- The Latest
- Breaking Stereotypes
- Rant & Rave
- Dance As Activism
- Dancers Trending
- Viral Videos
- The Dancer's Toolkit
- Health & Body
- Dance Training
- Career Advice
- Style & Beauty
- Dance Auditions
- Guides & Resources
- Performance Calendar
- College Guide
- Dance Magazine Awards
- Meet The Editors
- Contact Us
- Advertise/Media Kit
- Buy A Single Issue
- Give A Gift Subscription
10 Reasons Wheeldon’s Winter’s Tale Will Last
Christopher Wheeldon's The Winter's Tale is that rare accomplishment: a brand new story ballet that speaks to today's audience. I saw two excellent casts with National Ballet of Canada (it premiered with co-commissioning partner The Royal Ballet in 2014) at Lincoln Center Festival July 28 and 29, and wish I could see it many more times. Wheeldon has taken this “difficult" play by Shakespeare and turned it into a beautiful, poignant ballet. The narrative covers complex ground: King Leontes jealously accuses his pregnant wife, Hermione, of infidelity with his friend King Polixenes, resulting in the demise of Leontes' wife and son and the banishment of his newborn daughter. The situation is resolved sixteen years later with the marriage of Leontes' long lost daughter to Polixenes' son and the revelation that Hermione still lives, but not without a realistic dose of strife and remorse ahead of the family's reunion. Audiences sat rapt during both evenings. It is not a fairy tale trapped in the past but rather has a universal relevance. Here are some reasons why I think The Winter's Tale will live on for a long time.
1. The music by Joby Talbot is enchanting from the first note to the last. It helps set up a caring community onstage but also drives the narrative tension.
2. Wheeldon's choreography tells the story of King Leontes' jealous rage and its destructiveness with boldness and sensitivity, giving the ballet intimacy even in a big theater.
3. King Leontes has a mad scene every bit as riveting as Giselle's. His fingers curdle, he looks crazed, and he lurches with rage and disorientation.
4. The recurring motifs come through on repeated viewing. In the most frequent movement theme, the arms reach overhead, one hand holding the other elbow in an “h" shape, as if to say, “This is who I am." This port de bras is done gently, with aggression, or with desperation depending on the character's mood.
5. The inventiveness that Wheeldon wields so naturally in his abstract ballets finds its way here. The heartbreaks, the battles, the friendship turning sour, all are choreographed in a way that is fresh. The tricky partnering for the young lovers Perdita and Florizel, as well as Leontes' brutality toward his wife Hermione, reach out and grab you.
6. Wheeldon breaks the fourth wall, adding to the intimacy. At certain moments, the crowd onstage cheers “Yay!" and claps their approval, or sighs “Awww" when the young couple gets engaged. (I remember the “awww" from his Cinderella too; it reminds us that dancers have voices.) He also brought a band of real musicians onto the stage, which allows us to feel more part of the action.
7. Wheeldon (with the help of Shakespeare) has created plum roles that are emotionally complex and technically challenging. Piotr Stanczyk's King Leontes was aggressive and sharp whereas Evan McKie's interpretation was more inward, as though invaded by demons. The role of Paulina, the head of Queen Hermione's household, is as warm and virtuous as the Lilac Fairy, but she attacks Leontes when she's so angry and grief-stricken that she forgets her place as a servant.
8. The set design: When the curtain opens on Bob Crowley's magnificent Wishing Tree in Act II, with its roots splayed above ground and its branches bejeweled with pendants of hope, you know that this Bohemia is a whimsical land.
9. The dancing! The group flow in Act II's Bohemia reveals a vibrant, loving community—quite the opposite of the royal jealousy and revenge shown in Act I. The colorful shepherds and shepherdesses entwine in ways that echo the young lovers Perdita and Florizel. When the shepherds sneak in some capoeira moves or when the music veers into an Irish gig, you feel glad that this production doesn't lock the setting into one particular period.
10. Some scenes seize you with their violent tension and others are so touching that you melt with heartbreak or joy. One leaves the theater emotionally sated.
New York City–based dancers know Gibney. It's a performance venue, a dance company, a rehearsal space, an internship possibility—a Rubik's Cube of resources bundled into two sites at 280 and 890 Broadway. And in March of this year, Gibney (having officially dropped "Dance" from its name) announced a major expansion of its space and programming; it now operates a total of 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces across the two locations.
Six of those studios and one performance space are brand-new at the 280 Broadway location, along with several programs. EMERGE will commission new works by emerging choreographic voices for the resident Gibney Dance Company each year; Making Space+ is an extension of Gibney's Making Space commissioning and presenting program, focused on early-career artists. For the next three years, the Joyce Theater Foundation's artist residency programs will be run out of one of the new Gibney studios, helping to fill the gap left by the closing of the Joyce's DANY Studios in 2016.
What is the right flooring system for us?
So many choices, companies, claims, endorsements, and recommendations to consider. The more you look, the more confusing it gets. Here is what you need to do. Here is what you need to know to get the flooring system suited to your needs.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't possibly give you the amount of money you're asking for."
My heart sinks at my director's final response to my salary proposal. She insists it's not me or my work, there is just no money in the budget. My disappointment grows when handed the calendar for Grand Rapids Ballet's next season with five fewer weeks of work.
"It just...always looks better in my head."
While that might not be something any of us would want to hear from a choreographer, it's a brilliant introduction to "Off Kilter" and the odd, insecure character at its center, Milton Frank. The ballet mockumentary (think "The Office" or "Parks and Recreation," but with pointe shoes) follows Frank (dancer-turned-filmmaker Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla) as he comes back to the studio to try his hand at choreographing for the first time since a plagiarism scandal derailed his fledgling career back in the '90s.
We've been pretty excited about the series for a while, and now the wait is finally over. The first episode of the show, "The Denial," went live earlier today, and it's every bit as awkward, hilarious and relatable as we hoped.
Dancers crossing over into the fitness realm may be increasingly popular, but it was never part of French-born Julie Granger's plan. Though Granger grew up a serious ballet student, taking yoga classes on the side eventually led to a whole new career. Creating her own rules along the way, Granger shares how combining the skills she learned in ballet with certifications in yoga, barre and personal training allowed her to become her own boss (and a rising fitness influencer).
Travis Wall draws inspiration from dancers Tate McCrae, Timmy Blankenship and more.
One often-overlooked relationship that exists in dance is the relationship between choreographer and muse. Recently two-time Emmy Award Winner Travis Wall opened up about his experience working with dancers he considers to be his muses.
"My muses in choreography have evolved over the years," says Wall. "When I'm creating on Shaping Sound, our company members, my friends, are my muses. But at this current stage of my career, I'm definitely inspired by new, fresh talent."
Wall adds, "I'm so inspired by this new generation of dancers. Their teachers have done such incredible jobs, and I've seen these kids grown up. For many of them, I've had a hand in their exposure to choreography."
José Greco popularized Spanish dance in 1950s and '60s America through his work onstage and on screen. Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater's American Spanish Dance & Music Festival is honoring the icon in recognition of what would have been his 100th birthday. As part of the tribute, Greco's three dancing children are reuniting to perform together for the first time since their father's death in 2000. Also on the program is the premiere of contemporary flamenco choreographer Carlos Rodriguez's Mar de Fuego (Sea of Fire). June 15–17, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. ensembleespanol.org.
Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Christopher McDaniel and Crystal Serrano were working on Nacho Duato's Coming Together in rehearsal when McDaniel's foot hit a slippery spot on the marley. As they attempted a swinging lift, both dancers went tumbling, injuring Serrano as they fell. She ended up being out for a week with a badly bruised knee.
"I immediately felt, This is my fault," says McDaniel. "I broke my friend."
What's on the minds of college students today?
I recently had the honor of adjudicating at the American College Dance Association's National College Dance Festival, along with choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess and former National Endowment for the Arts dance specialist Douglas C. Sonntag. We chose three winners—one for Outstanding Choreography and two for Outstanding Performance—from 30 pieces representing schools throughout the country. It was a great opportunity to see what college dance students are up to—from the issues they care about to the kinds movement they're interested in exploring.
Here were the biggest trends and takeaways:
It's summer festival season! If you're feeling overwhelmed by the dizzying array of offerings, never fear: We've combed through the usual suspects to highlight the shows we most want to catch.
Subscription box services have quickly gained a dedicated following among the fashion and fitness set. And while we'd never say no to a box with new jewelry or workout wear to try, we've been waiting for the subscription model to make its way to the dance world.
Enter barre + bag, a new service that sends a curated set of items to your door each season. Created by Faye Morrow Bell and her daughter Tyler, a student in the pre-professional ballet program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, this just-launched service offers dance, lifestyle and wellness finds in four themed bags each year: Spring Performance, Summer Study, Back-to-Studio and Nutcracker. Since all the products are specifically made for dancers, everything barre + bag sends you is something you'll actually use, (Plus, it all comes in a bag instead of a box—because what dancer can ever have enough bags?).
barre + bag's Summer Collection
Today, American Ballet Theatre announced a new initiative to foster the development of choreography by company members and freelance dancemakers. Aptly titled ABT Incubator, the program, directed by principal David Hallberg, will give selected choreographers the opportunity to spend two weeks workshopping new dances.
"It has always been my vision to establish a process-oriented hub to explore the directions ballet can forge now and in the future," said Hallberg in a press release from the company. Interested? Here's how you can apply to participate.
Back in January, Chase Johnsey grabbed headlines when he resigned from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, where his performances had garnered critical acclaim for over a decade, alleging a culture of harassment and discrimination. (An independent investigation launched by the company did not substantiate any legal claims.) Johnsey, who identifies as genderqueer, later told us that he feared his dance career was at an end—where else, as a ballet dancer, would he be allowed to perform traditionally female roles?
But the story didn't end there. After a surprise offer from Tamara Rojo, artistic director of English National Ballet, Johnsey has found a temporary artistic home with the company, joining as a guest at the rank of first artist for its run of The Sleeping Beauty, which continues this week. After weeks of working and rehearsing with the company, last week Johnsey quietly marked a new milestone: He performed with ENB's corps de ballet as one of the ladies in the prince's court.