Best of 2011
Once again my list is completely subjective, limited by what I happened to see. There were LOTS of good performances this year. Please know that the order within each category is fairly random.
• Dana Caspersen in I don’t believe in outer space by William Forsythe at BAM: gutsy, fascinating distortions of voice and body.
• Kristina Hanna, sexy as hell in Larry Keigwin’s Exit at the Joyce.
• Blakely White-McGuire, strong and sturdy in the Graham rep: searing in Cave of the Heart, funny in Maple Leaf Rag, and something of an elegant bag lady in Bulareyaung Pagarlava’s premiere.
• Kathleen Breen Combes of Boston Ballet: style and attack in Forsythe’s Second Detail, exquisite sensitivity to touch in Helen Pickett’s Parts I, II, and III.
• Susan Marshall’s three guys who’ve been with her for years—Luke Miller, Joseph Poulson, and Darrin Michael Wright—have their own vivid ways of being themselves, as in the reprise of Adamantine (2009) at Baryshnikov Art Center.
• Olivia Bowman-Jackson in Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Melting Pot at Central Park SummerStage: Fast, sexy, precise, galvanized.
• Megumi Eda in Armitage Gone! Dance, at SummerStage: technique and glamour to burn.
• Erick Montes in Continuous Reply and other works by Bill T. Jones in the “Body Against Body” program at NY Live Arts: Spunky and intense as he brought the Jones/Zane history alive.
• Houston Ballet’s Karina Gonzalez in the gorgeously slow central pas de deux in ONE/end/ONE by Jorma Elo, at the Joyce.
• Nina Ananiashvili’s The Swan: In Russia, it’s a tradition to perform Fokine’s gem twice—if the audience loves you. Ananiashvili made completely different choices the second time around.
• Wendy Whelan in Robbins’ In Memory Of… in which she embodies a mysterious drama with two very different partners, NYCB,
• André “Feijão” Virgilio of Brazil’s Companhia Urbana de Dança in ID:ENTIDADES by Sonia Destri, Peak Performances in Montclair, NJ: a certain kinetic charisma.
• The Kirov’s Islom Baimuradov, who played Karenin, Anna Karenina’s luckless husband, to both casts of Vishneva and Kondaurova, in Ratmansky’s Anna Karenina: He was more moving than either Anna, Lincoln Center Festival.
• Best Giselles: A tie between Vishneva and Cojocaru, both of them magnificent and moving.
• Joaquin De Luz in “Rubies” of Diamonds, NYCB: Energized classicism.
• ABT’s Sascha Radetsky for recklessly tearing into Tharp’s In the Upper Room, at City Center
• Simone Messmer in Demis Volpi’s Private Light, ABT at City Center: sexy, jagged, desperate.
• Matthew Rogers in Tere O’Connor’s Cover Boy at Danspace: wayward, intense, mercurial.
• The Joffrey’s Victoria Jaiani in Edwaard Liang’s Age of Innocence at Fall for Dance: exquisite, tremulous openness in the central pas de deux.
• Ailey’s Samuel Lee Roberts, wild and crazy in the solo improv of Naharin’s Minus 16.
Best Performances in Musicals
• Sutton Foster in Roundabout Theatre’s Anything Goes. She OWNS the stage.
• Jason Tam in Lysistrata Jones. He’s just such an indiVIDual out there!
Best Solos by a Dancer/Choreographer
• Lil Buck in The Swan at Fall for Dance: Spectacularly musical re-imagining of Fokine’s The Swan through hip hop.
• Kyle Abraham in his own work at Dancemopolitan 2011, DanceNow, Joe’s Pub: a voluptuous, complex mover with an inimitable style.
• Wally Cardona as a sweetly loopy wanderer in his and Jennifer Lacey’s Tool Is Loot, The Kitchen.
• Marcelo Gomes in his own solo, Paganini, on the Cisne Negro program at the Joyce: terrific rhythms that build in complexity, and he’s, well, he’s MARCELO!
Best New Choreography
• Eiko & Koma's Water in the reflecting pool in Lincoln Center Plaza: luminous, ancient figures parting the dark waters.
• Big Dance Theater’s Supernatural Wife, choreographed by Annie-B Parson, and co-directed by Paul Lazar, at BAM: disembodied, ridiculous, clever, and unexpectedly moving.
• Cover Boy by Tere O’Connor at Danspace: Intriguing, sensual, androgynous; four men caught between vanity and vulnerability. The last duet between Rogers and Ingle nearly brought tears.
• I don’t believe in outer space by William Forsythe at BAM. Fascinating from A to Z.
• Juliette Mapp’s The Making of Americans for bringing Gertrude Stein’s rhythms back, at DTW. Plus a sublime duet sequence on the floor.
Most Noticeable New Dancers
• Xiaochuan Xie of Graham, piquant in Robert Wilson’s Snow on the Mesa.
• Osiel Gounod and Grettel Morejon of Ballet Nacional de Cuba, in scenes from Coppélia, BAM: buoyant youthfulness.
• Rebecca Warner, giving Sarah Michelson’s relentless steps in Devotion some juice, The Kitchen.
Most Inspired Pairings
• Viengsay Valdés of Ballet Nacional de Cuba and Ivan Vasiliev of the Bolshoi at Youth America Grand Prix Gala: Sheer fireworks in Don Q.
• Tapper Jason Samuels Smith and pianist Harold O’Neal: His creamy piano sound meshing with Jason’s process from quiet scrapes to full-out hopping jumps and tiny hummingbird feet, at Under the Influence at the Museum of Art and Design.
Most Romantic Romeo:
• Guillaume Côté in Alexei Ratmansky’s new Romeo and Juliet for National Ballet of Canada.
Most Touching Juliet
• A three-way tie between Erica Cornejo and Misa Kuranaga of Boston Ballet and Elena Lobsanova of National Ballet of Canada (I didn’t see ABT’s R & J this year)
Most Welcome Streaks of Humor
• Anybody Waitin’? by ponydance at an upstairs bar, Dublin Dance Festival: giddy gender play in a tight space.
• Ratmansky’s The Bright Stream elicited hilarious portrayals from ABT dancers Daniil Simkin, Isaac Stappas, Susan Jones, and others, at the Met.
• New artistic director Robert Battle brought to the Ailey season the wit of Paul Taylor’s Arden Court and the hilarity of parts of Naharin’s Minus 16.
Best Choreography for the Dancing It Unleashed
• The Sweeter End by Trey McIntyre at Lincoln Center Out of Doors for giving dynamite solos to John Michael Schert, Chanel DaSilva, and Jason Hartley that allow them to blast out pure, smart energy.
• Mambo 3XXI by George Céspedes for Danza Contemporánea de Cuba, at the Joyce: Wild, free, sexy dancing (in the second half).
• Ohad Naharin’s Three to MAX transformed Hubbard Street Dance Chicago into a collective of odd and daring performers at Fall for Dance.
• Rennie Harris’ Home for Ailey yielded fabulous dancing from Matthew Rushing (pure heaven) as well as Alicia Graf Mack, Linda Celeste Sims, Kirven James Boyd, Guillermo Asca, and newcomers Belen Estrada and Renaldo Gardner.
• Stamping Ground by Kylián, performed by Aspen Santa Fe at the Joyce: nervy, neo-primitive skittering.
Best Curatorial Presentations
• Eiko & Koma’s retrospective including “Residue,” an installation at the Library of Performing Arts.
• MOMA’s performances in conjunction with its exhibit “On Line,” including works by Trisha Brown, Ralph Lemon, and Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker.
• David Parker curating a tap show at Danspace with Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards.
• Melinda Ring curating a platform of Susan Rethorst: Retro(intro)spective, at Danspace, including “wrecking” and a film night.
• Video & projection by S. Katy Tucker for Paul McCartney’s Ocean’s Kingdom: a magical underworld of sunlight glinting through the ocean’s surface, NYCB at Koch Theater.
• Tony Orrico for John Jasperse’s Canyon at BAM: masking tape delineating the space of the entire theater, even outside the theater, in lines that meshed with the distressed walls; also a creeping white box that had a distinctly Eeyore-like quality.
Most Fun Controversy
• Appropriation: For her music video Countdown, Beyoncé outright lifted sequences from Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker, outraging many people, but also making the Belgian choreographer’s work more visible.
Best TV Appearances
• Sarah Lane, sweetly demanding credit for her dancing in the movie Black Swan, for which she was a dance double. (Disclosure: It was my blog that ignited the furor that led to this appearance.)
• Jenifer Ringer, graciously offering Oprah a pair of pointe shoes.
• David Hallberg, telling Stephen Colbert that the cold war is over.
• Sasha Mallory, for her riveting, sharp-outlined dancing in every number on Season 8 of So You Think You Can Dance. (She was the runner-up.)
• I Was a Dancer by Jacques d’Amboise: Vitality, insight, and humor jumping off each page.
Longest, Saddest Goodbye
• Cunningham Legacy Tour at the Joyce (loved Quartet), the Merce Fair at Lincoln Center, and Merce Cunningham Dance Company at BAM (loved Biped). And finally the company at the Armory—sad, but also a profound reunion of people and ideas.
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
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.
Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
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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It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
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.
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.