Curtain Up

November 19, 2008

This will be a holiday season
like no other. The financial markets’ meltdown has spurred a period of uncertainty that affects all of us. However, I like to think that dancers are somewhat insulated from financial disaster. We invest in our bodies. Our assets are our training, our capacity to work hard, and our heritage of great dancers and choreographers. Those assets do not evaporate, no matter what kind of roller coaster the stock market is on.


Despite the cloudy economic picture, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is celebrating its 50th anniversary in style. Read Robert Johnson’s “The Miracle Workers” to get his take on why the company has touched so many of us for so long. I didn’t know how excited I’d be to get my hands on the Revelations fan at our cover shoot. But when the photographer was done with Renee and Matthew and the gospel music was still on, I just couldn’t help playing with it—and with Renee and Matthew.


The Ailey anniversary cries out for a trip down memory lane, so I took the opportunity to chat with the great Carmen deLavallade, who knew Alvin before he took the plunge into dance. Listen to Carmen tell her story, “In the Beginning, There Was Alvin—and Carmen” (my title, not hers) and get a whiff of what the early days were really like. Her account of “roughing it” may be useful to many of you if arts funding dwindles.


Dancers love to vent
about how unfair critics are. But is fairness even a priority for critics? In our “Coping with Criticism” segment, read “Why Are They Saying What They Are Saying?” in which Joseph Carman investigates the principles and policies of six major dance critics. We also interviewed two dancers who are extremely honest about how criticism affects them. For a super treat, you won’t be able to put down “Knocked Sideways,” David Parker’s hilarious story about how one review turned him inside out. As funny as he is (in print as well as onstage), Parker’s ability to take a step back and look at the larger picture is something that might come in handy during these times.


Be sure to
check our website to see more! Watch video clips of Ailey premieres plus videos of more dancers talking about—you guessed it—criticism!