Curtain Up

July 28, 2008

During a recent visit
to the Houston Ballet, I saw a wonderful thing at intermission. In the red-carpeted grand foyer of the Wortham Center, alongside the gourmet items and elegant photo display, there was a table laden with brochures and flyers. These materials included information on the many groups that make up Dance Source Houston. A local service organization, DSH has members in modern dance, jazz, tap, and flamenco, as well as in Houston’s Black Dance Festival and the international Dance Salad Festival. Any patron of Houston Ballet could meander over and learn about the other types of dance happening in their city. It’s the same philosophy that Pacific Northwest Ballet showed last year when it invited local modern dance companies (Spectrum Dance Theater and Molly Scott/Powell Performance) to be part of its Celebrate Seattle Festival—plus they had Portland’s Ten Tiny Dances performing during intermission. I hope to be seeing more of this kind of sharing and generosity in the future.

Dancers in small companies
have shown such crossover spirit for a long time. Our cover subject, the gorgeous Natalia Alonso, is just as comfortable in modern and jazz as in ballet. When you see her onstage, you don’t think, “There’s a terrific ballet dancer (or modern or jazz dancer).” You just think, “There’s a terrific dancer!” Sadly, after seven years with Ballet Hispanico, she is leaving. Happily, she is joining Complexions, another company that demands extreme versatility. Read Ann Farmer’s “Lustrous, Luscious, and Lovely” to find out why.

Our newly updated edition
of the College Guide is out this month (go to for a copy). Looking through its pages, with 180 college dance departments profiled (and 600 listed), it’s hard to imagine that there was a time when going to college was considered a no-no for a serious dancer. But now we are seeing many professional dancers who have gone—or are going—to college. Granted, those four years of combining leaps with the library may not enable you to do 32 single-double fouettés. But it will expand your knowledge, stimulate your curiosity, and contribute to your career in ways you couldn’t have imagined. In “Dancing Toward a Degree,” Lea Marshall speaks with five dancers who managed to go to college and dance. And in doing so, they have shaped themselves as both people and artists.