Curtain Up

May 21, 2008

Daniel Ulbricht is the boy next door. But he’s also the boy wonder who can jump high and land noiselessly, turn forever, and infuse every role with buoyancy and finesse. He’s not an elegant Dane, a passionate Russian, or a sexy Cuban. He’s just an American kid who happens to have astounding skill and a big theatrical heart. He lights up the whole stage whenever he’s on it. At New York City Ballet he’s getting more and more roles, and audiences can’t help but catch his contagious enthusiasm.


Like a lot of American kids who become ballet dancers, Danny watched videos of Russian and Cuban dancers to get inspired. Male classical dancers who are American seem to be a young tradition. But Clive Barnes points out in “Attitudes” that it goes back to the 19th century. We’ll never see videos of George Washington Smith, the first American male classical dancer. But I’m hoping that one of these years, ballet-loving boys in the U.S. will be able to watch not only Russians and Cubans, but also great American dancers on the home screen. And when they do, Ulbricht will be right up there with Villella, d’Amboise, Mitchell, Woetzel, Boal, and Stiefel. But you don’t have to wait—see the fun video of his photo shoot on our website! It captures his infectious personality, bounding energy, and readiness for a joke.

I am one of the thousands of dancers who remember a summer or two of intense training at American Dance Festival. In my day, it was at Connecticut College, and you got a daily Graham class with David Wood, a Limón class with Betty Jones, a tap class with Paul Draper, and a unique have-it-his-way class by Lucas Hoving. I even took a repertory class taught by José Limón, assisted by Jennifer Muller. How lucky can a girl get? You never forgot those teachers, but even more, you felt your muscles get stronger and your joints get looser every week. So for all of us who have ADF in our past—and those of you who have it in your future—we celebrate the happy occasion of its 75th year with Susan Broili’s story “Brave New Worlds.”

I am thrilled to announce that our “Growing list of women choreographers” has reached 500. I thank all of you who e-mailed me with additional names, which we folded in to our alphabetical list online. The magic of cyberspace is that there is no limit. So keep those names coming. Female choreographers of the world, unite—on our website!



Photo by Matthew Karas.