There's a type of dance you've never heard of: It's called "classical ballet." The progenitors included Mathilde Kschessinska, Vaslav Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova. The art form passed through generations from Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev to Mikhail Baryshnikov. It continues in our own time—Misty Copeland!
It would be far-fetched, even absurd, to hear that in a lecture today! But that is how revelatory "The Choreography of Comedy: The Art of Eccentric Dance" was, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles on August 5.
The evening program rediscovered a once-flourishing, but critically undervalued dance genre with deep historic roots. Betsy Baytos, an eccentric-dance expert and leading connoisseur of the loose-limbed, rubbery, out-of-joint, prat-fallish, snake-hipped and peg-legged, hosted and curated.
Tunneling through the labyrinth of Prague's underground transport system, a subway car is packed full of dreamy-eyed commuters. Drifting between states of sleep and consciousness, the somber-clad workers perform a mechanical dance of nodding heads and drooping shoulders.
Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, who executes the same choreography as his fellow travelers, struggles to make a connection with a female passenger danced by Dajana Roncione (Yorke's partner in real life).
The opening images of the new short film Anima, now on Netflix, are playful yet dystopian, accompanied by a soundtrack of electro beats and Yorke's dronelike vocals that are sourced from three songs on his latest solo album of the same name. But there are no vain attempts to link the singer to his music by mouthing the words on camera. Instead, he portrays an unnamed protagonist in a loosely woven narrative performed through dance.
Inspired by silent cinema, Anima recalls an era when screen actors were strongly encouraged to hone their dance skills for stories told through the body.
If you missed The White Crow in theaters earlier this year, now's your chance to see it. The biopic, about Rudolf Nureyev's famed defection from the Soviet Union while on tour in the 1960s, is available starting tomorrow digitally and on DVD.
Jellicle obsessives, rejoice: There's a new video out that offers a (surprisingly substantive) look at the dancing that went down on the set of the new CATS movie.
Back when Robbie Fairchild graced the cover of the May 2018 issue of Dance Magazine, he mentioned an idea for a short dance film he was toying around with. That idea has now come to fruition: In This Life, starring Fairchild and directed by dance filmmaker Bat-Sheva Guez, is being screened at this year's Dance on Camera Festival.
While the film itself covers heavy material—specifically, how we deal with grief and loss—the making of it was anything but: "It was really weird to have so much fun filming a piece about grief!" Fairchild laughs. We caught up with him, Guez and Christopher Wheeldon (one of In This Life's five choreographers) to find out what went into creating the 11-minute short film.
Congratulations to the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team for their epic World Cup dominance! Now that the tournament is over and we're basking in all the patriotic feminist glory, we decided to do the only thing that made sense to us as soccer-obsessed dancers: Decide what kind of dancers the USWNT players would be if they made sudden and drastic career changes.
We've been watching their technique closely for weeks now, and have come up with what we're pretty sure is a definitive and highly accurate list:
Although the dance world has its fair share of divas, there is a different type of diva that's coming out of the dance studio.
"Diva" is the coined term for a female professional wrestler in the World Wrestling Entertainment organization. More than a few dancers—as well as gymnasts and cheerleaders—have taken their training and applied it to successful careers in this comical yet physically grueling art form.
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Rocketman is not your typical biopic. The film charts Elton John's rise to fame and the construction of his beloved, audacious persona in the only way that could be appropriate for the subject: via a splashy, fantastical movie musical bursting with over-the-top production numbers. We chatted with Adam Murray, the British choreographer who worked with director Dexter Fletcher and star Taron Egerton, to find out how they made the magic happen. As Murray puts it, "It was like being in the best sweets shop ever, with all of these creative geniuses."
Mumford & Sons' banjoist and lead guitarist Winston Marshall used to consider himself someone who "vaguely appreciated" dance. But then, about a year ago, he saw Yeman Brown improvise to Beyoncé's "Halo."
"My heart went into my throat and I was quite literally moved to tears," he says. "It stole my breath away. I didn't know dance could make you feel that way."
That moment—which occurred during a video shoot at choreographer Kristin Sudeikis' Forward Space in New York City—not only changed Marshall's relationship to dance, but his relationship to music, he says. It also inspired Mumford & Sons' newest video, "Woman," choreographed by Sudeikis and featuring Brown and dancer Stephanie Crousillat, and debuting here on dancemagazine.com:
When you're talking about a style as distinct as Fosse, a flick of the wrist or a roll of the hip is never just that. It takes intention, finesse, exactness and, of course, that characteristically smoldering sex appeal.
Now that the finale of "Fosse/Verdon" has aired, FX is taking viewers behind the scenes to reveal how the dancing came together—and it wasn't just a quick reconstruction.
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
Last summer, the FX television series "Pose" served us a debut season which, over eight episodes, grew from a splashy echo of the seminal vogueing documentary Paris Is Burning into an affecting portrait of one of the most marginalized, most vulnerable, most creative communities in New York City in the late 1980s.
"Life can be so rich and wonderful when we step off the logical path and embark on eccentric adventures."
For a sentiment that sounds like it belongs in a fortune cookie, you'd never expect that Steve Young is actually referencing a subset of offbeat, secret musicals: Shows about toilets and tractors and dog food and cars. Shows with big names, like Bob Fosse attached, and even bigger Broadway-style budgets. Shows that were never seen by the public.
These musicals are the subject of Bathtubs Over Broadway, the Tribeca Film Festival–winning documentary that begins streaming on Netflix today.
Last night's Met Gala featured, as always, oodles of celebs in deliciously over-the-top ensembles. And since editorial fashion always looks better in motion, Vogue (which hosts the bash) brought in Sherrie Silver to choreograph videos starring some of the gala's biggest names.
Silver—the mastermind behind Childish Gambino's "This Is America" video—kept the movement simple but 1000 percent in line with the gala's "camp" theme. The resulting videos are delightfully weird. Bette Midler does the swim to a Cher soundtrack! Lady Gaga swoons in a sculpture gallery! Jared Leto tenderly fondles a model of his own head!
Contemporary dance world darling Jonah Bokaer takes his work very seriously, and it shows. Highly focused on craft and unconstrained by the traditional definition of a choreographer, the former Cunningham dancer has developed dance apps, pioneered new relationships between visual art and dance, and worked with collaborators as illustrious as Pharrell Williams.
But fans of his heady, intellectual work may be surprised by a recent project that he calls one of the most rewarding of his life: Choreographing for Team USA ice dance pair Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter. Bokaer was introduced to the pair by the mother of one of his company's supporters, who just happens to be an Olympic ice skating judge.
We talked to Bokaer—who, true to form, takes his work for the ice incredibly seriously, too—about what it was like to go back to basics as a non-skater, and why he thinks skating is even more technical than ballet:
I caught a preview screening of The White Crow earlier this week at New York City's 92Y, and I have to say: Even with a solid grasp of dance history and a smattering of film studies knowledge, I had some questions when the credits rolled. The Ralph Fiennes–directed Rudolf Nureyev biopic dramatizes the events leading up to the ballet star's famous defection from the Soviet Union, touching on incidents from his childhood and his years at the Leningrad Choreographic School.
So before you check out the film (which has a limited release in NYC and Los Angeles today), here are a few details that might be helpful to know.
You can see them in "Fosse/Verdon" episode one. Michelle Williams, playing Gwen Verdon, wears them with a cool, retro, forest-green jumpsuit. Tucked beneath a mop top of tousled Gwen Verdon locks, Williams sports a pair of discreet and tasteful onyx drop-earrings—the dancer's favorites. Verdon wore them all her adult life, according to her daughter Nicole Fosse, a co-executive producer of the FX series that puts a spotlight on a great woman of American dance.
"I have very little memory of my mother wearing other earrings. They were her Gwen Verdon earrings," says Fosse, speaking by phone from her home in Vermont. "She's wearing them in 99 percent of the pictures of her performing."
Since the project was first announced toward the end of 2017, we've been extremely curious about Yuli. The film, based on Carlos Acosta's memoir No Way Home, promised as much dancing as biography, with Acosta appearing as himself and dance sequences featuring his eponymous Cuba-based company Acosta Danza. Add in filmmaking power couple Icíar Bollaín (director) and Paul Laverty (screenwriter), and you have a recipe for a dance film unlike anything else we've seen recently.
Choosing music for your first-ever choreography commission can feel daunting enough. But when you're asked to create a ballet using the vast discography of the Rolling Stones—and you happen to be dating Stones frontman Mick Jagger—the stakes are even higher.
So it's understandable that as of Monday, American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, whose Port Rouge will have its U.S. premiere tonight at the Youth America Grand Prix gala, was still torn about which songs to include.
A bright disposition with a dab of astringent charm is how I remember Brock Hayhoe, a National Ballet School of Canada schoolmate. Because we were a couple years apart, we barely brushed shoulders, except at the odd Toronto dance party where we could dance all night with mutual friends letting our inhibitions subside through the music. Dancing always allows a deeper look.
But, as my late great ballet teacher Pyotr Pestov told me when I interviewed him for Dance Magazine in 2009, "You never know what a flower is going to look like until it opens up."