Curtain Up

September 28, 2008

I’ve been totally charmed
by Christopher Wheeldon since he’s been choreographing up a storm for New York City Ballet and other companies. Not only is he putting a contemporary face on ballet, but his ballets are revelatory in quiet ways. Offstage, he’s a guy who can be fun and self-effacing in the wittiest way. During the photo shoot, we were treated to a series of sprightly imitations of various dance deities. Christopher kept us in stitches as he struck a Margot Fonteyn pose and went on to Frederick Ashton and Merce Cunningham. As much as he can cut up, he is dead serious about Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, which debuted last season to mixed reviews. It’s got to be a challenge for a choreographer who is fantastically prolific to morph into an artistic director who has to find the right balance to program an evening. Read Astrida Woods’ “MetaMorphoses” to find out how Wheeldon is dealing with the sometimes harsh criticism aimed at him, and the ways he keeps challenging his dancers to go beyond themselves.

No matter how modern ballet gets,
tutus will never go out of style. Whether romantic or classical, or whether the role is a swan or a slave girl, dancers get attached to their favorites. In “One True Tutu,” we asked eight ballerinas to tell us about the tutus they love and why.

Far from tutuland
we find Shani Collins, who brings an earthy spirituality to the work of Ronald K. Brown’s Evidence, A Dance Company. Lately she has been developing another side of herself, using dance to give workshops that empower black women. In “Woman Warrior,” Eva Yaa Asantewaa traces Collins’ background to show how she has become the strong dancer and woman she is.

One of the liveliest
dance scenes in North America is in Montréal. This international city is bursting with dance artists. There are contemporary companies like Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and La La La Human Steps as well as charismatic figures like Margie Gillis, Louise Lecavalier, and Victor Quijada. Read “Across the Other Border,” Philip Szporer’s account of the ingredients that make this such a happening city.