Dance History

Celebrate the Anniversary of Mikhail Baryshnikov's ABT Debut With Rarely-Seen Archival Photos

Photo courtesy DM Archives

On July 27, 1974, Mikhail Baryshnikov made his American Ballet Theatre debut, dancing opposite fellow expatriate Natalia Makarova in Giselle mere weeks after his defection from the Soviet Union. The then-26-year-old caused a sensation, with Dance Magazine contributor Olga Maynard observing in her review, "If Baryshnikov exerts his good influences on ballet in the West we shall owe him a debt of gratitude."


It proved to be a prescient remark: "Misha" had a triumphant performing career with both ABT (which he directed from 1980–89) and New York City Ballet, successfully crossed over to Hollywood (picking up an Oscar nomination for The Turning Point and bringing his inimitable charm to "Sex and the City") and has so far appeared on the cover of DM a record 14 times. He permeated the American public consciousness to an unprecedented degree for a ballet dancer, but when we spoke to him in 1974, his goals were far more humble: "I will hope that choreographers in the West will be interested in me as a dancer, enough to want to make ballets for me."

Makarova and Baryshnikov in Act II of Giselle, during his 1974 ABT debut

Louis Peres, Courtesy DM Archives

In Memoriam
Alicia Alonso with Igor Youskevitch. Sedge Leblang, Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.

Her Dying Swan was as fragile as her Juliet was rebellious; her Odile, scheming, her Swanilda, insouciant. Her Belle was joyous, and her Carmen, both brooding and full-blooded. But there was one role in particular that prompted dance critic Arnold Haskell to ask, "How do you interpret Giselle when you are Giselle?"

At eight, Alicia Alonso took her first ballet class on a stage in her native Cuba, wearing street clothes. Fifteen years later, put in for an ailing Alicia Markova in a performance of Giselle at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, she staked her claim to that title role.

Alonso received recognition throughout the world for her flawless technique and her ability to become one with the characters she danced, even after she became nearly blind. After a career in New York, she and her then husband Fernando Alonso established the Cuban National Ballet and the Cuban National Ballet School, both of which grew into major international dance powerhouses and beloved institutions in their home country. On October 17, the company announced that, after leading the company for a remarkable 71 years, Alonso died from cardiovascular disease at the age of 98.

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News
Rauf "RubberlLegz" Yasit and Parvaneh Scharafali. Photo by Mohamed Sadek, courtesy The Shed

William Forsythe is bringing his multi-faceted genius to New York City in stripped down form. His "Quiet Evening of Dance," a mix of new and recycled work now at The Shed until October 25, is co-commissioned with Sadler's Wells in London (and a slew of European presenters).

As always, Forsythe's choreography is a layered experience, both kinetic and intellectual. This North American premiere prompted many thoughts, which I whittled down to seven.

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News
Courtesy NBC

"Law & Order: SVU" has dominated the crime show genre for 21 seasons with its famous "ripped from the headlines" strategy of taking plot inspiration from real-life crimes.

So viewers would be forgiven for assuming that the new storyline following the son of Mariska Hargitay's character into dance class originated in the news cycle. After all, the mainstream media widely covered the reaction to Lara Spencer's faux pas on "Good Morning America" in August, when she made fun of Prince George for taking ballet class.

But it turns out, the storyline was actually the idea of the 9-year-old actor, Ryan Buggle, who plays Hargitay's son. And he came up with it before Spencer ever giggled at the word ballet.

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Breaking Stereotypes
Getty Images

As a dietitian specializing in dance nutrition, the most common DM flooding my inbox is "How can I drop pounds (specifically from body fat) and gain muscle?"

The short answer? Not happening.

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