Curtain Up

December 17, 2009

William Wingfield was on his way out of the photographer’s studio and Whitney Jensen was on her way in. Will extended his hand to say good-bye to her, and in that moment my mind expanded the handshake to a joint photo shoot. Luckily Will had some extra time, and even more luckily, the two hit it off like they’d been friends forever. Although it was an impulse of the moment, the idea of putting a ballet dancer and a hip hop dancer together is entirely in keeping with the diversity of our “25 to Watch.” We’ve always chosen a span of genres for this honor, and we enjoy the synergy of the different categories on the page as well as in the dance community.


This diversity of genre is reflected in a single city too: Atlanta. The southern hub not only has a thriving ballet company—the oldest in the country if you count its early years as a civic group—but many other pockets of dance. Talk about synergy! Atlanta Ballet has collaborated with big names in the hip hop and gospel groups of Atlanta. Cynthia Bond Perry puts it all together in “Atlanta Dance Renaissance.”


Diversity doesn’t always just happen on its own; sometimes it needs help from super-energetic people. Thus began the International Association of Blacks in Dance in 1988, with Joan Myers Brown and like-minded souls. Read Charmaine Patricia Warren’s “Finding the Power” to learn how IABD has launched careers, kept dialogues going, and ensured the lineage of blacks in modern dance.


When Sarah Kaufman wrote a screed in The Washington Post last May attacking the dominance of Balanchine in ballet, she ruffled feathers. We wanted to go a little deeper, so we asked 12 key artistic directors and choreographers to voice their opinions. And opinions we did get—from wise to witty to wild. See “Are We Overdosing on Balanchine?” to read who says what.


With this issue we are starting a new technique section in “Teach-Learn Connection” called “Break Your Bad Habits.” Each one of us has them, and the sooner you address them, the better for your longevity. We will take it one body part at a time. You will hear from illustrious teachers, dancers, and physical therapists to help you fix that jutting chin or sickled foot.


Talking about longevity, we pay homage to three ballerinas with remarkable staying power: Julie Kent, Leanne Benjamin, and Larissa Ponomarenko. They are, each in their own way, miracles of artistry through time. In “Long May They Reign,” they tell how they got to be fabulous at 40 (more or less), and give us their body secrets, their regrets, and their best advice.