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Doubling Down: Two New Initiatives Feature Women in the Studio and On the Stage
While there are more women making dance than ever before, the question still swirls: Do they have the same programming and mentoring opportunities as their male counterparts? This spring, Ballet West and the University of Southern California are choosing to tackle the question head-on, with performances and residencies that focus on female dancemakers.
National Choreographic Festival at Ballet West
Ballet West's Katlyn Addison in Africa Guzman's Sweet and Bitter, which will be performed during the company's 2nd Annual National Choreographic Festival. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West
This May, Ballet West will celebrate both female artistic directors and choreographers with its 2nd Annual National Choreographic Festival. "I planned this three years ago, but producing the works of women and celebrating their leadership is something I have been passionate about for a long time," says Ballet West artistic director Adam Sklute.
Over two weekends, Charlotte Ballet (a.d. Hope Muir) will perform To Clear, by Robyn Mineko Williams; Cincinnati Ballet (a.d. Victoria Morgan) will present work by resident choreographer Jennifer Archibald; The Washington Ballet (a.d. Julie Kent) will share MYRIAD by Gemma Bond; and Richmond Ballet (a.d. Stoner Winslett) will bring a new creation by Katarzyna Skarpetowska. Ballet West will contribute by producing the work of two dancemakers rarely seen in the U.S.: Australian choreographer Natalie Weir will rework her Jabula and Spanish choreographer Africa Guzman will stage her Sweet and Bitter.
New Movement Residency at USC
BFA students at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Photo by Carolyn DiLoreto, Courtesy USC
Ana Maria Alvarez, Seda Aybay and Loni Landon will receive 120 hours of rehearsal space this May and June as resident artists in USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance's inaugural New Movement Residency. In addition to meeting a need for affordable space in the Los Angeles area, the residency (open to women and/or L.A.–based choreographers) will provide a safe environment for dancemakers to receive feedback from and be mentored by the highly respected faculty.
"I have had conversations with many female choreographers about uncertainty and insecurity, the question: 'Am I the token woman on the evening?' " says vice dean and director Jodie Gates. In addition to her own experience as a member of the Southern California dance scene, she attended community gatherings, participated on panels and saw local performances in order to get a sense of what the current community needs were and how best USC could address them. "We need to rethink how we launch these programs for women in dance, and for me, the philosophy of mentorship is key."
The call went out last November, and the response was much bigger than Gates expected. "L.A. is at an exciting pinnacle right now, and this is the time to continue our role here as a hub for dance, bringing artists in and supporting them," says Gates. "With this program, the two of those missions collide in a beautiful way."
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.
Many choreographers have been defeated by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. However, one dancemaker whose stridency, rhythmic daring and sheer inventiveness could possibly match Stravinsky's is Wayne McGregor. For his first commission from American Ballet Theatre, McGregor has taken on this earth-cracking music in AFTERITE, to premiere at ABT's Spring Gala. Also on the May 21 gala program are excerpts from Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of the comic ballet Harlequinade, the full version of which will premiere next month, and a pièce d'occasion by tapper Michelle Dorrance. May 21–26. abt.org.
If diamonds are a girl's best friend, it's safe to say that faux-diamond earrings are a dancer's best friend. A fixture onstage at just about every competition weekend, these blinged-out baubles are also the surest sign that recital season is upon us again. And what better way to get into the sparkly spirit than by drooling over these 5 diamonds in the rough? (Sorry not sorry!)