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Nourishing Our Dance Souls: The Dance Magazine Awards
At the end of the Dance Magazine Awards last night, editor at large Wendy Perron summed up the event perfectly: "I feel so nourished," she said.
Tiler Peck in Balanchine's "Fascinatin' Rhythm." PC Christopher Duggan.
It was an exceptionally moving evening filled with heartfelt dances and profoundly honest speeches. What a treat it was to see awardee Tiler Peck perform "Fascinatin' Rhythm" from George Balanchine's Who Cares? up close where all the details of her musicality, breath and cheeky personality were right in front of us. And to watch Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Elisa Clark dance Robert Battle's touching 2010 solo For Carolyn, in honor of his mentor, awardee Carolyn Adams. And for awardee Lar Lubovitch to offer a sneak peek of what he's working on in preparation for his next work.
Robert Battle introduced Carolyn Adams by describing how, as a student, he would "wait like a baby bird for a gem" of wisdom from her. One of his favorite insights? "As you walk up to a door, part of you already sees yourself on the other side," Adams would tell her students. "Even when this job gets tough," Battle continued, "I see the other side, and there is Carolyn, dancing in the light."
Carolyn Adams. PC Christopher Duggan.
Upon accepting her award, Adams spoke about how she believed dance was our birth right, and how, with the help of people like Paul Taylor, she'd dedicated her life to sharing it.
Damian Woetzel presenting to Tiler Peck. PC Christopher Duggan.
Damian Woetzel then told us the story of the first time he saw Tiler Peck dance: While warming up in the wings, he spotted a new corps member with a jazzy, nuanced musicality he couldn't take his eyes off of. Today, he and his wife Heather Watts jokingly call Peck "the magical unicorn princess" because of her exceptional talents.
A humbled Peck took the stage, admitting that she felt like she hadn't accomplished enough yet in her career to receive such a prestigious honor. But then she realized it was the perfect moment to celebrate her 10 years at New York City Ballet, and get inspired for many more to come.
Lynn Garafola with Dance Magazine writer Siobhan Burke. PC Christopher Duggan.
To introduce awardee Lynn Garafola, writer Elizabeth Kendall posed the question, "Why does dance, an ephemeral art form, need a history?" She answered the question brilliantly, noting that what happened before creates what happens now. Garafola is not only a master of documenting what happened before (she has written or edited 10—soon to be 11—books), but also incredibly generous in helping anyone else trying to do the same.
Lar Lubovitch. PC Christopher Duggan.
"I like to think that I bring back performances and dancers for a new community," said Garafola, who was celebrating her 70th birthday. She spoke about features she'd written for Dance Magazine, from "Price-Tagging Diaghilev" to an interview with Maya Plisetskaya.
Closing out the night was Martha Graham Dance Company artistic director Janet Eilber presenting to Lar Lubovitch. She shared how, when she asked his advice for young choreographers, Lubovitch said, "Don't chase the newest trend," admitting that he's been in and out, in and out, in and out of style over the course of his career, yet always remained true to his vision.
Awardees Lar Lubovitch, Tiler Peck, Lynn Garafola and Carolyn Adams. PC Christopher Duggan.
For his part, Lubovitch told the quirky story of the first time he ever felt compelled to dance: Around age 3 or 4, the dime store across the street from his family's apartment caught fire, and the next morning, the water the firefighters had sprayed froze with the toys trapped inside, including a teddy bear. Without thinking, Lubovitch felt compelled to move: "Our bodies take over when something inexpressible happens." He spoke about the many reasons people have danced throughout history—from warriors to Salome and Mata Hari to Louis XIV. "Through the drama of line, shape and motion, we can say what is most truthful, and therefore most beautiful," he stated, adding that all of his work might be an attempt to recapture that moment of staring at the frozen teddy bear. He confessed that, as a lifelong "Trekkie," he's inspired by Captain Kirk's mission statement: "To boldly go where no one has gone before."
We congratulate all of the awardees, and can't wait to see where else they will boldly bring dance in the years to come.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.