Why It Matters That Women Lead
What happens when you put a woman in charge of a ballet company? Well, that obviously depends on the woman. But when she's Tamara Rojo, you can expect some pretty great things.
Since she took over English National Ballet in 2012, Rojo's visionary leadership and star power have transformed London's underdog company into one of the most exciting in dance. Through coups like ENB's critically-acclaimed collaboration with Akram Khan, Lest We Forget, and the troupe's historic new partnership with Sadler's Wells, Rojo is constantly testing the boundaries of what ballet is and where it is going. It was no surprise last month when England's National Dance Awards named ENB 2014's "Outstanding Company." Neither was the news that ENB recently broke company box-office records in London.
Now, she's programmed an entire evening of new work created by female choreographers: Aszure Barton, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Yabin Wang. To put that news in a little perspective, the last time The Royal Ballet premiered a piece by a female choreographer was over 15 years ago, according to Guardian critic Judith Mackrell. The last that I can remember at New York City Ballet was Melissa Barak's Call Me Ben in 2010, and at American Ballet Theatre it was Barton's One of Three in 2009. In a field filled with women, that's an exceptionally long time for such major companies to go without showcasing any new work that has a feminine sensibility and point of view.
Yet even in the post–Lean In world, this isn't necessarily because artistic directors are overlooking talented women. Interestingly, Rojo tells Mackrell:
"There are so many talented female choreographers out there, but they’re much less quick than men to accept work. Some of the women I approached had little children and decided it was too much to deal with. Some felt they were not ready for a big London commission. I find it’s the same with the choreographic workshops in the company. There’s no shortage of men who want to experiment and put themselves forward, but we have to go out to find the women.”
Hats off to Rojo for seeking them out. Hopefully her move inspires other directors to do the same—and her words inspire more aspiring female voices to step up to the challenge.
What if there was a way to get your dancing in front of the likes of Desmond Richardson, d. Sabela grimes and Vincent Paterson all at once? Just in case you needed another excuse to break out your best moves this week, the Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival is back, and Richardson, grimes and Paterson are among this year's judges.
Dancers and non-dancers alike are invited to submit short dance films to the international online festival, with one caveat: The dancing has to take place in a public space.
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.
When we're talking about the history of black dancers in ballet, three names typically pop up: Raven Wilkinson at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, Janet Collins at New York's Metropolitan Opera and Arthur Mitchell at New York City Ballet.
But in the 1930s through 50s, there was a largely overlooked hot spot for black ballet dancers: Philadelphia. What was going on in that city that made it such an incubator? To answer that question, we caught up with Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet founder (and frequent Dance Magazine contributor) Theresa Ruth Howard, who yesterday released her latest project, a video series called And Still They Rose: The Legacy of Black Philadelphians in Ballet.
Janie Taylor didn't know if she'd ever return to the stage. But that's exactly where the former New York City Ballet principal has found herself: Nearly three years after retiring, she is performing again, as a member of L.A. Dance Project.
Taylor officially debuted with the company at its December 2016 gala in Los Angeles, then performed in Boston, via live stream from Marfa, Texas, and at New York's Joyce Theater before heading off on tour dates in France, Singapore, Dubai and beyond.
"She is wildly interesting to watch—and not conventional," says LADP artistic director Benjamin Millepied. "There are films of Suzanne Farrell dancing, where you feel like the music is coming out of her body," he says. "I think Janie has that same kind of quality."
Last night was not your average Thursday at Bay Ridge Ballet in Brooklyn, New York. Studio owner and teacher Patty Foster Grado—a former Parsons Dance Company dancer—was teaching a boys class, when with only five minutes left, she heard commotion in the waiting area and someone yelled, "There's a lady giving birth in the bathroom!"
Where can you watch Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Le Corsaire all in one place? Hint: It also has extra-buttery popcorn.
Yep, it's your local movie theater. Starting this weekend, theaters across the country will be showing Bolshoi Ballet productions of classical and contemporary story ballets.
When commercial dancer Danielle Peazer took on an ambassadorial role with Reebok in early 2016, she didn't realize the gig would also lead to a career shift. But while traveling with and teaching workshops for the brand, the idea for DDM (Danielle's Dance Method) Collective started to take shape.