News

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

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

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.

Health & Body
Getty Images

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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Sponsored by NYCDA
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.

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:

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The Creative Process
Rehearsal of Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy Performa.

Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
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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