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Agora de la danse
October 6–9, 2010
Reviewed by Philip Szporer
Stamos' torso, Pinto's legs in Cloak. Photo by Julieta Cervantes, courtesy Agora de la danse.
George Stamos infuses Cloak with a smooth interdisciplinarity, working video, sound, music, movement, and voice into the mix. The theme of transformation permeates, inviting questions about hybridity and the fracturing of the self. It’s a stacked proposition that succeeds in fits and starts.
Earlier this year, the Montreal-based dancer/choreographer showed a preliminary version of the work at Baryshnikov Arts Center. Over time, the piece has evolved from a solo to a trio and now a well-suited duet, in which Stamos pairs beautifully with dancer extraordinaire Luciane Pinto.
The darkly lit Cloak opens with Stamos reading a scripted text, a kind of reflective inner monologue made public (he would have benefited from nuanced line readings). It then segues into a random, amusing conversation between Pinto (who has been munching carrots) and Stamos, his voice altered through a processor, allowing him to “morph” into different characters. Next, the duo flows through an interesting sequence of repeated, floor-based rolls with a clearly articulated, gentle, and pleasurable rhythmic quality, set to the live, recorded, and manipulated sounds of a sigh or a whack of the mic.
By turns whimsical and edgy, Stamos smartly addresses anonymity and the identity card in an episode where he dons about four layers of white head stockings. Using a simple marker, Pinto scribbles eye and smiley-mouth lines on the material. As the first mask is cast aside, another blank slate is revealed. Ultimately each layer is removed.
In an inventive use of video (by Dayna McLeod), either Pinto or Stamos stands behind a suspended screen, with only their legs showing—on one occasion, Pinto doing some pretty fierce ballet legwork. Each merges with projections of the other’s upper body, or at one point a metallic alien-appearing creature.
The problem with Cloak is its sketchiness. Ideas become diluted as the piece ensues. A section with the performers costumed in distorted black ninja bunny costumes comes and goes; the videos themselves lose their punch through repetition (a technical glitch the night I saw the performance is noted but didn’t alter my perspective); and Tomas Furey’s original electroacoustic score is a lulling wash of sound.
Stamos exploits a multi-tracked and fragmented structure, but his strongest material loses impact. He never fully flavors other sections, and, at least for now, masks his ambitions.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.