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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.
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.
In today's dance world, it seems to go without saying: The more varied the training, the better. But is that always the case? Rhonda Malkin, a New York City–based dance coach who performed with the Radio City Rockettes, thinks trendy contemporary techniques that emphasize improvisation and organic movement quality are detrimental to the precision and strength needed to be a Rockette, in a traditional Broadway show or on a professional dance team. Her view is controversial: "If you really want to work, making $40,000 in three months for the Rockettes or $25,000 in one day filming a commercial, you need ballet, Broadway jazz, tap, hip hop—not contemporary," she says.
On the flip side, techniques that allow dancers more freedom may help them connect more deeply with their body and artistry, while providing release for overused muscles. We broke down the argument for both sides:
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."
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.
Not all ballet dancers cling to their youth. At 26, Lauren Lovette, the New York City Ballet principal, has surpassed the quarter-century mark. And she's relieved.
"I've never felt young," she says. "I can't wait until I'm 30. Every woman I've ever talked to says that at 30 you just don't care. You're free. Maybe I'll start early?"
When Beatlemania swept through the U.S. in the 1960s, Mark Morris was one of millions of young Americans who fell head over heels for the revolutionary group. "I was not immune," the choreographer says. "My sisters were mad about The Beatles and so was I. At age 12 I had a crush on Paul, of course."
Flash forward 50 years and he is still rocking to the British band, but this time with a new Beatles-inspired dance work his company is touring across North America, starting this month with scheduled stops in Seattle, Toronto, Portland, Oregon, and another 25 cities before the end of 2019.
You could call it island-hopping, but it's not exactly a vacation. After choreographing last season's Come From Away, and winning a Tony nomination, Kelly Devine zipped from frosty Newfoundland to the Caribbean beach resort that is the setting for Escape to Margaritaville.
In the fall, she was shuttling between them, before they start this month: flying to Toronto to prepare a new Canadian production of Come From Away, then jetting back to Chicago for the final stop of Margaritaville's four-city pre-Broadway tryout.
"These two shows could not be more different from each other," Devine says with a dash of understatement. Come From Away is about the small Newfoundland town where airliners grounded by the 9/11 attacks dumped thousands of unexpected visitors; Escape to Margaritaville, at the Marquis Theatre, is a comic island romance concocted from the beachcomber songbook of Jimmy Buffett.
How does someone go from being a New York City Ballet corps member to training Hollywood A-listers like Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence? By getting injured, says Kurt Froman.
When an ankle sprain left him sidelined a few years back, Froman was "sitting at home, depressed" when he sent his friend Benjamin Millepied an email asking what he was up to. It turned out that Millepied had just been hired to choreograph some scenes for a movie, but had to be in Paris during pre-production. "He needed someone to teach two actors choreography and get them in shape," says Froman. With nothing else on his plate, he said yes, and started prepping Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis for Black Swan.