Who We Missed: The "Most Influential People in Dance" Chosen By You!
As soon as we started putting together a list of the most influential people in dance today, we knew two things. By the very nature of the topic we were tackling, our final list was going to be:
1. Entirely subjective, and
2. By no means comprehensive.
We wanted to get your input and hear who else you felt should be on the list. So we asked you who we missed, and here's what you told us through email, Facebook and Twitter:
You missed Irina Kolpakova, ballet mistress/coach at American Ballet Theatre for many, many years. Ms Kolpakova has mentored the best of ABT's ballerinas—Susan Jaffe, Alessandra Ferri, Irina Dvorovenko, Gillian Murphy, Isabella Boylston, so many more. Once a stunning dancer with the Kirov, she has brilliantly passed along her unique experience and knowledge to generation after generation of fortunate ABT dancers. She is a treasure. —Susan Peters
Irina Kolpakova. Photo by Renata Pavam
Marcia Dale Weary Dozens of professional dancers dancing right now due to her 60 years of teaching... She is a legend... —Jennifer Clair
I would love to see Christopher Wheeldon on this list. His choreography for An American In Paris is fabulous, and he has been busy creating other works like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and more. —Hope Daniel
In my opinion I would add Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. She was just working with the Estonian National Ballet, but has choreographed and set her own work with companies like New York City Ballet, English National Ballet, West Australian Ballet, Washington Ballet, Ballet Flanders, Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Hispánico, Ballet Black, Dutch National Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, among so many others, including South American companies. She will be working with San Francisco Ballet in the upcoming season. I could go on and on about various nominations that she has received, and places like Cuba where she's worked with the National Ballet of Cuba as well as Danza Contemporánea, their modern company. Her work goes from beautiful to messy and chaotic; she's amazing. —Ana Gallardo
On behalf of the Children's Museum of Manhattan, please consider including Jody Arnhold. As a dance philanthropist, dance educator and advocate, Jody is in a class of her own. Her establishment of the Dance Education Lab at the 92nd St Y, the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter and the soon to open Dance Education Graduate Program at Teachers College combined with her production of the documentary PS Dance! establishes her as an essential and key person in dance. —Nina Olson
Damian Woetzel (Aspen Institute Arts Program, Kennedy Center DEMO Series, incoming Juilliard president, etc.), Jody Arnhold (dance education), the dance curator at Museum of Modern Art, Gia Kourlas (her Instagram videos forThe New York Times are hugely popular), Bill T. Jones, Mark Morris —Nancy Dalva
I would add Camille A. Brown, Kyle Abraham and Jacob's Pillow —Eric Politzer
Camille A. Brown! —Emma Blue Russo
Camille A. Brown, Darrell Moultrie, Sidra Bell, Kyle Abraham —La Vie
I would add Olivier Wevers of Whim W'Him, but not simply because of his choreography, but starting a company that upholds dancers and brings choreographers from all over to create. "R shin dig" when the dancers choose the choreographers is very special and I hope the direction of companies. —JC Mitchel
Please consider adding Mavis Staines to this list for her leadership in dance training, dance teaching, dance accessibility —@ballet2treasure
Where is Mavis Staines???? Amazing and wonderful director and person!!!! —David Peden
Mavis Staines. Photo via prixdelausanne.org
Missing Crystal Pite —@GenVP
Where is the Asian/Asian America representation? Cultural amnesia. Nor Maggie Allesee? You got Glorya Kaufman while Maggie has a national choreographic center with a vital laboratory for dance!!! —Jeff Michael Rebudal
How about some tap! Anthony Morigerato to name just 1! –Billie Giberson Moloney
What? No William Forsythe? He has influenced most of the others, and his influence is still very much today, alive, right now!!!! World class…still. —Jesse Read
Some comments have been edited for clarity.
With her fearless demeanor onstage, it's easy to see how Washington Ballet apprentice Sarah Steele attracted the keen eye of former American Ballet Theatre stars Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel. Promoted mid-season from the studio company by artistic director Kent, Steele was cast by Stiefel as the lead in Frontier, his world premiere for The Washington Ballet, this past spring. For the space-themed piece, Steele donned a black-and-white "space suit" onstage, exhibiting dual qualities of strength and grace. Most evocative about Steele's dancing might be her innate intelligence—she was accepted to Harvard on early admission, and plans to resume her studies there in the future. But first, she'll dance.
Lots of college groups do stepping—a form of body percussion based on slapping, tapping and stomping—but Step Afrika! is the first professional dance company to do it. They are currently at New York City's New Victory Theater, presenting The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence, a show based on the painting series by Harlem Renaissance artist Jacob Lawrence about The Great Migration of the 1900s, when millions of African Americans fled the Jim Crow South and traveled by train to the North for a better life. The Great Migration transformed the demographics of the country, and Jacob Lawrence's paintings became famous for their bold color and evocative power.
As we approach Thanksgiving, there's much to be grateful for. Perhaps one of the most important things on your list is dance. Whether you're a full-time company member, an aspiring professional, an audience member, or you simply delight in dancing in your daydreams, this art form is a creative escape.
That's not to say that being a dancer is easy: Pursuing such a competitive career can be heartbreaking, especially when you're faced with rejection.
La Folía, a short dance film by director Adam Grannick that was recently released online, echoes these sentiments in under 12 minutes.
It took two years of intense nutrition counseling and psychotherapy to pull me out of being anorexic. My problem now is that I've gained too much weight from eating normally. Is there no middle ground? I can't fit into my clothes, but I don't want to go back to being sick.
—Former Anorexic, Weston, CT
We always figured that stretching made us more flexible by loosening up our muscles and joints. Some of us, ahem, might have even tried to fall asleep in our middle splits to get our stubbornly stiff inner thighs to let go.
But it turns out that might not actually be how stretching works.
A new review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Science & Medicine in Sports suggests that increased flexibility actually comes from your brain growing more used to the tension.
Efficient movement is easy to recognize—we all know when we see a dancer whose every action seems essential and unmannered. Understanding how to create this effect, however, is far more elusive. From a practical perspective, dancing with efficiency helps you to conserve your energy and minimize wear and tear on the body; from an artistic point of view, it allows you to make big impressions out of little moments, and lasting memories for those watching.
So much struggle and determination goes into your training that it can be difficult for early-career dancers to recalibrate their priorities toward simplicity and ease, says Laurel Jenkins, freelance performer and Trisha Brown Dance Company staging artist. "Your aesthetic might shift, and you might have to find new things beautiful." Mastering the art of effortless movement requires a new perspective and a smart strategy—on- and offstage.
Whatever your feelings about Wayne McGregor's heady, hyper-physical choreography, we can all probably agree on one thing: We'd really, really love to pick his brain. And tomorrow, Dance Umbrella, a UK-based dance festival, is giving everyone the chance to do exactly that.
"Women are often presented as soft, fragile little creatures in ballet," says Léonore Baulac. "We're not." The Paris Opéra Ballet's newest female étoile is discussing her unease at some of the 19th-century narratives she portrays. "It was real acting," she says with a laugh of La Sylphide. "James kills her by taking away her wings, yet she tells him not to worry and goes to die elsewhere onstage!"
Sitting in the canteen of the Palais Garnier, Baulac embodies some of ballet's contradictions in the 21st century. With her fair curls and dainty features, she could easily pass for a little girl's fantasy princess. As Juliet, she exuded a girlish ardor that felt entirely natural; her reservations notwithstanding, her Sylphide was committed and carefully Romantic in style.
Yet the 27-year-old is no ingénue. At Garnier that day, her sweater reads "I can't believe I still have to protest this s**t," a feminist slogan; last winter, Baulac proudly wore it over a Kitri tutu on Instagram. And her repertoire is as thoroughly modern as she is offstage. A versatile performer even by Parisian standards, she is equally at home in Nutcracker as she is in the works of Pina Bausch and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
You know Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo as the men who parody your favorite ballet variations—and make it look good. But there's more to the iconic troupe than meets the eye.
A new documentary, Rebels on Pointe, goes behind the scenes of the company, and it's full of juicy tidbits about what it's like to be a Trock. These were some of our favorite moments:
After 30 years of pioneering work in physically integrated dance, AXIS Dance Company co-founder Judith Smith has announced plans to retire from the Oakland, California, company. Throughout her tenure, she strived to get equal recognition for integrated dance and disabled dancers, commissioning work from high-profile choreographers like Bill T. Jones. Her efforts generated huge momentum for expanded training, choreography, education and advocacy for dancers with disabilities.
By phone from her home in Oakland, Smith reflected on how far the field has evolved since the early days of AXIS, and what's yet to be done.