A.C.G.I. (Anybody Can Get It) Ted Shawn Theatre Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
Becket, MA July 22–August 2, 2009 Reviewed by Nancy Wozny
Photo by Karli Cadel, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.
Jason Samuels Smith stands at the forefront of tap, moving the field forward through innovation, respectful of the past, but not defined by its boundaries. With one number running seamlessly into the next and no intermission, the program on July 26 delivered an hour of non-stop entertainment.
The entire show takes place on a narrow raised platform, which makes a lot of sense considering the most charged space in tap lies between the shoe and the floor. Samuels Smith has assembled a diverse troupe of four dancers who can slice and dice that space with finesse and mind-boggling precision. Tap may be one of the few dance forms that allows individual style to show through amidst spot-on unison.
Samuels Smith is a force to be reckoned with, dancing with such speed in some passages that all we can see is the blur of black patent leather whooshing by our eyes. Yet our ears have no trouble picking up the rapid-fire thunder emanating from his mighty shoes. Pushing into new territory, he accomplishes an ever-growing number of original steps. At times even he seems surprised by what comes out of him. Using all surfaces of his foot, he transforms the floor into the surface of a drum. His aggressive presence and virtuoso authority form the center of the show.
Lee Howard, possibly the strongest dancer next to Smith, has a laid-back style and lanky limbs that make his dancing look spontaneous and easy. Chloe Arnold, a more athletic dancer, is not afraid to let the hard work show, especially in her solo, Hernando's Hideaway. Sarah Reich adds a salsa touch to her solo Conga. Imagine a ballet dancer who switched to tap and you get Melinda Sullivan, whose floating upper body conjured a softer side in Pure Imagination.
Accompanying the dancers were Curtis Lundy on bass, Theo Hill on piano, and Smith's father and former dancer, JoJo Smith, on percussion. Live music added rhythmic dimension, especially Lundy and Hill's lyrical touch. Father and son riffed off each other in a lively conversation between dancing and drumming in A Song for My Father, an east coast premiere. Ahmad Rashad Jr.'s poetry brought a reminder of the syncopations that speech and tap share. Smith joined Rashad in JAJA Productions Band, bringing that idea home.
Samuels Smith's show leaves the impression that tap is a big place, where old-school competition is a driving factor, yet where there's still plenty of room for new ideas to flourish.
Fox produced a live broadcast of Rent in January—but could an original musical be next? Photo by Kevin Estrada, Courtesy Fox
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
Hive by Boston Conservatory student Alyssa Markowitz. Photo by Jim Coleman
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
Last year's winner: Manuel Vignoulle's EARTH. Jack Hartin Photography, Courtesy McCallum Theatre
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
When you're a foreigndancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
Still of Fonteyn from the 1972 film I Am a Dancer. Photo courtesy DM Archives
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.