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6 Premieres and Programs on Our Editors' Must-See List This Month

Barak Marshall's Monger, which appears at the Walking Distance Dance Festival this month. Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, Courtesy John Hill PR

A Broadway luminary and a postmodern darling bring their talents to ballet, a music video maven turns to the concert stage, and a contemporary choreographer gets soulful with Aretha Franklin. Our editors' must-sees this May are all about the unexpected.


A Late Commission

Tanowitz in rehearsal at NYCB

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

NEW YORK CITY When it was announced that Pam Tanowitz would be creating a new work for New York City Ballet (to replace an on-hold commission from Emma Portner), the reaction was largely: It's about time! Tanowitz has long been a critical darling for her intellectually rigorous, postmodern application of the classical vocabulary. So what can she do with seven women and four men from NYCB at her disposal? The new work is set to Bartok (expanding upon a piece she workshopped with American Ballet Theatre in 2017) and features costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung. It debuts on May 2 at the company's spring gala, on a program with Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Suite No. 3 and an additional premiere by Justin Peck. Catch it again May 4, 9, 11 and 12. nycballet.com. —Courtney Escoyne

Blankenbuehler at the Ballet

TULSA Tulsa Ballet's artistic director, Marcello Angelini, says he offered Andy Blankenbuehler a commission "before he became so famous." With Hamilton beckoning, Blankenbuehler gave him a rain check. This month Angelini cashes it in, presenting Blankenbuehler's first-ever ballet, set on a submarine during World War II. Remember Our Song runs May 9–12 at Tulsa's Lorton Performance Center, in a Ballet to Broadway triple bill with Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free and George Balanchine's Who Cares? tulsaballet.org. —Sylviane Gold

Must Love Dogs

ODC/Dance in Kimi Okada's Canine Comfort

Yvonne M. Portra, Courtesy John Hill PR

SAN FRANCISCO A cast of four-legged friends will join the dancers of ODC/Dance during this year's Walking Distance Dance Festival. Kimi Okada's Canine Comfort celebrates the peace found in nature, family and, yes, the love of dogs. During the weeklong festival, audiences can also catch works by Barak Marshall (performed by students at USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance) and d. Sabela grimes, tune in to the dancers' heartbeats in Kinetech Arts' immersive Resonant Frequencies, and follow Mary Armentrout Dance Theater around the Mission neighborhood for the meditative listening creates an opening. May 12–19. odc.dance. —CE

On the Come Up

Nicholas Guttridge and Benoit Swan Pouffer, Courtesy Rambert

LONDON Asking Marion Motin, who is best known for choreographing music videos for Christine and the Queens and Dua Lipa, to create a concert work for Britain's oldest contemporary dance company could be seen as a risk. But it's just the sort of smart, envelope-pushing choice that's always characterized Benoit Swan Pouffer as a director. Rambert's newly installed artistic leader programmed the French choreographer's premiere alongside revivals of Wayne McGregor's 2002 PreSentient and Hofesh Shechter's 2007 In your rooms—works that presaged those choreographers' ascent to international prominence. May 14–18. sadlerswells.com. —CE

A Natural Woman

NEW YORK CITY Trey McIntyre has something of a magic touch with jukebox ballets; Big Ones, his Amy Winehouse tribute created for BalletX, is a standout example. For his latest, he's going even bigger, turning to the songbook of the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin. In Eight Women, the cast of male and female dancers all portray women—not for the sake of camp, but as a statement of equality. The work gets its U.S. premiere during Parsons Dance's Joyce season this month, May 14–26, alongside classic rep by David Parsons. joyce.org. —CE

I've Got No Strings

National Ballet of Canada in Will Tuckett's Pinocchio

Aleksandar Antonijevic, Courtesy Texas Ballet Theater

DALLAS AND FT. WORTH The wild adventures of a wooden puppet who wishes to be a real boy are familiar to any Disney aficionado. But the creative team behind the Will Tuckett–choreographed Pinocchio are quick to point to the darker undertones of the original tale. The full-length ballet, which debuted at National Ballet of Canada in 2017, journeys stateside for the first time this month under the stewardship of Texas Ballet Theater. Winspear Opera House, Dallas, May 17–19; Bass Performance Hall, Ft. Worth, May 24–26. texasballettheater.org. —CE

The Conversation
Dance History
A still from the documentary American Tap

Thirty years ago, U.S. Joint Resolution 131, introduced by congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Alphonse D'Amato (R-NY), and signed into law by President G. W. Bush declared:

"Whereas the multifaceted art form of tap dancing is a manifestation of the cultural heritage of our Nation...

Whereas tap dancing is a joyful and powerful aesthetic force providing a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creativity and self-expression...

Whereas it is in the best interest of the people of our Nation to preserve, promote, and celebrate this uniquely American art form...

Whereas May 25, as the anniversary of the birth of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is an appropriate day on which to refocus the attention of the Nation on American tap dancing: Now therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress that May 25, 1989, be designated "National Tap Dance Day."

Happy National Tap Dance Day!

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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.

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The Creative Process
James Fosberg, courtesy Mason

Over the past 15 years, Gesel Mason has asked 11 choreographers—including legends like Donald McKayle, David Roussève, Bebe Miller, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Rennie Harris and Kyle Abraham—to teach her a solo. She's performed up to seven of them in one evening for her project No Boundaries: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers.

Now, Mason is repackaging the essence of this work into a digital archive. This online offering shares the knowledge of a few with many, and considers how dance can live on as those who create it get older.

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News
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?

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Sponsored by McCallum Theatre
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.

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Breaking Stereotypes
Courtesy Lee

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."

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Health & Body
Bruce Mars via Unsplash

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.)

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Health & Body

It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).

But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.

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Advice for Dancers
Getty Images

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!

—Andrea, New York, NY

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Dance As Activism
From Dance of Urgency. © Ekvidi

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.

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News

Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.

The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.

As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:

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Career Advice
Lorenzo Di Cristina/Unsplash

When you're a foreign dancer, 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.

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Career Advice
Quinn Wharton

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.

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