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10 Minutes With...Diana Vishneva
Ballet superstar Diana Vishneva keeps topping herself. While still a principal with both the Mariinsky Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, she has brought contemporary dance to Moscow in a big way. CONTEXT, her contemporary festival showcasing international choreographers and companies for Russian audiences, returns November 14–19. Now in its fourth year, CONTEXT, which is curated by Holland Dance Festival director Samuel Wuersten, will expand to St. Petersburg (a four-hour train ride away). Visiting companies include Béjart Ballet Lausanne, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Luzerner Theater, Canada's National Ballet School and Introdans. In addition, Ana Laguna will perform Axe, by Mats Ek, and Vishneva will perform a duet, with Aurélie Dupont, choreographed by Ohad Naharin. Dance Magazine editor at large Wendy Perron attended the festival two years ago and caught up with the ballerina through email, translated by Lisa Rozova.
Do you feel your audience for CONTEXT is changing?
The festival and the excitement around it grow each year. For the audience, CONTEXT has become a symbol of something new, unknown and interesting. We primarily attract young people, but the older generation shows their interest as well.
Why are you extending the festival to St. Petersburg?
We've been thinking about holding the festival in my hometown for a long time, and this year Valery Gergiev, the general director of the Mariinsky The-atre, made it possible. We have put a closing concert together, a mix of the best that CONTEXT has to offer. Those going to the opening gala in Moscow will want to see the closing gala in St. Petersburg.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet is the only group from the U.S. this year. What do you like about his work?
Alonzo King is very offbeat and interesting, magnetic. He often turns to folklore motifs. And you can always see a very deep choreographic handwriting in the way he raises the emotional attention of the viewer. The company has never been to Russia, but their neoclassical style is very close to Russian ballet.
Why did you decide to create a choreography competition as part of CONTEXT?
I'm very curious to plunge into the world of young choreographers, so different from mine. It enhances my knowledge about the current tendencies in Russian contemporary choreography. The festival keeps discovering more new choreographers and companies. When we see potential, we want to help them become world-class.
Mats Ek said in our March issue that he is retiring and does not want his dances performed anymore. Is he making an exception for
I could not have dreamed that such a brilliant choreographer would visit us, especially after he officially declared the end of his career. Last year Ana Laguna (his wife and muse) and I were together at a press conference in St. Petersburg. Maybe my thoughts found an echo in her heart. Ek is a person of absolute unattainable height; he is remarkably smart and has an outstanding personality. I hope we can offer a public talk with him and show his film with Ana Laguna and Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Will you be able to take a few days off after this is over?
I hope that I will be able to take a break for a bit. But for me to relax doesn't mean to lie on a beach. I often go on a trip and meet interesting people, including choreographers—the ones who can leave you with new impressions, knowledge and emotions. n
Vishneva has announced that she will retire from American Ballet Theatre after the 2017 spring season, giving her final performance on June 23. She cites a desire to commit more time to her various projects (including CONTEXT) and will continue to perform with the Mariinsky.
The revival of everything '90s has been in full-swing for a while now—we saw Destiny's Child reunite at Coachella, Britney Spears is headed back on tour, and the Spice Girls miiight be performing at the Royal wedding next month. But Hollywood saved the best '90s moment for last, bringing *NSYNC back together to receive their official star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 30.
Because we love a good dance #TBT, we're reliving five of the boys' best dance moments.
"I Want You Back"
The band's first single from their self-titled debut album in 1998, "I Want You Back," was the start of their takeover (and their choreographed dance moves).
Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Gina Gibney runs two enormous dance spaces in New York City: Together they contain 23 studios, five performance spaces, a gallery, a conference room, a media lab and more. Gibney is now probably the largest dance center in the country. It's not surprising that Dance Magazine named Gina Gibney one of the most influential people in dance today.
One of the biggest myths about ballet dancers is that they don't eat. While we all know that, yes, there are those who do struggle with body image issues and eating disorders, most healthy dancers love food—and eat plenty of it to fuel their busy schedules.
Luckily for us, they're not afraid to show it:
What does a superstar like Carlos Acosta do after bidding farewell to his career in classical ballet? In Acosta's case, he returns to his native country, Cuba, to funnel his fame, connections and prodigious energies back into the dance scene that formed him. Because of its top-notch, state-supported training programs and popular embrace of the art of dance, Cuba is brimming with talented dancers. What it has been short on, until recently, are opportunities outside of the mainstream companies, as well as access to a more international repertoire. That is changing now, and, with the creation of Acosta Danza, launched in 2016, Acosta is determined to open the doors even wider to new ideas and audiences.
There's so much more to the dance world than making and performing dances. Arts administrators do everything from raising money to managing companies to building new audiences. With the growing number of arts administration programs in colleges, dancers have an opportunity to position themselves for a multifaceted career on- or offstage—and to bring their unique perspective as artists to administrative work.
While Solange was busy helping big sis Beyoncé give Coachella its best performances of all time, an equally compelling project was quietly circulating on Instagram:
New York City Ballet continues its first year without Peter Martins at the helm as our spring season opens tonight.
When he retired at the start of the new year, we plunged headfirst into unknown, murky waters. Who would the new director be? When would we know? Would we dancers get some say in the decision? Who would oversee the Balanchine ballets? Who would be in charge of casting? Would a new director bring along huge upheaval? Could some of us be out of a job?