A Light Bulb Crashed to the Floor

An uncanny thing happened in the middle of Arkadi Zaides' work in progress. Being a quartet for two Jewish men and two Arab men, it was very intense—the most intense, hard-to-watch thing I've seen here at International Exposure at the Suzanne Dellal Center in Tel Aviv.

One duet sequence had two men almost locked together in a kind of battle that was occasionally affectionate—but they kept their hands two inches from actually touching each other, so you felt a hard-earned restraint, but the intent to fight was there. In another section a guy was squatting with his head to the floor, like in Muslim prayers and he was full of rage at himself, at the floor, at whatever, and trying to contain his rage all in the small space between himself and the floor. Then another guy, maybe the oldest of the four, put his hand on the nape of that guys' neck and comforted him, but instead of soothing talk, he was chuckling to himself.

Gradually, the chuckler, after he calmed the first guy down, looked at his hands and tried to keep laughing but then started thrusting his hands away from himself like he wanted to get rid of them. Suddenly, maybe before these particular scenes, a light bulb from the ceiling fell and shattered on the floor. The four men looked at, and one smiled like, "Of course, something violent had to happen." We in the audience took a few seconds to realize that this was not planned. Some staff people had to clean and mop the floor for about 15 minutes to make sure it was safe before continuing.

The piece is called Quiet and it was just a work in progress. It was in no way fully crafted or edited. I heard that it took eight months of long hours every day to get it to this point. The work and courage these four men have put into this is amazing and makes me think, Wouldn't it be great if this could happen on a larger scale, and really bring people who are culturally and politically set against each other to some kind of understanding?

The "Merde" bag. Courtesy Scenery

Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.

But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.

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Health & Body
Sara Mearns in the gym. Photo by Kyle Froman.

New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.

"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "

She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.

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