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.
"I don't cook for just one or two people," says James Whiteside, stirring a pot on his stove. "My mom taught me to cook and she had five kids. So when I do cook, I go in!"
Aside from breakfast (usually bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin), the American Ballet Theatre principal rarely cooks for himself during ABT's seasons. He prefers to "forage" for his lunch and go out or order in for dinner, saving the real cooking for when he has friends or colleagues to feed. "I like to have a lot of people tell me my food is delicious," he quips.
We're not sure what we did to deserve the livestream generosity the dance world is giving us these days, but this weekend, it's getting even better.
PC Joe Toreno
L.A. Dance Project, Benjamin Milliepied's trendsetting contemporary troupe, has been in residence at The Chinati Foundation for the past few days. This weekend, they're showing us what they've come up with—for three days straight.
To create great work, choreographers need the freedom to tackle difficult subjects and push physical limits. But when your instruments are human beings, is there a limit to how far you should go? Five choreographers open up about where they draw the line.
Restaurants have always been a great source of survival gigs for dancers. But today's top chefs aren't just looking for waiters to carry dishes to the table. They're hiring choreographers to give the staff dance-like skills and compose a sort of choreography for the dining room.
Leslie Scott, artistic director of dance theater company BODYART, is one of those choreographers. After working in more typical food industry jobs for 10 years, she's been tapped by top restaurants in both New York City and Los Angeles to lead workshops that finesse servers' non-verbal communication and navigation of tight spaces.
Back in 2002, dancer and choreographer Jonah Bokaer founded an art space in Brooklyn called Chez Bushwick. As Manhattan and Brooklyn were quickly becoming unaffordable, and many studio spaces were closing, Bokaer seized upon "creative placemaking"—the idea that the arts can play an integral role in community-building—before it became a buzzword. "We have been sustaining and maintaining one of the most affordable dance studios in New York State since the very beginning of my career," he says.
Fifteen years later, the challenges for choreographers in expensive urban centers continue unabated, and Bokaer has found his original mission magnified. While Chez Bushwick remains a haven for the next generation, there is also a growing number of young dancemakers who have been inspired to create their own residencies, communities and, ultimately, opportunities.
The New York City premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's sugary sweet story ballet, Whipped Cream, made for one of the most exciting spring galas at American Ballet Theatre yet. While we're usually in awe of the gowns the dancers sport on the red carpet beforehand, this time around, it was all about Whipped Cream's colorful and over-the-top costumes by Mark Ryden—and, okay, a few major dress moments, too. Ahead, check out what went on behind-the-scenes.