Curtain Up

September 26, 2011

Let’s hear it for small dance companies! People in the dance world tend to follow the big companies and their stars, but often it’s the small companies that are out there pushing the boundaries. In this issue, we offer two examples of small companies that are thriving.

The 16-member Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, one of the most popular companies in the U.S., is now cooking up projects with both Twyla Tharp and Alonzo King. They are also one of the few repertory companies that have cultivated a homegrown choreographer— Alejandro Cerrudo, who has certainly risen since he was our “On the Rise” in Oct. 2007. In Hedy Weiss’ Still Taking Chances,” choreographers from Tharp to Naharin to Cerrudo talk about why Hubbard Street is fertile ground for them.

In another midwestern city, Kansas City Ballet is growing by leaps and bounds. Still only 25 dancers, the group moved into a new home in August, and they inaugurate a new performing arts center this month. For a small company, KCB has a large and varied repertoire. And it’s about to get bigger. This month they premiere artistic director William Whitener’s new full-length ballet. Whitener has chosen for his narrative not a Russian, British, or German fairy tale, but our own, good ole American Tom Sawyer. Read Paul Horsley’s update on KCB in All-American Dream.”

In any company, big or small, there’s a special excitement when a corps dancer breaks into a featured role. Will she or he rise to the occasion? Will the audience respond with gasps or grumbles? On page 46, Elaine Stuart interviews three dancers who recently expanded their horizons in this way—including Chase Finlay, the New York City Ballet guy who created a buzz when he stepped into the role of Apollo. 

Is Hollywood rediscovering dance? Not only movies like Black Swan and the Step Up series, but also TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Glee are finding that, hey, audiences like seeing dance on screens big and small. And more shows and movies are on the way. Does this mean more work for dancers? Read Victoria Looseleaf’s “Hollywood Falls for Dance—Again” and find out who’s hiring.



It’s ok, they’re engaged. Photo by Kristie Kahns.