes from that screen like shrapnel, blasting those around you out of their viewing experience.

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Rant & Rave
Is ballet ready for a redesign?

2017 felt like we were living the Upside Down of the popular Netflix series "Stranger Things." From Donald Trump becoming president, to the sexual harassment scandals that ricocheted into the ballet world, everything we thought we knew was turned on its head.

Yet while the deconstruction of institutional paradigms is frightening, it also presents an unprecedented opportunity for redesign.

Ballet, much like our political parties, seems to be stuck in an antiquated format that's long overdue for a makeover. With the world changing at lightning speed, if ballet wants to survive it will have to undergo a radical reimagining. But what would that look like?

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Dancer Voices
Peter Martins rehearsing Ocean's Kingdom in 2011. Photo by Paul Kolnik

Dear dancers of the New York City Ballet,

I realize that you are scared because the future of the New York City Ballet is uncertain; you don't know who will man the ship, and your career that you've worked your entire life for feels under attack.

On social media some of you alluded to the idea that Peter Martins' downfall is a result of the times; a maelstrom of allegations sweeping the country, bringing down powerful men, for misdeeds proven and unproven. I understand that for many of you this feels unfair: Peter has helped you personally ascend the ranks of the company by believing in you, and mentoring you. For others the described behavior may feel abstract; it isn't something you've witnessed, and many of the accusations occurred long before your time, maybe even before you were born. And above all, how could you possibly betray the man who plucked you from the school and gave you the chance of a lifetime: to dance with one of the most prestigious ballet companies in the world? How could you see this person, who gave you this chance, this gift, as the monster he's being painted as?

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Dance As Activism
Arthur Mitchell in class, 1960s. Photo by Milton Oleaga. Arthur Mitchell Collection, Rare Book & Manuscript Collection, Columbia University.

Throughout his remarkable career, the fiercely determined, intelligent and energetic Arthur Mitchell has become accustomed to being called a trailblazer. "Being a typical Aries, I like being the first," he says, laughing. "That's what I've been doing all my life."

This is true, especially when it comes to the discussion at the forefront of today's national dialogue about dance: diversity in ballet.

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News
Mandy Moore loves the chaos of live television. Photo by Lee Cherry, Courtesy Bloc Agency

In the dance world, Mandy Moore has long been a go-to name, but in 2017, the success of her choreography for La La Land made the rest of the world stop and take notice. After whirlwind seasons as choreographer and producer on both "Dancing with the Stars" and "So You Think You Can Dance," she capped off the year with two Emmy Award nominations—and her first win.

You've come a long way on "So You Think You Can Dance"—from assistant to the choreographer (Season 1) to creative producer (Season 14). What keeps you returning to the show?

"So You Think You Can Dance" was one of my first jobs, so it feels like home. I love the chaos of live television; as soon as one show is over you're on to the next.

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Dance As Activism
Photo via unsplash.com

Last Saturday night, Dance/NYC, Gibney Dance and the Actors Fund hosted a conversation on sexual harassment in the dance world. The floor was open for anyone in attendance to share whatever they wanted: personal stories, resources, suggestions.

The event brought to light some of the questions the dance world is facing, and though we don't yet have all the answers, it helped lay out the areas we need to address:

What would dance-specific sexual harassment training and policies look like?

Corporate harassment trainings tend to tell employees to avoid touching coworkers and to not wear revealing clothing in the workplace. Obviously, these rules aren't applicable to the dance world. Many in attendance agreed that everyone in the dance world should undergo training, so what should it include?

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Dancers & Companies
Arthur Pita is doing one of his first abstract works with San Francisco Ballet, to premiere in April. Photo by Erik Tomasson

The ballet world can't get enough of Arthur Pita. With his maverick, surreal imagination, the self-styled "David Lynch of dance" brings a welcome theatricality to everything he touches, from his version of Kafka's The Metamorphosis to 2017's Salome for San Francisco Ballet.

The South African–born Pita competed in disco dancing and later performed with Matthew Bourne's New Adventures. Today, he is Bourne's offstage partner, and the pair live together in London. His latest work, which premiered in November, is a one-act adaptation of Dorothy Scarborough's 1925 Texan novel, The Wind, for The Royal Ballet.

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Popular
Photo by Nathan Sayers

We've been a fan of the space bun look since our Spice Girls days, which is exactly why we were so excited when hair and makeup artist Angela Huff brought the double-bun style back for our January cover shoot with American Ballet Theatre's Erica Lall. To give the '90s style a modern twist, Huff added a few braided details. Here's how to copy the look for your next class:

Photo by Nathan Sayers

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Dancers & Companies
Caleb Teicher in "Variations." PC Sally Cohn, Courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates

At age 24, dancer and choreographer Caleb Teicher already has accolades beyond his years. But this week, the Bessie Award–winning performer adds another impressive feat to his resumé: His company's Joyce Theater debut. Though tap is Teicher's focus, he masterfully combines everything from jazz to Lindy Hop to hip hop in his fresh, clever choreography.

We caught up with him for our "Spotlight" series:

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