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Kyle Abraham and Emma Portner Are Choreographing for NYCB

Kyle Abraham's Untitled America for Ailey. PC Paul Kolnik

Ever since New York City Ballet's interim leadership team took over from Peter Martins, we've been curious whether they'd get a chance to try their hand at programming. (It was unclear how much Martins had done before he retired.)

As it turns out, Martins left room for Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, Craig Hall and Jonathan Stafford to select two of the company's six commissions for the 2018-19 season. Their choicesKyle Abraham and Emma Portner—are surprising, and thrilling.


Neither choreographer has made work on a large ballet company before, though Abraham created a duet with Wendy Whelan for her "Restless Creature" series, among his other commissions for companies like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and work for his own company. And though Portner has been a favorite in commercial circles for a few years now, the concert commissions have just recently started rolling in: This fall she'll be collaborating with Lil Buck and Dev Hynes for a full-length work for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and working with Anne Plamondon on a Fall for Dance North piece.

This news comes just off the heels of American Ballet Theatre's announcement that tap dynamo Michelle Dorrance will make three works for the company over the next year. Bold, out-of-the-box programming choices are apparently in season, and we're totally here for it.

The four commissions chosen by Martins are slightly more traditional, but promising nonetheless. They include works by BalletX co-founder Matthew Neenan (also his first for the company) and Gianna Reisen, the young choreographer who created Composer's Holiday on the company last year, and two pieces by Peck, one of which will be set to a new score by Sufjan Stevens.

Day in the Life

Most people may know Derek Dunn for his impeccable turns and alluring onstage charisma. But the Boston Ballet principal dancer is just as charming offstage, whether he's playing with his 3-year-old miniature labradoodle or working in the studio. Dance Magazine recently spent the day with Dunn as he prepared for his debut as Albrecht in the company's upcoming run of Giselle.

Dance Training
Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Mark Morris Dance Group

You know compelling musicality when you see it. But how do you cultivate it? It's not as elusive as it might seem. Musicality, like any facet of dance, can be developed and honed over time—with dedicated, detailed practice. At its most fundamental, it's "respect for the music, that this is your partner," says Kate Linsley, academy principal of the School of Nashville Ballet.

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The USC Kaufman graduating class with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gus Ruelas/USC

Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.

Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:

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In Memoriam
Ross Parkes, right, teaching in Shanghai in 1983. Lan-Lan Wang is at left. Courtesy Lan-Lan Wang.

Notable dancer and beloved teacher, Ross Parkes, 79, passed away on August 5, 2019 in New York City. He was a founding faculty member at Taipei National University of the Arts in Taiwan, where he taught from 1984 to 2006. Lin Hwai-min, artistic director of Cloud Gate Dance Theater, said: "He nurtured two generations of dancers in Taiwan, and his legacy will continue."

About his dancing, Tonia Shimin, professor emerita at UC Santa Barbara and producer of Mary Anthony: A Life in Modern Dance, said this: "He was an exquisite, eloquent dancer who inhabited his roles completely."

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