The Creative Process
Crystal Pite rehearsing at National Ballet of Canada. Photo by Karolina Kuras, courtesy NBoC

Crystal Pite is a busy woman.

While her company, Kidd Pivot, toured the globe recently performing Betroffenheit—its acclaimed collaboration with Jonathon Young and fellow Canadians Electric Company Theatre—Pite herself launched three productions at three of the world's foremost dance companies: Nederlands Dans Theater (The Statement, February 2016), the Paris Opéra Ballet (The Seasons' Canon, fall 2016), and London's Royal Ballet (Flight Pattern, spring 2017).

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News
Brian Brooks snaps a selfie with Miami City Ballet dancers. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB

The inaugural choreographer in residence at Chicago's Harris Theater for Music and Dance has a lot of stretching to do. In the first year of his three-year tenure, Brian Brooks has worked with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago's main company and pre-professional dancers; advanced students from the Chicago Academy for the Arts; with street percussionists The Chicago Bucket Boys; his own New York City–based ensemble; and teachers from Chicago Public Schools. Next up is Miami City Ballet, which premieres the Harris Theater–commissioned One Line Drawn February 9–11, March 2–4 and March 17–18.

You've gone back and forth to Miami a few times now. How much time have you had on this project?

We did most of the work over the summer, plus two other short periods: one in January and one the week of the premiere. We're mostly finished, but I'm still editing, clarifying, shaping.

Brooks leads rehearsal at Miami City Ballet. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy MCB

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News
NIC Kay performs pushit: an exercise in getting well soon at the Dorchester Art + Housing Collaborative during Elevate Chicago Dance. Photo by Zachary Whittenburg.

Having spent most of the past 15 years in Chicago, I can confidently say that Elevate Chicago Dance was the most comprehensive celebration of the city's dance scene this century. A dozen events packed 10 venues for three full days, featuring the work of more than 150 performers, representing nearly 40 locally-based dance artists and organizations. Nearly all were recipients of Lab Artist Awards from Chicago Dancemakers Forum, or had been selected to participate in a Regional Dance Development Initiative that CDF and the New England Foundation for the Arts launched in partnership in 2015.

It was an occasion to recognize how vibrant and diverse Chicago's contemporary dance community is today, spurred in large part by CDF's Lab Artist Program, which awards to up to six dancemakers $15,000 each and will mark its 15th anniversary later this year. (Choreographers can apply now through February 6.)

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Career Advice
Sterling Baca rehearsing Joshua Beamish's Giselle. Photo by Frederick Charles, courtesy Beamish

At a hip-hop event in Dakar, Senegal, Onye Ozuzu, dean of the School of Fine and Performing Arts at Columbia College Chicago, noticed a move that looked familiar.

"I had just come from seeing Don Campbell at a festival in Colorado, where he was talking about locking and the way people used to point at each other," she says. "At this b-boy battle in Dakar, I remember watching the points happen, but they were all loose in the wrists. The dancers weren't pointing at anything specific. I remember thinking, Oh, that's what happens when you learn something off of YouTube."

As early as 2001, hard-core dance fanatics with digital-media skills—not exactly a huge group of people—could swap rare dance videos using peer-to-peer sites like Kazaa. But it was four years later on Valentine's Day that www.youtube.com went live, and a vast repository of hidden dance history began circulating worldwide.

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25 to Watch
Klock in William Forsythe's Quintett. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Hubbard Street Dance Chicago

Densely dimensional, unpredictable, strangely graceful and wild, Alice Klock's dances are like elegant ribbons caught in hopelessly tangled knots. In 2018, she'll choreograph more works than she did the year before, extending a trajectory that's continued throughout her still-brief career.

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Dancers Trending
Courtesy Heffington

Patron saint of queer quirk and founder of Los Angeles studio The Sweat Spot, Ryan Heffington first made headlines three years ago as the choreographer of "Chandelier," a music video for Sia starring Maddie Ziegler with a combined view count of more than 1.5 billion. Last year, Heffington both broadened his range and reinforced his brand, contributing to the frankly sexual short film for "Worship" by U.K. pop trio Years & Years, collaborating with director Spike Jonze and dancer-actress Margaret Qualley on a cinematic short to launch KENZO's World perfume, and reuniting with Sia and Ziegler for "The Greatest" featuring Kendrick Lamar.

But the most effective vehicle for his idiosyncratic creative voice so far might be the polarizing Netflix series The OA. Heffington's compulsive tendencies to choreograph facial expressions and give discrete actions priority over cohesive phrasing are well-suited to screen actors without much dance experience. Whether the show's second season includes as much dance as its first remains to be seen; either way, chances are good that Heffington himself will remain busy.

Read the rest of Dance Magazine's list of the most influential people in dance today.

Dancers Trending
Neil Sapienza, Courtesy NCC

It isn't every day—or year, or even decade—that a dedicated choreography incubator opens its doors. As founding executive/artistic director at the National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron, Christy Bolingbroke says, "I have an opportunity to locate dance in a research and development environment, and reinforce the fact that what a choreographer does is not all that different from a scientist in a laboratory."

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Dancers Trending
Henry Leutwyler, Courtesy NYCB

The first executive director in New York City Ballet's history is also the executive director of its home, the David H. Koch Theater. Which means Katherine E. Brown oversees a 141-person staff and an annual budget of about $90 million.

Under her leadership, NYCB has never been more accessible. It consistently puts out shareable videos and snapshots of the company's work to an online audience of more than a million, while partnerships with mainstream brands like Puma bring its otherworldly artists down to Earth.

"It's important we communicate how the company is forward-thinking, doing interesting things out there in the world, not just cloistered away at the theater," says Brown. "I'd like to think we're removing some of the obstacles people feel in accessing this art form, without affecting in any negative way the artistic vision of the company."

Read the rest of Dance Magazine's list of the most influential people in dance today.

Dancers Trending
Jon Lowenstein, Courtesy YBCA

Chief of program and pedagogy at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Q: How has your role evolved since joining YBCA five years ago?

"I bring a social practice ethic to performance. You could call me the architect of a program that connects communities to the work that we present."

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Career Advice

From dancers to presenters to directors, no one in dance is exempt from the task of building an audience. But keeping up with email, social media and other marketing efforts can chip away at precious time spent honing your craft. Add in the fear of coming across as vain or self-absorbed, and it can be hard to know how to begin.

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Career Advice
PC Mike Topham

Ever dream of having one of your dance videos go viral online? The experience may not be all that you expect. Four dance artists reflect on their sudden fame after their videos became online sensations:


Kirk Henning is a company member at Richmond Ballet. You've seen Henning and his groomsmen dancing for fellow company member Valerie Tellmann-Henning as a surprise at their wedding reception.

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