- The Latest
- Breaking Stereotypes
- Rant & Rave
- Dance As Activism
- Dancers Trending
- Viral Videos
- The Dancer's Toolkit
- Health & Body
- Dance Training
- Career Advice
- Style & Beauty
- Dance Auditions
- Guides & Resources
- Performance Calendar
- College Guide
- Dance Magazine Awards
- Meet The Editors
- Contact Us
- Advertise/Media Kit
- Buy A Single Issue
- Give A Gift Subscription
New York City Loves Anna Halprin
The Radical Bodies evening broke all attendance records at Hunter College's Kaye Playhouse on May 31. People were lining up in the courtyard almost two hours before curtain, and the mood was festive. All 650 seats were filled, more than 100 people were turned away and about 60 went across the street to watch the live stream.
Why such a hubbub? The admission was free and the event was historic: It had been 50 years since Anna Halprin caused a scandal when she brought her Parades and Changes to Hunter. The "Paper Dance," which involves disrobing calmly, methodically and completely, was labeled "indecent exposure" in 1967 and led to a warrant for Halprin's arrest.
I am a co-curator of "Radical Bodies: Anna Halprin, Simone Forti and Yvonne Rainer in California and New York, 1955–1972," the exhibit now at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts. Last week's performance at the Kaye Playhouse was a related public event, presented by Jody and John Arnhold and performed by the UC Santa Barbara dance company. Simone Forti, one of those celebrated in our exhibit, was a guest artist.
Simone Forti in News Animation, Kaye Playhouse, photo Matt Capowski
It's rare that a student concert would cause such a commotion. But dancers and teachers of all styles were curious about this infamous piece. Choreographers like Stephen Petronio and Doug Varone were in the house, as well as artistic directors Virginia Johnson of Dance Theatre of Harlem and Eduardo Vilaro of Ballet Hispanico.
The "Radical Bodies" exhibit takes the viewer through the lineage of Anna Halprin, who pioneered task improvisations in California; through Simone Forti, who carried that approach to New York in her inimitable art/mind/body; and Yvonne Rainer, who absorbed some of the Halprin/Forti aesthetic before cofounding Judson Dance Theater. And that's the creation story of postmodern dance in a nutshell.
UCSB Dance Company in Chair/Pillow by Yvonne Rainer, photos Reiko Yanagi
Here in New York, Halprin is often not fully recognized for her role in the development of postmodern dance. The "Radical Bodies" exhibit seeks to rebalance that perception. For the performance at Kaye Playhouse, the UCSB students embodied this historical trajectory by dancing Halprin's "Paper Dance" from Parades and Changes (1965) as well as Rainer's Chair/Pillow (1969). The "Paper Dance" culminated in a beautiful moving sculpture, with the UCSB dancers tossing the paper upward in a perfect storm of joy. (José Limón's Dances for Isadora was also performed.)
USCB Dance Company in the Paper Dance, Kaye Playhouse, ;photo Reiko Yanagi
Co-curator Ninotchka Bennahum and I led a post-performance panel that included Halprin, still feisty at 96, on Skype. When the audio failed to work, a wave of disappointment went through the audience. Finally, at the moment the sound came through, squeals of delight erupted in the house. Anna Halprin, rock star.
Halprin spoke of how, when she made the "Paper Dance" with composer Morton Subotnick in 1965, she wanted to see the dancers' skin against the paper so "they had to be nude." The paper looked and sounded like water to her. When an audience member asked how she reacted to the warrant for her arrest, she said, "I got out of town." Which is true. The esteemed critic Jack Anderson, who was on the panel, said that the two main critics at the time, Clive Barnes and Walter Terry, colluded to hold their reviews until Anna could leave New York to avoid arrest. Also sharing their memories on the panel were Charles Reinhart (a 2003 Dance Magazine Award recipient) and dancer/educator Alice Teirstein.
Anna Halprin on Skype, Ninotchka Bennahum standing. Sitting from left: Jack Anderson, Charles Reinhart, Wendy Perron, Alice Teirstein, photo Reiko Yanagi
I invite you to stop in at the Vincent Astor Gallery at the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (Amsterdam Avenue entrance) before September 16. You will learn about the dance revolution that started in California and swept to New York via these three extraordinary women rebels.
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.