News

News of Note: What You May Have Missed in August 2019

ODC/Dance's Mia J. Chong is one of the recipients of this year's Princess Grace Awards for Dance. Photo by RJ Muna, Courtesy Mona Baroudi PR

Here are the latest promotions, appointments and transfers, plus notable awards and accomplishments from the last month.


Comings & Goings

At The Royal Ballet, Anna Rose O'Sullivan and Luca Acri have been promoted to first soloist, Romany Pajdak, Isabella Gasparini, Tomas Mock and David Yudes to soloist. Gary Avis and Samantha Raine have been appointed senior ballet master and mistress, respectively.

Luke Schaufuss has joined Sarasota Ballet as a principal.

Taryn Kaschock Russell has been appointed director of Harkness Dance Center at 92Y.

Brian McSween has been appointed artistic director of Chattanooga Ballet.

Rory Hohenstein and Veronika Part have been appointed ballet masters at Atlanta Ballet.

Christine Chen has been appointed executive director at STREB.

Luca Sbrizzi will retire from Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre this season. His final performance will be in October.

Maggie Small and Fernando Sabino will retire from Richmond Ballet this season. Small's final performance will be in September, Sabino's in May.

A white woman with dark brown hair smiles at the camera as she rests one hand on a wooden ballet barre. She is wearing bright blue slacks, a pale blue button down, and her hair is loose around her shoulders.

Viviana Durante

Chris McAndrew, Courtesy The Corner Shop PR

Viviana Durante has been appointed director of dance at English National Ballet School for 2019–20.

Awards & Honors

2019 Princess Grace Awards for dance went to Jared Brown (The Juilliard School), Mia J. Chong (ODC/Dance), Stanley Glover (BalletX), Roman Mejia (New York City Ballet) and Byron Tittle (Dorrance Dance). Choreography fellowships went to Rena Butler (Hubbard Street Dance Chicago) and Randy Reyes (CounterPulse). Tommie-Waheed Evans (Lula Washington Dance Theatre) received an honoraria. Kyle Abraham received a special project grant, Raja Feather Kelly a works in progress residency award and Camille A. Brown a choreography mentorship co-commission award.

Ahead of the October 14 awards ceremony, the NY Dance and Performance Awards (the "Bessies") have announced that Joan Myers Brown will receive the 2019 Bessie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance, Louis Mofsie the 2019 Bessie Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.

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Rachel Papo

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.

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Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

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.

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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."

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Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"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.

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