10 Minutes With Lauren Lovette
The NYCB principal tries her hand at choreography.
Even back when she was in the corps at New York City Ballet, you couldn't miss Lauren Lovette. With her vivacious eyes, delicate pointework and engaging manner, she had a way of pulling the audience into her world. Stories seem to pour out of her, whether she's dancing the playful lead in Balanchine's jazzy “Rubies," the mysterious femme du monde in his Vienna Waltzes or the slow spinning solo in Christopher Wheeldon's Polyphonia. A principal since June 2015, she's now ready to create a story of her own, from scratch. For its fall season, NYCB commissioned her to choreograph a 15-minute ballet, her first for the company.
How did this commission come about?
Peter Martins has been talking to me ever since I made a piece for the Choreographic Institute, back in 2010. Every year he mentions it. And I always say, “We'll see—I really want to dance." This past year, he pulled me aside and said, “I want you to choreograph something. You have to do it. Just think: new Lovette, 2016." And I said, “Yeah, okay, I'll do it." And then he pulled me aside again and said: “It's not because you're a woman." I really needed to hear that.
Do you feel a conflict between your dancing career and choreographing?
Yeah, it's about finding the time. As it is, I'm rehearsing all day and performing at night. My stress levels are usually pretty high.
How do you approach your work in the studio when you're choreographing something?
I ask the dancers a lot of questions. If I give a step, I ask, “Where is your weight naturally going? Do you feel like going this way or that way?" As a dancer, when I work with a choreographer, I wish they would ask more questions.
What are your biggest challenges as a choreographer?
Developing patterns, moving large groups, building the architecture. And commanding a room. I'm just me! I can't pretend to be someone else.
How did you find the music, Robert Schumann's Introduction and Concert Allegro, Opus 134?
Fifteen minutes is a difficult length. I wanted a single piece with variety within it. The first time I heard it I think I was cleaning my apartment and had Spotify playing. I like the way it starts, quietly, just the piano at first. Then there's a mischievous part in the music that I thought could be for a girl dancing on her own, and then this huge tormented part that I thought would be a couple fighting. It had to be!
What made you pick the designer Narciso Rodriguez?
I like to see bodies—pure, human form, and I know Narciso shapes the female form really nicely.
Do you think other women in the company may follow your example?
I think so. I hope so! They were all surprised that I was doing this. They were like, “Do you have ideas?" And I said, “Yes! I have ideas. Don't you ever think about it?" It's always scary when nobody else is doing it.
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: