Dancers Trending

Jack Ferver is Playing Tinker Bell, But He's Not a "Playful Queer Person" Right Now

"How to use dance to create mystery is very important to me," says Jack Ferver who choreographs and plays Tinker Bell in a production of Leonard Bernstein's Peter Pan. Photo by Maria Baranova, Courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates

"I'm in heaven right now," Jack Ferver smiles over the phone. He was enjoying a leisurely breakfast with a couple of his castmates the morning after Leonard Bernstein's Peter Pan had its first preview performance. This production of the lesser-known Bernstein score, officially opening tonight at The Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College (where Ferver teaches), doesn't just feature choreography by the genre-mixing dancemaker: It has Ferver himself performing as Tinker Bell.


Why he begged to choreograph Bernstein's Peter Pan

"Not a lot of people know about this Bernstein Peter Pan, but I listened to it well over a year ago and I fell in love with it. There are parts of it that remind me of Stravinsky, but are in the Bernstein aesthetic. I told Gideon Lester [Bard College's artistic director for theater and dance] that I had to choreograph it. They weren't sure if the director, Christopher Alden, even wanted a choreographer, but we met and I explained that my use of choreography is where language drops off. He was interested in that, and he looked at my work and agreed."

Becoming Tinker Bell

"James Whiteside had asked me to be in a music video of his called "Duck Hunt." Gideon sent that to Christopher, and then Christopher reached out to me about playing Tinker Bell. I didn't think I wanted to do that. It seemed like a little much to bite off.

"My concern was that I would be asked to be some sort of arch, emcee character who looks like they're controlling the whole thing. I was interested in what it means to draft a queer man to play this role, and how to subvert that. I don't feel like a playful queer person right now. I am a body under attack, always have been, so I need to be able to work with that. I can't just portray this as light.

"I felt really obsessed with the images of PJ Harvey from 1995, when PJ was essentially doing drag. She developed this persona with heavy eye makeup and big fake eyelashes, and the persona corrodes as the show goes on; it's playful and terrifying all at once. That was my image of Tinker Bell."

Why concert dance needs previews

Photo by Maria Baranova, Courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates

"I wish we had previews in dance. We need them. To not have them is to say that the audience isn't a collaborator. And it is different because my personal work has text in it, so when people laugh or gasp you understand how it's impacting people. Previews are the most luxurious residency I could imagine!"

Taking a psychological approach to Tinker Bell

Photo by Maria Baranova, Courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates

"If we think of Tinker Bell in terms of the non-gendered things, it's a mercurial mood; Tinker Bell is borderline, they only have the capacity for one emotion at any time. I let the idea that our moods forget each other inform my choreography.

"The choreography is all over the map. Some of it is controlled, icy, lethal, sonic, a Dionysian quality. Tinker Bell hates Wendy—but how do we have this relationship without it becoming misogynistic? How does Tinker Bell fall in love with Wendy? How does Wendy come to save herself and join Peter and Tinker Bell psychically? How do the three of them triumph over evil?"

Hook and Peter Pan fight—without actual fight choreography

Ferver as Tinker Bell and Peter Smith as Peter Pan. Photo by Maria Baranova, Courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates

"This confrontation between Peter and Hook, I'm having Hook facing downstage, not Peter. He's fighting Peter—fighting youth. Peter comes rushing down and starts dancing with the pirates. They become Lost Boys again—this is pleasure, this is the love that can always spring up even in tyranny. Peter keeps dancing. And that's what exhausts Hook."

How he chooses performers

"I feel really lucky that when I make my work, I make it for the people I fall in love with and want to make something for. I've never had auditions. I know what it is to be a performer. I know what it is to be treated like a puppet. And that is not the kind of maker that I am. I'm hyper-interested in people and what they have to say in a live setting."

The luxury of live music

Tinker Bell (Jack Ferver) looks on as Wendy (Erin Markey) and Peter (Peter Smith) dance. Photo by Maria Baranova, Courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates

"It was a luxury to have Michael A. Ferrara, our music director, able to play live on the piano for rehearsals, and then being able to work with the live band as we're setting the work. I've never had live music before, it's such a huge gift. Now I want it all the time!"

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Style & Beauty
Photo by Rachel Papo

Given that almost every ballet performance requires your hair to be in a bun, it can be tricky to master Romeo and Juliet's Italian Renaissance hairstyles. Not for ABT wig and makeup supervisor Rena Most and wig and makeup assistant Jill Haley. The duo is responsible for all three hairstyles Juliet wears onstage, following the exact looks used in the company premiere of the Sir Kenneth MacMillan ballet in 1985. Check out Most and Haley in action, below, and keep scrolling for the step-by-step breakdown.

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Rant & Rave
Mandy Moore at the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards, during which she took home her first Emmy. Photo courtesy Inline/AP

Every year, as soon as the Emmy Award nominations are announced, the first thing I do is scroll down (way, way, way down) to find the nominees for Best Choreography. Last week's announcement was no different, and it was a delightful surprise to see tap queen Chloe Arnold become a first-time nominee for her work on "The Late Late Show With James Corden." Alongside Arnold, Mandy Moore, Travis Wall, Al Blackstone and Christopher Scott received nominations for their dances on awards heavy-hitter "So You Think You Can Dance." (Shout-out to Blackstone for his first Emmy nod!)

I do, however, have a bone to pick with the Emmys. Namely, that the routines for which these choreographers were nominated do not appear on the nominations section of the site. Worse, not even the episodes in which the Emmy-nominated dances appear are listed.

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Dance in Pop Culture
Jennifer Hudson will play Grizabella in the upcoming movie version of CATS. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

This time last month, we were wigging out when news broke that Wayne McGregor had been named choreographer for the upcoming CATS movie. Sure, it made us scratch our heads, since the original dances by the late Gillian Lynne are as iconic as the Jellicle cats themselves. (There was even a stir when Andy Blankenbuehler was chosen to choreograph the 2016 Broadway revival based on Lynne's original moves.) But we definitely want to see what the abstract mind of McGregor can bring to this reboot.

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"Whatever I'm into, whether it's ballet or healthy food," says Natasha Sheehan, "I'll research anything and everything about it."

That curiosity has led the San Francisco Ballet corps member, 19, to develop a sideline as an Instagram foodie star and food blogger. Sheehan shares recipes and photos of her beautifully styled meals, along with behind-the-scenes ballet insights, with her more than 44,000 followers.

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Photo by Jeff Eason, courtesy of Dance Films Association

At the Dance on Camera Kickoff Gala on July 16, Dance Films Association honored two beloved dance artists from different generations: Jacques d'Amboise and Trey McIntyre.

After a composite of d'Amboise's charismatic dancing was shown, Jacques regaled us with stories. He didn't talk about dancing for Mr. B, he didn't talk about his dazzling turns in the movie Carousel, or how dashing he looked in the emerald green shirt in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He talked about Tanaquil Le Clercq in Jerome Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun (1953)—a tiny clip of it was in the montage that DFA showed in tribute to him. Apparently both Jacques and Tanny thought the other had gotten permission from Robbins to make a film about Afternoon of a Faun in Toronto, but they hadn't. Jerry was furious when he found out about it. And then…Tanny came down with polio. And Robbins was soooo happy to have a bit of her gorgeousness on film. When Jacques gives her that slow kiss, which she accepts with a glowing stillness, a moment froze in time.

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Editors’ List: The Goods
Via @joandjax on Instagram

Summertime...and the dressing is eeeeeeeeeeasy. When you're heading straight from the dance studio to the pool or beach, you don't want to be messing around with complicated cover-ups. That's where these 5 MVPs of the romper room come in, bringing their breezy style to your pre-class, post-rehearsal, and everything-in-between looks. Oh, and three out of the five are on sale right now. So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and romper-ound! (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

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Dancers Trending
Jacalyn Tatro is headed to Juilliard this fall. Photo courtesy NYCDA/Evolve Photo & Video

Throughout her years growing up at New York City Dance Alliance, Jacalyn Tatro has dominated the podium: In 2011, she was National Mini Outstanding Dancer, in 2014 she won National Teen Outstanding Dancer and in 2016 National Senior Outstanding Dancer.

It's easy to see why: Tatro dances with a maturity beyond her years—her performance quality has the kind of nuance that usually only comes from years of experience. She is just as skilled at whipping out high extensions and deep pliés as she is at giving each step its own flavor.

Her latest award? New York City Dance Alliance Foundation's Dance Magazine College Scholarship, worth $25,000. She tells us that she'll put it to good use this fall as a freshman at Juilliard.

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Career Advice
What was your 2017 income? Photo by Fabian Blank/Unsplash

Dance Magazine asked readers the question you're never supposed to ask: How much money do you make?

More than two hundred readers filled out our online survey about how much they earned through their work in the dance field in 2017. Here is a selection of the user-submitted entries, which have been edited for clarity, consistency and to help ensure anonymity.

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Rant & Rave
Social media validates extremes over clean, solid technique. Photo by David Hofmann/Unsplash

The entrancing power of Instagram can't be denied. I've lost hours of my life scrolling the platform looking at other people documenting theirs. What starts as a "quick" fill-the-moment check-in can easily lead to a good 10-15 minute session, especially if I enter the nebulous realm of "suggested videos."

My algorithm usually shows me professional ballet dancers in performances, rehearsals, class, backstage and on tour, which I quite enjoy. But there are the other dance feeds that I find myself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by: the hyper-elastic, hyper-extended, gumby-footed girls always at the barre doing developpés to six o'clock. There are the multiple turners, the avid stretchers and we can't forget the endless balancers.

This parade of tricksters always makes me wonder, What else can they do? Can they actually dance?

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Editors’ List: The Goods

Planning to spend the majority of your summer sweating it out in the studio? Don't worry, you're not alone. And while you're definitely going to want to save the warmups for the winter, you can still accessorize your studio look without adding bulk, thanks to the always-in-style ballet skirt. From bright florals to washed out pastels and wild prints, we rounded up our favorite short (and a few long!) ballet skirts for summer.

AinslieWear Limoncello Wrap Skirt

via AinslieWear

If you can't spend your summer in the Mediterranean under actual lemon trees, this skirt is a solid backup. Plus, it gives us serious Beyonce "Lemonade" vibes, which will help you feel more fierce and less sweaty-mess in class (hopefully).
ainsliewear.com, $50

Dance Training
Bullies sometimes excuse their own behavior by saying they're just strict. But there's a difference. Photo by Thinkstock

A few months ago, your teacher snapped at you for smiling too much. Today, you're keeping your expression neutral when your teacher abruptly cuts the music and walks over to you, pretending to knock on your forehead. "Hello? Is anyone in there? Your face is always blank." Your classmates look just as frozen as you feel, their eyes darting back and forth between you and your teacher until the music resumes and class goes on.

Being bullied by a dance teacher can be painful—and confusing. You may have more questions than answers. What's happening? Am I just too sensitive? Is this really bullying?

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Dance Training
Krista DeNio (top) says that women should take an integrated, full-body approach to lifting. Photo by Jun Akiyama, courtesy DeNio

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News
The Paris Opéra Ballet has remained mostly silent in response to the dancers' calls for reform. Photo courtesy Zipporah Films

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Dalloz Actualité, a French online magazine specializing in legal matters, elaborated on the lawsuit in an article published last week. The corps de ballet dancer taken to court, whom we'll call "S." to protect his identity, wasn't actually a member of the Commission for Artistic Expression, the elected group of dancers who put together the survey. He is described as a "geek" who provided technical support to ensure the validity of the results.

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Dance History
President Obama awarding Bill T. Jones the National Medal of Arts. Photo by Pete Souza via Obama White House Archives

Every year since 1985, the President of the United States has recognized our country's greatest artists with the National Medal of Arts. Many dancers and choreographers—from Martha Graham to Tommy Tune to Edward Villella—have received the award.

But President Trump has yet to award any artists (the deadline for the 2016 medals was last February, and historically the ceremony has been held later the same year). Though the White House says it will "likely" issue awards later in 2018, this is the longest gap between ceremonies since the founding of the award—and it speaks to the current administration's general disinterest in the arts.

Since taking office a year and a half ago, President Trump has held no dance performances at the White House, and aside from the military band, no performances whatsoever. He has frequently disparaged artists, from Meryl Streep to the cast of Hamilton. The fate of the National Endowment for the Arts has also come into question. If the President does indeed continue with the award, we wonder how his attitude toward artists will affect who is chosen—and whether artists will even accept the honor. (Carmen de Lavallade and several other Kennedy Center honorees skipped the White House reception last year to boycott the President.)

None of this will stop us from continuing to celebrate worthy dance artists—or from remembering the many dancers and choreographers who've been honored by past Presidents:

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Dance Training
Giphy

Turnout can be a tricky thing. Perfect 180 degrees can make your lines look gorgeous, but gripping, forcing and twisting to get it there can lead to injuries down the road.

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Dance Training
Last year, participants in Dancewave's college audition were offered $3.4 million in scholarships. Photo by Linneah Anders, Courtesy Dancewave

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News
Dancers will take over the Tower of London for East Wall. Photo by Victor Frankowski, Courtesy The Corner Shop PR

For all of its historic sites, the pulse of London can be found in its diversity, and the constant collision of the new with the old. Hofesh Shechter Company and East London Dance are pulling this dichotomy into the spotlight with East Wall, the culmination of a three-year collaboration celebrating the communities of East London. Directed by Hofesh Shechter, four young, London-based choreographers—Becky Namgauds, Duwane Taylor, James Finnemore and Joseph Toonga—weave together their wildly disparate styles for an outdoor spectacle featuring more than 150 dancers and musicians performing at one of the city's most iconic structures: the Tower of London. July 18–22. eastwall.org.

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