On the Move: Septime Webre and Patricia Barker on Their New International Gigs
This summer, it was announced that two American ballet directors would be taking over major international troupes. Septime Webre is headed to Hong Kong Ballet, while Patricia Barker is taking the reins at Royal New Zealand Ballet. We caught up with Webre and Barker to get the scoop on their new posts and what's coming next.
Septime Webre, Hong Kong Ballet
A beloved figure at The Washington Ballet, Septime Webre directed the company for 17 years with an eye toward inclusiveness, racial diversity, and the shaping of a repertory with a little something for everybody. He stepped down in June 2016. "I wanted to spend a period of time as an artist," he says. It turned out to be a shorter period than planned. Webre is now taking over a troupe halfway around the world. With around 50 dancers, Hong Kong Ballet is roughly twice the size of his former home, and state-funded. He'll keep a foot in DC, curating a summer performance series for Halcyon Stage, a program he launched this year under the auspices of the larger creative organization called Halcyon.
Webre knew the Hong Kong Ballet, though not intimately, from its recent U.S. tours. Its repertory is a mix of classics and existing works by familiar choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky. Webre plans to keep the classics but increase the number of ballets created on the dancers, with a focus on works that reflect the culture of the region. And he'll continue to make his own ballets on HKB. Already, he is thinking about putting together programs inspired by Chinese and Hong Kong literature, and the mix of fashion, pop and contemporary art for which the island is known. As he puts it: "I want the company to reflect Hong Kong's status as Asia's most cosmopolitan city." Ever the enthusiast, he has already chosen a Chinese name: Wai Sing Tin, which means "He who protects the sun or talent." —Marina Harss
Patricia Barker, Royal New Zealand Ballet
"I am an adventurous individual with one more adventure in me," says Patricia Barker about her move across the world to become Royal New Zealand Ballet's new artistic director. The 54-year-old former Pacific Northwest Ballet principal is only the second woman to hold the post in RNZB's 64-year history. Having honed her artistic and business acumen as artistic director of Grand Rapids Ballet, Barker looks to apply those skills to running the much larger RNZB, whose operating budget is $13 million (compared to GRB's $2.5 million). Barker will stay on as GRB artistic director for this coming season until a suitable replacement is found, running both companies concurrently.
With 2018's programming already in place, Barker says her first year will be all about getting to know the company's 36 dancers and New Zealand audiences, as well as programming RNZB's 2019 offerings. Barker notes the importance of approachable programming, such as story ballets, historical pieces and Balanchine works. She is also interested in commissioning new works that will excite home audiences across New Zealand and spawn international tours. Barker says, "I want to build on the company's prior successes and continue to move it forward." —Steve Sucato
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.
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 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.
Last night, American Ballet Theatre held its annual Fall Gala at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City. To celebrate ABT's artistic director Kevin McKenzie's 25 years of leadership, dancers from ABT's company, apprentices, studio company members and students from the Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis School took to the stage in Jessica Lang's The Gift, Alexei Ratmansky's Songs of Bukovina and Christopher Wheeldon's Thirteen Diversions.
But we also love a good behind-the-scenes glimpse—especially when designer gowns are involved. And the dancers gave us plenty of glam looks to obsess over once the curtains closed. Ahead, see our favorite moments from gala straight from the dancers.
Last week Ballet West breezed into New York City's Joyce Theater from Salt Lake City. The dancers are excellent—especially the women (what else is new). The company brought five pieces including works by Gerald Arpino, Val Caniparoli and resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte.
Arpino's last work, made in 2004, is a duet called RUTH, Ricordi per Due ("remembrance for two"). It's about a man haunted by the memory of the woman he loved. Christopher Ruud is strong and sensitive as the man, and Arolyn Williams is riveting as the ghost of his beloved.
Val Caniparoli energizes his dancers with juicy movement, and always sticks to his theme. (He doesn't ramble, and let's face it, long rambling choreography is a problem these days.) In his premiere for Ballet West, Dances for Lou, he takes on the music of Lou Harrison, a composer known for his Eastern sounds and rhythms.
Photo by Filip VanRoe, courtesy Marquee
Your Saturday nights are about to go from "Netflix and chill" to "Marquee and chill." (Okay, maybe we'll need to coin a new phrase).
But seriously, the new streaming app Marquee Arts TV lets you curl up with Bolshoi Ballet's Swan Lake, Sylvie Guillem dancing Mats Ek's solo Bye, a dance film by Cullberg Ballet called 40 M Under, or a documentary about Alonzo King and LINES Ballet. Marquee unlocks a world of digital arts: dance, theater, opera, music, documentaries and film shorts that you can stream directly to your TV or mobile device.
When Simone Forti moved from California to New York City in 1960, she brought with her the improvisational approach of Anna Halprin. As one of the first five students in Robert Dunn's John Cage–inspired composition course (that led to Judson Dance Theater), she was a magnet for two others in that class: Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton. This month the three reunite for Tea for Three, an evening of moving and talking at Danspace Project, Oct. 26–28. It's a chance to see how dance mavericks grow and change and mellow. Forti will also give "Body Mind World" workshops Oct. 19–20. danspaceproject.org.
When you're dancing for what feels like eight days a week, it takes more than just stretching to put your body back in order. You need a good rub down. Unfortunately, most of us don't exactly have the money to afford an on-call personal masseuse.
The solution: Self-massage, with foam rollers, lacrosse balls, elbows and anything else that can help loosen up your muscles. We dug into Dance Magazine's archives to find the best pieces of advice we've published on the topic. Follow these rules to get what you, ahem, knead out of self-massage.