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
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."
What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
If you think becoming a trainee or apprentice is the only path to gaining experience in a dance company environment, think again.
The University of Arizona, located in the heart of Tucson, acclimates dancers to the pace and rigor of company life while offering all the academic opportunities of a globally-ranked university. If you're looking to get a head-start on your professional dance career—or to just have a college experience that balances company-level training and repertory with rigorous academics—the University of Arizona's undergraduate and graduate programs have myriad opportunites to offer:
Yes, we realize it's only August. But we can't help but to already be musing about all the incredible dance happenings of 2019.
We're getting ready for our annual Readers' Choice feature, and we want to hear from you about the shows you can't stop thinking about, the dance videos that blew your mind and the artists you discovered this year who everyone should know about.
I dance to encourage others. The longer I dance, the more I see that much of my real work is to speak life-giving words to my fellow artists. This is a multidimensionally grueling profession. I count it a privilege to remind my colleagues of how they are bringing beauty into the world through their craft. I recently noticed significant artistic growth in a fellow dancer, and when I verbalized what I saw, he beamed. The impact of positive feedback is deeper than we realize.