Playlists

Listen to the Music that Gets Kyle Abraham Hype to Choreograph

Steven Schreiber

Choreographer Kyle Abraham makes captivating, dynamic dances. But did you know that he makes just as many captivating, dynamic playlists?

Abraham creates a custom playlist for every piece he makes. They don't include songs that are actually in the piece; rather ones that capture the atmosphere or energy of it. His 2011 work Live! The Realest MC returns to New York this weekend, and in honor of the occasion, Abraham made us an updated version of his original playlist for the work.

We talked to Abraham about his prolific playlist-making, and where he finds all those deep cuts that find their way into his work:


On Making Playlists

"There's songs that the dancers may dig, as well as songs to get me in the headspace of the work. I tend to listen to them for several months before I even share them with the dancers. In some cases they are gifts for the dancers. It's to honor the process when I'm creating."

Why He Loves "Get Huh"

"My friends and I used to play this during high school on our way to the club. Most of my friends during high school were this group of queer kids that were going to a local college. It was before I was out to most, but I was out to those close to me."

Where He Finds New Music

"I love going to record stores. I go to Amoeba Records in L.A. and see what the people in the shop recommend. I also like to see who has collaborated with who in the past. That's something I miss without having CDs. I used to look at the booklet to see who produced the song, who did the backing vocals.

"When I'm on tour in Europe I'll be shopping or at a club and some song I've never heard comes on and I'll use Shazam.

"I just start diving into research and trying to find whatever I can. It can be a fun distraction from grant writing or grading papers."

On His Taste in Music

"I love music of all different genres. I love the new Brandi Carlile album. My range can go from Morrissey, The Smiths, D'Angelo, Alessia Cara, Mariah Carey, Sinéad O'Connor and always back to Prince."

On Aly-Us' Follow Me

"Follow Me is one of the best records of all time. It makes me feel so hype. I feel like someone is speaking to me with that record. This song has always been on the Live playlist. It's this space to work towards something better, something filled with hope."

On the Music in Live! The Realest MC

"The music is really vital to the show. It has a lot of dark industrial tones. It's about this idea of going unnoticed or being accepted, you're blending in and being a bit of a robot. I also wanted that industrial sound to represent growing up in a city like Pittsburgh."

What He Did to Go to a Deee-Lite Concert

"Deee-Lite was always my favorite growing up. My mother actually helped get me a fake ID so I could go see them when I was 17. I have a very special place in my heart for their music."

Dance History
Sergei Diaghilev, who was terrified of the sea, posing with a life preserver aboard a ship. Photo courtesy DM Archives

On August 19, 1929, shockwaves were felt throughout the dance world as news spread that impresario Sergei Diaghilev had died. The founder of the Ballets Russes rewrote the course of ballet history as the company toured Europe and the U.S., championing collaborations with modernist composers, artists and designers such as Igor Stravinsky, Pablo Picasso and Coco Chanel. The company launched the careers of its five principal choreographers: Michel Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine.

Keep reading... Show less
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:

Keep reading... Show less
Dancers Trending
Alice Sheppard/Kinetic Light in DESCENT, which our readers chose as last year's "Most Moving Performance." Photo by Jay Newman, courtesy Kinetic Light

Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.

We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.

Keep reading... Show less
Breaking Stereotypes
Courtesy Chiara Valle

Chiara Valle is just one of many dancers heading back to the studio this fall as companies ramp up for the season. But her journey back has been far more difficult than most.

Valle has been a trainee at The Washington Ballet since 2016, starting at the same time as artistic director Julie Kent. But only a few months into her first season there, she started experiencing excruciating pain high up in her femur. "It felt like someone was stabbing me 24/7," she says. Sometimes at night, the pain got so bad that her roommates would bring her dinner to the bathtub.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox