Gretchen Smith, Jared Angle and Sara Mearns in NEW BODIES.

What Wendy's Watching: Ballet and Modern Mingle at Works & Process

The Guggenheim Museum's Works & Process series is where dance artists show what they are working on and talk about it.


New York City Ballet star Sara Mearns and downtown luminary Jodi Melnick both have a larger-than-life stage presence in their separate dance genres. Mearns is used to filling the stage with grand movements, and Melnick gives style and verve to small, seemingly unconnected phrases. For this collaboration, called NEW BODIES, Melnick has guided Mearns and two other NYCB dancers to blend gesture with classical line. NEW BODIES was sold out at Works & Process last fall. This coming weekend it's being reprised with a slightly different cast: Sara Mearns, Jared Angle and Taylor Stanley, replacing the original dancer of this trio, Gretchen Smith.

Also on the program is a very unusual collaboration—a solo that Melnick created with the late Trisha Brown called One of Sixty-Five Thousand Gestures. Although Jodi never danced in the Trisha Brown Dance Company, she and Brown worked in the studio together in a conversation of shared movement. What they have in common is an interior impulse that travels through the body and is made visible by a strong sense of body design.

Catch One of Sixty-Five Thousand Gestures/NEW BODIES on Jan. 14 and 15.

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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020