Google Arts & Culture Is Spotlighting Dance for Black History Month
Raise your hand if you've ever gotten sucked down an informational rabbit hole on the internet. (Come on, we know it's not just us.) Now, allow us to direct you to this new project from Google Arts & Culture. To celebrate Black History Month, they've put together a newly curated collection of images, videos and stories that spotlights black history and culture in America specifically through the lens of dance—and it's pretty much our new favorite way to pass the time online.
Screenshot via Google
Google partnered with organizations like Dance Theatre of Harlem, A.I.M, Step Afrika! and Camille A. Brown & Dancers to put together online exhibits comprising stories, images and videos. The result is dozens of multimedia trips through black dance history—like the Harlem roots of the Lindy hop or the founding of DTH—and a look at the work being done by a plethora of contemporary artists, including Kyle Abraham, Brown and Reggie Wilson. Outreach efforts to impact future generations of dancers of color, such as American Ballet Theatre's Project Plié and Step Afrika!'s summer camp, are also highlighted.
The collection touches on a multitude of topics—everything from literature to the loss of local radio stations, police brutality to the spiritual traditions of the African Diaspora—always using dance as a leaping-off point. It might not be the deepest dive into these particular ideas or histories, but we love how easily digestible the information is for the casual reader, as well as the breadth of the work showcased. And if you get inspired to learn more about any of the artists or organizations featured, there's a handy search engine right there.
- Why Philadelphia Was an Early Hub For Black Ballerinas - Dance ... ›
- The Equity Project Launches to Increase the Presence of Black ... ›
- A Dancer's Take on "This is America": Is The Dance A Distraction Or ... ›
- 7 Up-and-Coming Black Dance Artists Who Should Be On Your Radar ›
- Op-Ed: Dance Theatre of Harlem Was My Wakanda - Dance Magazine ›
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.