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Hot Tips for What to See in the Cold Weather
Does the frigid weather make you want to curl up by the fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa? Resist! Go out and see some dance. This list is for those of you in northern climes, may it warm up your winter—artistically if not meteorologically.
Driscoll's Thank You For Coming: Play. PC Julieta Cervantes
• Faye Driscoll's Thank You for Coming: Play
A pack of wild-animal dancers act out multi-layered scenes that can puzzle or move you. Equal parts maniacal and moving. The audience is part of the plot. See her “Choreography in Focus” —our latest.
• Michelle Dorrance
Michelle Dorrance is as popular in Boston as she is in New York and at Jacob's Pillow. You can catch a glimpse of why in her "Choreography in Focus."
• Richard Move’s XXYY
The gloriously androgynous Richard Move shows a work-in-progress with theater artist Alba Clemente that explores the chromosomal combinations that produce gender identity. The program also celebrates 20 years of Move’s spot-on impersonation of Martha Graham. Co-presented by Jacob’s Pillow.
Albany and other cities
Ronald K. Brown bring his rich, spiritual blend of modern dance and West Africa on tour.
• Kyle Abraham
Abraham’s mercurial movement quality is beguiling whether or not the often-political content comes across. He talks so easily about his work, including race and gender, in this "Choreography in Focus."
Spectrum Dance Theater in The Minstrel Show. PC Nate Watters.
• Spectrum Dance Theater
Now is the time for political work, and Spectrum director Donald Byrd does not hold back. In his new work Shot, he confronts the growing incidents of police brutality against people of color. To see how tough Byrd is on his dancers, check out his "Choreography in Focus."
• Ragamala Dance Company
This contemporary company, trained in classical Indian dance, focuses on issues of environmental and social justice. The new work, Written in Water, has live music by Amir ElSaffar that utilizes Iraqi, jazz and Carnatic instruments.
• Boston Ballet in William Forsythe's Artifact
The only American company to produce the complete, convention-shattering Artifact (1984) with its go-for-broke dancing.
• Batsheva Dance Company
Batsheva Dance Company’s winter tour brings Ohad Naharin’s Last Work (no, its not his last work) to 11 cities in North America. (I will moderate a post-showing Q & A about the film Mr. Gaga at BAMcinématek on Jan. 30.)
Last Work by Ohad Naharin, photo by Gadi Dagon, courtesy BAM
• Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
The dancers continue to be smashing, and director Robert Battle has expanded the repertoire with bracing additions. John Inger's crazily inventive Walking Mad is something to behold. Christopher Wheeldon's After the Rain blankets the theater with a tender quietness. Kyle Abraham's Untitled America brings to the stage the painful issue of mass incarceration. And there is always the glorious Revelations.
• Wendy Whelan and Brian Brooks
In a new work titled Some of a Thousand Words, the brilliant ballet-to-modern Whelan and choreographer Brooks further explore their experiments in weight and weightlessness. The string quartet Brooklyn Rider plays live.
Brooks and Whelan, photo by Nir Arieli
• Martha Graham Dance Company
With world premieres by Annie-B Parson and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui plus chestnuts like Primitive Mysteries and Maple Leaf Rag. In this “Choreography in Focus,” Parson talks about working with the Graham dancers.
• Malpaso Dance Company
This Cuban company has heated up the Joyce and Jacob’s Pillow, and now they come to Chicago with a new work by Aszure Barton.
• Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host
This wonderfully funny yet rueful mix of radio smarts and dancer smarts is brought to you by radio host Ira Glass and his savvy dance pals Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass.
• Dirty Dancing Tour
This hit movie translates surprisingly well to the stage. And hey, what could be hotter than Johnny and Baby?
• KT Niehoff
Always questioning, Niehoff asks an astronaut, an athlete, a survivor of a near-death experience and a differently-abled person this question: “What is it like to be in your body?” Be ready to participate because this piece, which is titled Before We Flew Like Birds, We Flew Like Clouds, is an "audience activated installation." In her "Choreography in Focus" Niehoff talks about her aversion to proscenium performance.
It can be hard to focus when Alice Sheppard dances.
Her recent sold-out run of DESCENT at New York Live Arts, for instance, offered a constellation of stimulation. Onstage was a large architectural ramp with an assortment of peaks and planes. There was an intricate lighting and projection design. There was a musical score that unfolded like an epic poem. There was a live score too: the sounds of Sheppard and fellow dancer Laurel Lawson's bodies interacting with the surfaces beneath them.
And there were wheelchairs. But if you think the wheelchairs are the center of this work, you're missing something vital about what Sheppard creates.
What is the right flooring system for us?
So many choices, companies, claims, endorsements, and recommendations to consider. The more you look, the more confusing it gets. Here is what you need to do. Here is what you need to know to get the flooring system suited to your needs.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't possibly give you the amount of money you're asking for."
My heart sinks at my director's final response to my salary proposal. She insists it's not me or my work, there is just no money in the budget. My disappointment grows when handed the calendar for Grand Rapids Ballet's next season with five fewer weeks of work.
"It just...always looks better in my head."
While that might not be something any of us would want to hear from a choreographer, it's a brilliant introduction to "Off Kilter" and the odd, insecure character at its center, Milton Frank. The ballet mockumentary (think "The Office" or "Parks and Recreation," but with pointe shoes) follows Frank (dancer-turned-filmmaker Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla) as he comes back to the studio to try his hand at choreographing for the first time since a plagiarism scandal derailed his fledgling career back in the '90s.
We've been pretty excited about the series for a while, and now the wait is finally over. The first episode of the show, "The Denial," went live earlier today, and it's every bit as awkward, hilarious and relatable as we hoped.
When most people think of dance students, they imagine lithe children and teenagers waltzing around classrooms with their legs lifted to their ears. It doesn't often cross our minds that dance training can involve an older woman trying to build strength in her body to ward off balance issues, or a middle-aged man who didn't have the confidence to take a dance class as a boy for fear of bullying.
Anybody can begin to learn dance at any age. But it takes a particular type of teacher to share our art form with dancers who have few prospects beyond fun and fitness a few nights a week.
Travis Wall draws inspiration from dancers Tate McCrae, Timmy Blankenship and more.
One often-overlooked relationship that exists in dance is the relationship between choreographer and muse. Recently two-time Emmy Award Winner Travis Wall opened up about his experience working with dancers he considers to be his muses.
"My muses in choreography have evolved over the years," says Wall. "When I'm creating on Shaping Sound, our company members, my friends, are my muses. But at this current stage of my career, I'm definitely inspired by new, fresh talent."
Wall adds, "I'm so inspired by this new generation of dancers. Their teachers have done such incredible jobs, and I've seen these kids grown up. For many of them, I've had a hand in their exposure to choreography."
New York City–based dancers know Gibney. It's a performance venue, a dance company, a rehearsal space, an internship possibility—a Rubik's Cube of resources bundled into two sites at 280 and 890 Broadway. And in March of this year, Gibney (having officially dropped "Dance" from its name) announced a major expansion of its space and programming; it now operates a total of 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces across the two locations.
Six of those studios and one performance space are brand-new at the 280 Broadway location, along with several programs. EMERGE will commission new works by emerging choreographic voices for the resident Gibney Dance Company each year; Making Space+ is an extension of Gibney's Making Space commissioning and presenting program, focused on early-career artists. For the next three years, the Joyce Theater Foundation's artist residency programs will be run out of one of the new Gibney studios, helping to fill the gap left by the closing of the Joyce's DANY Studios in 2016.
Dancers crossing over into the fitness realm may be increasingly popular, but it was never part of French-born Julie Granger's plan. Though Granger grew up a serious ballet student, taking yoga classes on the side eventually led to a whole new career. Creating her own rules along the way, Granger shares how combining the skills she learned in ballet with certifications in yoga, barre and personal training allowed her to become her own boss (and a rising fitness influencer).
José Greco popularized Spanish dance in 1950s and '60s America through his work onstage and on screen. Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater's American Spanish Dance & Music Festival is honoring the icon in recognition of what would have been his 100th birthday. As part of the tribute, Greco's three dancing children are reuniting to perform together for the first time since their father's death in 2000. Also on the program is the premiere of contemporary flamenco choreographer Carlos Rodriguez's Mar de Fuego (Sea of Fire). June 15–17, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. ensembleespanol.org.
Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Christopher McDaniel and Crystal Serrano were working on Nacho Duato's Coming Together in rehearsal when McDaniel's foot hit a slippery spot on the marley. As they attempted a swinging lift, both dancers went tumbling, injuring Serrano as they fell. She ended up being out for a week with a badly bruised knee.
"I immediately felt, This is my fault," says McDaniel. "I broke my friend."
What's on the minds of college students today?
I recently had the honor of adjudicating at the American College Dance Association's National College Dance Festival, along with choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess and former National Endowment for the Arts dance specialist Douglas C. Sonntag. We chose three winners—one for Outstanding Choreography and two for Outstanding Performance—from 30 pieces representing schools throughout the country. It was a great opportunity to see what college dance students are up to—from the issues they care about to the kinds movement they're interested in exploring.
Here were the biggest trends and takeaways:
It's summer festival season! If you're feeling overwhelmed by the dizzying array of offerings, never fear: We've combed through the usual suspects to highlight the shows we most want to catch.
Subscription box services have quickly gained a dedicated following among the fashion and fitness set. And while we'd never say no to a box with new jewelry or workout wear to try, we've been waiting for the subscription model to make its way to the dance world.
Enter barre + bag, a new service that sends a curated set of items to your door each season. Created by Faye Morrow Bell and her daughter Tyler, a student in the pre-professional ballet program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, this just-launched service offers dance, lifestyle and wellness finds in four themed bags each year: Spring Performance, Summer Study, Back-to-Studio and Nutcracker. Since all the products are specifically made for dancers, everything barre + bag sends you is something you'll actually use, (Plus, it all comes in a bag instead of a box—because what dancer can ever have enough bags?).
barre + bag's Summer Collection