Career

On the Rise: Alexandra Karigan Farrior

With her ability to make people laugh and cry, often at the same time, Alexandra Karigan Farrior takes dance theater to a new level. As muse and most frequent partner of Joshua L. Peugh, artistic director of up-and-coming Dallas troupe Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, she navigates his world of whimsy and internal turmoil with a confident finesse. Though she only joined the company in 2014, she fully inhabits Peugh’s offbeat characters, while managing to make his bizarre partnering look easy.

Farrior is one half of Dark Circles’ most dynamic duo. Here, in Peugh’s Slump. Photo by Chadi El-Khoury, courtesy Farrior.

Company: Dark Circles Contemporary Dance

Age: 30

Hometown: Dallas, Texas (Born in Toronto, Ontario)

Training: Chamberlain School of Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater School, BFA in dance performance from Southern Methodist University

Breakout career moment: Right out of college, Farrior landed a job with Amy Marshall Dance Company in New York City. It was a huge validation for her. In a strange coincidence, her landlord knew Marshall. “I cold-called her and she invited me to an intensive,” Farrior says. “We clicked immediately.” With Marshall, she performed at Jacob’s Pillow and toured Europe and Asia.

Dallas/New York/Dallas: Farrior’s husband transferred to a Texas law school in 2012 so she could enroll in Texas Christian University’s MFA program in classical and contemporary dance. In Dallas, she reunited with fellow SMU alum Peugh at Bruce Wood Dance Project. He then asked her to join his new company, Dark Circles, where they are well on their way to becoming Dallas’ most prominent partnership.

What she’s working on: Onstage, Farrior continues to plumb the tricky nuances in Peugh’s work. “Joshua encourages me to pursue precision and virtuosity, but also keep my curiosity alive,” she says.

What Peugh is saying: “In performance, Alex is so absorbed in the work. She has great instincts and sensitivity; she reacts to what’s happening around her onstage and also what’s happening beyond the proscenium.”

On the horizon: Because Peugh is traveling more often to create for other companies, Farrior has taken a leadership role at Dark Circles, teaching company class and running rehearsals. She will be featured in Peugh’s The Rite of Spring, premiering in March, and in Italian choreographer Fabio Liberti’s new work for the company in April. 

Yuri Possokhov rehearsing his 2015 creation for the Bolshoi, A Hero of Our Time. Photo by Quinn Wharton.

Back in July, the Bolshoi Ballet grabbed international headlines after canceling the scheduled premiere of a new full-length ballet just three days before opening night. The ballet was Nureyev, and, as it was centered on the life of an openly gay male dancer who defected from the Soviet Union, it was widely speculated that the decision was an act of censorship.

Further theories of political motivations arose as Kirill Serebrennikov, the project's already-controversial director, was being questioned in connection with an embezzlement investigation. But according to the Bolshoi, the ballet was pulled due to it simply not being ready, and was not canceled but postponed; a tentative premiere was set for May 2018.

But it looks like Russian audiences will be getting to see the new ballet far sooner than they might have hoped.

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By Rick Tjia, Dance Talent Scout, Cirque du Soleil Casting

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.

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YAGP competitor Bianca Scudamore. Photo by VAM, courtesy YAGP

By itself, a competition trophy won't really prepare you for professional life. Sometimes it is not even a plus. "Some directors are afraid that a kid who wins a lot of medals will come to their company with too many expectations," says Youth America Grand Prix artistic director Larissa Saveliev. "Directors want to mold young dancers to fit their company."

More valuable than taking home a title from a competition is the exposure you can get and the connections you can make while you're there. But how can you take advantage of the opportunity?

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Photo by Anne Van Aerschot

New York Live Arts opens its 2017-18 season with A Love Supreme, a revised work by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and collaborator Salva Sanchis. Known as a choreographer of pure form, pattern and musicality, De Keersmaeker can bring a visceral power to the stage without the use of narrative. She has taken this 2005 work to John Coltrane's famous jazz score of the same title and recast it for four young men of her company Rosas, giving it an infusion of new energy.

Photo by Anne Van Aerschot

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Career
Johns' Map

Before too long, dancers and choreographers will get to create on the luxurious 170-acre property in rural Connecticut that is currently home to legendary visual artist Jasper Johns.

If you think that sounds far more glamorous than your average choreographic retreat, you're right. Though there are some seriously generous opportunities out there, this one seems particularly lavish.

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Health & Body
Ashley Ellis, photo by Albert Ayzenberg, courtesy of Ashley Ellis

Every dancer has learned—probably the hard way—that healthy feet are the foundation of a productive and happy day in the studio. As dancers, our most important asset has to carry the weight (literally) of everything we do. So it's not surprising that most professional dancers have foot care down to an art.

Three dancers shared their foot-care products they can't live without.

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via Instagram, Company Cooperative

Dancers trying their hand at designing is nothing new. But they do tend to stick with studio or performance-wear (think Miami City Ballet's Ella Titus and her line of knit warm-ups or former NYCB dancer Janie Taylor and her ballet costumes). But several dancers at American Ballet Theatre—corps members Jamie Kopit, Erica Lall, Katie Boren, Katie Williams, Lauren Post, Zhong-Jing Fang and soloist Cassandra Trenary—are about to launch a fashion line that's built around designs that can be worn outside of the studio. Titled Company Cooperative, the luxe line of women's wear is handmade in New York City's garment district and designed by the dancers themselves.

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Dancers & Companies
A still from Duet, via CNN Style

Royal Ballet dancers Yasmine Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell recently got together for a different kind of performance: no decadent costumes, sets, stage makeup or lighting. Instead, the principal and first soloist danced choreography by principal character artist Kristen McNally in a stark studio.

The movement is crystal clear, and at the beginning, Naghdi and Stix-Brunell duck and weave around each other with near vacant stares. Do they even know they have a partner? And how should they interact? The situation raises a much larger question: How often do we see a female duet in ballet?

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