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
- 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 ›
- Vail Dance Festival | July 28 – August 11 | A Celebration of ... ›
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
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.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
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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Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.
Launching a dancewear line seems like a great way for professional dancers to flex new artistic muscles and make side money. Several direct-to-consumer brands founded by current or former professional dancers, like Elevé and Luckleo, currently compete with bigger retailers, like Capezio.
But turning your brand into the next Yumiko is more challenging than some budding designers may realize.
When I first came to dance criticism in the 1970s, the professional critics were predominantly much older than me. I didn't know them personally and, as the wide-eyed new kid on the block, I assumed most had little or no physical training in the art.
As slightly intimidated as I felt at the time—you try sitting around a conference room table with Dance Magazine heavy hitters like Tobi Tobias and David Vaughan—I smugly gave myself props for at least having had recent brushes with ballet, Graham, Duncan and Ailey and more substantial engagement with jazz and belly dance. Watching dancers onstage, I enjoyed memories of steps and moves I knew in my own bones. If the music was right, my shoulders would wriggle. I wasn't just coolly judging things from my neck up.