A Dance Hall of Fame Launches in Los Angeles
With so much dance in pop culture these days—from TV shows like "Fosse/Verdon" and "Pose" to the resurgence of movie musicals to movement-rich music videos—it's not surprising that the entertainment industry has decided to tip its hat to dance.
This week, plans for a Los Angeles–based Dance Hall of Fame were announced.
The organization, helmed by Emmy-award winning director Louis J. Horvitz and Emmy-award winning choreographer Anita Mann, will recognize its inaugural Hall of Fame members at a live televised gala in fall 2020. (Given our ongoing lament that the Tonys doesn't air the presentation of its Best Choreography awards, we're delighted to hear that dance will be getting dedicated airtime. Finally!)
According to a press release, the Dance Hall of Fame will honor "dancers, choreographers, dance-related film directors, dance teams, dance visionaries and others who have made an indelible mark in the industry."
Though its founders are based in the entertainment industry, the honorees won't necessarily be limited to those who work in TV and film. The release states that the Dance Hall of Fame will "embrace and recognize all forms of dance, including ballet, hip-hop, tap, ballroom, jazz, contemporary, ensemble and solo dance for both stage and screen." The founders also confirmed that concert dance will be a consideration.
While we're certainly excited to see another platform celebrating dance, it's important to note that this isn't the first hall of fame for all genres of dance. The National Museum of Dance, based in Saratoga Springs, New York, houses its own Dance Hall of Fame, which has been recognizing past and present figures since 1987.
In addition to its awards gala, the L.A.-based Dance Hall of Fame has inherited a video archive from Kurt and Melinda Soderling. According to the organization, the Soderlings have provided thousands of hours of never-before-seen footage, including interviews and glimpses behind the scenes with legends and younger artists alike.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.