In The Studio

In the Studio: The DASH Ensemble Prepares for Jacob's Pillow

Photo by Kelsey Grills

As usual, the calendar at Jacob's Pillow this month is overflowing with exciting artists and events. Tomorrow evening, The DASH Ensemble, led by choreographer Gregory Dolbashian and composed of four electric dancers, will take to the Inside/Out stage to perform a semi-new work. Titled Ways to Handle, the piece originated last year during a residency at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center but has since evolved for the company's performance at the Pillow. Dolbashian says the work is inspired by "how people respond to the different facets of life: love, loss, determination."


We caught up with Dolbashian and his company before they left for the Pillow to get an inside look at their collaborative rehearsal process.

Every person in this company is such a natural mover. How much of the material given during rehearsal is taught and how much is task-based?

"Greg directs us in many formats and then he allows us to make a choice," says dancer Elena Valls. "He pushes us to be as three-dimensional and as expansive as possible."

"We work a lot with improvisation and then it will turn into movement invention, and then it will turn into something set," says dancer Lauren Santos.

Gregory Dolbashian with dancers Chris Ralph, Isaies Santamaria, Elena Valls and Lauren Santos. Photo by Kelsey Grills

The idea of giving and receiving between choreographer and dancer is so clear. How important is that in making the rehearsal flow smoothly?

"To have such wonderful people so ready and committed when they enter the space gives me the inspiration to commit myself to them and create a work that they can be proud of," says Dolbashian.

"We trust each other. We respect each other. There's no pressure or expectation when we come to rehearsal," says dancer Isaies Santamaria.

"I've been in many processes where we say it's a safe space but we know it's not," says dancer Chris Ralph. "I know when I come to this room with these people that it is. I feel safe to explore different ideas and be as silly or vulnerable as need be."

In Memoriam
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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Rauf "RubberlLegz" Yasit and Parvaneh Scharafali. Photo by Mohamed Sadek, courtesy The Shed

William Forsythe is bringing his multi-faceted genius to New York City in stripped down form. His "Quiet Evening of Dance," a mix of new and recycled work now at The Shed until October 25, is co-commissioned with Sadler's Wells in London (and a slew of European presenters).

As always, Forsythe's choreography is a layered experience, both kinetic and intellectual. This North American premiere prompted many thoughts, which I whittled down to seven.

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Courtesy NBC

"Law & Order: SVU" has dominated the crime show genre for 21 seasons with its famous "ripped from the headlines" strategy of taking plot inspiration from real-life crimes.

So viewers would be forgiven for assuming that the new storyline following the son of Mariska Hargitay's character into dance class originated in the news cycle. After all, the mainstream media widely covered the reaction to Lara Spencer's faux pas on "Good Morning America" in August, when she made fun of Prince George for taking ballet class.

But it turns out, the storyline was actually the idea of the 9-year-old actor, Ryan Buggle, who plays Hargitay's son. And he came up with it before Spencer ever giggled at the word ballet.

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Breaking Stereotypes
Getty Images

As a dietitian specializing in dance nutrition, the most common DM flooding my inbox is "How can I drop pounds (specifically from body fat) and gain muscle?"

The short answer? Not happening.

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