Editors' Picks: Five Must-See Performances This August
Summer's end is in sight, and while it might seem like everyone is on layoff (or at Jacob's Pillow or Vail), there's still plenty of dance to see before the fall season starts in earnest. Here are our top five performance picks for August.
Natalia Osipova Bewitches as Isadora Duncan
Natalia Osipova as Isadora Duncan. Photo by Sergei Misenko, Courtesy Segerstrom Center for the Arts
COSTA MESA, CA Isadora Duncan was famously derisive toward ballet, but ballet has long been fascinated by her—both Frederick Ashton and Kenneth MacMillan created works for The Royal Ballet inspired by Duncan. International ballet star Natalia Osipova is the latest to be bewitched by the modern dance revolutionary. She's starring in a new ballet titled ISADORA, with choreography by the Mariinsky's Vladimir Varnava to music from Prokofiev's Cinderella. Premieres at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Aug. 10–12. scfta.org. —Courtney Escoyne
A Rom-Com Romp Hits Broadway
Samantha Barks and Steve Kazee in the pre-Broadway run of Pretty Woman: The Musical. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Polk & Company
NEW YORK CITY August isn't the biggest time for Broadway openings, but Pretty Woman: The Musical, based on the beloved 1990 movie, arrives in New York City this month after a Chicago run. Directed and choreographed by Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), it has music and lyrics by Canadian pop star Bryan Adams and his songwriting partner Jim Vallance. Andy Karl, the trouper who was last seen on Broadway in a knee brace while starring in Groundhog Day, plays the Richard Gere role. Samantha Barks (Les Misérables) has the finesse, the poise and the voice to play Vivian, but can she break out laughing as infectiously as Julia Roberts? Opens Aug. 16. prettywomanthemusical.com. —Wendy Perron
Another Day of Sun at Lincoln Center
Janis Claxton's POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) emerges in public spaces. Photo by Lucas Kao, Courtesy Lincoln Center
NEW YORK CITY Free performances at an iconic New York City campus under the summer sun—is there anything more delightful? Lincoln Center Out of Doors continues its three-week extra-vaganza this month. Dance Theatre of Harlem brings a mix of the old and new to its Aug. 4 performance: resident choreographer Robert Garland's New Bach (1999), which sprinkles balletic formations with boogying; Christopher Wheeldon's dreamlike, sinewy duet, This Bitter Earth (2012); Dancing on the Front Porch of Heaven (1993), Ulysses Dove's dramatic requiem to the celestial music of Arvo Pärt; and the jazzy Harlem on My Mind (2018), by Darrell Grand Moultrie. The opening by honey-voiced pop singer ALA.NI, all the rage in Europe, will be a treat. Also try wandering by the Josie Robertson Plaza Aug. 1–5. You just might catch Janis Claxton's POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) (2016), a series of hypnotic, playful dances for two—each clocking in at five minutes—that expose relationships with exquisite sensitivity. lincolncenter.org/out-of-doors. —CE and WP
Familiar Faces Descend on Edinburgh International Festival
Akram Khan's Kadamati. Photo by Kois Miah, Courtesy Edinburgh International Festival
EDINBURGH Strange and spectacular are consistently accurate adjectives for the offerings at Edinburgh International Festival. But this year's dance programs are full of familiar faces: Akram Khan brings his latest (and last) solo Xenos and a companion community-dance piece, Kadamati; Company Wayne McGregor performs his Autobiography; and L-E-V will dance Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar's Love Cycle, comprising OCD Love and the more recent Love Chapter 2. But just as intriguing, if less familiar, is Michèle Anne De May's Cold Blood, a narrative-driven, cinema-dance show featuring choreography just for hands. Aug. 3–27. eif.co.uk. —CE
Royal New Zealand Ballet Celebrates Women's Suffrage
Royal New Zealand Ballet dancers in rehearsal. Photo by Stephen A'Court, Courtesy RNZB
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND Patricia Barker has commissioned four female choreographers to create premieres for a program celebrating the 65th and 125th anniversaries of Royal New Zealand Ballet and women's suffrage in New Zealand, respectively. Strength and Grace features new works by Penny Saunders (choreographer in residence at Barker's former artistic home, Grand Rapids Ballet), Danielle Rowe, Sarah Foster-Sproull and Andrea Schermoly. Aug. 17–18. rnzb.org.nz. —CE
- Is Patricia Barker Shaking Up Royal New Zealand Ballet? ›
- Patricia Barker Responds to All Those Royal New Zealand Ballet ... ›
- RNZB — The Royal New Zealand Ballet ›
- What's On | Edinburgh International Festival ›
- Edinburgh International Festival: Home ›
- POP-UP Duets (fragments of love) on Vimeo ›
- Janis Claxton – Choreographer ›
- Lincoln Center Out of Doors ›
- Andy Karl Joins Cast of 'Pretty Woman' Musical - The New York Times ›
- What Did Critics Think of Pretty Woman The Musical in Chicago ... ›
- Home | PRETTY WOMAN THE MUSICAL | Official Site ›
- Rehearsal of “ ISADORA” * Choreography: Vladimir Varnava ... ›
- ISADORA starring Natalia Osipova World Premiere ›
- Dancers at Work: Alexei Ratmansky in the Studio with Natalia ... ›
- Natalia Osipova — People — Royal Opera House ›
- Dancing Through the Dog Days - Dance Magazine ›
- Vail Dance Festival | July 28 – August 11 | A Celebration of ... ›
Alicia Alonso's famed ballet company in Cuba has a new leader: the beloved hometown prima ballerina Viengsay Valdés.
Ballet Nacional of Cuba just named Valdés deputy artistic director, which means she will immediately assume the daily responsibilities of running the company. Alonso, 98, will retain the title of general director, but in practice, Valdés will be the one making all the artistic decisions.
I'm terrified of performing choreography that changes directions. I messed up last year when the stage lights caused me to become disoriented. What can I do to prevent this from happening again? I can perform the combination just fine in the studio with the mirror.
—Scared, San Francisco, CA
From the angles of your feet to the size of your head, it can sometimes seem like there is no part of a dancer's body that is not under scrutiny. It's easy to get obsessed when you are constantly in front of a mirror, trying to fit a mold.
Yet the traditional ideals seem to be exploding every day. "The days of carbon-copy dancers are over," says BalletX dancer Caili Quan. "Only when you're confident in your own body can you start truly working with what you have."
While the striving may never end, there can be unexpected benefits to what you may think of as your "imperfections."
It's the second week of Miami City Ballet School's Choreographic Intensive, and the students stand in a light-drenched studio watching as choreographer Durante Verzola sets a pas de trois. "Don't be afraid to look at the ceiling—look that high," Verzola shows one student as she holds an arabesque. "That gives so much more dimension to your dancing." Other students try the same movement from the sidelines.
When Arantxa Ochoa took over as MCB School's director of faculty and curriculum two years ago, she decided to add a second part to the summer intensive: five weeks focused on technique would be followed by a new two-week choreography session. The technique intensive is not a requirement, but students audition for both at the same time and many attend the two back-to-back.
On a summer afternoon at The Ailey School's studios, a group of students go through a sequence of Horton exercises, radiating concentration and strength as they tilt to one side, arms outstretched and leg parallel to the ground. Later, in a studio down the hall, a theater dance class rehearses a lively medley of Broadway show tunes. With giant smiles and bouncy energy, students run through steps to "The Nicest Kids in Town" from Hairspray.
"You gotta really scream!" teacher Judine Somerville calls out as they mime their excitement. "This is live theater!" They segue into the audition number from A Chorus Line, "I Hope I Get It," their expressions becoming purposeful and slightly nervous. "Center stage is wherever I am," Somerville tells them when the music stops, making them repeat the words back to her. "Take that wherever you go."
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Dance artists, as a rule, are a resilient bunch. But working in a studio in New York City without heat or electricity in the middle of winter? That's not just crazy; it's unhealthy, and too much to ask of anyone.
Unfortunately, Brooklyn Studios for Dance hasn't had heat since mid-November, making it impossible for classes or performances to take place in the community-oriented center.
So what's a studio to do? Throw a massive dance party, of course.
As winter sets in, your muscles may feel tighter than they did in warmer weather. You're not imagining it: Cold weather can cause muscles to lose heat and contract, resulting in a more limited range of motion and muscle soreness or stiffness.
But dancers need their muscles to be supple and fresh, no matter the weather outside. Here's how to maintain your mobility during the colder months so your dancing isn't affected:
A newly launched initiative hopes to change the face of ballet, both onstage and behind the scenes. Called "The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet," the three-year initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a partnership between Dance Theatre of Harlem, the International Association of Blacks in Dance and Dance/USA.
"We've seen huge amounts of change in the years since 1969, when Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded," says Virginia Johnson, artistic director of DTH. "But change is happening much too slowly, and it will continue to be too slow until we come to a little bit more of an awareness of what the underlying issues are and what needs to be done to address them."
From the outside, it seemed like the worst of New York City Ballet's problems were behind them last winter, when ballet master in chief Peter Martins retired amid accusations of abuse and sexual harassment, and an internal investigation did not substantiate those claims.
But further troubles were revealed in August when a scandal broke that led to dancer Chase Finlay's abrupt resignation and the firing of fellow principals Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro. All three were accused of "inappropriate communications" and violating "norms of conduct."
The artistic director sets the tone for a dance company and leads by example. But regardless of whether Martins, and George Balanchine before him, established a healthy organization, the issues at NYCB bespeak an industry-wide problem, says Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founding artistic director of Urban Bush Women. "From New York City Ballet to emerging artists, we've just done what's been handed down," she observes. "That has not necessarily led to great practices."
If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Dance Magazine, now's your chance to find out. Dance Magazine is seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about dance and journalism.
Through March 1, we are accepting applications for a summer intern to assist our staff onsite in New York City from June to August. The internship includes an hourly stipend and requires a minimum two-day-a-week commitment. (We do not provide assistance securing housing.)
For the past few months, the dance world has been holding its collective breath, waiting for New York City Ballet to announce who will take over the helm as artistic director.
Though former ballet master in chief Peter Martins retired over a year ago after accusations of sexual harassment and abuse (an internal investigation did not corroborate the accusations), the search for a new leader didn't begin until last May.
Nine months later, the new director's name could be released any day now. And we have some theories about who it might be:
Some people take this profession as just a chapter of their life. They feel like dance is a job—a fun job, but a job. Other people live their life through dance. I never considered being a ballerina a profession. It's a lifestyle.
If I don't have a performance, I feel like a tiger trapped in a cage. I have so many emotions, I feel I need to give them to somebody, to exhaust myself—I need to cry or laugh, or else it's suffocating. Other people might scream or throw bottles into the wall. We dancers scream onstage through our movement. For me, it's like sweeping off the dust in my soul.
Back in 2011, Yale University's dean of science was thinking about refreshing the program's offerings for non-majors when he happened upon a Pilobolus performance. A light bulb went off: Dance is full of physics.
That realization led to what has become an eight-year collaboration between particle physicist Sarah Demers and former New York City Ballet dancer Emily Coates, both professors at Yale who were brought together to co-teach a course called The Physics of Dance. Their partnership has involved everything from directing a short film to presenting a TedX Talk and performing a piece that Coates created, commissioned by Danspace Project. This month, they're publishing a book about what they've discovered by dialoging across two seemingly disparate disciplines.
What's next for the dance world? Our annual list of the dancers, choreographers and companies that are on the verge of skyrocketing has a pretty excellent track record of answering that question.
Here they are: the 25 up-and-coming artists we believe represent the future of our field.
Though Polunin has long had a reputation for behaving inappropriately, in the last month his posts have been somewhat unhinged. In one, Polunin, who is Ukrainian, shows off his new tattoo of Vladimir Putin:
Just before retiring in 2015, Sylvie Guillem appeared on "HARDtalk with Zeinab Badawi," the BBC's hard-hitting interview program. Badawi told Guillem,
"Clement Crisp of the Financial Times, 14 years ago, described your dancing as vulgar."
"Yeah, well, he said that. But at the same time, when they asked Margot Fonteyn what she thought about lifting the leg like this she said, 'Well, if I could have done it, I would have done it.' "
They were discussing Guillem's signature stroke—her 180-degree leg extension à la seconde. Ballet legs had often flashed about in the higher zones between 135 and 160 degrees before. But it wasn't until the virtuoso French ballerina regularly
extended her leg beside her ear with immaculate poise in the 1980s that leg extensions for ballet dancers in classical roles reached their zenith. Traditionalists like Clement Crisp were not taken with it.
Sebastian Abarbanell remembers being asked as an undergrad at Trinity Laban in London to perform wearing only a dance belt. "I said no," he says, "because I felt uncomfortable." Now a performer with Sidra Bell Dance New York, he's performed partially nude several times, without reservation. The difference? "It comes with more experience and maturing as a dancer," he says. "When you see a dancer living in their skin, you don't need to put anything else on them. When I said no in college, I wasn't in my skin yet."
Getting in your skin—and getting comfortable wearing only your skin onstage—requires a particular alchemy of vulnerability, agency, preparation and practice.
Birmingham Royal Ballet announced today that international star Carlos Acosta will be taking over as director in January of 2020. Current BRB director David Bintley will be stepping down this summer, at the end of the company's 2019 season, after a 24-year tenure. "It is a tremendous honor and privilege to have been appointed to lead Birmingham Royal Ballet," Acosta said in a statement.
Since retiring from The Royal Ballet in 2015, Acosta has focused much of his attention on his native Cuba, where he's proven his directorial abilities at the helm of Acosta Danza, the contemporary company that he founded in 2016. In 2017 Acosta also opened his first Dance Academy through his foundation, which provides free training to students. We don't yet know how Acosta will balance his time between his projects in Cuba and his new role at BRB.
My personal life has taken a nosedive since I broke up with my boyfriend. He's in the same show and is now dating one of my colleagues. It's heartbreaking to see them together, and I'm determined never to date a fellow dancer again. But it's challenging to find someone outside, as I practically live in the theater. Do you have any advice?
—Loveless, New York, NY
The inimitable Carol Channing, best known for her role as the titular Hello, Dolly!, passed away today at 97.
Though she became a three-time Tony winner, Channing was born in Seattle, far from the Great White Way, in 1921. After growing up in San Francisco, she attended the famed Bennington College, studying dance and drama. She later told the university, "What Bennington allows you to do is develop the thing you're going to do anyway, over everybody's dead body." For Channing, that meant decades of fiery, comical performances, bursting with energy.
Something's coming, I don't know when
But it's soon...maybe tonight?
Those iconic lyrics have basically been our #mood ever since we first heard a remake of the West Side Story film, directed by Steven Spielberg and choreographed by Justin Peck, was in the works. THE CASTING. THE CASTING WAS COMING.
Well, last night—after an extensive search process that focused on finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican/Latinx community—the WSS team finally revealed who'll be playing Maria, Anita, Bernardo, and Chino (joining Ansel Elgort, who was cast as Tony last fall). And you guys: It is a truly epic group.