A Stirring Fall
Why cry about the economy? It won’t help, and a succession of dirges makes for wretched choreography, anyway. America’s dance companies
and presenters aren’t mourning. They’re making the best of it. They’ll trim and adjust a bit this season. But they know that, for every cutback or compromise, the dance world can still put warm bodies in seats to entrance viewers.
So let’s rejoice. Here’s a look at what’s out there this fall, everything from homegrown ballet classics to gritty dance theater companies from England to exuberant Russian folk dance troupes. Get your calendars out.
The Romantic classics maintain their place in the hearts of American audiences, and none moves us as much as that exquisite 19th-century tragedy of redemption, Giselle. After a Sept. 19 gala, the Boston Ballet gets down to business with a revival of Maina Gielgud’s eloquent staging, modeled after Petipa’s Maryinsky version (Oct. 1–11). The Sarasota Ballet produces Giselle with two starry guests from London’s Royal Ballet, Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg, Nov. 27–29. American Ballet Theatre will light up the stage of the Orange County Performing Arts Center for a week of Giselle Nov. 3–8.
If Swan Lake fluffs your feathers, head first to Raleigh, NC, where Carolina Ballet revives artistic director Robert Weiss’ staging of the Petipa-Ivanov version Sept. 17–Oct. 4. Then hop a plane to Columbus, OH, and catch BalletMet’s production, co-created by Gerard Charles, Victoria Morgan, and Devon Carney (Oct. 16–18). It then travels to the Cincinnati Ballet Oct. 23–25. For a radiant Sleeping Beauty, cross the border to Toronto, where the National Ballet of Canada revels in a refurbishment of Nureyev’s elegant version Nov. 13–22. The classic comedy Coppélia launches an extended season at Dennis Nahat’s Ballet San Jose Oct. 3–11.
If Don Quixote tickles your fancy, sample this romantic farce at Colorado Ballet Oct. 16–25. And if you’re yearning for a date with ballet’s most famous lovers, try Jean-Christophe Maillot’s slightly modernized Roméo et Juliette, which opens Pacific Northwest Ballet’s season in Seattle Sept. 24–Oct. 4.
The hunger for more contemporary narratives has not abated. Chicago’s Joffrey Ballet launches its fall fare with the company premiere of Lar Lubovitch’s Othello Oct. 14–25. The Royal Winnipeg Ballet visits Minneapolis’ Northrop Auditorium with the world premiere of Jorden Morris’ Moulin—The Ballet about a painter adrift in Paris during the golden age (Oct. 17). The Atlanta Ballet offers a revival of the Mozart-based Magic Flute (Oct. 15–24). The Grand Rapids Ballet Company greets the Halloween season in Michigan with the premiere of Gordon Peirce Schmidt’s Jack “the Ripper” (Oct. 30–Nov. 1). Salt Lake City’s Ballet West inaugurates its season (Oct. 30–Nov. 7) with Ashton’s enchanting essay on Shakespeare, The Dream.
A number of prominent ballet commissions highlight the fall season. Pennsylvania Ballet’s choreographer-in-residence Matthew Neenan delivers his latest for the company’s opening program Oct. 21–25. San Francisco’s Val Caniparoli travels to PNB for a new setting of Glazunov’s score for The Seasons (Nov. 5–15). Forsythe disciple Helen Pickett will contribute a Japanese-flavored pas de deux to the Boston Ballet’s repertory in tandem with recent works by Viktor Plotnikov and Jorma Elo (Oct. 22–Nov. 1). Canada’s delightful Aszure Barton helms a premiere for the National Ballet of Canada’s mixed bill Nov. 25–29. Dwight Rhoden of Complexions fame joins Sasha Janes and Mark Diamond in contributing dances to North Carolina Dance Theatre’s Innovative Works program (Nov. 5–7; 12–14). Promising dancemaker Jessica Lang will hop all over the map this fall. She’ll be at Kansas City Ballet for an Oct. 15–18 premiere (artistic director William Whitener’s Carmen and Saint-Léon’s The Frescoes share the bill); then she travels to Virginia for the Richmond Ballet’s Studio 1 project (Nov. 3-8).
What’s really new this fall? Well, down in Florida, there’s Sarasota’s Ringling International Arts Festival, a collaboration between New York’s Baryshnikov Arts Center and the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art. Dance artists participating in the Oct. 7–11 festival are Aszure Barton, Annie-B Parson, flamenco diva María Pagés, and Israel’s Deganit Shemy. Speaking of Mikhail Baryshnikov, he and another veteran dancer, Ana Laguna, will travel the land this fall in Three Solos and a Duet, with dances by Ratmansky, Ek, and Millepied. Expect the pair Sept. 4–5 at the Broad Stage, Santa Monica, CA; Sept. 25–27 at the Harris Theater, Chicago; and in Portland, OR, Oct. 1–3.
In Salt Lake City, the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company features new works by Karole Armitage (Sept. 24–26) and new artistic director Charlotte Boye-Christensen (Dec. 17–19).
As usual, the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival promises a slew of novelties. None is more widely anticipated than In-I, a collaboration between actress Juliette Binoche and English choreographer Akram Khan. This is a U.S. premiere, as will be The Forsythe Company’s Decreation. Also on the list: Armitage Gone! Dance, Australia’s Chunky Move, Wally Cardona, and Reggie Wilson’s Fist & Heel Performance Group in its BAM debut.
Tours will enliven the dance scene during the next four months. The San Francisco-based Margaret Jenkins Dance Company, in collaboration with China’s Guangdong Modern Dance Company launches the much anticipated Other Suns trilogy in San Francisco Sept. 24–26. The project then takes to the road, stopping at Montclair State University, NJ (Oct.15–18), Pittsburgh, PA (Oct. 24), College Park, MD (Oct. 29–30), and Riverside, CA (Nov. 4).
England’s DV8 Physical Theatre returns with To Be Straight With You, Lloyd Newson’s blistering multimedia essay on ethnic and sexual intolerance in the United Kingdom, with texts derived from interviews with victims of homophobic violence (see “Dance Matters,” Oct.). The company plays UCLA’s Royce Hall Nov. 6–7 and San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts Nov. 12–14.
New to the West Coast will be England’s highly acclaimed Hofesh Shechter Company performing Uprising and In your rooms at UCLA Oct. 16–17 and in Portland Oct. 21. The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company will offer the West Coast premiere of the Lincoln-inspired Fondly Do We Hope... Fervently Do We Pray in San Francisco Oct. 1–3. New York’s witty Keigwin + Company will tour to the Kennedy Center Oct. 22–23, preceded by the ever-popular Pilobolus (Oct. 3–4).
The center will welcome New York City Ballet Dec. 9–13 with seven ballets by Balanchine, Robbins, Martins, and Wheeldon. Speaking of Balanchine, the remarkable Kennedy Center–based Suzanne Farrell Ballet will venture to Berkeley’s Cal Performances Oct. 24–25 with two programs of excerpts from such Balanchine rarities as Ivesiana, Meditation, and Clarinade and a bit from Romeo et Juliet by Maurice Béjart, in whose company Farrell danced for a spell.
The world dance scene abounds in attractions this fall. The South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma will be unfamiliar to most Americans. Beautiful Me, his postmodern solo inspired by Akram Khan, Vincent Mantsoe, and Faustin Linyekula, will be showcased at Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco Nov. 5–7. One of the fall’s most provocative prospects is A House in Bali, a dance opera by Evan Ziporyn based on Colin McPhee’s influential book on Balinese culture. The U.S. premiere with choreography by Kadek Dewi Aryani comes to Berkeley Sept. 26–27.
The fall months will also bring back some old friends. None is more welcome than the exuberant Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Company, traveling the length and breadth of the country. The 85-member troupe of dancers and musicians hits San Rafael, CA’s Marin Center, Sept. 25, Minneapolis Oct. 11, the Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts Nov. 8, and The Egg in Albany Nov. 11.
This autumn, there will be no reason to sit home alone.
Allan Ulrich is a Dance Magazine Senior Advising Editor and contributes to many arts publications here and abroad.
Photo by Peter Zay, Courtesy NCDT
I have a commitment, a romance, a love affair with dance, with the feeling that happens when the music and the steps so perfectly align and I can't help but get chills. That feeling when my partner and I are dancing as one, when everyone onstage feels the same heartbeat, when it's just me alone in my bedroom.
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
You can see them in "Fosse/Verdon" episode one. Michelle Williams, playing Gwen Verdon, wears them with a cool, retro, forest-green jumpsuit. Tucked beneath a mop top of tousled Gwen Verdon locks, Williams sports a pair of discreet and tasteful onyx drop-earrings—the dancer's favorites. Verdon wore them all her adult life, according to her daughter Nicole Fosse, a co-executive producer of the FX series that puts a spotlight on a great woman of American dance.
"I have very little memory of my mother wearing other earrings. They were her Gwen Verdon earrings," says Fosse, speaking by phone from her home in Vermont. "She's wearing them in 99 percent of the pictures of her performing."
Four years of lectures, exams and classes can feel like a lifetime for college dancers who have their sights set on performing. So when a professional opportunity comes knocking, it can be tempting to step away from your academics. But there are a few things to consider before putting your education on hold.
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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We've all been there: You see the craziest/most beautiful/oddest/wildest clip of a dance on Facebook and you simply have to see more.
But do you actually get yourself to the theater and sit through a 90-minute performance? The consensus, at this point, typically seems to be: No.
There is no clear correlation between a company's social media campaigns and how many seats they fill in the theater. That doesn't mean social media isn't, of course, vital. It simply means that "social media campaigns operating without other marketing campaigns don't cut it," says Rob Bailis, associate director of Cal Performances at UC Berkeley. "But campaigns without social media are far worse off."
Since the project was first announced toward the end of 2017, we've been extremely curious about Yuli. The film, based on Carlos Acosta's memoir No Way Home, promised as much dancing as biography, with Acosta appearing as himself and dance sequences featuring his eponymous Cuba-based company Acosta Danza. Add in filmmaking power couple Icíar Bollaín (director) and Paul Laverty (screenwriter), and you have a recipe for a dance film unlike anything else we've seen recently.
One of the country's top arbitrators has decided to reinstate Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro to New York City Ballet. The former principals were fired last fall for "inappropriate communications," namely graphic text messages.
The dancers' union, American Guild of Musical Artists, fought the termination, arguing that the firings were unjust since they related entirely to non-work activity. After a careful review of the facts, an independent arbitrator determined that while the company was justified in disciplining the two men, suspension was the appropriate action and termination took it too far.
A woman passes three men in the street. The men pursue her. They thrust their pelvises at her. They continue to pursue her after she slaps one's hand and walks away. They surround her. She glances around at them in alarm. One snatches her purse (to review the Freudian significance of purses, click here) and saunters off with it, mocking her. She tries to take the purse back, and the three men toss it over her head among each other. They make her dance with them. Each time she indicates "No," the men try harder to force her submission to their advances.
This is all within the first 10 minutes of Jerome Robbins's Fancy Free, a 1944 ballet about three sailors frolicking on shore leave during World War II, beloved by many and still regularly performed (especially during the last year, since 2018 was the centennial celebration of Robbins's birth). Critic Edwin Denby, after the premiere with Ballet Theatre, called it "a remarkable comedy piece" and "a direct, manly piece."
When you're bouncing between hotel rooms without access to a kitchen, eating a pescatarian diet can be challenging. Stephanie Mincone, who most recently traveled the globe with Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour, told Dance Magazine how she does it—while fueling herself with enough energy to perform for thousands of Taylor fans.
Choosing music for your first-ever choreography commission can feel daunting enough. But when you're asked to create a ballet using the vast discography of the Rolling Stones—and you happen to be dating Stones frontman Mick Jagger—the stakes are even higher.
So it's understandable that as of Monday, American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, whose Port Rouge will have its U.S. premiere tonight at the Youth America Grand Prix gala, was still torn about which songs to include.
What is an acceptable request from a choreographer in terms of nudity? On the first day of shooting All That Jazz in the 1970s, Bob Fosse asked us men to remove everything but our jock straps and the women to remove their tops. His rationale was to shock us in order to build character, and it felt disloyal to refuse. Would this behavior be considered okay today?
As much as audiences might flock to Swan Lake or The Nutcracker, ballet can't only rely on old war horses if it wants to remain relevant. But building new full-lengths from scratch isn't exactly cheap.
So where can companies find the money?
The entrancing power of Instagram can't be denied. I've lost hours of my life scrolling the platform looking at other people documenting theirs. What starts as a "quick" fill-the-moment check-in can easily lead to a good 10-15 minute session, especially if I enter the nebulous realm of "suggested videos."
My algorithm usually shows me professional ballet dancers in performances, rehearsals, class, backstage and on tour, which I quite enjoy. But there are the other dance feeds that I find myself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by: the hyper-elastic, hyper-extended, gumby-footed girls always at the barre doing developpés to six o'clock. There are the multiple turners, the avid stretchers and we can't forget the endless balancers.
This parade of tricksters always makes me wonder, What else can they do? Can they actually dance?
When American Ballet Theatre announced yesterday that it would be adding Jane Eyre to its stable of narrative full-lengths, the English nerds in the DM offices (read: most of us) got pretty excited. Cathy Marston's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel was created for England's Northern Ballet in 2016, and, based on the clips that have made their way online, it seems like a perfect fit for ABT's Met Opera season.
It also got us thinking about what other classic novels we'd love to see adapted into ballets—but then we realized just how many there already are. From Russian epics to beloved children's books, here are 10 of our favorites that have already made the leap from page to stage. (Special shoutout to Northern Ballet, the undisputed MVP of turning literature into live performance.)
The pleasure of watching prodigies perform technical feats on Instagram can be tinged with a sense of trepidation. Impressive tricks, you think, but do they have what it takes for an actual career?
Just look at 18-year-old Maria Khoreva, who has more followers than most seasoned principals; in videos, her lines and attention to detail suggested a precocious talent, and led to a Nike ambassador contract before she even graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy. Still, when she joined the Mariinsky Ballet last summer, there was no guarantee any of it would translate to stage prowess.
Today—April 16, 2019—marks what would have been Merce Cunningham's 100th birthday. As dancers from Los Angeles to New York City to London gear up for Night of 100 Solos (the marathon performance event being livestreamed today), and as companies and presenters worldwide continue to celebrate the Cunningham Centennial through their programming, we searched through the Dance Magazine Archives to unearth our favorite images of the groundbreaking dancemaker.
A bright disposition with a dab of astringent charm is how I remember Brock Hayhoe, a National Ballet School of Canada schoolmate. Because we were a couple years apart, we barely brushed shoulders, except at the odd Toronto dance party where we could dance all night with mutual friends letting our inhibitions subside through the music. Dancing always allows a deeper look.
But, as my late great ballet teacher Pyotr Pestov told me when I interviewed him for Dance Magazine in 2009, "You never know what a flower is going to look like until it opens up."
One night. Three cities. Seventy-five dancers. And three unique sets of 100 solos, all choreographed by Merce Cunningham.
This incredible evening of dance will honor Cunningham's 100th birthday on April 16. The Merce Cunningham Trust has teamed up with The Barbican in London, the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City and the Center for the Art of Performance in Los Angeles for a tri-city celebration.
The best part? You don't have to be in those cities to watch—Night of 100 Solos is being live-streamed in its entirety for free.
When George Balanchine's full-length Don Quixote premiered in 1965, critics and audiences alike viewed the ballet as a failure. Elaborate scenery and costumes framed mawkish mime passages, like one in which the ballerina washed the Don's feet and dried them with her hair. Its revival in 2005 by Suzanne Farrell, the ballerina on whom it was made and to whom Balanchine left the work, did little to alter its reputation.
Yet at New York City Center's Balanchine festival last fall, some regretted its absence.
"I'd want to see Balanchine's Don Quixote," says Apollinaire Scherr, dance critic for the Financial Times. "It was a labor of love on his part, and a love letter as well. And you want to know what that looks like in his work."
Even great choreographers make mistakes. Sometimes they fail on a grand scale, like Don Quixote; other times it may be a minor misstep. Experiment and risk help choreographers grow, but what happens when a choreographer of stature misfires? Should the work remain in the repertory? And what about a work that fails on some levels but not others?
After the horrific March 15 terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques, the music and arts community sprang into action to plan a way to help victims and their families. A series of resulting concerts, titled "You Are Us/Aroha Nui," will take place in New Zealand (April 13 and 17), Jersey City, New Jersey (April 17) and Los Angeles (April 18). Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Our People, Our City Fund, which was established by the Christchurch Foundation to aid those affected by the attacks.
Throughout 2019, the Merce Cunningham Trust continues a global celebration that will be one of the largest tributes to a dance artist ever. Under the umbrella of the Merce Cunningham Centennial are classes and workshops, film screenings and festivals, art exhibitions and symposia, and revivals and premieres of original works inspired by the dancemaker's ideas. The fever peaks on April 16, which would have been the pioneering choreographer's 100th birthday, with Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, featuring a total of 75 dancers in three performances live-streamed from London, Los Angeles and New York City.