Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Jamar Roberts. Photo by Andrew Eccles, Courtesy Ailey

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

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


Comings & Goings

Tigran Mkrtchyan has joined Boston Ballet as a soloist, Chisako Oga as a second soloist.

At English National Ballet, Aitor Arrieta, Katja Khaniukova and Ken Saruhashi have been promoted to first soloist, Julia Conway, Daniel McCormick, Erik Woolhouse and Stina Quagebeur to first artist. Quagebeur has also been named associate choreographer.

At Hamburg Ballet, Madoka Sugai and Jacopo Bellussi have been promoted to principal, Florian Pohl and Lizhong Wang to soloist.

At Milwaukee Ballet, Randy Crespo has been promoted to leading artist.

Emily Molnar has been named artistic director of Nederlands Dans Theater, effective August 2020.

Chanon Judson-Johnson and Samantha Speis have been named co-artistic directors of the Urban Bush Women Company. Jawole Willa Jo Zollar remains chief visioning officer and artistic director of the overall UBW organization.

Chanon Judson-Johnson

Hayim Heron, Courtesy Urban Bush Women

Jamar Roberts has been named resident choreographer at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Gia Kourlas has been named dance critic at The New York Times.

Awards & Honors

Donald Byrd and Michelle Ellsworth have been named 2019 Doris Duke Artists, which comes with a $275,000 award.

Alastair Macaulay and Kim Brandstrup have been named 2019–20 Director's Fellows at New York University's Center for Ballet and the Arts.

Ahead of its October 14 award ceremony, NY Dance and Performance Awards ("Bessies") have been awarded to Alice Sheppard (2019 Juried Bessie Award) and Daina Ashbee (2019 Outstanding Breakout Choreographer Award).

Alice Sheppard

Beverlie Lord, Courtesy Sheppard


New England Foundation for the Arts has awarded National Dance Project Production grants ($45,000 for creation of new work, $10,000 unrestricted) to Ananya Dance Theatre, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, BODYTRAFFIC, Caleb Teicher, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, Christopher K. Morgan & Artists, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, DANCE iQUAIL!, GERALDCASELDANCE, KM Dance Project, Nichole Canuso Dance Company, PHILADANCO, Pioneer Winter Collective, Ragamala Dance Company, Raja Feather Kelly | the feath3r theory, RGWW (Rosanna Gamson/World Wide), Sara Juli, Step Afrika!, The Era Footwork Crew and Vanessa Sanchez.

Ayodele Casel has been named a 2019–20 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Kenny Ortega received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Latest Posts


Courtesy Harlequin

What Does It Take to Make a Safe Outdoor Stage for Dance?

Warmer weather is just around the corner, and with it comes a light at the end of a hibernation tunnel for many dance organizations: a chance to perform again. While social distancing and mask-wearing remain essential to gathering safely, the great outdoors has become an often-preferred performance venue.

But, of course, nature likes to throw its curveballs. What does it take to successfully pull off an alfresco show?

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Dwight Rhodens "Ave Maria," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Keeping dancers safe outside requires the same intentional flooring as you have in the studio—but it also needs to be hearty enough to withstand the weather. With so many factors to consider, two ballet companies consulted with Harlequin Floors to find the perfect floor for their unique circumstances.

Last fall, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invested in a mobile stage that allowed the dancers to perform live for socially distanced audiences. "But we didn't have an outdoor resilient floor, so we quickly realized that if we had any rain, we were going to be in big trouble—it would have rotted," says artistic director Susan Jaffe.

The company purchased the lightweight, waterproof Harlequin's AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and the heavy-duty Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl, which is manufactured with BioCote® Antimicrobial Protection to help with the prevention of bacteria and mold. After an indoor test run while filming Nutcracker ("It felt exactly like our regular floor," says Jaffe), the company will debut the new setup this May in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park during a two-week series of performances shared with other local arts organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air Series last fall. The company plans to roll out their new Harlequin AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl floor for more outdoor performances this spring.

Harris Ferris, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

In addition to the possibility of rain, a range of temperatures also has to be taken into account. When the State Ballet of Rhode Island received a grant from the state to upgrade its 15-year-old stage, executive director Ana Fox chose the Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in the lighter gray color "so that it would be cooler if it's reflecting sunlight during daytime performances," she says.

However, for the civic ballet company's first performance on its new 24-by-48–foot stage on November 22, heat was less of a concern than the Northeastern cold. Fortunately, Fox says the surface never got icy or too stiff. "It felt warm to the feel," she says. "You could see the dancers didn't hesitate to run or step into arabesque." (The Harlequin Cascade floor is known for providing a good grip.)

"To have a safe floor for dancers not to worry about shin splints or something of that nature, that's everything," she says. "The dancers have to feel secure."

State Ballet of Rhode Island first rolled out their new Harlequin Cascade™ flooring for an outdoor performance last November.

Courtesy of Harlequin

Of course, the elements need to be considered even when dancers aren't actively performing. Although Harlequin's AeroDeck is waterproof, both PBT and SBRI have tarps to cover their stages to keep any water out. SBRI also does damp mopping before performances to get pollen off the surface. Additionally, the company is building a shed to safely store the floor long-term when it's not in use. "Of course, it's heavy, but laying down the floor and putting it away was not an issue at all," says Fox, adding that both were easy to accomplish with a crew of four people.

Since the Harlequin Cascade surface is versatile enough to support a wide range of dance styles—and even opera and theater sets—both PBT and SBRI are partnering with other local arts organizations to put their outdoor stages to use as much as possible. Because audiences are hungry for art right now.

"In September, I made our outdoor performance shorter so we wouldn't have to worry about intermission or bathrooms, but when it was over, they just sat there," says Jaffe, with a laugh. "People were so grateful and so happy to see us perform. We just got an overwhelming response of love and gratitude."

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Susan Jaffes "Carmina Terra," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

February 2021