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
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.
Japanese-born, New York–based choreographer Kota Yamazaki returns to his roots as a butoh dancer in Darkness Odyssey Part 2: I or Hallucination. He explores butoh founder Tatsumi Hijikata's idea of the extreme fragility of the body. Yamazaki is joined by contemporary luminaries Julian Barnett, Raja Feather Kelly, Joanna Kotze and Mina Nishimura, each of whom engages in drastically eccentric pathways, making the body appear to disintegrate before your eyes. Music is by Kenta Nagai and visual environment by lighting wizard Thomas Dunn. Dec. 13–15, Baryshnikov Arts Center. bacnyc.org.
There's a surprising twist to Regina Willoughby's last season with Columbia City Ballet: It's also her 18-year-old daughter Melina's first season with the company. Regina, 40, will retire from the stage in March, just as her daughter starts her own career as a trainee. But for this one season, they're sharing the stage together.
"So what do you do?"
This is the first question many of us ask when we're getting to know a new person—but it's one I've come to dread. When I tell people that I'm a dancer, occasionally I am met with enthusiasm and interest. But more often, I'm met with confusion, condescension or even hostility. "Oh, that's fun. I wish I could do something fun like that," a new acquaintance once said to me. She then proceeded to tell me about how difficult her job was and how hard she was working, making it clear that in her mind "fun" meant "easy." And if I had a dollar for every time a simple getting-to-know-you conversation has turned into a debate in which I've had to defend my career choice, maybe I could quit one of my other jobs.
(Update: Peter Martins will be taking a leave of absence from the company as more accusations surface. Read more here.)
Yesterday The New York Times reported that New York City Ballet and the School of American Ballet are jointly investigating sexual harassment claims involving Peter Martins. According to a statement from SAB, it "recently received an anonymous letter making general, nonspecific allegations of sexual harassment in the past by Peter Martins at both New York City Ballet and the school."
Martins, who serves as NYCB's ballet master in chief and SAB's chairman of faculty and artistic director will not be teaching his weekly class at the school as the investigation continues. He currently maintains his positions at both organizations.
While sexual harassment allegations have recently been made against a growing list of Hollywood heavy-hitters, politicians, news anchors and other men in positions of power, this is the first investigation this year of a major figure from the dance world.
Immediate reactions were varied, though emotionally charged. Here are a few of the many responses:
Simone Messmer was 19 the first time she used cocaine. She was at another company's gala when someone pulled out a bag of the white powder. There, at the coat check counter, party guests took turns snorting the drug. "I was hesitant, but at the time I was willing to try anything once," she says. "Everyone around me was getting hyped up. But for me, it made me feel grounded."
She would later learn that her reaction—feeling grounded instead of hyped—probably had to do with undiagnosed ADHD. The sensation kept Messmer, then a corps member at American Ballet Theatre, returning to the drug multiple times a week for a year. And it nearly jeopardized her career.
According to several reports from New Zealand–based news outlets over the past week, the Royal New Zealand Ballet is facing significant internal upheaval just a few months after Patricia Barker took over as artistic director.
Last night, the New York City Ballet board of directors approved ballet master in chief Peter Martins' request for a temporary leave of absence amidst an ongoing investigation into sexual harassment.
The investigation came to light on Monday, when the New York Times reported that NYCB and the School of American Ballet had hired a law firm to investigate their leader after receiving an anonymous letter detailing instances of harassment.
While it's appalling that any male leader would use his power to humiliate women, the accusations against Peter Martins opens up a wonderful, rosy possibility. In an email conversation about Martins stepping down temporarily, a friend of mine wrote, "They won't hire a man in this climate."
I suddenly found myself getting giddy with the thought that a woman might lead New York City Ballet. I pictured a former NYCB principal coming in and calming the dancers down, respecting them, inspiring them, treating them like adults, listening to them and encouraging communication between all factions of the company.
A newcomer to Batsheva's main company, 23-year-old Amalia Smith is quickly learning how to keep her body safe and supple during Ohad Naharin's rigorous rehearsals and world tours. Fatigue has become both a hurdle and a teacher.
"Decadance is pretty much a marathon, and the new piece Venezuela is such crazy cardio I nearly had an asthma attack!" says Smith. Fortunately, the new discoveries she's made through Gaga have helped her handle its intense demands.