Season Preview: Your Guide to the Hottest Dance Tickets of 2018–19
We might have gotten a little bit carried away with this year's "Season Preview"—but with the 2018–19 season packing so many buzzy shows, how could we not? Here are over two dozen tours, premieres and revivals that have us drooling.
A Night of Natalia Osipova—With David Hallberg
David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova have a rare, extraordinary partnership. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT
Like chemical elements combusting, something extraordinary happens when David Hallberg and Natalia Osipova are combined. Dancing together, they push each other to new heights—they seem to get lost in one another, forgetting the audience in the best possible way. This fall will see the first duet created on the pair, choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. With his reputation for mining the hidden idiosyncrasies of his muses, he is likely to shed new light on this rare partnership.
Co-commissioned by Sadler's Wells and New York City Center, the duet is part of a program called Natalia Osipova—Pure Dance. The evening also includes Antony Tudor's The Leaves Are Fading, plus dancers Jonathan Goddard and Jason Kittelberger in works like Roy Assaf's Six Years Later and a premiere by Iván Pérez. In London Sept. 12–16 and New York April 4–7. sadlerswells.com and nycitycenter.org. —Jennifer Stahl
Mad Max Meets Ballet
The rock ballet FURY takes as its subject a post-apocalyptic action movie. Photo by Alex Reneff-Olson, Courtesy Duhamel
Action movies and ballet may not seem like a natural fit, but that's not stopping producer and filmmaker Kate Duhamel from creating FURY, a rock ballet inspired by the 2015 film Mad Max: Fury Road. FURY is an immersive experience, performed in music clubs, with audience members surrounding the stage. To bring this post-apocalyptic tale to life, Duhamel enlisted choreographer Danielle Rowe and eclectic musical group YASSOU. The musicians and some of the Bay Area's most exciting dancers—Alonzo King LINES Ballet's Adji Cissoko and Babatunji, and San Francisco Ballet's Dores André, Ulrik Birkkjaer, Frances Chung, Luke Ingham and Jennifer Stahl—portray characters fighting to survive. Projections of landscapes, explosions and more, designed by Luke Acret and animated by Brandon McFarland, ground audiences in FURY's dangerous, desolate world. In San Francisco Sept. 14 at The Chapel and Sept. 15 at The Midway. furyshow.com. —Chava Lansky
A Ted Shawn Rarity
Weinert's ensemble performs Ted Shawn's Dance of the Ages. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow
One of Ted Shawn's final works for The Men Dancers, Dance of the Ages (1938) hasn't been seen since the company disbanded in 1940—until now. This fall, Adam H. Weinert and Jacob's Pillow will take audiences back in time with a unique reconstruction in the original Bakalar Studio, incorporating historic production elements, including an authentic tea reception in the garden. But however accurate Weinert's recreation may be, his work is spun with a modern-day thread—the inclusion of black dancers onstage. Sept. 21–23. The piece will also be adapted for a Third Thursday festival in Pittsfield, MA, on Sept. 20. jacobspillow.org. —Jen Peters
Ballet Companies Branch Out
American Ballet Theatre's Erica Lall in Michelle Dorrance's Praedicere. Photo by Marty Sohl, Courtesy ABT
When Michelle Dorrance's pièce d'occasion hit American Ballet Theatre's gala this spring, a bolt of fresh air blew through the Metropolitan Opera House. With rhythm as the main event, the dancers looked like real people of the current millennium rather than rarities from the last one. The company will perform another world premiere by Dorrance Oct. 17.
ABT is not the only classical company reaching outside the ballet circle for new choreography this season. We're hotly anticipating premieres by MacArthur "genius" Kyle Abraham (Sept. 27) and commercial-dance darling Emma Portner (Jan. 31) for New York City Ballet; Gaga-inspired Andrea Miller at Pennsylvania Ballet (Nov. 8); and Broadway maestro Andy Blankenbuehler at Tulsa Ballet (May 9). abt.org, nycballet.com, paballet.org and tulsaballet.org. —Wendy Perron
Must-See Musical Theater
Photo courtesy The Prom
On Broadway: The Prom
Having deftly maneuvered the Mean Girls of North Shore High from screen to stage, Casey Nicholaw transfers to another school this season with The Prom. Featuring a number called "It's Time to Dance," and a zany plot that sends four Broadway egomaniacs storming into small-town Indiana to save a canceled prom, the show promises some high-powered hoofing and hilarity. A hit at Atlanta's Alliance Theatre in 2016, it begins previews on Broadway Oct. 23 at the Longacre Theatre. theprommusical.com. —Sylviane Gold
Oklahoma! at Bard SummerScape in 2015. Photo by Cory Weaver, Courtesy St. Ann's Warehouse
Seventy-five years after Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! first wowed Broadway audiences, director Daniel Fish strips the classic bare in an immersive production reimagined for the modern day. Focused on the darker roots of the plot, Oklahoma! features choreography by John Heginbotham for 10 dancers to a new, pared-down arrangement of the famous score. In a theater designed to look like an old-fashioned community hall, audience members and actors gather during intermission to share pots of chili. Opens Sept. 27 at St. Ann's Warehouse in Brooklyn. stannswarehouse.org. —CL
Michael Bennett's A Chorus Line. Photo by Herbert Migdoll, Courtesy DM Archives
A Chorus Line Takes City Center
Broadway's singular sensation is back. New York City Center presents seven performances of the beloved, poignant production that puts dancers and their stories center stage. From complicated family dynamics to sexual awakenings, the ensemble divulges the moments that define them—and all of us. Original co-choreographer Bob Avian will direct, and Baayork Lee, the first Connie, will choreograph after Michael Bennett's iconic moves. Oh, God, we need this show. Nov. 14–18. nycitycenter.org. —Madeline Schrock
A Graveyard Duet
T. Lang will perform her newest work in a community cemetery. Photo by Malika DeShon, Courtesy T. Lang
T. Lang Dance has a reputation for works that are revolutionary, yet deeply rooted in the historical context of American culture. True to form, choreographer T. Lang, in collaboration with Michelle Hite, is presenting a new site-specific work in response to the highly politicized tone of human rights in America today, drawing inspiration from issues like the closing of Planned Parenthood clinics, the attempted repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the proposed border wall. In the wake of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination, A Graveyard Duet of the Past Now explores life-affirming questions of compassion, togetherness and humanity against the backdrop of a community cemetery. Westobou Festival, Augusta, GA, Oct. 4. tlangdance.com. —Shate' L. Edwards
New Works From William Forsythe
William Forsythe may no longer have a company of his own, but he remains one of the busiest men in the dance world. Oct. 4–6 will see the premiere of A Quiet Evening of Dance at Sadler's Wells in London. Designed with seven long-time performers of his work, it will then tour internationally. Meanwhile, Boston Ballet, where Forsythe is in the middle of a five-year residency, is set to unveil a world premiere—his first creation for a U.S. company in over 25 years. It will be performed March 7–17 alongside Pas/Parts 2018 and the U.S. premiere of Blake Works I, created for the Paris Opéra Ballet. Boston will also get a taste of Forsythe's installations, a side passion of his, as the Institute of Contemporary Art hosts his Choreographic Objects, a series of environments, sculptures and films designed to stimulate interaction and movement, Oct. 31–Feb. 24. sadlerswells.com, bostonballet.org and icaboston.org. —Laura Cappelle
Peter DiMuro's dancers rehearse at the Gardner. Photo by Hai Dang Nguyen, Courtesy DiMuro
Peter DiMuro at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
More than 100 years after Ruth St. Denis performed at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, dance is still a part of Boston's venerable house of treasures. Peter DiMuro, the inaugural choreographer in residence and his company, Public Displays of Motion, along with community members, will present The House of Accumulated Beauties (soundscore by Beau Kenyon) Oct. 11–25. Dance-infused tours will take place in the galleries, and a different version will be shown in the new wing's Calderwood Hall on Oct. 18. gardnermuseum.org. —Iris Fanger
Sarah Michelson's Daylight (for Minneapolis) at the Walker. Photo by Gene Pittman, Courtesy Walker Art Center
Sarah Michelson at Walker Art Center
Sarah Michelson returns to the Walker Art Center with October /\ 2018, her fourth Walker commission and the latest in her new international cycle of works, which are inspired by her history with the places in which they're created. As always, she's keeping all intel under wraps, ensuring audiences come to the work—which will be, no doubt, fresh, electric, disruptive and surprising—with the fewest preconceptions possible. Oct. 19–21. walkerart.org. —Camille LeFevre
Silas Farley leads rehearsal at the Met Museum. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Metropolitan Museum of Art
Silas Farley at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
For his first major choreography commission, New York City Ballet dancer Silas Farley is exploring what it means to be in exile. The score intersperses traditional spirituals with songs composed by San Quentin State Prison inmates. Fellow NYCB dancers and Farley's wife, Cassia Farley, will perform Songs from the Spirit in three different galleries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. March 8–10. metmuseum.org. —JS
A Brazilian Spectacle From Deborah Colker
Deborah Colker's Cão Sem Plumas (Dog Without Feathers). Photo courtesy Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker
Melding the fearless derring-do of Elizabeth Streb with the primal theatricality of Pina Bausch, Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker builds imaginative worlds filled with physical challenges and architectural add-ons. Her Cão Sem Plumas (Dog Without Feathers) marks her first entirely Brazil-inspired work, using poetry of João Cabral de Melo Neto. The piece, like the poem, follows the Capibaribe River through dried riverbeds, drought-infested former farms and impoverished favelas. Combining video shot on cracked earth and muddy ponds with live dancers onstage, the work's harsh images reflect the unforgiving toll humans have taken on the once-verdant environment. Companhia de Dança Deborah Colker performs the work's U.S. premiere Oct. 13 in Pittsburgh, and in Washington, DC, Oct. 18–20. ciadeborahcolker.com.br. —Lisa Traiger
Akram Khan Heads Stateside
This season brings a triple sighting of the extraordinary London-based dance artist Akram Khan. Lincoln Center's White Light Festival will import Xenos, Khan's last full-length solo, Oct. 31–Nov. 1. In a devastatingly beautiful ode to those who fought in World War I, Khan conjures the mind of a shell-shocked Indian soldier. With his mesmerizing blend of kathak and postmodern fury, and with his knack for astonishing imagery, it's no surprise that the solo was called "riveting" and "epic" when it appeared at Sadler's Wells last spring. We'll get a second dose of Khan when English National Ballet brings his cinematic Giselle to the Harris Theater in Chicago, Feb. 28–March 2, marking ENB's first trip to the U.S. in more than 30 years. And when Dragon Spring Phoenix Rise comes to The Shed in New York City in 2019, with songs by Sia, the flying and floating will be choreographed by none other than Khan. lincolncenter.org, ballet.org.uk and theshed.org. —WP
8 Companies, 1 Balanchine Festival
Mariinsky Ballet in Balanchine's Apollo. Photo by Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre
After founding New York City Ballet alongside Lincoln Kirstein at New York City Center in 1948, George Balanchine (and NYCB) would call the theater home until their move to Lincoln Center in 1964. As part of its 75th-anniversary season, City Center will celebrate one of its most iconic choreographers with Balanchine: The City Center Years. An international cast of dancers from American Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet, The Royal Ballet and San Francisco Ballet will join NYCB for an event comprising six programs and 13 of the choreographer's most renowned works, like Serenade and Symphony in C. Oct. 31–Nov. 4. nycitycenter.org. —Marissa DeSantis
Embodying Indigenous Stories
Rosy Simas creates work through a Native feminist lens. Photo by Uche Iroegbu, Courtesy Intermedia Arts 2016
For Weave, Rosy Simas wraps the audience in a singular, shared experience of Indigenous sensibility by threading together rigorous movement, mesmerizing film and cascading quadraphonic sound. Simas (Seneca, Heron Clan) and her Native/Indigenous/POC collaborators have created the work from their experiences engaging with the local Native communities at the sites where it will be performed. The multidisciplinary experience, created through Simas' Native feminist lens, reflects the dynamic nature of each performance venue, the place's land and water, and the community. Premieres Jan. 12, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, St. Paul, MN. Subsequent performances: Allegany Seneca Territory in Salamanca, NY; Birmingham, AL; Washington, DC; Maui; Oahu and Philadelphia. rosysimas.com. —Camille LeFevre
The Bard's Mysterious Lovers
Nashville Ballet's Kayla Rowser. Photo by Chad Driver, Courtesy Nashville Ballet
The "Dark Lady" and the "Fair Youth" are the subjects of many of Shakespeare's sonnets—but what if, in reality, the two were a black woman and a young male lover? This controversial notion forms the thesis of Nashville poet Caroline Randall Williams' book Lucy Negro, Redux and Nashville Ballet's new contemporary ballet. With an original score written and performed live by Grammy Award winner Rhiannon Giddens, Attitude: Lucy Negro Redux explores Williams' premise in a nonlinear story centering on two present-day and three historical characters. Says choreographer and artistic director Paul Vasterling, "The story ultimately becomes about finding your own beauty and worthiness to be loved." Feb. 8–10. nashvilleballet.com. —Steve Sucato
Crystal Pite's Latest: Revisor
Even well-received productions of contemporary dance-theater can disappear after a handful of performances, never to be seen again. Not so for Betroffenheit, the 2015 collaboration between Crystal Pite's Kidd Pivot and director-playwright Jonathon Young, which toured extensively for three years, collecting awards as it went. They've reunited for Revisor, a new work for eight dancers who embody voiceovers recorded by celebrated actors—a conceit not dissimilar to that of Pite and Young's darkly political The Statement, created for Nederlands Dans Theater in 2016. Farce and wit will leaven the work's timely themes of duplicity and greed; early source material included The Government Inspector, Nikolai Gogol's 1836 play satirizing corruption in Imperial Russia. Premieres in Vancouver, Feb. 20–23, followed by tour engagements in Ottawa, Toronto, Chapel Hill, NC, and Montreal. kiddpivot.org. —Zachary Whittenburg
Cunningham at 100
Merce Cunningham's Quartet (1982). Photo by JoAnn Baker, Courtesy DM Archives
Merce Cunningham changed the way we make and watch dance by introducing chance procedures to choreography and shifting the focus from center stage to wherever the audience wished to look. To mark the centennial of his birth—April 16, 2019—a total of 100 dancers, 25 each in New York City, Los Angeles, London and Paris, will perform some of his seminal solos in Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event. It's the high point of more than a year's worth of worldwide events. More than two dozen ballet and modern companies will dance the iconoclastic choreographer's work in their seasons. Film screenings in NYC, L.A. and Barcelona, among others, highlight his penchant for experimenting with film and technology. Can't make it to one of the venues? Night of 100 Solos will be live-streamed. mercecunningham.org. —LT
Mats Ek Returns
Paris Opéra Ballet has drawn Mats Ek out of retirement. Photo by Ann Ray, Courtesy POB
Mats Ek's retirement didn't last long. In 2016, the Swedish choreographer announced that he would stop making new work and gradually withdraw his entire repertoire. Two years on, however, he is back, and not just with revivals: the Paris Opéra Ballet has convinced him to create two new pieces. One, Another Place, will be set to Liszt; the other is a new version of Ravel's Bolero. The double bill is a coup for POB director Aurélie Dupont, and renews Ek's longstanding association with the French company. It looks like the pull of the stage was just too strong, and fans who mourned Ek's departure will likely give him a hero's welcome. June 22–July 14. operadeparis.fr. —LC
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From the angles of your feet to the size of your head, it can sometimes seem like there is no part of a dancer's body that is not under scrutiny. It's easy to get obsessed when you are constantly in front of a mirror, trying to fit a mold.
Yet the traditional ideals seem to be exploding every day. "The days of carbon-copy dancers are over," says BalletX dancer Caili Quan. "Only when you're confident in your own body can you start truly working with what you have."
While the striving may never end, there can be unexpected benefits to what you may think of as your "imperfections."
It's the second week of Miami City Ballet School's Choreographic Intensive, and the students stand in a light-drenched studio watching as choreographer Durante Verzola sets a pas de trois. "Don't be afraid to look at the ceiling—look that high," Verzola shows one student as she holds an arabesque. "That gives so much more dimension to your dancing." Other students try the same movement from the sidelines.
When Arantxa Ochoa took over as MCB School's director of faculty and curriculum two years ago, she decided to add a second part to the summer intensive: five weeks focused on technique would be followed by a new two-week choreography session. The technique intensive is not a requirement, but students audition for both at the same time and many attend the two back-to-back.
On a summer afternoon at The Ailey School's studios, a group of students go through a sequence of Horton exercises, radiating concentration and strength as they tilt to one side, arms outstretched and leg parallel to the ground. Later, in a studio down the hall, a theater dance class rehearses a lively medley of Broadway show tunes. With giant smiles and bouncy energy, students run through steps to "The Nicest Kids in Town" from Hairspray.
"You gotta really scream!" teacher Judine Somerville calls out as they mime their excitement. "This is live theater!" They segue into the audition number from A Chorus Line, "I Hope I Get It," their expressions becoming purposeful and slightly nervous. "Center stage is wherever I am," Somerville tells them when the music stops, making them repeat the words back to her. "Take that wherever you go."
Dance artists, as a rule, are a resilient bunch. But working in a studio in New York City without heat or electricity in the middle of winter? That's not just crazy; it's unhealthy, and too much to ask of anyone.
Unfortunately, Brooklyn Studios for Dance hasn't had heat since mid-November, making it impossible for classes or performances to take place in the community-oriented center.
So what's a studio to do? Throw a massive dance party, of course.
A newly launched initiative hopes to change the face of ballet, both onstage and behind the scenes. Called "The Equity Project: Increasing the Presence of Blacks in Ballet," the three-year initiative, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is a partnership between Dance Theatre of Harlem, the International Association of Blacks in Dance and Dance/USA.
"We've seen huge amounts of change in the years since 1969, when Dance Theatre of Harlem was founded," says Virginia Johnson, artistic director of DTH. "But change is happening much too slowly, and it will continue to be too slow until we come to a little bit more of an awareness of what the underlying issues are and what needs to be done to address them."
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As winter sets in, your muscles may feel tighter than they did in warmer weather. You're not imagining it: Cold weather can cause muscles to lose heat and contract, resulting in a more limited range of motion and muscle soreness or stiffness.
But dancers need their muscles to be supple and fresh, no matter the weather outside. Here's how to maintain your mobility during the colder months so your dancing isn't affected:
From the outside, it seemed like the worst of New York City Ballet's problems were behind them last winter, when ballet master in chief Peter Martins retired amid accusations of abuse and sexual harassment, and an internal investigation did not substantiate those claims.
But further troubles were revealed in August when a scandal broke that led to dancer Chase Finlay's abrupt resignation and the firing of fellow principals Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro. All three were accused of "inappropriate communications" and violating "norms of conduct."
The artistic director sets the tone for a dance company and leads by example. But regardless of whether Martins, and George Balanchine before him, established a healthy organization, the issues at NYCB bespeak an industry-wide problem, says Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, founding artistic director of Urban Bush Women. "From New York City Ballet to emerging artists, we've just done what's been handed down," she observes. "That has not necessarily led to great practices."
If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at Dance Magazine, now's your chance to find out. Dance Magazine is seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about dance and journalism.
Through March 1, we are accepting applications for a summer intern to assist our staff onsite in New York City from June to August. The internship includes an hourly stipend and requires a minimum two-day-a-week commitment. (We do not provide assistance securing housing.)
For the past few months, the dance world has been holding its collective breath, waiting for New York City Ballet to announce who will take over the helm as artistic director.
Though former ballet master in chief Peter Martins retired over a year ago after accusations of sexual harassment and abuse (an internal investigation did not corroborate the accusations), the search for a new leader didn't begin until last May.
Nine months later, the new director's name could be released any day now. And we have some theories about who it might be:
Some people take this profession as just a chapter of their life. They feel like dance is a job—a fun job, but a job. Other people live their life through dance. I never considered being a ballerina a profession. It's a lifestyle.
If I don't have a performance, I feel like a tiger trapped in a cage. I have so many emotions, I feel I need to give them to somebody, to exhaust myself—I need to cry or laugh, or else it's suffocating. Other people might scream or throw bottles into the wall. We dancers scream onstage through our movement. For me, it's like sweeping off the dust in my soul.
Back in 2011, Yale University's dean of science was thinking about refreshing the program's offerings for non-majors when he happened upon a Pilobolus performance. A light bulb went off: Dance is full of physics.
That realization led to what has become an eight-year collaboration between particle physicist Sarah Demers and former New York City Ballet dancer Emily Coates, both professors at Yale who were brought together to co-teach a course called The Physics of Dance. Their partnership has involved everything from directing a short film to presenting a TedX Talk and performing a piece that Coates created, commissioned by Danspace Project. This month, they're publishing a book about what they've discovered by dialoging across two seemingly disparate disciplines.
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.
Though Polunin has long had a reputation for behaving inappropriately, in the last month his posts have been somewhat unhinged. In one, Polunin, who is Ukrainian, shows off his new tattoo of Vladimir Putin:
What's next for the dance world? Our annual list of the dancers, choreographers and companies that are on the verge of skyrocketing has a pretty excellent track record of answering that question.
Here they are: the 25 up-and-coming artists we believe represent the future of our field.
Just before retiring in 2015, Sylvie Guillem appeared on "HARDtalk with Zeinab Badawi," the BBC's hard-hitting interview program. Badawi told Guillem,
"Clement Crisp of the Financial Times, 14 years ago, described your dancing as vulgar."
"Yeah, well, he said that. But at the same time, when they asked Margot Fonteyn what she thought about lifting the leg like this she said, 'Well, if I could have done it, I would have done it.' "
They were discussing Guillem's signature stroke—her 180-degree leg extension à la seconde. Ballet legs had often flashed about in the higher zones between 135 and 160 degrees before. But it wasn't until the virtuoso French ballerina regularly
extended her leg beside her ear with immaculate poise in the 1980s that leg extensions for ballet dancers in classical roles reached their zenith. Traditionalists like Clement Crisp were not taken with it.
Birmingham Royal Ballet announced today that international star Carlos Acosta will be taking over as director in January of 2020. Current BRB director David Bintley will be stepping down this summer, at the end of the company's 2019 season, after a 24-year tenure. "It is a tremendous honor and privilege to have been appointed to lead Birmingham Royal Ballet," Acosta said in a statement.
Since retiring from The Royal Ballet in 2015, Acosta has focused much of his attention on his native Cuba, where he's proven his directorial abilities at the helm of Acosta Danza, the contemporary company that he founded in 2016. In 2017 Acosta also opened his first Dance Academy through his foundation, which provides free training to students. We don't yet know how Acosta will balance his time between his projects in Cuba and his new role at BRB.
My personal life has taken a nosedive since I broke up with my boyfriend. He's in the same show and is now dating one of my colleagues. It's heartbreaking to see them together, and I'm determined never to date a fellow dancer again. But it's challenging to find someone outside, as I practically live in the theater. Do you have any advice?
—Loveless, New York, NY
The inimitable Carol Channing, best known for her role as the titular Hello, Dolly!, passed away today at 97.
Though she became a three-time Tony winner, Channing was born in Seattle, far from the Great White Way, in 1921. After growing up in San Francisco, she attended the famed Bennington College, studying dance and drama. She later told the university, "What Bennington allows you to do is develop the thing you're going to do anyway, over everybody's dead body." For Channing, that meant decades of fiery, comical performances, bursting with energy.
Something's coming, I don't know when
But it's soon...maybe tonight?
Those iconic lyrics have basically been our #mood ever since we first heard a remake of the West Side Story film, directed by Steven Spielberg and choreographed by Justin Peck, was in the works. THE CASTING. THE CASTING WAS COMING.
Well, last night—after an extensive search process that focused on finding the best actors within the Puerto Rican/Latinx community—the WSS team finally revealed who'll be playing Maria, Anita, Bernardo, and Chino (joining Ansel Elgort, who was cast as Tony last fall). And you guys: It is a truly epic group.
Rehearsal is in full swing, and Leta Biasucci, Pacific Northwest Ballet's newest principal dancer, finds herself in unfamiliar territory. Biasucci is always game for a challenge, but choreographer Kyle Davis wants her to lift fellow dancer Clara Ruf Maldonado. Repeatedly. While she's known for her technical prowess, lifting another dancer off the floor is a bit daunting for Biasucci, who stands all of 5' 3". She eyes Maldonado skeptically, then breaks into a grin.
"It's absolutely given me a new appreciation for the partner standing behind me!" Biasucci says with a laugh.
Looking at Biasucci, 29, with her wide smile and eager curiosity, you think you see the quintessential extrovert. In reality, she's anything but. "I was an introverted kid," Biasucci says. "That's part of the reason I fell in love with dance—I didn't have to be talkative."
It's only one of the seeming contradictions in Biasucci's life: She's a short, muscular ballerina in a company known for its fleet of tall, long-legged women; she's also most comfortable with classical ballet, while taking on a growing repertoire of contemporary work.
Sergei Polunin, whose recent homophobic and sexist Instagram posts have sparked international outrage, will not be appearing with the Paris Opéra Ballet as previously announced.
POB artistic director Aurélie Dupont sent an internal email to company staff and dancers on Sunday, explaining that she did not share Polunin's values and that the Russian-based dancer would not be guesting with the company during the upcoming run of Rudolf Nureyev's Swan Lake in February.