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Dance Magazine Award Spotlight: Philip Glass

From Jerome Robbins to Lucinda Childs to Doug Elkins to Jirí Kylián, it's not easy to name a choreographer who hasn't taken on one of Philip Glass' propulsive scores. Dance Magazine is honoring the prolific composer on December 9 with a 2013 Dance Magazine Award*; other awardees are Mats Ek, Martha Clarke, Patricia Wilde and Yuan Yuan Tan. Glass will be the first composer since Aaron Copeland (in 1979) to receive this award.

 

Einstein on the Beach, Glass' 1976 collaboration with Andy DeGroat, Lucinda Childs and director Robert Wilson, was one of the first operas that put Glass on the radar of other choreographers. The epic, 5-hour work continues to be remounted at various venues worldwide; it was most recently performed by the LA Opera in October. Take a look at this video to watch a conversation between Childs and Glass (moderated by Mark Swed) at University of California–Berkeley. Here's an excerpt of the piece, performed in Mexico City:

 

 

 


Houston Ballet in Tharp's In the Upper Room
Photo by Amitava Sarkar

 

Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room (1986) is a classic Glass ballet with true staying power. Miami City Ballet's Jennifer Kronenberg described performing it in 2009: "It was tough to get at it and through it—like learning to take a deep breath and relax in the middle of a storm." Here is a glimpse of Miami City Ballet performing In the Upper Room:

 

 

 


Muriel Maffre and Pierre-François Vilanoba in Robbin's Glass Pieces
Photo by Erik Tomasson

 

One of my favorite dance pieces set to Glass is Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces (1983). In the video (below) from 2010, you'll see clips of Pacific Northwest Ballet rehearsing the work. And for some performance footage, click here to watch New York City Ballet's video, which features Georgina Pazcoguin and Adrian Danchig-Waring discussing it.

 

 

 

Most recently, Glass created a new piece just this year for the Memphis jooker Lil Buck. Staged by Damiam Woetzel, the work premiered at NYC's Le Poisson Rouge in April, accompanied by cellist Yo Yo Ma. On Monday December 9, Woetzel will present the Dance Magazine Award to Glass.

 

*The awards ceremony at The Ailey Citigroup Theater in NYC is open to the public with a reception immediately following. Tickets are available for $50; contact Ashley Mathus at 212-979-4872 or dmawards@dancemedia.com.

The Conversation
Dance in Pop Culture
The new ballet shoe emoji will be released later this year. Image via Emojipedia.

Imagine this scenario: You get a text from a friend just as you're heading into ballet class, and have to answer as quickly as possible. Now, if you were heading into a juggling class, or water polo match, or fencing practice, you'd be able to send a quick emoji in response. But alas, you're forced to type out a full sentence. Because, to the ballet world's collective frustration, There. Is. No. Ballet. Emoji. Until now...

According to Emojipedia, the site for all things emoji-related, a ballet shoe emoji is slated to come out later this year (the exact date hasn't been announced yet) as part of Emoji Version 12.0. The proposal came from Australia-based tech company manager and ballet fan Rüdiger Landmann. Landmann proposed three separate ballet emojis: a ballerina, a male ballet dancer and a pair of pointe shoes. Only the pointe shoe emoji was approved, and we'll be honest, it doesn't look like any pointe shoe we've ever seen. It's more like a pink loafer with ribbons attached. But we're trying not to complain, as this is definitely a (wobbly, given the shape of that shoe) step in the right direction.

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News
Rennie Harris Puremovement. Photo by Christopher Duggan

You might still be thinking wistfully of the figure skating choreography at the 2018 Winter Olympics or already looking forward to the gymnastics competition at next summer's games, but we're officially marking our calendars for Paris 2024. Why? There's an excellent chance that break dancing will make its Olympic debut.

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Andy Toad, courtesy Kelly

For choreographer Raja Feather Kelly, music is simple: "There's good music and there's bad music and I love good music and I love to hate bad music."

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Though the playlist has some whiplash-inducing twists and turns—from Coheed and Cambria to Carly Rae Jepsen to Missy Elliott to Schubert—there is a through-line: "Music that makes you feel like you're in your own movie. I love walking through the street feeling like I'm on a runway, living my best life."

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Getty Images

Every dancer's nutrition goals are different. Maybe you're trying to go vegan, or maybe you want to cook your own dinner more often. No matter what your personal objectives are—or whether you work with a dietitian—there are all kinds of apps that can help you make smart decisions at the tap of a button.

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The lack of female leaders in ballet is an old conversation. But a just-launched website, called the Dance Data Project, has brought something new to the discussion: actual numbers, not just anecdotal evidence.

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Chris (in red) and her dancers. Source: Instagram

Whether she's performing on stage, in music videos, or on television, French electro-pop sensation Chris (formerly known as Christine and the Queens) never seems to stop moving.

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Building a full-length ballet from scratch is an intense process. For the world premiere of Anna Karenina, a collaboration between The Joffrey Ballet and The Australian Ballet, that meant original choreography by Yuri Possokhov, a brand-new score by Ilya Demutsky, costume and set designs by Tom Pye and lighting designs by David Finn.

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Hala Shah in a workshop performance of Calling: a dance with faith. Photo by Idris Ademola, Courtesy Shah.

Growing up, I never saw a problem with my dancing and neither did my Muslim-Egyptian dad or my non-Muslim, American mom. They raised me to understand that the core principles of Islam, of any religion, are meant to help us be better people. When I married my Pakistani husband, who comes from a more conservative approach to Islam, I suddenly encountered perceptions of dance that made me question everything: Is it okay to expose a lot of skin? Is it wrong to dance with other men? Is dance inherently sexual? What guidelines come from our holy book, the Quran, and what are cultural views that have become entwined in Islam?

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Health & Body

When Thomas Forster isn't in the gym doing his own workout, he's often coaching his colleagues.

Two years ago, the American Ballet Theatre soloist got a personal training certification from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Now he trains fellow ABT members and teaches the ABT Studio Company a strength and conditioning class alongside fellow ABT soloist Roman Zhurbin.

He shared five of his top tips for getting into top shape.

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Just for Fun
Glenn Allen Sims and Linda Celeste Sims (here in Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain) are couple goals both onstage and off. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

No matter how much anti–Valentine's Day sentiment I'm feeling in a given year, there's something about dancer couples that still makes me swoon. Here's a collection of wonderful posts from this year, but be warned: Continued scrolling is likely to give you a severe case of the warm fuzzies.

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The Creative Process
Rennie Harris leads a rehearsal of Lazarus. Photo by Kyle Froman

When Rennie Harris first heard that Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater had tapped him to create a new hour-long work, and to become the company's first artist in residence, he laughed.

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Dance Training
Kelly Russo/Unsplash

Lately I've been having recurring dreams: I'm in an audition and I can't remember the combination. Or, I'm rehearsing for an upcoming show, onstage, and I don't know what comes next. Each time I wake up relieved that it was only a dream.

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Career Advice
Umi Akiyoshi Photography, Courtesy Sidra Bell Dance New York

Sebastian Abarbanell remembers being asked as an undergrad at Trinity Laban in London to perform wearing only a dance belt. "I said no," he says, "because I felt uncomfortable." Now a performer with Sidra Bell Dance New York, he's performed partially nude several times, without reservation. The difference? "It comes with more experience and maturing as a dancer," he says. "When you see a dancer living in their skin, you don't need to put anything else on them. When I said no in college, I wasn't in my skin yet."

Getting in your skin—and getting comfortable wearing only your skin onstage—requires a particular alchemy of vulnerability, agency, preparation and practice.

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Rant & Rave
Social media validates extremes over clean, solid technique. Photo by David Hofmann/Unsplash

The entrancing power of Instagram can't be denied. I've lost hours of my life scrolling the platform looking at other people documenting theirs. What starts as a "quick" fill-the-moment check-in can easily lead to a good 10-15 minute session, especially if I enter the nebulous realm of "suggested videos."

My algorithm usually shows me professional ballet dancers in performances, rehearsals, class, backstage and on tour, which I quite enjoy. But there are the other dance feeds that I find myself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by: the hyper-elastic, hyper-extended, gumby-footed girls always at the barre doing developpés to six o'clock. There are the multiple turners, the avid stretchers and we can't forget the endless balancers.

This parade of tricksters always makes me wonder, What else can they do? Can they actually dance?

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Advice for Dancers
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I've been struggling with a staph infection after an FHL repair for tendonitis. It took several months to treat the infection, and it's left me with pain and stiffness. Will this ever go away?

—JR, Hoboken, NJ

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Dance on Broadway
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Courtesy Siberian Swan

As ballet's gender roles grow increasingly blurred, more men than ever are reaching new heights: the tips of their toes.

It's no longer just Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo and the few pointe-clad male character parts, like in Cinderella or Alexei Ratmansky's The Bright Stream. Some male dancers are starting to experiment with pointe shoes to strengthen their feet or expand their artistic possibilities. Michelle Dorrance even challenged the men in her cast at American Ballet Theatre to perform on pointe last season (although only Tyler Maloney ended up actually doing it onstage).

The one problem? Pointe shoes have traditionally only been designed for women. Until now.

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Rant & Rave
Via Facebook

Camille Sturdivant, a former member of the Blue Valley Northwest High School dance team is suing the school district, alleging that she was barred from performing in a dance because her skin was "too dark."

The suit states that during Sturdivant's senior year, the Dazzlers' choreographer, Kevin Murakami, would not allow her to perform in a contemporary dance because he said her skin would clash with the costumes, and that she would steal focus from the other dancers because of her skin color.

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Health & Body
Unsplash

You wander through the grocery aisles, sizing up the newest trends on the shelves. Although you're eager to try a new energy bar, you question a strange ingredient and decide to leave it behind. Your afternoons are consumed with research as you sort through endless stories about "detox" miracles.

What started as an innocent attempt to eat healthier has turned into a time-consuming ritual with little room for error, and an underlying fear surrounding your food choices.

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