How do you fit into the dance world? For some of us, the answer’s obvious. But more often, it takes years of experimenting before we find the sweet spot where our passions and talents collide. This month’s cover girl, Celia Rowlson-Hall, has discovered a place in the dance field that might be all her own. After being told as a student that she lacked professional potential, she’s used her gangly movement quality to her advantage—first as a Bessie-award winning dancer and now as a filmmaker/choreographer/performer for music videos, TV shows, fashion labels and her own whimsical short films. By embracing her inner goofball and fearlessly taking on a giant range of opportunities, she’s created a DIY career with remarkable success.
Many dancers figure out their ideal path during college, that crucial time of self-discovery. Unfortunately, that can sometimes mean their original higher ed plans no longer serve their new dreams. We spoke to a handful of students who changed course midway through to find out how they knew it was time to transfer schools—and how the decision to start over shaped their careers.
Right: “In cabaret the woman is a vehicle to display the costume. That presents an idea about feminism I find really interesting.” —Rosie Herrera, whose latest dance theater work was inspired by her days as a showgirl. Photos by Moris Moreno.
Whether you have a particular goal in mind or are still searching, this issue also offers a detailed scholarship guide to help you get to where you want to be. We list more than 200 opportunities for both students and professionals. Look carefully to find the ones that match up with your ambitions.
Even when you find your fit, you’ll need to keep adapting as you—and the dance world—change over time. Even an artist as established as William Forsythe continues to reinvent himself. As we report in “The Latest,” he’s shocked many in the dance world by announcing that he will leave his renowned company behind to join the faculty of University of Southern California’s new dance program. His move may be unexpected, but it just proves that there is no one right way to find success in the dance field.
Editor in Chief
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.