The Creative Process
Arlene Shuler is currently prepping for City Center's 75th anniversary celebration. Photo by Stephanie Berger, courtesy City Center

When Arlene Shuler performed at New York City Center as a young Joffrey Ballet dancer, she never imagined that she would someday become the theater's president and chief executive officer.

After a short dance career—four years with The Joffrey—she decided she wanted to experience college. That led to law school, and, eventually, arts administration.

With this mixed background, Shuler, who came to City Center in 2003, has redefined the venue. Her biggest accomplishment is the popular Fall for Dance Festival, a mixed bill of performances at $15 a pop. As the theater prepares to celebrate its 75th-anniversary season, Shuler is looking to keep building the City Center brand with new commissions and expanded audiences.

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Dance on Broadway
India Bolds has been in The Lion King for five years. Photo by Jim Lafferty

As an ensemble dancer in The Lion King, India Bolds, age 32, plays nine characters in every show, eight times a week. That's a lot of entrances and exits, costume changes and choreography to remember. But after five years of dancing in the production, she has the show down pat.

Dance Magazine followed her through a performance day to see what it takes to be in Broadway's third-longest-running production.

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Popular
An SFB ballet master spills on the most common mistakes she sees. Here, SFB in Sleeping Beauty, Photo by Erik Tomasson.

When conveying a story onstage, portraying a character convincingly is just as important as nailing the steps. But that's often easier said than done. We talked to Anita Paciotti, ballet master at San Francisco Ballet, about the biggest acting mistakes she sees dancers making:

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Career Advice
Urban Bush Women in Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Walking With 'Trane. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

While some companies thrive on uniformity of style and attack, the dancers of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Urban Bush Women find strength in the very opposite: Her movement is human, with an aesthetic that makes the choreography appear to be improvised. That's been a foundation of Zollar's work since she started UBW in 1984.

Three Bessie Awards and two Doris Duke Awards later, Zollar has also created work for companies like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Philadanco. Given her desire for all her dancers to share their voices, it's no surprise that many former UBW members have gone on to make accom­plished work of their own.

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Dancers Trending
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Simone Messmer was 19 the first time she used cocaine. She was at another company's gala when someone pulled out a bag of the white powder. There, at the coat check counter, party guests took turns snorting the drug. "I was hesitant, but at the time I was willing to try anything once," she says. "Everyone around me was getting hyped up. But for me, it made me feel grounded."

She would later learn that her reaction—feeling grounded instead of hyped—probably had to do with undiagnosed ADHD. The sensation kept Messmer, then a corps member at American Ballet Theatre, returning to the drug multiple times a week for a year. And it nearly jeopardized her career.

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Dance Training
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

When conveying a story onstage, certain roles come more easily than others. Some dancers naturally possess the regality of the Lilac Fairy, others the attack of Kitri. Some take on the naïve Aurora with ease, but have trouble with Myrtha's complexity. Tackling a role that's outside your character wheelhouse can be tricky—especially since ballet's princesses, creatures and sylphs can be hard to relate to.

But luckily, just like your technique, you can strengthen your acting chops. American Ballet Theatre's go-to acting coach Byam Stevens, who's worked with everyone from Kevin McKenzie to Isabella Boylston, shares how he helps dancers connect with a character.

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Dancers Trending

It's the end of a long rehearsal day for the dancers of Abraham.In.Motion. They're reviewing phrases of a new work, Dearest Home. It's a pretty typical rehearsal scene. Some dancers cluster around a laptop trying to piece together steps learned long ago. Others review choreography together, working to figure out who remembered which arms correctly.

What isn't typical: The company's director and choreographer, Kyle Abraham, is nowhere to be seen.

That's because while the company is based in New York City full-time, Abraham spends most of his year teaching at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he joined the faculty last September. It's an unconventional model for a single-choreographer–led troupe, almost functioning like a repertory company in which choreographers drop in for a week to set a piece, leaving it up to the rehearsal directors and dancers to keep the momentum going.

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Popular
The cast of Indecent. Photo by Carol Rosegg, Courtesy Connecticut College.

Postmodern choreographer David Dorfman grew up watching experimental theater, so it makes sense that elements like text, abstract set design and socially conscious through-lines pepper his work. Choreographing for theater seems like a natural next step. The opening of Indecent on April 18 marks Dorfman's first outing as a Broadway choreographer. The play is about the making of God of Vengeance, a 1923 Broadway production based on a landmark Yiddish play, and deals with homosexuality and freedom of expression.

How did you get involved in Indecent?

I've known Rebecca Taichman, one of the creators, for 13 years or so now. We did a project together called Green Violin in Philadelphia.

What research went into choreographing this play?

I did more research for this than I normally do. Some of it is a bit tongue-in-cheek. In order to do that you have to get in deep about the hand gestures and rhythms of Hasidic dance. I don't believe that we have to produce a totally authentic version. But you have to know exactly where something comes from in order to stray.

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Dance Training
#3: Know where your focus should be, and commit to it. Photo by Erik Tomasson

As a dancer, you spend hours looking at yourself in the mirror perfecting your lines, and try time and time again to fit one more rotation into your pirouette. But stop for a second, and think about what you admire in other performers. Sure, your favorites probably have nice facilities and can pull off great tricks. But there's something else that makes them sparkle onstage.

That's because dancing is all about the details—the way you connect movements, how you hold your hands and the way you walk onstage, for instance. “It's about how you inhabit the steps," says Linda Kent, who teaches modern dance at The Juilliard School. “Because guess what: It's a performing art. Why are you dancing? To be a good little machine? One hopes not." These details can bring out your artistry in new ways—and have the power to make or break your performance.

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Career Advice

Being a soloist has its perks, like bigger roles and a bigger paycheck. But it has a less glamorous side, too. Soloists take on corps roles, principal roles and everything in between. The rank comes with more pressure and a demanding schedule, which can take its toll mentally and physically. Though the promotion validates a dancer’s hard work and achievements, many find themselves stuck in the rank waiting for a promotion that may or may not come.

For Houston Ballet's Charles-Louis Yoshiyama, the soloist rank has been demanding but fruitful. PC Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy HB

“I know dancers have very strong feelings about it. And I see how it could be demoralizing,” says Pacific Northwest Ballet artistic director Peter Boal. Focusing on the work rather than the rank is the only way to take advantage of the promotion, and use it to move forward.

All Work, No Play

Being a soloist can be taxing because of the inconsistent workload. “If you’re one of the upperclassmen, it’s very rare that you ever have any time off,” says Ballet West first soloist Allison DeBona. She says it’s common to have to learn two different spots in the same ballet or be cast in every piece in a show. “Mentally you feel lost, and physically you feel broken.” Many soloists miss the camaraderie and support system of the corps de ballet they left.

Running on overdrive makes it difficult to find time to cross-train and stay injury-free. Houston Ballet’s Charles-Louis Yoshiyama, who was promoted to principal in 2016, sprained his ankle and broke his fifth metatarsal shortly after becoming a soloist. “The injury made me think quite a bit more about taking care of my body,” he says.

But having a lot on your plate doesn’t just make it hard to keep up physically. DeBona says that especially when she was a demi-soloist, one of the most frustrating things was not having as much time as a principal would to devote herself to bigger roles. Even now as a first soloist, she says, “I always feel like I’m at a disadvantage. Imagine a two-show day. A principal might dance in the afternoon and have the evening off. A soloist could be juggling a principal role during the day and another role at night.”

On the other hand, soloists can see slow periods where they’re barely cast in anything at all. “We do six programs a year, plus Nutcracker, and there could be a program that a dancer is not in,” says Boal. “That can mean a full two months off the stage. They’re always covering something if they’re not cast, but that can be hard.” It’s up to the dancer to take advantage of this downtime by devoting extra energy to daily class, understudying and cross-training.

Becoming an Artist

The soloist rank gives you the freedom to grow as an artist in new ways. “When you’re in the corps, you feel like you have to do things the way they’re shown to you. You’re afraid to show your artistry or musicality,” says DeBona. “It was liberating to let go of that.”

Yoshiyama says that his years as a soloist, though sometimes overwhelming, have been the most fruitful of his career. Part of that is because the promotion gives you a mental boost. “I was more motivated after the promotion because you’re looking forward to upcoming shows,” he says. “You feel pressure to keep up with your technique. You want to become a principal, and there are so many talented up-and-coming dancers.”

Ultimately, soloists are working towards a goal that no one can guarantee. “But you have to stay level-headed and remember why you’re actually dancing. You’re getting opportunities and enjoying yourself onstage,” says DeBona. “When you retire, that’s what you’re going to remember.” 

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Career Advice

New York City Dance Alliance’s summer intensive pushes dancers beyond their comfort zone.

When you’re heading into your final training years, there’s a lot of pressure to decide what kind of career you want and perfect that technique, be it Balanchine, Horton or hip hop. So dancers often opt for summer programs with a narrow focus. Sometimes, it pushes them to new heights; other times, it creates a one-note training bubble.

Kim Craven’s ballet class at NYCDA. Photo Courtesy NYCDA

New York City Dance Alliance takes a different approach to summer intensive study. At its two-week program during July and August in New York City, dancers study everything from ballet to tap to voice. While it offers strong training for students who want to become triple threats, it also gives them time to explore less familiar styles. “We want the dancers to have a safe place to work outside their comfort zone,” says NYCDA managing director Leah Brandon, “to discover areas of the dance world that they may not know exist or didn’t see themselves in.”

The intensive’s list of teachers echoes this idea. Last year’s staff included regular NYCDA faculty members, plus guests like Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell, Ballet Next artistic director Michele Wiles, Nederlands Dans Theater’s Jon Bond and Luis Salgado from On Your Feet!

Amanda Mitchell, a junior at Pace University’s dance program has attended the intensive four times, and still returns as an assistant. “I’ve done a lot of different programs, but NYCDA’s is so versatile,” she says. “After my first summer, going back to my studio, people were like, ‘What did you do? What changed?’ The program really sparks something new inside of you.”

Experimenting Across Levels

Most dancers who attend the program are selected at one of NYCDA’s regional conventions, though you can also submit a video online. Instead of traditional levels, the students are randomly divided into groups of about 25 which changed throughout the intensive. The theory is that all the students have strengths in different styles, and can learn from each other. “You’re dancing with people of all ages from all over the country,” says Mitchell. “And everyone has something different that they’re good at. It pushes you to be better.”

The schedule for each day varies, and the dancers don’t know what they’re in for until the night before or that morning. Usually, the day begins with either ballet, jazz or modern, followed by classical or contemporary partnering, or conditioning like Pilates or yoga. After lunch, dancers take styles like musical theater, hip hop, tap and ballroom, among others. There’s also an opportunity to hone triple threat skills through acting and voice classes. Career-oriented workshops like injury prevention, resume building and nutrition are also on the schedule.

In the evening, dancers rehearse for the end-of-program performance. Each dancer is cast in two pieces, choreographed or set by faculty and guests. Weekends are reserved for tourist activities and seeing shows around the city. Last summer, the group saw CATS on Broadway, had a Q&A session with the cast and learned choreography from the show.

The Bigger Picture

One big advantage of the NYCDA program is its close relationship with Pace University, which has one of the country’s first programs dedicated to commercial dance. Classes are held in Pace’s studios, and dancers stay in the dorms and eat at its cafeteria. “It’s like a mini college experience—a trial run,” says Brandon, who brings in reps from NYC-based college dance departments to speak. For Mitchell, the connection helped her get a spot at Pace—and a scholarship.

The intensive’s emphasis on audition prep, through mock auditions with one-on-one feedback, also helped her prepare for professional auditions. “A casting director will sit you down and walk you through your resume,” she says. “You get personal feedback about what they liked about your audition and what they didn’t, down to what you’re wearing.”

The end goal is to get students thinking about what kind of career they’d like to pursue—even if that means going down a totally different path than they thought. “Each kid leaves with a clearer idea of what they want to do and what they need to do to get there,” says Scott Jovovich, who has been teaching ballet and theater dance at NYCDA for 15 years. “I sent my own son to this program, because for me, this is the place to figure out who you want to be.” 

The Details

Attendance: 100 students, split into classes of roughly 25

Timeline: Two weeks

Ages: 14 to 18

Housing: Students stay in Pace University dorms

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Inside DM
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It starts with a tight feeling in your chest. Your breaths become shallow and high, like your lungs are sitting at the back of your throat. Then, panic sets in. You're gasping for air, and the anxiety is only making it worse. I was diagnosed with asthma in my early teens, and it would act up whenever I was rehearsing something extra-strenuous. While it rarely put me in immediate medical danger, it certainly changed the way I danced. I approached difficult phrases with less confidence, and tried to save so much energy in the early minutes of pieces that I moved too cautiously.

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Inside DM

Gibney Dance Company empowers its members to create their own social-impact initiatives.

Nigel Campbell teaching at Move(NYC), his tuition-free summer program. PC Scott Shaw, Courtesy Gibney.

What if your full-time dance job required more than rehearsing and performing? What if it also asked you to create new ways to give back to your community? The six members of New York City–based Gibney Dance Company have been empowered to do exactly that, as artistic director Gina Gibney expands the troupe’s mission beyond its traditional performances and domestic violence outreach. Each member will now direct his or her own “advocacy fellowship,” with Gibney’s oversight. “I’ve seen so many young artists who want to make a difference but didn’t have the resources available to them to make it work,” says Gibney. “Being advocates for the field is now part of their job description.”

The dancers are being guided by Gibney’s staff, board members and outside partners at every stage, from planning to production. They started by drafting their own program designs, case statements, timelines and methods to evaluate success. While funding for this extension of the company—in particular the dancers’ salaries—comes from Gibney donors, the dancers are actively participating in the fundraising for their own projects. Programs range from an organization that helps dancers through tough career moments, like negotiating a contract or getting injured, to youth dance programs. Some have already tested their ideas through pilots: Nigel Campbell is one of the first company members to roll out his initiative. With co-founder Chanel DaSilva, he started Move(NYC), a tuition-free summer intensive for advanced dancers from New York City’s five boroughs. “We wanted to help dancers who have the drive to become professionals, but may not have the means to do so competitively,” says Campbell. Under their program this summer, 30 students, ages 13 to 18, studied under dancers from Batsheva, Kidd Pivot and Hamilton, among others.

Campbell is happy to have a job that doesn’t just emphasize giving back to the community, but provides him with the resources he needs to achieve it. These outreach projects are part of the dancers’ new 52-week contract (up from about 36), which includes a paid, one-month sabbatical in August, given so that the dancers can study elsewhere or take on other creative projects. “It means I can focus on helping my community as well as my art,” says Campbell. “I don’t have to run to bartend or babysit. I know that a paycheck is coming every two weeks. I don’t have to worry about that—I can commit my time, energy and focus to where it really matters.”

Though Gibney is realistic about the tough economic challenges dance companies face, she hopes that other groups will someday be able to take on this model. “Dancers have such an incredible ability to bring people together. To give people a better understanding of their world,” she says. “If there could be more platforms for artists to realize their ideas, that’s my humble goal.” 

Career Advice

Tinypistol found its footing performing at festivals. PC Stephen Texeira, Courtesy Kerr.

Maurya Kerr’s company tinypistol might not exist were it not for dance festivals. In 2011, the former Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancer was asked to be part of the West Wave Dance Festival in San Francisco. Her group made such an impression that they were invited back later that year, and eventually, the festival presented a full evening of her work.

Dance festivals are a smart way for green choreographers to jumpstart their careers. They can provide opportunities to get professional feedback on your dancemaking, network with other choreographers and expose your work to local presenters. But with an overwhelming number of options and plenty of talented competition, it can be challenging to decide which festivals are best for you—and to turn them into something bigger. 

Why Festivals?

Many choreographers dream of putting up their own show or being commissioned, but most are missing the visibility and money they need to get there. Festivals bring your work to new presenters and audiences, while taking on the brunt of production costs (though rehearsal expenses are usually up to the choreographer). “It’s a great place to start because you’re sharing a program and you’re getting the infrastructure covered,” says Kerr, whose dancers have performed at the Black Choreographers Festival, Aspen Fringe Festival and San Francisco International Arts Festival, among others. “Plus, there is some artistic safety, not having to carry a whole evening.”

Choose the Right One

Deciding which festivals to apply to can be difficult. A good way to narrow down the field, according to Kerr, is to look at your finances and decide what is feasible. Since you may be responsible for paying for your own transportation and lodging, sticking to a close radius may be wise.

If you’re unfamiliar with a festival, see if its mission aligns with your work, says Robin Staff, executive artistic director and producer of DANCE NOW, which hosts festivals in New York City for choreographers of all levels. Check out the festival’s alumni: Are they respected dancemakers? Were they on a similar scale as you when they showed work? Have they grown since then? Finally, think about what you need from the festival, whether it be professional feedback or high-quality photos and videos.

Make the Most of Your Opportunity

Festivals offer plenty of perks, however formal or informal. DANCE NOW’s Raw series facilitates a talkback at the end of the day. Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out participants have access to its extensive archives and complimentary tickets to main-stage performances when available.

Keep your sights set on bigger opportunities. Staff says she has often invited promising DANCE NOW Raw choreographers, such as Loni Landon, MADBOOTS DANCE and Adam Barruch, back for a residency or performance in their main-stage series. Try to make face time after the showing, and follow up with a thank-you email. “Let us know when you’re performing or have created new work,” says Staff. You never know where an experience could lead. 

What to Present

Many festivals limit performers’ stage time to as little as 10 minutes. “If you have to excerpt something, make sure it has validity out of context,” says choreographer Maurya Kerr. Show it to fresh eyes and see if it makes sense. Think about what will work within the festival’s mission, production constraints and audience. “Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out is free, and the audience is full of children and people new to dance,” says Pillow company manager Ariana Brawley. “Remember that it’s outdoors—a beautiful view, with birds chirping. Darker works that need theatrical lighting tend to be missing something in that space.” On the other hand, full costumes and makeup at an intimate studio showing will look out of place. 

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Dance Training
CPYB's Simon Ball corrects a student's placement. PC Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy CPYB

In most classic stories, we root for the underdog. Ballet is no exception. We love hearing about dancers overcoming impossible odds, about the ones with bad feet and zero turnout rising to the top, about stepdaughter Cinderella slipping on those glittering pointe shoes and outshining everyone at the ball.

It's harder to gain sympathy when you're a prodigy or class favorite—a dancer who was born with a seemingly perfect body, who gets into all the summer intensives and who is always cast in leading roles. But with incredible gifts come particular challenges. Prodigies can sometimes feel awkward owning their talent while staying gracious among their peers, and may lose their sense of self in the pursuit of excellence. Dancers of this caliber often either ride on their talent or burn out early. Finding balance, both socially and physically, will best prepare you for professional life.

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Career Advice

Artistic directors reveal how they decide who gets the top promotion.

Isabella Boylston was promoted to principal at ABT in 2014. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

There is one question at the ballet that might provoke more curiosity than any other: Who will be promoted to the rank of principal dancer? The answer is at times gratifying, and, at others, totally baffling. One dancer may rise quickly, while another waits 10 years for their big break. We spoke to four major artistic directors to take the mystery out of what they look for when it’s time to make the big promotion.

Mikko Nissinen

Boston Ballet

We’ve started a five-year partnership with William Forsythe, so I’m very deliberately shaping the company right now. I need everybody to be somebody he is going to work well with. It’s not easy to ask the same people to do Sleeping Beauty and Forsythe. But that’s when we’re relevant. That’s a ballet company of the future.

I’m definitely not old-school, where you have to sit in the corps for eight years. I just promoted Seo Hye Han [who joined the corps in 2012] to principal because I saw how well she danced the whole season, whether it was Balanchine, The Nutcracker or Odette/Odile. A good job is one thing, but this art form is about brilliance. I want to be excited.

Lourdes Lopez

Miami City Ballet

Going from soloist to principal is about imagination, the ability to take a role and make it your own. You’re responding to the music and the steps; you’re able to dig deep, like an actor, and you’re comfortable with bringing that out.

PC Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy MCB

Mr. B used to say that dancers are like a garden of flowers. I find that some bloom right away and then die; some bloom late and stay for a long time. You can have a really talented dancer hurt themselves, and physically or emotionally they’re never quite the same. Or you give them bigger parts and they can’t deal. But by the time they get to principal level, they should understand how to work well. The 30-year-old is going to be a lot more conscious of that than the 17-year-old.

I do think about looks. You need a leggy Swan Lake, “Diamonds” pas de deux, adagio dancer. You also need someone with the speed, accuracy and technical brilliance for Kitri or Square Dance. You look for those types, but you don’t always get them.

Adam Sklute

Ballet West

Photo courtesy Ballet West

I think the biggest thing is, Can this person lead an entire show? Can they own the entire stage? And can they do it consistently and in many different roles? Some people, like Beckanne Sisk and Chase O’Connell, walk fresh out of school and have it. Most people grow into it.

When I arrived, Emily Adams was very quiet, and seemed to cling to the back of the studio. Over the years she started moving forward, not aggressively, but just owning her technique. Each assignment she was given she gave 1,000 percent of herself. All of a sudden everybody started noticing her. Audience members were asking me when I hired her.

I think when it takes a long time, it’s easier for the person to appreciate where they are in the work. You should always be asking, What is my next step? Whether that’s a new ballet or your 400th Sugar Plum, you can never go on automatic, and the most successful dancers recognize that. I need people who aren’t afraid to work hard and be vulnerable.

Angel Corella

Pennsylvania Ballet

PC Jim Lafferty

It sounds cheesy, but it’s like Spider-Man: With great talent comes great responsibility. It’s not just the capacity to turn and jump, but the way you turn, the way you jump. It’s about work ethic, how fast you learn, how musical you are, how open you are to new things, how willing you are to let people see who you are in a very raw way.

I want people who can transform onstage. For instance, new principal Lillian DiPiazza is a very sweet girl, but when she did Siren in Prodigal Son she came out as a femme fatale—she was such a force.

I was made a principal at 19, but I don’t know if I was completely mature. You have to be careful as an artistic director. If you promote someone too soon and they don’t have a strong sense of who they are, their accomplishments can go to their head. If someone waits too long, they lose hope, and they lose that spark.

At the end of the day we’re doing this for the audience, so yes, there’s an element of star power. What you cast, who you cast—it’s with the audience in mind. But you also have to guide them to new things, whether that’s ballets or dancers. 

Kristin Schwab is a writer in New York City.

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Inside DM

Jessica Lang Dance Center opens in Queens.

Jessica Lang Dance company members at the center’s groundbreaking. Photo by Nana Tsuda, Courtesy JLD.

New York City is home to choreographic nomads, with most artists hopping from rental space to rental space to create their work. To have a dance studio of your own is a dream usually reserved for only the most celebrated choreographers—Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones.

Jessica Lang will be added to that list this month when she opens her 6,100-square-foot Jessica Lang Dance Center in Long Island City, just across the East River from Manhattan. The two-studio building will house her company, Jessica Lang Dance, and a school for children and adults. Lang’s husband, Ailey dancer Kanji Segawa, will direct the center.

Lang says that the idea for the dance center has been on her mind ever since she moved to Long Island City eight years ago. Back then, its streets were lined with warehouses. Today, the neighborhood has a mix of residents, as young families continue to seek out Queens, one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country. The owner of the building that will house the space wanted someone to use it to give back to the neighborhood, and Lang’s longtime donors helped her with funding. “I knew the community I was living in was exploding,” says Lang. “A dance center doesn’t exist in LIC, and there’s definitely a demand for after-school programs.”

Though Lang’s choreographic resumé dates back almost 20 years—most of that work commissioned by ballet companies—she didn’t start her own company until 2011. But in that short time, it’s seen great growth. During its last two seasons, Jessica Lang Dance sustained a full touring schedule and employed nine dancers for 30 weeks. “This center is directly related to the success of the company,” says Lang. “It was evident that in order to not affect the quality of the work or the morale of the group, a space was necessary.”

The school will offer classes for children, 18 months to 12 years old, based on a ballet and modern dance curriculum; the adult division will have open classes in everything from dance fitness to salsa. “Our goal is not to make a professional dancer, but to let people explore,” says Lang. Her company will also hold intensives and master classes for pre-professionals and college students, and she will rent out available space to other choreographers.

Lang doesn’t deny that with a school comes steady income that will help sustain her company in the present, and help it grow in the future. But she says her bigger picture is the goal of building an arts community, and passing dance on to another generation. “I didn’t want this to only be about my work. It’s not the core part of how I create—it’s always for people,” says Lang. “Dance has to be seen to exist.” 

Dancers Trending

Hamilton has made Tony Awards history. Photo by Joan Marcus, Courtesy Hamilton.

The 2016 Tony Award nominees have been announced. And, unsurprisingly, everyone's favorite musical that they've never seen, Hamilton, swept the ballots. In all, the show is up for 13 categories—every single one that involved musical theater, except revivals. And with multiple nominations in some, Hamilton has 16 shots at winning—the most in Broadway history.

June 2016

Even if you can't get tickets to the show, you can read all about the ensemble bringing the historic production to life—and what its runaway success might mean for dance on Broadway—in Dance Magazine's June issue. Go to dancemagazine.com/hamilton to pre-order your copy.

Who is Hamilton choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler's competition in the Best Choreography category? It's a mix of people that touch on many different styles of dance. There's Savion Glover, who brought true rhythm tap back to Broadway with Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed; Randy Skinner, with classic show tap that Broadway thrives on, in Dames at Sea; Hofesh Shechter's humanistic modern dance moves for Fiddler on the Roof; and Sergio Trujillo's authentic Cuban dances in On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan. If anything, it's wonderful to see so many corners of the dance world meet on Broadway.

Here is the full list of musical nominees:

Best Musical

Bright Star

Hamilton

School of Rock - The Musical

Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Waitress

Best Revival of a Musical

The Color Purple

Fiddler on the Roof

She Loves Me

Spring Awakening

Best Book of a Musical

Steve Martin for Bright Star

Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton

Julian Fellowes for School of Rock - The Musical

George C. Wolfe for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Original Score (Music and/or Lyrics) Written for the Theatre

Bright Star (Music: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell, Lyrics: Edie Brickell)

Hamilton (Music and lyrics: Lin-Manuel Miranda)

School of Rock - The Musical (Music: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Lyrics: Glenn Slater)

Waitress (Music and lyrics: Sara Bareilles)

Best Performance By an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical

Alex Brightman for School of Rock - The Musical

Danny Burstein for Fiddler on the Roof

Zachary Levi for She Loves Me

Lin-Manuel Miranda for Hamilton

Leslie Odom, Jr. for Hamilton

Best Performance By an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical

Laura Benanti for She Loves Me

Carmen Cusack for Bright Star

Cynthia Erivo for The Color Purple

Jessie Mueller for Waitress

Phillipa Soo for Hamilton

Best Performance By an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical

Daveed Diggs for Hamilton

Brandon Victor Dixon for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Christopher Fitzgerald for Waitress

Jonathan Groff for Hamilton

Christopher Jackson for Hamilton

Best Performance By an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical

Danielle Brooks for The Color Purple

Renée Ellse Goldsberry for Hamilton

Jane Krakowski for She Loves Me

Jennifer Simard for Disaster!

Adrienne Warren for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Scenic Design of a Musical

Es Devlin and Finn Ross for American Psycho

David Korins for Hamilton

Santo Loquasto for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

David Rockwell for She Loves Me

Best Costume Design of a Musical

Gregg Barnes for Tuck Everlasting

Jeff Mahshle for She Loves Me

Ann Roth for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Paul Tazewell for Hamilton

Best Lighting Design of a Musical

Howell Binkley for Hamilton

Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Ben Stanton for Spring Awakening

Justin Townsend for American Psycho

Best Direction of a Musical

Michael Arden for Spring Awakening

John Doyle for The Color Purple

Scott Ellis for She Loves Me

Thomas Kall for Hamilton

George C. Wolfe for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Best Choreography

Andy Blankenbuehler for Hamilton

Savion Glover for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

Hofesh Shechter for Fiddler on the Roof

Randy Skinner for Dames at Sea

Sergio Trujillo for On Your Feet! The Story of Emilio & Gloria Estefan

Best Orchestrations

August Eriksmoen for Bright Star

Larry Hochman for She Loves Me

Alex Lacamoire for Hamilton

Daryl Waters for Shuffle Along, Or The Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed

 

See the full list of musical and play nominees here. James Corden of "The Late Late Show" will host this year's Tony Awards, airing on CBS on June 12 at 8/7 central.

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Dancers Trending

Phillipa Soo and Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton. Photo by Joan Marcus.

Can it get any better for Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda?

The success Miranda has seen in the past year is borderline unfathomable. Sure, Hamilton is set for a long run on Broadway. But so are a few other shows (The Lion King or The Book of Mormon anyone?). Still, most of those hits are crowd pleasers. Hamilton is different. To the world, Miranda is now a total genius, both intellectually and artistically, while somehow projecting an incredibly relaxed and down-to-earth sense of self. All these things combined make him a great guy to cheer on. I mean, how can you not root for a guy like Miranda, who spends the free time he doesn't have doing Q&As with high school kids in the Bronx?

Hamilton won a Grammy for best musical theater album, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, and earned Manuel a MacArthur Award. The album went Gold, despite its living in a streaming-obsessed world. (And yes, it's on Spotify and Amazon Prime.) These are just the winnings that make the short list. This week, Miranda added the Pulitzer. And days later, a spot on the TIME 100 List of Most Influential People. Not only has this made him one of the biggest theater people of his time, it has also made him a very, very rich man.

Hamilton is everywhere because what's not to love? It's turned musical theater into a cultural phenomenon that everyone can get behind. It mixes the highbrow with the accessible—a sort of smart that feels aspirational, yet never exclusive. And its talented, attractive, culturally-inclusive cast doesn't hurt.

Hamilton chatter is everywhere you turn, and some of our ears are starting to tire. But that's probably only because we haven't been able to get tickets yet.

 

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Dancers Trending

Genre-crossing singer and songwriter Prince, 57, died in his Minnesota home this morning. Though few details have been made public, several news sites report that he fell ill and canceled a concert earlier in the month, and his plane had to make an emergency landing after a concert a few days ago.

Much like his music, Prince's movement onstage was smooth yet wild; decisive yet impulsive. And though we'll always remember the spirit he brought to his performances, we'll also always thank him for bringing classical dance to the masses, like when he took a then unknown (beyond the ballet world, at least) Misty Copeland on tour with him.

Rest in peace, Prince, the man who could literally make it purple rain.

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Inside DM

SYTYCD is focusing on young contestants for Season 13.

A young dancer auditions in Los Angeles. Photo by Adam Rose, Courtesy Fox.

It’s been more than 10 years since “So You Think You Can Dance” began plucking young talents from the masses and asking viewers to crown “America’s favorite dancer.” For its 13th season, beginning May 30 on Fox, “So You Think You Can Dance: The Next Generation” will concentrate on contestants ages 8–13, across various styles of dance. Instead of the usual Las Vegas week, selected dancers will enter “The Academy,” from which a top 10 will be chosen. Then, each contestant will be paired with an All-Star dancer from a previous season. Is this the slow demise of the “So You Think” brand? At its peak, the show aired twice weekly and auditioned in six cities; this season, it will hold auditions in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. Nigel Lythgoe, Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo will return, with the help of a new judge, Maddie Ziegler.

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