We've all gotten lost in the wonderful wilds of YouTube. There are dance treasures to be found there, if you look hard enough—grainy archival clips, or snippets of Russian ballet performances stealthily filmed by audience members.
But until very recently, the real dance video treasure trove could only be accessed from the third floor of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. There, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division houses an astonishing number of dance films—more than 24,000 videos of nearly everything you could imagine. It's the dance film mothership.
Those of you who haven't been able to make a pilgrimage to the library, however, aren't out of luck: Now some of the Dance Division's video riches are available online. Thousands of hours of film have already been digitized, with more to come. Though most must still be watched at the library, the collection available offsite is still fascinating, and fascinatingly diverse. There are exquisitely detailed performances by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia. There's Eiko and Koma's hypnotic Water, as danced outdoors at Lincoln Center in 2011. There are Carolina Ballet's productions of Cinderella and Peter and the Wolf, and interviews with the likes of Julie Kent, Ethan Stiefel and Wendy Whelan from the "Speaking of Dancing" project.
There's also this gem from 1897, one of the earliest dance films ever made. Titled Annabella, it features Annabelle Whitford Moore in a swirl of billowing fabric, performing a "serpentine dance" first popularized by pioneer Loïe Fuller. The videographer was none other than Thomas Edison, who hand-tinted the film so that Moore's dress appears to change color over the course of the dance—an artistic recreation of the dramatic colored lighting used by artists like Moore and Fuller.
Click here to explore the rest of the digitized archives. And for Dance Magazine's own collection of star-studded behind-the-scenes videos, visit dancemedia.com.
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?