"Dance Allows Me to Touch the Deepest of Human Sorrows and Joys"
I often think I came to dance because it was the accumulated desire of generations. I heard stories that my grandmother, whom I never met, loved dance but held that secret close to her heart. A generation later, my mother found dancing magical, but growing up in a large, joint family at a time when India was rocked by the anti-colonial independence movement denied her opportunities to train. When I was born, my parents struggled to afford for me to dance. But despite economic barriers, I was determined to journey in it.
The gifts of dance practice are many: Precision, discipline, patience and humility are often talked about. Yet, if dancing were to be all about holding sculpturesque balances forever, or executing fast footwork, it would be difficult to sustain over the years. As a social-justice choreographer, I dance because it allows me to touch, metaphorically, the deepest of human sorrows and joys, to articulate often overlooked stories from global communities of women of color. For instance, when I dance in memory of 8-year-old Asifa Bano, brutally murdered in Kashmir in 2018, every cell of my body reverberates with her pain and enables me to hold up her story to light. At those moments, when I am most deeply inside my body, dancing expands my spirit, and I receive its greatest gift: to be connected to energies larger than myself, to the humanity I share with others.
Chatterjea in Mohona: Estuaries of Desire.
Paul Virtucio, Courtesy Ananya Dance Theatre
Dancing's demands have kept me humble. I have failed, I have sustained injuries, and I have learned to never take it for granted. My life has been about dancing at the crossroads of classical line and the passionate articulation of community organizing and justice advocacy. From my gurus and teachers, I have learned meticulous attention to detail in craft, and the rigor necessary to transform technique into artistry. From the community activists, who organized daily performances of street theater, I learned to cultivate energetic presence, bring urgency to every gesture and engage audiences with my gaze. To track all of this complexity while dancing means I have to be 100 percent present. And I thank dancing for this challenge, and for giving me the experience of being alive at every nerve ending.
Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"
At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, she staked her claim to that title role.
Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.
William Forsythe is bringing his multi-faceted genius to New York City in stripped down form. His "Quiet Evening of Dance," a mix of new and recycled work now at The Shed until October 25, is co-commissioned with Sadler's Wells in London (and a slew of European presenters).
As always, Forsythe's choreography is a layered experience, both kinetic and intellectual. This North American premiere prompted many thoughts, which I whittled down to seven.
"Law & Order: SVU" has dominated the crime show genre for 21 seasons with its famous "ripped from the headlines" strategy of taking plot inspiration from real-life crimes.
So viewers would be forgiven for assuming that the new storyline following the son of Mariska Hargitay's character into dance class originated in the news cycle. After all, the mainstream media widely covered the reaction to Lara Spencer's faux pas on "Good Morning America" in August, when she made fun of Prince George for taking ballet class.
But it turns out
, the storyline was actually the idea of the 9-year-old actor, Ryan Buggle, who plays Hargitay's son. And he came up with it before Spencer ever giggled at the word ballet.