Baryshnikov Takes Brooklyn
NEW YORK CITY
A man retires to his lonely apartment. There, he mysteriously discovers a dead woman. His solution? To fold her into a suitcase and take her on a journey by train, only to have the luggage disappear in transit. If the storyline doesn’t intrigue, throwing Mikhail Baryshnikov into the mix surely will. This month, the dance legend co-stars with actor Willem Dafoe in the U.S. premiere of The Old Woman, directed by Robert Wilson—the man who brought us the epic (and still-touring) dance/theater work Einstein on the Beach. Wilson’s The Old Woman is based on Daniil Kharms’ bizarre novella of the same name. The set and dress are equally strange, with a cartoonlike quality that feels simultaneously flat and three-dimensional. June 22–29 at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. bam.org.
Above: Mikhail Baryshnikov in The Old Woman. Photo by Lucie Jansch, Courtesy Brooklyn Academy of Music.
ABT Tries a New Glass Slipper
NEW YORK CITY
Over the past few years, the artists of American Ballet Theatre have been performing Frederick Ashton’s ballets—The Dream, Sylvia, A Month in the Country—with all the purity and poise of English dancers raised on his style. This season, the company tackles Ashton’s full-length Cinderella, setting aside the James Kudelka and Ben Stevenson versions previously in its repertoire. In an era when companies frequently rely on story ballet remakes to drum up excitement (see: Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella), it’s refreshing to see a time-tested classic embraced by ABT, which is, after all, the home of time-tested classics. June 9–14, Metropolitan Opera House. abt.org.
Above: ABT’s Craig Salstein and Roman Zhurbin try out the Ugly Stepsisters’ accessories (as Thomas Forster looks on). Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy American Ballet Theatre.
Quiet New England towns aren’t generally known as hip-hop hubs. But that will change for a few nights this June, when some of urban dance’s most extraordinary artists assemble at Jacob’s Pillow. Unreal Hip-Hop, which runs June 25–29 at the Doris Duke Theatre, features Boston sensations The Wondertwins performing their inimitable man-meets-machine style; b-girl Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie in a series of genre-defying solos; and all-female crew Decadancetheatre’s unconventional reimagining of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons. jacobspillow.org.
Above: Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie. Photo by Cristiano Marcelli, Courtesy Jacob’s Pillow.
Honoring His Mentors
NEW YORK CITY
In marking his company’s 20th anniversary, Pascal Rioult has chosen to look back even further than 20 years, programming reconstructions of works by his mentors, Martha Graham and May O’Donnell. RIOULT Dance performs Graham’s famous El Penitente (1940), a trio inspired by self-lacerating rituals of the American Southwest, and O’Donnell’s Suspension (1943), a highly controlled exploration of shape and weightlessness that draws its drama from Ray Green’s airplane-inspired music. Rioult’s own works include a world premiere and last year’s Iphigenia. June 17–22 at The Joyce. joyce.org.
Above: RIOULT Dance’s Jane Sato in Suspension. Photo courtesy RIOULT Dance.
A Meeting of the (Renegade) Minds
SALT LAKE CITY
You gotta love an intensive that offers a course called “Practice More Failure.” It will be taught by that supreme New York rebel, Faye Driscoll, at SaltDanceFest, which is hosted by the dance department at University of Utah. Other choreographers at the festival include Seattle’s Zoe Scofield and New Yorker Pavel Zustiak, both of whom have been known to kick up the dirt. Trust the excellent dancemaking faculty of U of U to guide participants through exploring technique, somatics, improv jams, collaborative sessions and performances. June 2–13. dance.utah.edu.
Above: Matthew Rogers, Jaro Vinarsky and Pavel Zustiak in Zustiak’s Endangered Pieces. Photo by by Nandita Raman, Courtesy University of Utah.
It's not often that a dance video provokes bona fide cackling in our office, but this new episode of BroadwayWorld TV's improv-based series "Turning the Tables" is just too real. For this episode, seven Broadway pros were invited to a mock dance call. With series regulars Ellyn Marie Marsh, Andrew Briedis, Andrew Chappelle and Julia Mattison running the "audition," disaster and hilarity (mostly hilarity) ensue.
First of all, it's amazing to see Broadway dancers like Neil Haskell, Eloise Kropp and Samantha Sturm try to keep straight faces with the amount of deadpan shenanigans happening at the front of the room. And if you've ever been to a Broadway dance call, you're going to be struck by just how on point the jokes are. Plus, it's just really, really funny.
Watch now. Thank us later.
"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.