Wendy Perron sits down with Complexions Contemporary Ballet founding artistic director Dwight Rhoden to talk the origins of the company, William Forsythe's role in his career and why Russian audiences love his work.
Shelby Colona and Chris Bloom in CARMEN.maquia. PC Christopher Duggan
Ballet Hispánico returns to the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem with its full-length ballet, CARMEN.maquia. Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano has reenvisioned the story of Carmen to emphasize Don José, the man who falls in love with Carmen, suffers because of her infidelity, then murders her in a "fit of passion." Their duets are filled with all the sensuality, jealousy and violence you could wish for—in a totally contemporary dance language.
Sansano's previous piece for Ballet Hispánico, El Beso, bloomed with a thousand playful and witty ways of expressing desire. He has a knack for splicing humor into romance.
As all bunheads know, there's so much more to dancing on pointe than sewing and bourées. In this new video, The Australian Ballet lays it all out for us, from A-Z. Or rather from "Arch" to "Zzzzzz's." Using a super fast-paced style, this four-and-a-half minute long video skips back and forth between ultra-sleek minimalism and sepia-toned nostalgia. Both educational and insider-y (see "cashews" at 0:54), this video includes some gorgeous shots (Apollo-inspired arabesques at 2:00) interspersed with quirky humor (note adorable pointe shoe bed at 3:53).
Recently, he's been posting clips of Gelsey Kirkland rehearsing Don Quixote, most likely taken a couple years after she joined American Ballet Theatre. You can watch her breaking down each step, working with her ballet coach David Howard as well as a flamenco coach, and giving herself notes by speaking directly to the camera.
Froman says the full footage is about an hour long (he acquired it a couple decades ago when he was still dancing for New York City Ballet). "When watching the entire disc, what becomes obvious is the inexhaustible, obsessive detail work," he wrote me in an email. "She sets the bar extremely high and I'm not sure she was ever equaled. All that Balanchine technique is still alive in her body, and she's very good to bring all the flamenco influences into her interpretation."
Amanda Castro taps to Robert Frost's "In White." Courtesy Monticello Park Productions Team
Many choreographers use spoken word to enhance their dance performances. But the Campfire Poetry Movement video series has found success with a reverse scenario: Monticello Park Productions creates short art films that often use dance to illustrate iconic poems.
When Arthur Pita brought his Metamorphosis to the Joyce in 2013, The Royal Ballet's Edward Watson played the man who becomes a cockroach in Franz Kafka's famous story. He was slithery, spiky and sticky, and the creepiness factor loomed large. It was like the performers and audience were trapped in this brilliantly bizarre nightmare together.
Known as "the David Lynch of dance," Arthur Pita brings his new work, The Tenant, to The Joyce from November 6–11. Based on the surrealist novel by Roland Topor and the subsequent 1976 film, Pita's Tenant stars American Ballet Theatre's James Whiteside. Readers of Dance Magazine know from Whiteside's cover story that he is a maverick who will try anything. In The Tenant, a young man moves into an apartment where the previous renter, a woman, jumped out the window to her death. He becomes obsessed with her and starts to transform into her. The woman is played by ABT soloist Cassandra Trenary, and a third character, a kind of guardian, is played by Kibrea Carmichael.
The Metamorphosis was unforgettable when it came to the Joyce five years ago, so we have high hopes for The Tenant.
This high school dance team's Harry Potter routine has gone viral. Screenshot via ThePac Walden Grove's YouTube channel.
What happens when you mix two really good things together? Sometimes, it can be magical. It's practically guaranteed when one of those elements is the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and the other is—wait for it—dance-team–style hip hop.
Stephanie Williams, Cory Stearns, Catherine Hurlin and Duncan Lyle rehearsing In the Upper Room. PC Kelsey Grills
Waves of sheer dance inventiveness come rolling toward you. Dancers in sneakers, pointe shoes or ballet slippers mingle: it looks like a free-for-all but is carefully plotted out. Philip Glass' music lets the dancers ride his gorgeous momentum.
This is In the Upper Room, the celestial yet kinetically charged ballet made by Twyla Tharp in 1986. It hasn't been done by American Ballet Theatre since 2012 and now it's coming back with full force.
American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Erica Lall spends most of her day in the studio rehearsing with choreographers like Alexei Ratmansky and Michelle Dorrance. But when she's not in the studio or on stage, this "25 to Watch" dancer is home making her family's Jamaican Curry Chicken.
Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, PC Charles Villyard
In 2016, Lar Lubovitch decided that New York City's Joyce Theater needed a new look. He envisioned extending the stage outward so that audiences could sit on all sides. And that is pretty much what happened for his Quadrille series, and it was so refreshing that the series returns this year, with a new bunch of intrepid choreographers. I say intrepid because the choreography may be seen from unplanned angles, and the dancers are more exposed.
For the audience, if you're sitting under hundreds of lighting instruments overhead, you naturally feel like you are onstage. And if you're sitting in the usual seats, you see the performers onstage, with half the audience behind them. The whole set-up can be pleasantly disorienting.
Boris Charmatz, a favorite choreographer in France for his dancing in museums, has come up with an idea for non-stop dance. In his new piece, 10000 Gestures, each action is different—no repeats. This week, a horde of more than 20 dancers invades New York City's NYU Skirball Center, each of them cramming a thousand gestures into one hour. They seem to be exorcising them—shaking, scratching, jabbing, huddling—as though they can't get rid of them fast enough.
Bill T. Jones' Ambros: The Emigrant. PC Paul B. Goode
Bill T. Jones is one of the few choreographers who can weave together social consciousness with choreographic inventiveness. This is visible in all three parts of his Analogy Trilogy, a 6½-hour marathon that comes to NYU Skirball Center on Sept. 22 and 23.
In this Trilogy, Jones goes beyond his own cultural identity. The first part, Dora: Tramontane, centers on Dora Amelan, a Holocaust survivor who tried to help children during World War II. Her ordeal is told through interviews spoken by the dancers and envisioned in shifting scenes. The second part, Lance: Pretty aka the Escape Artist, is about Jones' nephew, and his involvement in the underground world of drugs and sex in New York in the 80s. This section contains several gorgeously choreographed duets. The third part, Ambros: The Emigrant, is not about a real person but about the nature of trauma and memory.
Boston Ballet rehearsing "ELA, Rhapsody in blue" choreographed by Paulo Arrais. PC Kelsey Grills
When Boston Ballet principal dancer Paulo Arrais was approached to choreograph for the company's spring program, Rhapsody, he immediately knew where he wanted to draw inspiration from. "I grew up in a part of Brazil where it was very common to see domestic violence," says Arrais. "I'm angry about this problem and I'm trying to find a way to choreograph with the anger I have."
Choreographer Loni Landon is no stranger to the enticing power of social media. Instagram, for example, makes it very easy for Landon to connect with other artists. "I feel torn about it," says Landon. "On one hand, I think it can be used in a really positive way. I have received so many jobs through connecting with people on social media. But I do think sometimes people are on it for the wrong reasons and it becomes a popularity contest."
Marcelo Gomes and Victoria Hulland in The Two Pigeons, PC Frank Atura
Sarasota Ballet is returning to New York City's Joyce Theater with a batch of rarely-seen Ashton works. But the big news is that guest artist Marcelo Gomes will be performing with the company. Yes, Gomes is back performing in New York, possibly for the first time since he resigned from American Ballet Theatre in December after an allegation of sexual misconduct.
Gomes is one of the greatest male ballet dancers ever to grace the ABT stage—which he did for 20 years. Watching him dance, it's easy to see why he was every woman's favorite partner: He lavishes attention on his ballerina. The audience can feel his connection and his passion.
The first piece that Ohad Naharin brought to New York City after taking over Batsheva Dance Company exploded onto the Brooklyn Academy of Music stage in 2002. The NYC dance audience knew immediately that something big was happening in Tel Aviv. The piece was Naharin's Virus, and it seemed to embody both rage and a Zen acceptance of the unique strangeness of every human body. Now it's back in NYC until July 22, danced by the second company, known as Batsheva — The Young Ensemble, which ranges in age from 20 to 28.
The choreography has the ferocity yet humanity we've come to expect from Batsheva, plus a text from Peter Handke's agitating play, Offending the Audience. The dancers speak Handke's accusations, saying one minute that we, the audience, have a private part of our minds that no one can touch, and then in the next breath that they are invading that part of our brains.
Lisa La Touche's 2017 choreogaphy with Felipe Galganni, Megan Bartula, Gabe Winns, Brittany DeStefano, Lisa La Touche, Charles Renato, Oriana Niño & Grace Cannady, PC Amanda Gentile
Every summer Tap City gives New Yorkers a week of classes, events and awards culminating in "Rhythm in Motion." This year the showcase, on July 11, has gathered star tappers—and not only tappers—in a mix of tradition and innovation.
Chloe Arnold's new group Apartment 33 (her previous group, Syncopated Ladies, went viral) as well as Caleb Teicher (a 2012 "25 to Watch") will be part of the mix. Lisa La Touche has choreographed a trio, and the fearless B-girl from the Bronx, Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, is choreographing for a quartet of break dancers. Leo Sandoval, the smoothest tapper from Brazil, is making a new piece to music by Steve Reich.
Do you ever imagine collaborating with a dancer or musician from a faraway place? Composer Andy Teirstein, professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, has made this wish come true for performing artists with his Translucent Borders project. Over the last three years he has brought dancers and musicians from Cuba, Israel, Greece and Ghana to experience other cultures. On June 29, this project culminates in a rich border-crossing event at the Jack Crystal Theater at Tisch.
Jeremy Pheiffer, Michael Watkiss in THEM, PC Rachel Papo
If you want to know how scary the AIDS epidemic was in the 1980s, come see Ishmael Houston-Jones' piece THEM from1986. This piece reveals the subterranean fears that crept into gay relationships at the time. Houston-Jones is one of downtown's great improvisers, and his six dancers also improvise in response to his suggestions. With Chris Cochrane's edgy guitar riffs and Dennis Cooper's ominous text, there's an unpredictable, near-creepy but epic quality to THEM.