Curtain Up

June 30, 2009

One of the sweet paradoxes about Janie Taylor is that her dancing is both old and new. She has the whiff of mystery of a truly romantic ballerina as well as the physical fearlessness of a totally contemporary dancer. No wonder she has been a muse to Peter Martins for many of his ballets! But she has been dropping in and out of casting the last three years, due to a confounding medical problem. During the cover shoot, I asked Janie if she identified with Tanaquil Le Clercq, the original fatal figure in Balanchine’s La Valse who later tragically contracted polio. Very quietly, she said, “I’ve had my share of …” Read Astrida Woods’ “Ballerina, Interrupted,” to find out about Janie’s harrowing medical tale—which she has come through magnificently. Her sublime performances onstage now seem even more miraculous.

On a practical note, it may sound like fun to get a job on a cruise ship or an amusement park, but what is it really like? The first part of the attraction—getting a steady paycheck—is undeniably fun. Plus, you get to visit all those exotic places. But there are drawbacks you might not be prepared for. Dancer Sarah Carlson has done plenty of cruise ship gigs, and her story “Are Fun Jobs Really Fun?” will give you a realistic view. Like any other job, you just have to know what you’re getting into.

And talking about amusement, how do serious modern dance choreographers amuse themselves? David Parker’s answer is to go back to his childhood love of musicals à la Gene Kelly and Gwen Verdon. We all have guilty pleasures, but not all of us have figured out a way to bring them into our art. If you’ve read David Parker’s previous two stories in Dance Magazine—the first on nudity in choreography in November 2006, and the second on braving criticism last December—you know that reading anything by David Parker is a guilty pleasure in itself.

We did something unusual with “Reviews” this month. Instead of printing a single review of Merce Cunningham, we have two radically different points of view. Reading our longtime critics Eva Yaa Asantewaa and Gus Solomons jr is a reminder of how completely subjective reviewing is. Have a third point of view? Send me an e-mail.


Photo by Matthew Karas.