The Top 10 Highlights of ABT's 75th Anniversary Blowout
We all walked out of the Metropolitan Opera House on a high from basking in the glorious history of American Ballet Theatre. On Monday night, 24 excerpts from 23 ballets were rolled out before our eyes (and ears, with the ABT orchestra playing live), interspersed with spoken comments and film clips. Watching the long series of excerpts was like opening treasure chests one at a time, peering into the gleaming jewels and rushing on to the next one. Although I’d seen almost all the ballets before, it was a chance to see choreography that I’d forgotten was so damn good. Needless to say, the dancing was often spectacular.
• Fancy Free: This excerpt of Robbins’ first stab at dancemaking gave us a chance to see how beautifully made this ballet is, and how the music and dance are at one. Marcelo Gomes’ sailor is so vividly energetic that it’s hard not to fall in love with him.
• Rodeo, the Corral section: I thought I was done with this uber-American ballet by De Mille, but this segment has a good-natured goofiness that defies the laws of ballet. Xiomara Reyes looked like she could raise a roof; she didn’t mind getting wild and wooley when her (imaginary) horse almost bucked her to the ground.
• Black Tuesday, “Brother Can You Spare a Dime”: One of the few Paul Taylor works danced by ABT, this one benefited from Daniil Simkin as the soaring beggar.
• Push Comes to Shove, Movement IV: Twyla Tharp made about 20 ballets for the company; this one is a great choice to represent both her complex choreography and Baryshnikov’s unforgettable vaudevillian wise guy. Herman Cornejo did a great job of slinking and oozing in between the crazy jumps and turns.
• The Bright Stream: Simkin was hilarious dressed in a romantic tutu, set on convincing Clinton Luckett that he’s a woman. Every gesture, from the awkwardly stiff arms to the galoomphing gallops were locked into Ratmansky’s brilliant gender-crossing choreography. The single joke refracts into mini-jokes with each new dip or twisted sashay.
• Manon, Act I Pas de Deux: Julie Kent and Marcelo Gomes surrendered everything to the moment. The Massenet music bursts into blossoms of enchantment just as their erotic passion bursts into at attraction that blots out the rest of life.
• La Bayadère, Shades scene: OK, it’s not the most feminist moment in the history of ballet, but the accumulation of 24 identically tutu-ed women stepping into arabesque, taking a breath, and leaning back with arms framing the head, eventually blankets the stage with a transcendent peacefulness.
• Le Corsaire, Slave Variation, Act II: The plot of this ballet is ridiculously (if not offensively) racist and sexist and should be retired. But when a male dancer like Simkin opens his chest in a gorgeous attitude and spirals into spectacular leaps and pirouettes, I’m a sucker for it as much as anyone. Simkin has shed some of his boyishness and can now rip through the pyrotecnics with a more grounded charisma.
• Theme and Variations, Grand Polonaise: The strong Tchaikovsky Polonaise and new orange and sunny yellow tutus gave this parade-like ending an edge of optimism, deepened by the ampleness of classicists Sarah Lane and Joseph Gorak
• Grand Finale: Seeing ABT dancers of yore troop onstage to a Tchaikovsky march, mingling with the current dancers, was quite moving. I spotted Martine Van Hamel, Natalia Makarova, Lupe Serrano, Angel Corella, Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky, and Susan Jaffe.
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."