New Media and "Old" Media

When has a First Lady ever started something that was this much fun? Last year Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign asked MFA student Callie Lyons and her teacher, NYU’s Dance and New Media director Paul Galando, to make a film in support of the campaign. The wonderful short film he made in response was shown at the Dance on Camera Kickoff Gala last Wednesday.

Galando decided to collaborate with Lyons and five other grad students at NYU Tisch and with dance photographer Lois Greenfield. The final product, which gives each dancer a solo while also showing Greenfield’s skill in shooting stills, is bursting with urban energy. It jumps back and forth between the dancers improvising on a rooftop in Long Island City and posing on a seamless for the famed photographer. It’s fun, it’s real, and it’s a peek into Greenfield’s process. The students are a diverse group of six spirited dancers, and Galando catches their energy.

At the gala, Dance Films Association (producer of Dance on Camera) honored Lois Greenfield with its Dance in Focus award. It projected 80 of her photos from the last few decades. Watching these rich, provocative images flash by, I realized how constantly innovative she has been over the decades. She has transformed dance photos from mere documents into a kind of performance of their own. As Elizabeth Streb said when she presented the legendary photographer with the award, “Lois and her subjects were wildly choreographing together.”

Just now posted: The terrific five-minute Galando/NYU/Let's Move film (co-produced and choreographed by Callie Lyons with the dancers), just got posted on YouTube. Each of the NYU students has a different style, and Galando's snappy editing allows each to shine in quick spurts. Click here to see the Let's Move NYU Tisch Dance film.

Photo: Lois Greenfield on the set of NYU's Let's Move film, photo by Paul Galando.



The "Merde" bag. Courtesy Scenery

Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.

But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"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.

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Photo by Gabriel Davalos, Courtesy Valdés

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.

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Health & Body
Sara Mearns in the gym. Photo by Kyle Froman.

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.

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