“Off Kilter” Is the Ballet Comedy We’ve Been Waiting For
More often than not, we're disappointed when ballet is depicted in pop culture. Sometimes, the dance world is made out to be incredibly dark and depressing. Or, worse, non-dancers are hired to play dancers. (Gasp!)
But a new series is giving us hope that it is possible to make ballet content that is both entertaining and true to what the dance world is actually like. "Off Kilter," created by former Compania Nacional de Danza and Ballet Frankfurt dancer Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla and comedian Amy Cunningham, follows fictional choreographer Milton Frank as he creates his first work in over two decades.
The show's dry humor is enough to have us hooked (imagine if "Parks and Recreation" was set in a dance company), but "Off Kilter" also cleverly tackles important issues in the ballet world like sexism, ageism and ego.
National Ballet of Canada principal Harrison James and former Royal Winnipeg Ballet soloist Sarah Murphy-Dyson play the dancer roles, so obviously their technique is gorgeous. And they aren't bad actors, either.
Our other favorite thing about "Off Kilter": It contains delightful dance insider references, but is still relatable to non-dancers (we think?!). From the ridiculous nonsense sounds Milton uses when he's choreographing to his refusal to call his return to choreography a "comeback," we can all recognize these sometimes-quirky, sometimes-irritating behaviors in people we've worked with. But as the show's teaser points out, "You don't have to be a ballerina to know a Milton Frank."
The show is in early stages of development, but we can't wait to see more.
It's the end of a long rehearsal day for the dancers of Abraham.In.Motion. They're reviewing phrases of a new work, Dearest Home. It's a pretty typical rehearsal scene. Some dancers cluster around a laptop trying to piece together steps learned long ago. Others review choreography together, working to figure out who remembered which arms correctly.
What isn't typical: The company's director and choreographer, Kyle Abraham, is nowhere to be seen.
That's because while the company is based in New York City full-time, Abraham spends most of his year teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he joined the faculty last September. It's an unconventional model for a single-choreographer–led troupe, almost functioning like a repertory company in which choreographers drop in for a week to set a piece, leaving it up to the rehearsal directors and dancers to keep the momentum going.
La Scala Ballet has a knack for snagging exceptional guest artists, and the company's rare West Coast appearance this weekend at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is no exception. Principal dancer étoile Roberto Bolle will partner both Misty Copeland and Marianela Nuñez in Giselle. And in an extra international twist, they'll be accompanied by the Mikhailovsky Orchestra for the engagement. July 28–30. scfta.org.
Serious dancers interested in musical theater face a difficult choice when applying to college: Should you major in dance or musical theater? "You can make a career following either pathway," says Lynne Formato, associate professor of performing arts at Elon University. If you choose to go the musical theater route, find a program that will challenge your dance technique:
The 2017 Princess Grace Award winners have just been announced! Over the years, the Princess Grace Foundation-USA has demonstrated a knack for picking out future stars in the dance world, so it should be no surprise that several of the honorees are familiar names.
It's well known that Robert Rauschenberg, one of the most famous American artists of the 20th century, made costumes and sets for Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor and Trisha Brown. What you may not know is that he also choreographed and danced in many performances of his own devising. You can see evidence of them among the vast amount of paintings, sculptures and collages at the exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art called Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends.