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."
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: