Curtain Up

December 15, 2011

Lil Buck’s jookin’ Dying Swan was the sensation of Fall for Dance at New York City Center. Unfurling from a rounded position with luxurious musicality, gliding feet, and liquid arms, he seemed to embody the romantic spirit—in sneakers and jeans. Lil Buck is one of our “25 to Watch,” but he’s also the tip of the iceberg of the new classicism in hip hop. To get more background on this trend, read Sally Sommer’s story “Balletic Breakin’.”

I remember a different example of breathtaking lyricism from 25 years ago. It was in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) at a gala when I saw Altynai Asylmuratova dance the Odette pas de deux. She was so out-of-this-world beautiful that I nearly fainted when it was over. Now that she is director of the famed Vaganova Ballet Academy—which, by the way, is among our hundreds of summer study listings in this issue—I got to interview her for “Temple of Technique,” my story on that cherished institution.

While the Vaganova Academy is getting ready to celebrate its 275th anniversary, we’re celebrating our 85th this year. For our “From the Vault” department on the “Letters” page, we went back to (almost) our beginnings. In 1932 we published a long article on Mary Wigman, who is still so much a part of dance consciousness that her spiky Witch Dance surfaced at Career Transition For Dancers’ gala last Halloween.

What does the movie The Red Shoes mean to you? Well, it doesn’t mean much to John Heginbotham, who gushes about Singin’ in the Rain. If you’re in need of a giggle or a guffaw, turn to our back page and read his “Why I Dance.” He makes it sound like it’s just a petit jeté from being a nerdy fan of musicals to a revered Mark Morris dancer.

Another dancer with a sense of humor is our cover girl, Atlanta Ballet’s Rachel Van Buskirk. Her joking streak emerged during our photo shoot—as you can see here—and we were cracking up at her antics. Let it be a reminder for us all to lighten up in 2012!



Rachel Van Buskirk. Photo by Matthew Karas.