The 2016 Drama Desk Awards were last night, and although Hamilton wasn't eligible (it won seven awards last year as an Off-Broadway production), dance was still prevalent amongst the winners. Shuffle Along was named Outstanding Musical, with Savion Glover taking home the award for Outstanding Choreography. Also nominated in the choreography category: Joshua Bergasse's old-school tapping in Cagney, Spencer Liff's integration of sign language and dance in Spring Awakening, Lynne Page's cool, sensual work for the eerie American Psycho and Randy Skinner's exuberant Dames at Sea. Notably missing from the above list is Hofesh Shechter for Fiddler on the Roof (though the musical did bag directing and acting nods).
It's been exciting to see such different dance styles in the Broadway spotlight this year, between Glover's hoofing, Shechter's folky Fiddler on the Roofand Andy Blankebuehler's contemporary/hip-hop Hamilton. Broadway seems to be expanding it's choreographic pallet ever further beyond the classic song-and-dance model (remember how excited we were for Christopher Wheeldon's ballets in An American in Paris last year?), and it will be interesting to see what other stories and audiences dance can open up for the musical theatre genre.
The Drama Desk Awards have long been considered a predictor of the Tony Awards, now less than a week away. Can Shuffle Along beat out the seemingly unstoppable Hamilton? Or will Fiddler make a surprise comeback? Tune in to CBS on Sunday, June 12 at 8/7c to find out!
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.
I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.
That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?