Jayme Thornton (2)

Congrats to the Dance Magazine Harkness Promise Awardees

All net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony go towards the Harkness Promise Awards, which grant $5,000 and 40 hours of studio space to innovative young choreographers. This year's awardees are Bobbi Jene Smith and Caleb Teicher.


Bobbi Jene Smith

Bobbi Jene Smith never held anything back onstage as a dancer, and today she brings the same approach to choreography. Her visceral, full-bodied and uncompromisingly honest approach to choreography was powerfully evident in her recent, deeply moving evening-length work Lost Mountain, presented by the La Mama Moves! Festival. The award-winning documentary Bobbi Jene captured the trajectory of her departure from a longtime association with Ohad Naharin's Batsheva Dance Company to create her own work. An alumna of the Juilliard School, University of North Carolina School of the Arts and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, she has also performed in and choreographed for feature films like Annihilation, Ma, Mari and Yossi. Smith is a dedicated teacher of Gaga and Naharin's repertory at the Juilliard School, New York University, University of the Arts and schools abroad.

Caleb Teicher

Caleb Teicher has a knack for taking historically American dance styles like tap, Lindy hop and vernacular jazz in intriguingly 21st-century directions: He blurs traditional gender boundaries, experiments with narrative and rhythm, and takes on unexpected collaborations—all while never losing his signature sense of unaffected charm. Teicher began his career with Dorrance Dance, and founded Caleb Teicher & Company in 2015. The Joyce Theater, New York City Center, Works & Process at The Guggenheim and The Kennedy Center have presented his distinctive choreography, known for its inventive, humorous flair.

To purchase tickets to the Dance Magazine Awards or become a sponsor, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

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Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

How Do Choreographers Bring Something Fresh to Music We've Heard Over and Over?

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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