The Best of 2015
This year we gave our readers the power to weigh in on the most memorable dance moments of the year. You nominated performances you loved, voted on the top five and selected a diverse group of artists and productions that span the country. Here’s what you chose as your favorites.
Körbes takes her final bow at Pacific Northwest Ballet. Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy PNB.
Best Female Performance
In the sea of ballerina retirements this year, Carla Körbes’ farewell stood out to our readers as particularly bittersweet. She was effortlessly regal in Diamonds, and her port de bras exquisite and commanding in Jessica Lang’s The Calling. The end of Serenade, when Körbes was carried offstage by four men, seemed a fitting tribute to her stardom.
Best Male Performance
Fairchild and Leanne Cope in An American in Paris. Photo by Angela Sterling, courtesy AAIP.
“Triple threat” doesn’t do Robert Fairchild’s turn in An American in Paris justice. As the lovesick and exuberant Jerry Mulligan, Fairchild charmed our readers with wit reminiscent of Gene Kelly (the originator of the role in the 1951 film) and the crisp technique that makes him a New York City Ballet star.
Alonzo King’s Concerto for Two Violins. Photo by Quinn B. Wharton, courtesy LINES.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet revived King’s Concerto for Two Violins on tour this year, so readers all over the world could experience his reimagining of Bach’s classic score (used by Balanchine for Concerto Barocco), and the explosive physicality we’ve come to expect and love from LINES.
Best New Production
Fairchild and the cast of An American in Paris. Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy AAIP.
Christopher Wheeldon’s An American in Paris opened on Broadway in April, marking the choreographer’s directorial debut and becoming the most talked about dance musical of the season. Based on the classic film and set to the dreamy songs of the Gershwins, the show stars New York City Ballet’s Robert Fairchild and The Royal Ballet’s Leanne Cope. Our readers love the sheer volume of dance in this show—even the set changes are intricately choreographed. And you can’t go wrong with a 16-minute dream ballet and a cast of dancers pulled from top companies around the country.
Cedar Lake dancers in Nelko’s Awakening. Photo by Matthew Murphy, courtesy Nelko.
Best Emerging Choreographer
It was the year of the viral dance music video, and Lindsay Nelko’s, set to Ellie Goulding’s cover of Active Child’s “Hanging On,” landed her on our readers’ map of choreographers to watch. Easily transitioning between concert and commercial, she has choreographed for several television shows, international ballet companies and her own full-length show last summer—her prize for achieving 2nd runner-up at the 2013 Capezio A.C.E. Awards.
DM Editor Favorites
Photo by Paul Kolnik
Editor in Chief
Justin Peck’s Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes
“He gave himself an almost impossible task to reimagine such an iconic piece of music—but he did it brilliantly. It felt completely fresh, without ignoring the historical associations we all have with the score.”
Vice President, Editorial
Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet’s final performance
“Artistic director Alexandra Damiani came onstage to announce there would be a final surprise. The curtain rose on the full company in Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16—the segment where the dancers create a ripple effect of synchronized movements to traditional Israeli music, discarding their suits, shirts and fedoras. It was a memorable way to go out.”
Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy ABT
Julie Kent’s last performance of Manon
“She was breathtakingly spectacular in the bedroom scene. It was one of those rare moments when you’re overwhelmed with emotions, holding back tears but beaming a smile at the same time.”
“I love how it demonstrates an admiration for musical theater’s history and a vision for its future. It’s a smart, beautiful show, and it will make history.”
Ohad Naharin’s Sadeh21
“The best part was when the credits scrolled and the Batsheva dancers were happily diving off into the unknown.”
Photo by Christopher Duggan, courtesy In the Lights
Camille A. Brown’s BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play
“It was so personal, yet she tapped into something deeply universal in her exploration of black girlhood. I love that the talkback was mandatory—she insisted on having the last word.”
Kidnapped and dishonored on the day of her wedding, Princess Amba swears vengeance on the man responsible and is reborn as the gender-shifting Shikhandi, granting her the opportunity to defeat him in battle. This is the legend behind Akram Khan's Until the Lions, his full-length work based on Karthika Naïr's poetic reinterpretation of the Mahabharata which approaches the epic from the perspective of its female characters. Performed in the round, the critically lauded work makes its U.S. debut in Los Angeles at The Music Center on Location, marking the only 2017 stateside performances of Khan. Oct. 18–21. musiccenter.org. The company also brings the piece to Stanford, Oct. 27–28, but Khan will not perform. live.standford.edu.
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.
Leta Biasucci is one of those dancers whose presence seems to attract the audience's eye with magnetic force. The Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist's seemingly impossible buoyancy and fiery spark have carved her out a place in a wide spectrum of roles, uninhibited by her small stature and natural inclination towards the soubrette.
We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
When Katrina Lenk says her feet never touched the ground in her Broadway debut, as a replacement in Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark, she's not telling you how deliriously happy she was—though she was.
Lenk is being literal: Playing Arachne, the show's magical spider-woman, she was suspended in a gigantic web throughout. Her ability to fly and enjoy it—crucial to landing the role—was honed with a summer job "swimming" over the heads of the audience at Universal Studios. "You just never know where random experiences are gonna take you," she says.
There's something special about seeing New York City Ballet dance at Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Maybe it's the history: George Balanchine helped design the theater, and NYCB has called SPAC, which opened in 1966, its summer home for over 50 years. But over the weekend, SPAC announced that NYCB's 2018 residence will be shortened, according to Albany's Times Union.
Fall For Dance is always a huge talkabout here in the Dance Media offices. So after all the programs were performed this year, a few of the editors from Dance Magazine, Pointe and Dance Teacher got together on Google Hangouts this morning to share our thoughts. Here are excerpts from our convo:
"Do away with it."
"How about just plain old 'artist' or 'choreographer'?"
These are a few of the comments that popped up when, on a recent morning, I posted a query on Facebook fielding thoughts about the term "emerging"—as in "emerging choreographer." I can't remember when I first sensed disgruntlement toward the E-word. But in speaking with dancers and choreographers over the years, I've noticed that more often than not it elicits an eye roll, head shake, groan, sigh or shrug of "whatever that means."