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By Wendy Perron
Call it the scandal issue. First of all, we have the centenary of The Rite of Spring, which ignited the biggest artistic scandal of 1913. Instead of giving you a verbal history, we offer a photo collage of various choreographers’ versions, including of the original Nijinsky Sacre du Printemps. What was the scandal? Nijinsky’s choreography violated every tradition of classical ballet, and Stravinsky’s music crashed and lurched in brazenly irregular rhythms. But we think of that moment as perhaps the last time that a ballet created such pandemonium. It drove people to stomp and yell and fight with each other.
Second, we have two stories related to the short-lived musical Scandalous. Before it closed last fall, it gave Lorin Latarro, a Broadway dancer, her first chance to choreograph on Broadway. Read Sylviane Gold’s account of Latarro’s career and catch up on her latest projects in “On Broadway.” Coincidentally, one of Latarro’s strong performers in Scandalous was Betsy Struxness, who, in this issue, is our “On the Rise.”
Third, there’s Jodi Melnick, our cover subject. While she never caused an actual scandal, it’s kind of outrageous how fabulous she looks and dances at the age of 49. Going against the “neutral” aesthetic of downtown, her sheer glamour is slightly transgressive. No high jumps or multiple turns, but her intricate dancing tumbles out with a rich imagination and witty timing. A mesmerizing dancer, Jodi can carry off a near-nothing of a phrase as well as a spoof of Giselle’s mad scene, as she once did in Vicky Shick’s Repair a few years ago.
At right: Shoe twins. Photo, and headshot photo above, by Matthew Karas.
It just so happens that Jodi has worked with the same five women choreographers I did a decade or two (or three) earlier: Trisha Brown, Sara Rudner, Susan Rethorst, Vicky Shick, and Twyla Tharp. In Gia Kourlas’ compelling cover story, Jodi talks about all those influences. She also talks about her discovery of what dance means to her through thick and thin.
Through thick and thin may be a good description for the persistence of young dancers who keep trying to get into the company of their dreams. Turn to “If At First You Don’t Succeed” in our “Auditions Guide” to read some rousing stories from those who tried, tried again, and finally succeeded.