Clockwise from top left: Merce Cunningham, 1962; Agnes de Mille, 1980; Ruth St. Denis in White Jade, 1950.
In November, the dance world lost one of its most prolific photographers, Jack Mitchell (1925–2013), whose work helped chronicle an epoch in dance history. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Mitchell captured almost every major figure in the field, from ballet legends to downtown dancemakers, as well as tap dancers, b-boys and composers.
A longtime contributor to Dance Magazine, Mitchell’s work has filled our pages since the early 1950s. He photographed more than 160 covers; subjects included José Limón, George Balanchine, Merce Cunningham and Bob Fosse. And though he announced his retirement in 1996, he received a Dance Magazine Award in 2002 and remained on the magazine’s masthead until his death.
Mitchell also found great success outside of dance: His portraits for publications like The New York Times, Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair included John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Alfred Hitchcock and Meryl Streep. Today, the Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts in Florida is home to some of Mitchell’s most iconic work, including the images on these pages.
Clockwise from top left: Martha Graham in Alcestis, 1962; Paul Taylor in Aureole, 1979; Mikhail Baryshnikov rehearsing Taylor’s Aureole, 1993.
James Whiteside (Jayme Thornton for Dance Magazine)
Say you're perpetually impeccable designer Thom Browne. Say you're planning your Spring 2020 Paris menswear show along a "Versailles country club" theme. Say you want a world-class danseur to open the show with some kind of appropriately fabulous choreography.
Who do you call? James Whiteside, of course. On Saturday, the American Ballet Theatre principal—wearing pointe shoes and a glorious pinstriped tutu—kicked off Browne's presentation at the École des Beaux-Arts with a 15-minute, show-stealing solo. Whiteside choreographed the piece himself, with the help of detailed notes from the designer.
I'd been a professional dancer for five years when I realized the pain I'd been feeling in my hip and down my sciatic nerve was not going away. I had been treating it for two years as we dancers do—with regular visits to my masseuse, physical therapy, baths, ice and lots of Aleve—but I never stopped dancing. It finally dawned on me that if I kept going at the speed I was going (which was, well, speedy), the pain would only get more severe and unrelenting, and I might never dance again.
I told myself I'd take two months off, and all would be better.
That first morning when I woke up at 10 am, I had no idea what to do with myself. My life until that moment had been dictated by class and rehearsal, every hour accounted for. How should I fill the huge swath of time ahead of me?