Curtain Up

July 15, 2007

This issue is about breaking the mold. Mikhail Baryshnikov has reinvented himself several times in his long and stellar career. This time he defies expectation by developing an inter-arts center, placing dance among the other arts—film, literature, theater, and music—not separate from them. Being an extraordinary dancer, and being extraordinarily curious has led him to work with the great choreographers of his day. Now he is now interested in setting up a laboratory for all kinds of artistic collaborations. Sylviane Gold’s frank Q & A with him reveals a certain poetic restlessness.


Three artistic directors of ballet companies are re-envisioning that classic of classics, Swan Lake. Martha Ullman West, in “A Flock of New Swan Lakes,” brings us the plans and musings of Stanton Welch in Houston, Christopher Stowell in Portland, and Victoria Morgan in Cincinnati. Naturally there will be a clutch of new Odette/Odiles, and to offer a window into the demands of this iconic role, we’ve gathered memories and advice from some of the great ballerinas who have wrestled with it.


In our extensive “Auditions Guide,” Joan Myers Brown of Philadanco calls that special ability to break out of the mold “magic.” One dancer who embodies that magic is Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Louise Nadeau. In “Star Glow,” Gigi Berardi describes Nadeau’s inimitable brand of drama, verve, and spirit. In roles ranging from the pure dancing of Balanchine’s Duo Concertant to the rambunctious third couple in Robbins’ In the Night (both of which I was lucky enough to see last fall), she gets under your skin.


Modern choreographer Jane Weiner defies the stereotype of a dance artist with tunnel vision. In “Hope, Faith, Charity, and Dance,” Nancy Wozny tells us how Weiner, keenly aware of the world around her, throws herself into various causes with great aplomb.


So when you go to your next audition, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. The artists in this issue show that breaking the mold makes more of an impact than conforming to expectations.