Curtain Up

April 23, 2012

Within 10 seconds of watching David Hallberg dance onstage, you can see that he has exquisite lines and amazing feet. Within 20 seconds, you’ll notice his noble demeanor. And within 30 seconds, you simply succumb to the thrill of his outsized dancing.

But it would take longer to see that Hallberg also has an outsized appetite for taking risks. As ballet lovers all over the world know by now, he has chosen to be the first American principal to dance with the Bolshoi. This bold move has made headlines, but lesser known is his curiosity about decidedly unballetic dance. I’ve spotted David in the audience at the Museum of Modern Art for a solo by Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. He’s also seen work by postmodern icon Yvonne Rainer and current downtown stars Sarah Michelson and Miguel Gutierrez. And he will be throwing himself into the work of post-Cunningham choreographer Jonah Bokaer (see “Young Inventor”) this summer at Jacob’s Pillow. David crosses the uptown/downtown line, which can be just as ironclad as the curtain that divided the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Read Joseph Carman’s “The Classicist Who Dared” to find out how David meets the steep challenges he sets himself.

For our first “Technique Issue,” we have three stories on different aspects of training. In “Ballet As Springboard,” Jen Peters interviews four dancers who, with professional ballet experience behind them, eventually found their way to other genres. In “The Somatics Infusion,” Nancy Wozny takes a look at the healthy trend of teachers bringing more body awareness into their technique classes. And in “Centerwork” three tap masters tell us how they approach teaching rhythm, clarity of sound, and style.

Back in the 1970s, I came to New York City because it was the place to dance. Although the dance world has exploded exponentially since then, New York still offers the most astonishing array of schools and companies to choose from. So what is it like to come here as a teenager? If you are just starting out, or know someone who is, we invite you to tune in to the reality web series “Dance 212.” Beginning May 21, the new season profiles promising students from the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre’s JKO school, Ailey/Fordham, Broadway Dance Center, and Professional Children’s School. Just go to

And while you’re on the web, check out my video series (go to “Choreography in Focus”), which takes an up close and spontaneous look at a different choreographer each month.


Chatting with choreographer Jessica Lang in this month’s “Choreography in Focus”