Joffrey Ballet's Big News
Today the Joffrey Ballet announced a new Nutcracker to be created by Christopher Wheeldon next year. This makes me happy because Wheeldon’s full-length story ballets have been pretty spectacular. He really knows how to collaborate with designers and composers and give story ballets a contemporary slant.
After seeing National Ballet of Canada perform his Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at the Kennedy Center, I called it beguiling. But I liked his Cinderella with San Francisco Ballet even more. In this post, I wrote that he tells the story "with a sense of enchantment and humor." And his recent Winter’s Tale with The Royal Ballet got rave reviews.
It’s time for a big, luscious story ballet made just for the Joffrey. The company celebrated its 20th year in Chicago last fall, and the old Joffrey/Arpino Nutcracker was made well before that move.
In the meantime, the company is in the midst of its Unique Voices program. Artistic director Ashley Wheater has brought together three international choreographers whose works are very visible in the U.S.: the Australian Stanton Welch, who is at the helm of Houston Ballet; James Kudelka, an iconoclast from Canada; and the Swede Alexander Ekman.
Stanton Welch’s Maninyas, made for San Francisco Ballet in 1996, will no doubt challenge the Joffrey dancers with its juicy virtuosity. In this "Choreography in Focus," Welch talks about the sexuality of the women’s shoulder movements in the ballet.
Fernando Duarte, Joanna Wozniak, Edson Barbosa, and Derrick Agnolett in The Man in Black. Photo by Cheryl Mann.
The Man in Black, made by James Kudelka for BalletMet Columbus in 2010, takes us on a very American ride: He uses tunes from Johnny Cash’s American album collection. This choreographer has such a unique way of creating mood through movement that it makes me curious to see it.
Alexander Ekman choreographs for companies all over Europe, but his works are also in the reps of Boston Ballet, Cedar Lake and Atlanta Ballet. He tends to make big, sprawling pieces that can be either charming or irritating—or both. Tulle utilizes the full company and even includes interviews with them on video. Made for the Royal Swedish ballet in 2010, it was Ekman’s first piece on pointe and it’s about the art of ballet.
Miguel Angel Blanco and April Daly in Tulle. Photo by Cheryl Mann
It will be interesting to see how these three different works reverberate with each other on this program.
The Joffrey’s Unique Voices goes till Feb. 22. For tickets, click here. And gear up for December 2016, when Wheeldon’s Nutcracker will be unveiled.
What if there was a way to get your dancing in front of the likes of Desmond Richardson, d. Sabela grimes and Vincent Paterson all at once? Just in case you needed another excuse to break out your best moves this week, the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is back, and Richardson, grimes and Paterson are among this year's judges.
Dancers and non-dancers alike are invited to submit short dance films to the international online festival, with one caveat: The dancing has to take place in a public space.
The dancers file into an audition room. They are given a number and asked to wait for registration to finish before the audition starts. At the end of the room, behind a table and a computer (and probably a number of mobile devices), there I sit, doing audio tests and updating the audition schedule as the room fills up with candidates. The dancers, more nervous than they need to be, see me, typing, perhaps teasing my colleagues, almost certainly with a coffee cup at my side.
When we're talking about the history of black dancers in ballet, three names typically pop up: Raven Wilkinson at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Janet Collins at New York's Metropolitan Opera and Arthur Mitchell at New York City Ballet.
But in the 1930s through 50s, there was a largely overlooked hot spot for black ballet dancers: Philadelphia. What was going on in that city that made it such an incubator? To answer that question, we caught up with Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet founder (and frequent Dance Magazine contributor) Theresa Ruth Howard, who yesterday released her latest project, a video series called And Still They Rose: The Legacy of Black Philadelphians in Ballet.
Janie Taylor didn't know if she'd ever return to the stage. But that's exactly where the former New York City Ballet principal has found herself: Nearly three years after retiring, she is performing again, as a member of L.A. Dance Project.
Taylor officially debuted with the company at its December 2016 gala in Los Angeles, then performed in Boston, via live stream from Marfa, Texas, and at New York's Joyce Theater before heading off on tour dates in France, Singapore, Dubai and beyond.
"She is wildly interesting to watch—and not conventional," says LADP artistic director Benjamin Millepied. "There are films of Suzanne Farrell dancing, where you feel like the music is coming out of her body," he says. "I think Janie has that same kind of quality."
Last night was not your average Thursday at Bay Ridge Ballet in Brooklyn, New York. Studio owner and teacher Patty Foster Grado—a former Parsons Dance Company dancer—was teaching a boys class, when with only five minutes left, she heard commotion in the waiting area and someone yelled, "There's a lady giving birth in the bathroom!"
Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.
Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.
When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.