NDT Appoints New Artistic Director: Emily Molnar
Nederlands Dans Theater announced today that Emily Molnar will become artistic director in August 2020. Molnar, who hails from Canada and currently leads Vancouver's Ballet BC, will take over the position from Paul Lightfoot, who has directed the prominent contemporary dance company since 2011.
The company's current artistic team includes artistic advisor Sol León, Lightfoot's choreographic partner, but this will be the first time in over 15 years that a woman will be at the helm. (It's unclear at the moment whether León will step down along with Lightfoot, or remain at the company.)
Before she took over Ballet BC a decade ago, Molnar spent five years dancing with Frankfurt Ballet, under the direction of William Forsythe. Lightfoot and León both spent the bulk of their performing careers as dancers in NDT, working under another dance legend: Jiři Kylián, the company's longest-serving artistic leader. Molnar's background diverges from the Kylián lineage, marking a new era for the company.
At Ballet BC, Molnar has brought to the repertory works by a range of today's biggest contemporary choreographers, from Ohad Naharin to Crystal Pite to Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar, alongside works of her own.
Molnar noted in a press release, "I look forward to collaborating with the extraordinary team at NDT toward continued innovation in contemporary dance while supporting a diversity of artists and ideas that reflect our time."
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.
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 with Ballet Theatre, 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.