Monteiro in Revelations. Photo by Daniel Azoulay, Courtesy AAADT.

On the Rise: Chalvar Monteiro

Chalvar Monteiro saw his first Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performance at 12 and was smitten. Today, at 28, he's a lithe, elegantly understated member of the company. But he's experienced some happy detours along the way—namely as a dancer with MacArthur-winning choreographer Kyle Abraham, as well as Sidra Bell and Larry Keigwin. After a stint with Ailey II, he joined the main company in 2015. He has shown both sophistication and versatility: fearless in the "Sinner Man" section of Revelations and searing in Untitled America, Abraham's emotional exploration of how the prison system affects families.


Company: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Age: 28

Hometown: Montclair, New Jersey

Training: Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts, The Ailey School, BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase


Monteiro in action (the second dancer in this excerpt of the "Sinner Man" section of Alvin Ailey's Revelations)

Don't give up on your dream: It took Monteiro seven auditions to get into Ailey. At one point, he decided to stop auditioning but changed his mind after some soul searching. "I realized a lesson that a lot of dancers have to learn in the age of technology," he says, "where everything is at the reach of your thumb: It's really about timing. You can't fast-forward the process."

Breakout moment: Performing Abraham's Untitled America—as an Ailey dancer. "Kyle was able to see me as 'Chalvar the dancer' and not 'Chalvar the Abraham.In.Motion dancer.' He started to see more of what I have to offer."

"I really appreciate his quiet storm.

He has a certain effortlessness

that is intoxicating." —Robert Battle

Being older has its advantages: Earlier in his career, Monteiro says he was an impressionable young dancer. "If the wind was blowing to the right, I was going to the right. Now I feel I can dictate where I want to go and why I want to go there." Dancing for a range of choreographers, learning Ailey's immense repertoire and attending performances—he loved, for instance, a recent show by Michelle Dorrance—have helped broaden his perspective.

Monteiro (left) with Jamar Roberts in Kyle Abraham's Untitled America. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy AAADT.

What artistic director Robert Battle is saying: "Chalvar's movement kind of simmers," says Battle. "He's the type of dancer that hasn't even begun to hit the notes that he will eventually hit. He has a lot of potential even within his prowess."

The trouble with being so flexible: "My legs can just kind of fly up from underneath me! I've knocked myself over a few times."

What he's working on: Ownership. "People expect to see a certain type of dancer when they come to see Ailey. But I'm just working on being honest," says Monteiro. "I want to be myself without imposing myself on the work. I'm also working on being excited by the unknown. You know Virgos: I like to know what I'm doing, when I'm doing it and who I'm doing it with. Now I'm working with being okay with not knowing everything."

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Courtesy Harlequin

What Does It Take to Make a Safe Outdoor Stage for Dance?

Warmer weather is just around the corner, and with it comes a light at the end of a hibernation tunnel for many dance organizations: a chance to perform again. While social distancing and mask-wearing remain essential to gathering safely, the great outdoors has become an often-preferred performance venue.

But, of course, nature likes to throw its curveballs. What does it take to successfully pull off an alfresco show?

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Dwight Rhodens "Ave Maria," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

Keeping dancers safe outside requires the same intentional flooring as you have in the studio—but it also needs to be hearty enough to withstand the weather. With so many factors to consider, two ballet companies consulted with Harlequin Floors to find the perfect floor for their unique circumstances.

Last fall, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre invested in a mobile stage that allowed the dancers to perform live for socially distanced audiences. "But we didn't have an outdoor resilient floor, so we quickly realized that if we had any rain, we were going to be in big trouble—it would have rotted," says artistic director Susan Jaffe.

The company purchased the lightweight, waterproof Harlequin's AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and the heavy-duty Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl, which is manufactured with BioCote® Antimicrobial Protection to help with the prevention of bacteria and mold. After an indoor test run while filming Nutcracker ("It felt exactly like our regular floor," says Jaffe), the company will debut the new setup this May in Pittsburgh's Schenley Park during a two-week series of performances shared with other local arts organizations.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's Open Air Series last fall. The company plans to roll out their new Harlequin AeroDeck® sprung floor panels and Harlequin Cascade™ vinyl floor for more outdoor performances this spring.

Harris Ferris, Courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

In addition to the possibility of rain, a range of temperatures also has to be taken into account. When the State Ballet of Rhode Island received a grant from the state to upgrade its 15-year-old stage, executive director Ana Fox chose the Harlequin Cascade vinyl floor in the lighter gray color "so that it would be cooler if it's reflecting sunlight during daytime performances," she says.

However, for the civic ballet company's first performance on its new 24-by-48–foot stage on November 22, heat was less of a concern than the Northeastern cold. Fortunately, Fox says the surface never got icy or too stiff. "It felt warm to the feel," she says. "You could see the dancers didn't hesitate to run or step into arabesque." (The Harlequin Cascade floor is known for providing a good grip.)

"To have a safe floor for dancers not to worry about shin splints or something of that nature, that's everything," she says. "The dancers have to feel secure."

State Ballet of Rhode Island first rolled out their new Harlequin Cascade™ flooring for an outdoor performance last November.

Courtesy of Harlequin

Of course, the elements need to be considered even when dancers aren't actively performing. Although Harlequin's AeroDeck is waterproof, both PBT and SBRI have tarps to cover their stages to keep any water out. SBRI also does damp mopping before performances to get pollen off the surface. Additionally, the company is building a shed to safely store the floor long-term when it's not in use. "Of course, it's heavy, but laying down the floor and putting it away was not an issue at all," says Fox, adding that both were easy to accomplish with a crew of four people.

Since the Harlequin Cascade surface is versatile enough to support a wide range of dance styles—and even opera and theater sets—both PBT and SBRI are partnering with other local arts organizations to put their outdoor stages to use as much as possible. Because audiences are hungry for art right now.

"In September, I made our outdoor performance shorter so we wouldn't have to worry about intermission or bathrooms, but when it was over, they just sat there," says Jaffe, with a laugh. "People were so grateful and so happy to see us perform. We just got an overwhelming response of love and gratitude."

Marisa Grywalski and Alejandro Diaz in Susan Jaffes "Carmina Terra," part of PBT's Open Air Series last fall.

Kelly Perkovich, courtesy Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre

February 2021