On the Rise: Courtney Henry
Photo by RJ Muna, Courtesy LINES.
At six feet tall, Courtney Henry cuts an unforgettable silhouette across the stage. Diligent attention to detail and an ear for syncopation allow her to traverse memorably through the solos and duets of Alonzo King’s work. Articulating impossibly long limbs, attuned like the antennae of a creature in unknown territory, there seems no limit to this Alonzo King LINES Ballet dancer’s potential.
“Her stellar attributes and humility supply all the ingredients needed in a recipe for greatness.”
Company: Alonzo King LINES Ballet
Hometown: West Palm Beach, FL
Training: Palm Beach Ballet Center, The Ailey School, Ailey/Fordham BFA Program
Accolades: Youth America Grand Prix “Stars of Tomorrow” finalist, 2013 Princess Grace Award
Breakout moment: Henry celebrated her one-year anniversary with the company when LINES performed Scheherazade and Resin at the Joyce Theater in May 2012. Working through performance anxiety that she describes as “Mt. Everest–sized fears,” a recent breakup and a dance partner with the flu, Henry responded with abandon. Her lack of confidence dropped with her first entrance on to the stage, spurred on by an inner fire that surprised even her.
In King’s eyes: “Early in her training she decided that she was going to be herself. And she has remained true to that, not in indulgence but in the constant search for her unique contribution to the field.”
Challenges: Due to her long limbs, Henry did not receive many opportunities to work on partnering during her training. Though she is now fortunate to be in a tall environment at LINES, she says, “partnering is still an issue for me.” Letting her guard down has been difficult. “I have had so much personal growth, and now I am building a relationship with my colleague Robb Beresford. But I still have thoughts: Can he handle my limbs and weight?”
On the horizon: Henry is looking forward to an upcoming LINES collaboration with R&B vocalist Lisa Fischer. And she's excited about her future: "I'm sure I'll be making countless more mistakes, but I’m learning from the journey."
Yvonne Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets (AKA "the mattress dance") hasn't been revived since it premiered in 1965. Nor has Rainer had any wish to do it again, to ask performers to heave 10 mattresses around while carrying out 31 tasks that changed every 30 seconds. It was an unwieldy, difficult dance. (Even the title is unwieldy.) But Emily Coates, who has danced in Rainer's work for 20 years, became curious about this piece and was determined to see it again—and to dance in it. She will get her wish November 15–17, when the mattress dance will be performed as part of the Performa 19 Biennial.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
"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.