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Capezio Brings Dance Royalty To Vegas For a Grand Celebration
Las Vegas, home to an immense number and assorted genres of dancers, is a transient city that struggles to find community. Our first professional sports team—NHL Vegas Golden Knights—which debuted just days after the October 1 shooting, is giving Vegas hometown heroes to rally around and a palpable excitement throughout the valley.
That same camaraderie was evident Monday night as the dance community gathered—directors, choreographers, performers and educators—from New York City, Los Angeles and Las Vegas to celebrate some of their own at the Capezio Dance Awards. Ballerinas, tap and hip hop dancers, contemporary and ballroom mixed and mingled at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts—known as the "heart of the arts" here—just at the edge of the glitz and glamour of the Vegas strip.
Honoree Steve "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente brought a Who's Who of hip hop to perform in Ghettomade. Photo by Richard Termine
The large scale, star-studded production, hosted by So You think You Can Dance's executive producer Nigel Lythgoe, was conceived and directed by Ann Marie DeAngelo, a former Joffrey Ballet dancer, herself a recent Vegas transplant.
The event—the second production in the history of the awards—commemorated Capezio's 130 years of shoemaking and honored a diverse array of dancers, choreographers and contributors to the field. The gathering set out to do "what art is supposed to do: create community," DeAngelo said. The show benefitted The Actors Fund (which encompasses Career Transitions for Dancers and The Dancers Resource) and Future Dance (the education and outreach program of Nevada Ballet Theatre).
Alissa Dale and Steven Goforth of Nevada Ballet Theatre performed Christopher Wheeldon's Carousel (A dance) Pas De Deux. Photo by Richard Termine
The Capezio Foundation's Dance Award, established in 1952, this year honored Michelle Dorrance, David Parsons, Wendy Whelan and Steve "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente. Debbie Allen was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by tap wunderkind Savion Glover, for her 30-plus years as a dancer, director, choreographer, educator and producer.
The show opened with an uplifting contemporary piece by Mandy Moore, using students from three top Vegas dance studios: The Rock Center for Dance, Bunker Dance Center and the Dance Zone. Moore set the tone for the night filling the stage with youthful energy and, as Allen noted later in her remarks, "power" and "options."
A short film outlining the history of the family-owned Capezio brand segued into a live narrative that took us through the evening. The Cobblers Rap and subsequent Interludes, choreographed by DeAngelo, recreated the love story of Salvatore Capezio and his ballerina wife, Angelina Passone.
Three of the awardees performed, perfectly showcasing their various talents for an adoring audience: Michelle Dorrance and her tap company of eight made delicious music with their feet in The Twelve/Eight, Mr. Wiggles and crew (a lineup of Who's Who in hip hop) popped and locked in Ghettomade and Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks performed Brooks' First Fall. The audience audibly gasped with Whelan's first trusting fall backwards onto a prone Brooks.
Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks perform. Photo by Richard Termine
Las Vegas artists included Alissa Dale and Steven Goforth of Nevada Ballet Theatre who performed Christopher Wheeldon's Carousel (A dance) Pas De Deux with a balance of abandon, romance and youthful vitality. Former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre dancer Bernard H. Gaddis' Contemporary West Dance Theatre performed his athletic male duet Drastic Measures. Closing the evening, aerialist Sara Romanowsky performed on silks as cobbler and ballerina walked off into the sunset.
Las Vegas is undeniably a city of entertainment. As Capezio has a presence in all 50 states, it stands to reason that this celebration—and more like it—may shift West to lift up our larger, inclusive, dance family. And, hey—it's Vegas baby!
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!)