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5 Performances That Aren't The Nutcracker to Catch This December

RUBBERBANDance Group in Victor Quijada's Vraiment doucement. Photo by Mathieu Doyon, Courtesy Danse Danse

We love The Nutcracker as much as the next person, but that perennial holiday classic isn't the only thing making its way onstage this month. Here are five alternatives that piqued our editors' curiosity.


A Storm of Dancing

MONTREAL Victor Quijada's hypnotic style of gliding, floating urban dance has expanded into his largest work yet. Vraiment doucement, which premieres at Danse Danse Dec. 5–8, sends 10 dancers into a frenzy of pulling, pushing and tugging. The title means "really gently" (or "ever so slightly"), but the movement is not always gentle. The dancers of Quijada's company, RUBBERBANDance, can play rough with each other, and this piece gathers force as it goes. Those attending will find out why dramaturg Mathieu Leroux says, "Victor's brain is like a giant tornado." dansedanse.ca. —Wendy Perron

A Century of Dreams

MIAMI AND NEW YORK CITY In her 100-year sleep, what did Aurora dream? According to the creators of Sleeping Beauty Dreams, that century may have been more of a nightmare. In this multimedia vehicle for ballet star Diana Vishneva, real-time avatar-mapping projection technology will create a surreal, ever-morphing dreamscape, populated by choreography from Edward Clug and a cast that includes Marcelo Gomes and Nicholas Palmquist. But the work is more than mere spectacle, says Vishneva: "It's a story of facing your own dark side." Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Miami, Dec. 7–8. Beacon Theatre, New York City, Dec. 14–15. sbdart.com. —Courtney Escoyne

Spectre of Nijinsky

Jean-Christophe Maillot's Daphnis et Chloé. Photo by Angela Sterling, Courtesy Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo

MONACO Few dance artists have captured the popular imagination like Vaslav Nijinsky. Through his work with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, both as a leading dancer and precocious choreographer, the elusive star became indelibly associated with numerous ballets that shaped the art form in the 20th century. Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo presents a program of contemporary takes on a handful of these, from Johan Inger's Petrouchka and Jeroen Verbruggen's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (both premieres) to Jean-Christophe Maillot's Daphnis et Chloé and Marco Goecke's Le Spectre de la rose. Dec. 8–9. balletsdemontecarlo.com. —CE

Blood and Guts

Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy New York Live Arts

NEW YORK CITY Blood, screaming and the guts to make razor-sharp political commentary are all hallmarks of a Dancenoise performance. Lucy Sexton and Annie Iobst, that notorious duo who lit up the club scene in the '80s and '90s, bring their latest group work to New York Live Arts. Still (or again) uproariously transgressive, they will no doubt unleash their imagination on the entrenched sexism of the day. The blood, whether spurting or smeared, is fake, but the lampooning is real. Dec. 12–15. newyorklivearts.org. —WP

Down the Yellow Brick Road

Tabitha (left) and Napoleon D'umo. Photo courtesy Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo

PASADENA, CA Mix together characters from The Wizard of Oz, a smattering of recognizable names from "So You Think You Can Dance" and some holiday spirit, and you get the Lythgoe Family Panto's latest production. The Wonderful Winter of Oz features choreography by Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo and a dancing cast of "SYTYCD" alums led by "Dance Moms" star Mackenzie Ziegler, plus family-friendly musical theater shenanigans. Dec. 14–30. americanpanto.com. —CE

Health & Body
Gettty Images

It's a cycle familiar to many: First, a striking image of a lithe, impossibly fit dancer executing a gravity-defying développé catches your eye on Instagram. You pause your scrolling to marvel, over and over again, at her textbook physique.

Inevitably, you take a moment to consider your own body, in comparison. Doubt and negative self-talk first creep, and then flood, in. "I'll never look like that," the voice inside your head whispers. You continue scrolling, but the image has done its dirty work—a gnawing sensation has taken hold, continually reminding you that your own body is inferior, less-than, unworthy.

It's no stretch to say that social media has a huge effect on body image. For dancers—most of whom already have a laser-focus on their appearance—the images they see on Instagram can seem to exacerbate ever-present issues. "Social media is just another trigger," says Nadine Kaslow, a psychologist who works with the dancers of Atlanta Ballet. "And dancers don't need another trigger." In the age of Photoshop and filters, how can dancers keep body dysmorphia at bay?

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Dance on Broadway
Courtesy Boneau/Bryan-Brown

If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.

Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.

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What Dancers Eat
Lindsay Thomas

Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.

So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?

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News
Simon Soong, Courtesy DDT

When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.

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