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Hofesh Shechter's Latest Hits North America, Plus Six Other Shows That Sparked Our Interest This Month
We are deep into the fall season, and the steady stream of great performances has yet to let up. Here are the shows we're keeping an eye on this month.
It's the End of the World as We Know It
Hofesh Shechter's Grand Finale. Photo by Rahi Rezvani, Courtesy Danse Danse
MONTREAL AND NEW YORK CITY Seductive yet unnerving, Hofesh Shechter's choreography is uniquely polarizing. His newest work, Grand Finale, a maelstrom of 10 dancers and 6 musicians sketching "a world in freefall," promises to be as dark, discomfiting and cathartic as any of his others. It lands in North America this month, appearing first at Montreal's Danse Danse Nov. 1–4 before arriving at Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival Nov. 9–11. hofesh.co.uk.
His/Her/Their Moves Showcased by the Bridge Project
Monique Jenkinson. Photo by Arturo Cosenza, Courtesy Hope Mohr Dance.
SAN FRANCISCO For several years Hope Mohr's Bridge Project has connected history and the present moment, art and intellectual probing. Plunging into the burgeoning area of gender-nonconforming performance, this year's iteration, Radical Movements: Gender and Politics in Performance, asks the question: What does it mean to have a radical body? Radical Movements will be kicked off by a conversation between Monique Jenkinson (aka faux-drag performer Fauxnique) and gender-theory superstar Judith Butler. Other performers include Julie Tolentino, boychild and Miryam Rostami, all of whom walk on the wild side of gender innovation. Nov. 2–12. hopemohr.org.
Chaos=Hope for Threads Dance Project
Threads Dance Project. Photo by Alex Roob, Courtesy The Cowles Center.
MINNEAPOLIS Before she founded Threads Dance Project, choreographer Karen L. Charles made a living as a computer analyst and mathematician—and her latest work combines that dual passion. Taking chaos theory as a starting point, Uncertain Reality postulates that there is hope in chaos and humanizes an otherwise abstract construct. The Cowles Center, Nov. 3–4. thecowlescenter.org.
Nicolo Fonte and Ballet West dancers rehearse his Carmina Burana. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West.
SALT LAKE CITY In Ballet West's early years, one of the company's mainstays was a Carmina Burana staged by founding artistic director Willam Christensen. Now, resident choreographer Nicolo Fonte is tackling the iconic score. Fonte's new iteration is appearing on a program with George Balanchine's Serenade at both Ballet West and Cincinnati Ballet (in February), providing a stark contrast to the lush neoclassical masterpiece. Nov. 3–4, 8–11. balletwest.org.
David Dorfman Dance, Just Messing Around
David Dorfman Dance. Photo by Adam Campos, Courtesy BAM.
NEW YORK CITY David Dorfman Dance returns to Brooklyn Academy of Music with its signature blend of highly physical group tussles and existential inquiry. With Aroundtown, Dorfman explores what community means in these violently polarized times. Accompanied by electric folk music played live, Aroundtown includes a cameo duet between the choreographer and his wife, Lisa Race. BAM Harvey Theater, Nov. 8–11. bam.org.
An American in...Scotland?
Robert Fairchild. Photo by Matt Trent, Courtesy An American in Paris.
NEW YORK CITY Christopher Wheeldon is tackling another classic musical. But instead of postwar Paris, New York City Center audiences will be transported to a town in the Scottish Highlands that only appears one day every century: Brigadoon. The original 1947 production featured choreography by Agnes de Mille. With Wheeldon at the helm and An American in Paris alums Robert Fairchild and Sara Esty in the cast, the dancing should be in top form. Nov. 15–19. nycitycenter.org.
Bebe Miller Makes Some Dances About Making Dances
Bebe Miller Company. Photo by Julieta Cervantes, Courtesy Bebe Miller Company.
COLUMBUS, OH For choreographer Bebe Miller's latest work In a Rhythm, she and her company turn their attention toward the dancemaking process itself. The hourlong suite of short dances explores the syntax of movement and how we absorb its meaning. Says Miller: "Process is fascinating. The product is whatever it turns out to be, but how we get there and who we get there with is really why I do what I do." Wexner Center, Nov. 30–Dec. 3. bebemillercompany.org.
Contributors: Courtney Escoyne, Wendy Perron, Steve Sucato
I love being transgender. It's an important part of the story of why I choreograph. Although I loved dance from a very young age, I grew up never seeing a single person like me in dance. So how could I imagine a future for myself there?
The enormous barriers I had to overcome weren't internal: I didn't struggle with feelings of dysphoria, and I wasn't locked down by shame.
The dance community is heartbroken to learn that 14-year-olds Jaime Guttenberg and Cara Loughran were among the 17 people killed during the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
Guttenberg was a talented competition dancer at Dance Theatre in Coconut Creek, FL, according to a report from Sun Sentinel. Dance Theatre owner Michelle McGrath Gerlick shared the below message on her Facebook page, encouraging dancers across the country to wear orange ribbons this weekend in honor of Guttenberg, whose favorite color was orange.
In today's dance world, it seems to go without saying: The more varied the training, the better. But is that always the case? Rhonda Malkin, a New York City–based dance coach who performed with the Radio City Rockettes, thinks trendy contemporary techniques that emphasize improvisation and organic movement quality are detrimental to the precision and strength needed to be a Rockette, in a traditional Broadway show or on a professional dance team. Her view is controversial: "If you really want to work, making $40,000 in three months for the Rockettes or $25,000 in one day filming a commercial, you need ballet, Broadway jazz, tap, hip hop—not contemporary," she says.
On the flip side, techniques that allow dancers more freedom may help them connect more deeply with their body and artistry, while providing release for overused muscles. We broke down the argument for both sides:
For many dancers, a "warmup" consists of sitting on the floor stretching their legs in various positions. But this strategy only reduces your muscles' ability to work properly—it negatively affects your strength, endurance, balance and speed for up to an hour.
Save your flexibility training for the end of the day. Instead, follow a warmup that will actually help prevent injury and improve your body's performance.
According to the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, a smart warmup has four parts: "a gentle pulse-raising section, a joint mobilization section, a muscle lengthening section and a strength/balance building section."
A statement released yesterday by New York City Ballet and School of American Ballet reported that an independent investigation was unable to corroborate allegations of harassment and abuse against former ballet master in chief Peter Martins, according to The New York Times. This marks the end of a two-month inquiry jointly launched by the two organizations in December following an anonymous letter detailing instances of harassment and violence.
The statement also included new policies for both the company and school to create safer, more respectful environments for the dancers, including hiring an independent vendor to handle employee complaints anonymously. These changes are being made despite the independent investigation, handled by outside counsel Barbara Hoey, purportedly finding no evidence of abuse.
Not all ballet dancers cling to their youth. At 26, Lauren Lovette, the New York City Ballet principal, has surpassed the quarter-century mark. And she's relieved.
"I've never felt young," she says. "I can't wait until I'm 30. Every woman I've ever talked to says that at 30 you just don't care. You're free. Maybe I'll start early?"
When Beatlemania swept through the U.S. in the 1960s, Mark Morris was one of millions of young Americans who fell head over heels for the revolutionary group. "I was not immune," the choreographer says. "My sisters were mad about The Beatles and so was I. At age 12 I had a crush on Paul, of course."
Flash forward 50 years and he is still rocking to the British band, but this time with a new Beatles-inspired dance work his company is touring across North America, starting this month with scheduled stops in Seattle, Toronto, Portland, Oregon, and another 25 cities before the end of 2019.
You could call it island-hopping, but it's not exactly a vacation. After choreographing last season's Come From Away, and winning a Tony nomination, Kelly Devine zipped from frosty Newfoundland to the Caribbean beach resort that is the setting for Escape to Margaritaville.
In the fall, she was shuttling between them, before they start this month: flying to Toronto to prepare a new Canadian production of Come From Away, then jetting back to Chicago for the final stop of Margaritaville's four-city pre-Broadway tryout.
"These two shows could not be more different from each other," Devine says with a dash of understatement. Come From Away is about the small Newfoundland town where airliners grounded by the 9/11 attacks dumped thousands of unexpected visitors; Escape to Margaritaville, at the Marquis Theatre, is a comic island romance concocted from the beachcomber songbook of Jimmy Buffett.
How does someone go from being a New York City Ballet corps member to training Hollywood A-listers like Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence? By getting injured, says Kurt Froman.
When an ankle sprain left him sidelined a few years back, Froman was "sitting at home, depressed" when he sent his friend Benjamin Millepied an email asking what he was up to. It turned out that Millepied had just been hired to choreograph some scenes for a movie, but had to be in Paris during pre-production. "He needed someone to teach two actors choreography and get them in shape," says Froman. With nothing else on his plate, he said yes, and started prepping Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis for Black Swan.