Performances Onstage this Month
Above: Ben Folds and Nashville Ballet’s Sadie Bo Harris
Ben Folds Joins the Ballet
It’s no surprise that in Nashville, aka “Music City,” Nashville Ballet has become known for its collaborations with musical artists. Pop star Ben Folds visits the company May 2–4 to accompany artistic director Paul Vasterling’s new Ben Folds Piano Concerto at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center. The starry collaboration with Folds, one of the biggest celebrities to pair up with Nashville Ballet, may bring new audiences to Petite Mort (a company premiere) and Serenade, which complete the program. nashvilleballet.com.
NEW YORK CITY
These days, it seems like French contemporary dance has gone conceptual. But there’s a wide range, and we’re about to see a big slice of it. From May 1–18, under the banner DANSE: A French-American Festival of Performance & Ideas, 17 U.S. premieres will fill New York City theaters, from the Chocolate Factory to the Joyce. One highlight is the excellent Lyon Opera Ballet in Christian Rizzo’s dreamlike ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang at BAM. Another is the disturbingly bizarre Baron Samedi, a “choreographic opera” by the late Alain Buffard, at New York Live Arts. Look for familiar New York City dancers David Thomson and Will Rawls—and, from the Ivory Coast, the raw, awe-inspiring Nadia Beugré. frenchculture.org/DANSE.
Above: Lyon Opera Ballet in ni fleurs, ni ford-mustang
NEW YORK CITY
Danspace Project has deepened the way we look at choreography through its PLATFORM programming. Launched in 2010, the series refracts many ideas through a single theme or dance artist, spreading its offerings over a month. PLATFORM 2014: Diary of an Image delves into the work of DD Dorvillier, a supremely quirky dancer/choreographer. Nothing she does can be construed as graceful, yet her antics—be they austere or silly—draw you in. From May 19–June 14, Danspace presents two new works by Dorvillier, performances by her collaborators (including favorite downtown composer Zeena Parkins) and a publication that includes writings by some of her fellow explorers: Heather Kravas, Jennifer Lacey and Jennifer Monson. danspaceproject.org.
Above: DD Dorvillier in No Change or “freedom is a psycho-kinetic skill”
Twice as Nice
Geographically, the Netherlands may only be about the size of Maryland, but the tiny country has produced a disproportionate number of remarkable artists. Dutch National Ballet shows off that cultural abundance in Dutch Doubles, which matches up four Netherlands-based choreographers with fellow countrymen from the fields of fashion, music, photography and sculpture. Hans van Manen, one of the founding fathers of European contemporary dance, will work with renowned harpist Remy van Kesteren, 56 years van Manen’s junior; honorary Dutchman Jorma Elo (he’s Finnish, but danced with Nederlands Dans Theater for years) will pair his spiky pop culture–tinged choreography with fashion from red-hot design duo Viktor & Rolf. Rounding out the choreographic quartet are the acutely musical Ton Simons and rising star Juanjo Arqués. National Opera & Ballet, April 16–May 7. operaballet.nl.
Above: DNB’s Igone de Jongh (right) and Rink Sliphorst in Viktor & Rolf’s costumes
Romeo and Juliet Redux
It takes a sort of wild courage to reimagine a work as iconic as Romeo and Juliet. But beyond the name and score, it’s hard to make a side-by-side comparison between Krzysztof Pastor’s contemporary take on the story, which the Joffrey Ballet gives its U.S. premiere starting April 30, and the more traditional version by Kenneth MacMillan. Choreographed on the Scottish Ballet in 2008, Pastor’s ballet is set in three different decades of 20th-century Italy, following the country through fascism and war. In lieu of a set, a multimedia video backdrop allows Pastor to jump from era to era. The costuming is more pedestrian than Shakespearean, the choreography more confrontational than swoony. Roosevelt University, April 30–May 11. joffrey.org.
Above: Joffrey Ballet’s Alberto Velazquez and Mahallia Ward as Romeo and Juliet
Photos from top: ANTHONYMATULA, Courtesy Nashville Ballet; Michael Cavalca; Thomas Dunn; Petrovsky & Ramone, Courtesy Dutch National Ballet; Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet
Thirty years ago, U.S. Joint Resolution 131, introduced by congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Alphonse D'Amato (R-NY), and signed into law by President G. W. Bush declared:
"Whereas the multifaceted art form of tap dancing is a manifestation of the cultural heritage of our Nation...
Whereas tap dancing is a joyful and powerful aesthetic force providing a source of enjoyment and an outlet for creativity and self-expression...
Whereas it is in the best interest of the people of our Nation to preserve, promote, and celebrate this uniquely American art form...
Whereas May 25, as the anniversary of the birth of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson is an appropriate day on which to refocus the attention of the Nation on American tap dancing: Now therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress that May 25, 1989, be designated "National Tap Dance Day."
Happy National Tap Dance Day!
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Over the past 15 years, Gesel Mason has asked 11 choreographers—including legends like Donald McKayle, David Roussève, Bebe Miller, Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Rennie Harris and Kyle Abraham—to teach her a solo. She's performed up to seven of them in one evening for her project No Boundaries: Dancing the Visions of Contemporary Black Choreographers.
Now, Mason is repackaging the essence of this work into a digital archive. This online offering shares the knowledge of a few with many, and considers how dance can live on as those who create it get older.
When a musical prepares to make the transfer from a smaller, lesser-known venue to Broadway (where theaters hold 500-plus seats), often there's a collective intake of breath from all involved. After all, a bigger house means more tickets to sell in order to stay in the black, and sometimes shows with even the most tenacious fan bases can't quite navigate such a jump. But what about the transfer from stage…to screen? Is Broadway ready to be consumed from the comfort of your couch?
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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Daphne Lee was dancing with Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennessee, when she received two difficult pieces of news: Her mother had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, and her father had Parkinson's disease, affecting his mobility and mental faculties.
The New Jersey native's reaction: "I really need to move home."
Summer is almost upon us, and whether you're a student about to go on break or a pro counting the days till layoff, don't forget that with warm weather comes a very serious responsibility: To maintain your cross-training routine on your own.
Those of us who've tried to craft our own cross-training routine know it's easier said than done. So we consulted the stars, and rounded up the best options for every zodiac sign. (TBH, you should probably consult an expert, too—we'd recommend a physical therapist, a personal trainer or your teacher.)
It's become second nature in dance studios: The instant anyone gets hurt, our immediate reaction is to run to the freezer to grab some ice (or, more realistically, a package of frozen peas).
But as routine as icing our injuries might be, the benefits are not actually backed up by scientific studies. And some experts now believe icing could even disrupt the healing process.
I'm a contemporary dancer, and I'm nervous about trying to get pregnant since I can't predict if it might happen during the middle of the season. We have a union contract that is supposed to protect us. But I'm scared because several of my colleagues' contracts weren't renewed for no particular reason. Having a big belly could be a big reason to get rid of me!
—Andrea, New York, NY
When the going gets tough, the tough start dancing: That's the premise behind "Dance of Urgency," a recently opened exhibit at MuseumsQuartier Vienna that features photos, video and other documentary material relating to the use of dance as political protest or social uprising.
The groups featured in the show, largely based around clubs and electronic dance music scenes, span the globe and respond to a variety of issues—from inequality and social stratification to racial divides to crackdowns on club culture itself.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.