The Show Must Go On
Last month, in the middle of a dazzling performance of ODC/Dance’s Boulders and Bones at UCLA’s Royce Hall, something was not right. Zoë Keating, the composer/cellist who was being wheeled around the stage while creating lovely, dynamic music, had stopped bowing. She was looking around herself, probably at cables on the floor. Pretty soon two male technicians crept onstage to fiddle with those cables. The music, which was part acoustic and part electronic, had stopped.
Boulders and Bones with Zoë Keating on cello; photo by Marie Pier-Frigon
But the dancers didn’t. All ten of them surged onstage in a powerful, kinetically charged diagonal choreographed by co-directors Brenda Way and KT Nelson. In a long passage of group work, their spirit was clearly unfazed by the lack of music. Their sense of timing, spacing and sensitivity to each other was perhaps even enhanced.
During a brief lull in the dancing, Keating took up a microphone and said, “Hey.” With that one word, she broke through the confusion. She addressed the audience directly, explaining what went wrong. I don’t remember the words, but I remember the feeling of her being very straightforward, saying the power went out and that’s why the music went dead.
Rehearsal with Steffi Cheong in foreground, and Keating seated on her traveling perch.
According to Carla Escoda’s review of the 2014 premiere in The Huffington Post, this is what was scheduled to happen: “From her [Keating’s] cello and foot-controlled laptop, haunting, repetitive fragments of sound — layered electronically to sound like an ever-growing orchestra of cellos — flood the theatre. The score’s pounding rhythms and mood shifts, from melancholy to rage and despair, drive the dance.”
We did hear some of that, but the silence was an excellent alternative to Keating’s music. In my notes, I wrote, “more Zen, without the music.” This John Cage moment melded beautifully with the visuals by RJ Muna, which projected landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy’s installation process of building something out of nature by cutting into boulders.
Although the amplification problem did get fixed and the magnificent choreography linked back up to the music, the interruption of the plan—call it improvisation—reminded us of the tenuous, uncertain, gorgeous unpredictability of real life within performance. As a woman in the audience noted as we left the theater, “The dancers just kept going, bless their hearts.”
Booking a gig on a cruise ship can feel like you're diving into the unknown—dropping everything to live in the middle of the ocean without family, friends or cell service. But cruise jobs can also offer incredible rewards, like traveling the world for free and delving into a new style.
Is ship life the right fit for you? Here are some elements to consider.
We knew that New York downtown dance darling Okwui Okpokwasili was a big deal. Critics and audiences have been raving about her dance-theater works for years, and the new documentary about her, Bronx Gothic, has attracted the attention of the larger arts community.
But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine she'd show up in a Jay Z video, along with flex dancer Storyboard P. Though we're slightly less surprised to see Storyboard in Jay Z's "4:44" video than we were to see Okpokwasili, we're jazzed that two of our favorites are featured on such a huge platform. (We're also feeling #blessed that we didn't have to subscribe to Tidal to watch this.)
Throughout the years, choreographer Seán Curran has worked with a diverse array of talented collaborators—from Kyrgyz music ensemble Ustatshakirt Plus to the the Grammy Award–winning King's Singers. But perhaps none are as meaningful as his most recent group of co-choreographers: At-risk teens from the after school program and nonprofit The Wooden Floor.
Curran has been in residence with The Wooden Floor since June, where he's worked with students to build choreography based on their lives and communities:
Their creation will be shown July 20-22 at The Wooden Floor Studio Theatre in Santa Ana, California.
"Besides the stage, baking is my other happy place," says New York City Ballet corps member Jenelle Manzi.
Four years ago, she thought her baking days were over when she was diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Manzi had been dealing with pain, frequent illness and joint inflammation for nearly 10 years. Once she cut out gluten, Manzi gradually started to feel better, noticing a transformation in how her body felt and functioned. She found her joints were less inflamed, and she got sick less often.
New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan and American Ballet Theatre soloist Cassandra Trenary spend every day making their hard work look effortless and graceful both in the studio and onstage. That's exactly what makes them the perfect spokesmodels for the dance-inspired activewear line, Belle Force.
To celebrate our 90th anniversary, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.
This image was captured during a 1978 New York City Ballet tour that took the company to Copenhagen—home turf for Adam Luders (right), who trained at the Royal Danish Ballet School and briefly danced with the company before joining NYCB as a principal dancer in 1975. Next to Luders is (of course) George Balanchine, in conversation with ballerina Suzanne Farrell. And looking on with a smile? NYCB's current ballet master in chief Peter Martins.
On March 8, 2016, Rami Shafi found himself inspired to film an impromptu dance video of his best friend, Aaron Moses Robin, improvising on Gay St. in New York City's Greenwich Village. Thus was born Pedestrian Wanderlust, a collection of dance videos that has grown to include a monthly improv jam.
Shafi works with anyone who wants to take part in the project, filming videos in locations chosen by the dancers and later adding music. The videos are shot on Shafi's iPhone in one take and, other than the starting and ending points, are entirely improvised. The editing afterwards—including the music choice—is minimal. "I don't like to edit too much. It's just what it is," says Shafi. "I usually can do the editing on the train ride home."