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Injured? Sick? Pregnant? Here's How to Tell Your Director.
In 2013, a few days before The Bang Group left for a tour to Italy, a dancer pulled out of the company's production of Nut/Cracked. The reason? A callback for another gig. "We were left high and dry. We somehow pulled it off, but it wasn't the show I hoped it would be," says David Parker, the company's choreographer and co-director. The debacle didn't just affect that tour—it ended a professional and personal relationship of 10 years.
The Bang Group, PC Ian Douglas
Dancers are often faced with tough decisions about when to tell choreographers or directors personal news about illness, injury, pregnancy or even schedule conflicts. Many dancers fear that being honest could lead to being let go, but withholding information could burn a bridge. Strike the right balance with these tips.
Parker was especially hurt to find out that the dancer who pulled out of Nut/Cracked had known about the callback for days before informing him. If the dancer had come to him sooner, the situation might not have been so devastating. "I wouldn't have been thrilled, but at least I would have felt included," he says.
Nut/Cracked, PC Yi Chun Wu
Although it may be a difficult conversation to have, dancer Vasna Aguilar recommends sharing news with a choreographer or director as soon as possible. In 2013, while working with Dance Company Theater Osnasbrück in Germany, she started feeling pain in her ankle and initially tried to deal with it on her own. Finally, she saw a doctor and was diagnosed with a ruptured Achilles tendon. "I knew that I had to tell my director immediately. I was feeling down, but I was listened to very carefully and with great understanding," she says.
Choreographers may be more willing to work around conflicts and injuries than you think. Aguilar found this to be the case when she returned from her injury and was immediately included in the process of making a new work. "I was worried about not being able to participate since I was just coming back," she says. "But the choreographer found a gentle way of involving me in the piece."
Share On Your Terms
Pregnancy can be an exception to this rule, as many people prefer not to make it public until after the first trimester. However, if you want a choreographer to know why you might be taking certain precautions in rehearsal, or that you will be taking time off, Parker suggests telling them privately and asking them to keep your news in confidence until you are ready to share more widely.
Dancer and choreographer Erin Cairns Cella, who has a longstanding collaborative relationship with Dages Juvelier Keates, performed throughout her first and second trimesters. "I didn't want to share my news casually. I told Dages outside of the studio, so we had an opportunity to process and plan," she says. "My advice would be to share the news in a way that feels right for you and your company or collaborator."
Think of Others
Some dancers are hesitant to say how little they're available, says Parker. But that's a mistake. "We'll schedule rehearsal around one person and then they'll cancel. If that's a pattern, it weakens my commitment to that dancer, even if they're fantastic."
Parker's Punctual Equilibrium. PC Sally Cohn
If you are contemplating pulling out of a project for a non-emergency reason, consider the other artists who have put their hard work into it. "I do understand why dancers in larger companies might wait to tell a director that they are looking for other work, because they're afraid they'll be dismissed," says Parker. "But with a company like mine, we don't have understudies or alternates. Think about what the consequences are to other people." Plus, the dance world is small and gossip travels fast, so burning a bridge could affect your career far beyond the project in question.
One of the biggest myths about ballet dancers is that they don't eat. While we all know that, yes, there are those who do struggle with body image issues and eating disorders, most healthy dancers love food—and eat plenty of it to fuel their busy schedules.
Luckily for us, they're not afraid to show it:
Looking for your next audition shoe? Shot at and in collaboration with Broadway Dance Center, Só Dança has launched a new collection of shoes working with some pretty famous faces of the musical theater world! Offered in two different styles and either 2.5" or 3" heels, top industry professionals are loving how versatile and supportive these shoes are! Pro tip: The heel is centered under the body so you can feel confident and stable!
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.
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.' "
What does a superstar like Carlos Acosta do after bidding farewell to his career in classical ballet? In Acosta's case, he returns to his native country, Cuba, to funnel his fame, connections and prodigious energies back into the dance scene that formed him. Because of its top-notch, state-supported training programs and popular embrace of the art of dance, Cuba is brimming with talented dancers. What it has been short on, until recently, are opportunities outside of the mainstream companies, as well as access to a more international repertoire. That is changing now, and, with the creation of Acosta Danza, launched in 2016, Acosta is determined to open the doors even wider to new ideas and audiences.
There's so much more to the dance world than making and performing dances. Arts administrators do everything from raising money to managing companies to building new audiences. With the growing number of arts administration programs in colleges, dancers have an opportunity to position themselves for a multifaceted career on- or offstage—and to bring their unique perspective as artists to administrative work.
While Solange was busy helping big sis Beyoncé give Coachella its best performances of all time, an equally compelling project was quietly circulating on Instagram:
New York City Ballet continues its first year without Peter Martins at the helm as our spring season opens tonight.
When he retired at the start of the new year, we plunged headfirst into unknown, murky waters. Who would the new director be? When would we know? Would we dancers get some say in the decision? Who would oversee the Balanchine ballets? Who would be in charge of casting? Would a new director bring along huge upheaval? Could some of us be out of a job?
In the world of ballet, Arcadian Broad is a one-stop shop: He'll come up with a story, compose its music, choreograph the movement and dance it himself. But then Broad has always been a master of versatility. As a teenager he juggled school, dance and—after the departure of his father—financial responsibility. It was Broad's income from dancing that kept his family afloat. Fast-forward six years and things are far more stable. Broad now lives on his own in an apartment, but you can usually find him in the studio.
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.