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Borscht, Wine & Kit Kats: How This Hubbard Street Couple Fuels Their Dancing
When Craig D. Black Jr. and Kevin J. Shannon began dating long-distance four years ago, eating together was a time to get to know each other—and challenge each other. "Craig used to be very picky," says Shannon. As they grew closer, he introduced Black to a wide variety of cuisines and vegetables. "I used to not even like Chinese food, or peas!" admits Black.
Now that they're married and both dancing at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, cooking has become their bonding time. Shannon will make the main dish, like a veggie lasagna using kale from their garden, while Black bakes dessert, often a pie. Today, both dancers love trying out new foods, getting inspiration by eating out in Chicago's Restaurant Row or watching the "The Great British Baking Show."
Cooking at home. Photo by Greg Birman
Their Typical Daily Diet Is Full of Produce & Protein
Breakfast: Egg and cheese on an English muffin, or whole-grain cereal plus a smoothie. "Craig puts kale in without telling me!" says Shannon.
Lunch: Leftovers. "I'll make a dish to last two or three meals; I just change up the vegetables," says Shannon.
Rehearsal snacks: Black likes KIND bars, bananas, plums and apples; Shannon prefers cashews, almonds or pistachios.
Pre-show meal: A salad, chicken and avocado. "I bring it back to basics," says Black, who also sips a coffee.
Backstage treats: Orange juice, chocolate or a spoonful of honey.
Post-show favorite: Au Cheval, an upscale diner open until 1 am. "They have matzo ball soup, a burger, poutine, salad—you can be healthy and not so healthy," says Shannon.
Black and Shannon cook about three or four times a week. Photo by Greg Birman.
They're All About Backyard-to-Table
Shannon and Black love to cook with the vegetables and herbs they grow in their garden. Although it's difficult to maintain when they're touring a lot, they typically like to plant:
- several kinds of peppers
- heirloom tomatoes
- 4 types of lavender
- 3 types of thyme
- 2 or 3 types of basil
- chocolate mint, spearmint and peppermint
Black and Shannon love to eat what they grow. Photo by Greg Birman.
Their Favorite Souvenirs Help Them Relax
The couple often relaxes with a glass of wine at the end of the day. On tour, they like to check out local vineyards and bring home a bottle or two. "We like to try new things, and support local winemakers as much as we can," says Shannon.
Vineyards make great off-day destinations on tour. Photo by Jamie Street/StockSnap
They Keep Some Eclectic Candy In Their House
Their favorite at-home treats are green tea–flavored Kit Kats that a friend brings back for them whenever she travels to Taiwan. "I used to not like green tea flavor—I thought it was too bitter," says Black. "But now I love green tea everything."
They Cook 3-4 Nights A Week, With Some Throwback Recipes
Shannon shared his recipe for vegetable borscht:
- 2 tbsps. vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion (diced)
- 1 leek, top and bottom removed (diced)
- 4 medium beets (peeled and thinly sliced)
- 3–4 carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 3–4 parsnips (peeled and chopped)
- 2 tbsps. white vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 48 oz. beef, chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 small/medium head of cabbage (halved and chopped)
- sour cream or yogurt
- pinch of dill and splash of lemon juice (optional)
Heat oil in medium-sized pot over medium heat. Add onion and leek. Cook for 5 minutes or until soft. Add beets, carrots and parsnips. Cook another 5 minutes. Add vinegar. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Cook until beets are soft, about 10 minutes. Add broth. Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 15–20 minutes, then add cabbage. Cook another 20 minutes. Garnish each serving with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Add optional dill or lemon juice to taste. Serves 6–8.
Prepping borscht. Photo by Greg Birman
Sarah Haarmann stands out without trying to. There is a precision and lack of affectation in her dancing that is very Merce Cunningham. Her movement quality is sharp and clear; her stage presence utterly focused. It's no wonder she caught Mark Morris' eye. Even though she still considers herself "very much the new girl" at Mark Morris Dance Group (she became a full-time member in August 2017), in a recent performance of Layla and Majnun, Haarmann seemed completely in her element.
Company: Mark Morris Dance Group
Hometown: Macungie, Pennsylvania
Training: Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts and Marymount Manhattan College
In 2012, freelance contemporary dancer Adrianne Chu made a major career change: She decided to try out for A Chorus Line. "Even though I didn't get the job, I felt like I was meant to do this," says Chu. So she started going to at least one musical theater audition every weekday, treating each as a learning experience. After several years of building up her resumé, Chu's practice paid off: She booked a starring role as Wendy in the first national tour of Finding Neverland.
Approaching auditions as learning opportunities, especially when you're trying to break into a different style or are new to the profession, can sharpen your skills while helping you avoid burnout. It also builds confidence for the auditions that matter most.
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."
It's easy to feel whiplashed thinking about everything Emma Portner has achieved in such a short amount of time. Last fall, the 23-year-old was the youngest woman ever to choreograph a West End production (it was based on Meat Loaf's greatest hits). This was, of course, after she already choreographed and starred in Justin Bieber's viral hit "Life is Worth Living," and before she charmed major media outlets when she secretly married actress Ellen Page. Now, she's L.A. Dance Project's first-ever artist in residence, and she's working on a commission for Toronto's Fall for Dance North Festival.
We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
Last month, the International Association of Blacks in Dance's third annual ballet audition for women of color was expanded to include a separate audition for men.
The brainchild of Joan Myers Brown (founder of both Philadanco and IABD), the women's audition was created to specifically address the lack of black females in ballet. However, the success and attention that audition drew made the men feel left out, so IABD decided to give the men equal time this year.
Pina Bausch's unique form of German Tanztheater is known for raising questions. Amid water and soil, barstools and balloons, the late choreographer's work contains a distinct tinge of mystery and confrontation. Today, Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch's dancers use questions as fuel for creativity. The company's most recent project introduced a new group of performers to the stage: local high school ninth-graders from the Gesamtschule Barmen in Wuppertal, Germany, in an original work-in-progress performance called Veränderung (Change).
Before she became the 20th century's most revered ballet pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova was a frustrated ballerina. "I was not progressing and that was a terrible thing to realize," she wrote in a rough draft of her memoirs.
She retired from the Imperial Ballet stage in 1916, and for the next 30-plus years, devoted herself to creating a "science of ballet." Her new, dynamic teaching method produced stars like Rudolf Nureyev, Alla Osipenko, and Galina Ulanova and later Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And her approach continues to influence how we think about ballet training to this day.
But is the ballet class due for an update? Demands and aesthetics have changed. So should the way dancers train change too?
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.
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.