Why Patricia Delgado Is Loving Life After Miami City Ballet
When the former Miami City Ballet principal Patricia Delgado retired last spring, at age 34, she had made few plans for the future. She knew she was moving to New York City to be with her boyfriend of several years (now fiancé), the extremely busy young choreographer Justin Peck. And she knew she wanted to keep dancing, though going to college was another option she was considering.
But that was about all she had set.
When she got an invitation from Damian Woetzel to take part in the Vail Dance Festival in the late summer, she went with an open mind, ready to try anything. And sure enough, she got to dance an excerpt of Peck's Year of the Rabbit and took part in the creation of a new work by the New York City Ballet–based dancer and choreographer Lauren Lovette.
Delgado and Tanowitz met at Vail Dance Festival. Photo by Rachel Papo
More importantly, though, she made a connection with someone outside the world of ballet. During a car ride from the airport with Pam Tanowitz, the modern-dance choreographer turned to Delgado and asked, "Why haven't we worked together?" To which Delgado said, "Let's play!"
The piece they created there was called Solo for Patti, and it used pointework, a technique Tanowitz is interested in but with which she has limited experience. "We were discovering how to work together," Tanowitz explains, "with no expectations."
Delgado, too, was stretched by the experience. "She pushed me away from ballet," says Delgado. "She asked me not to do too much with my face, and to be more physical."
Rehearsing Blueprint with Jason Collins and Victor Lozano. Photo by Rachel Papo
Earlier this year, Tanowitz and Delgado collaborated again, on a trio created for DEMO: Now, part of a series Woetzel curates at the Kennedy Center. Blueprint is danced off-pointe and composed in a vocabulary reminiscent of the clean, spare virtuosity of Merce Cunningham.
The movement sequences were created in silence, a new experience for Delgado. Working this way, she says, helped her focus on the internal logic and timing of the steps. "There's something peaceful about that," she explains.
In a Blueprint rehearsal with two male partners, Delgado was like a student, soaking it all in. She watched carefully, analyzed, asked questions and assimilated.
Blueprint was created in silence, a new experience for Delgado. Photo by Rachel Papo
At one point in the trio, she partners one of the men in a sequence in which she supports him as he does an arabesque penché. She couldn't quite find the right position. Tanowitz's assistant gave her a suggestion: "Use your trunk." Her eyes lit up: "Oh, like the Cubans always say! Use your hips!" Problem solved.
To understand the movement quality Tanowitz was looking for, Delgado started taking Cunningham technique classes. Which led her to think about aspects of ballet that she had never considered. "It's beautiful and we have a lot of rules, but it's so weird sometimes. In some cases, if you do something slightly differently, you can go so much further."
Delgado took Cunningham technique classes to better understand Tanowitz's movement vocabulary. Photo by Rachel Papo
Dancing on a less intensive schedule has also allowed her body to heal. Like many dancers, Delgado's last years at MCB were plagued by injuries. Eventually, the cycle of injury and recovery began to erode her sense of purpose: "I was fighting my body," she says. "There has to be more to life than coming back to perform, only to get injured again."
Now, if something hurts, she takes it easy. She does yoga at home in the mornings. She swims several times a week and takes Gyrotonic classes. She takes ballet classes at Steps on Broadway with Wilhelm Burmann or Nancy Bielski, or at New York City Center, with Zvi Gotheiner. The fear of reinjuring herself, so paralyzing before, has started to fade.
Over the holidays, she put in a few guest performances of The Nutcracker, and she doesn't discount taking on more ballet gigs in the future. Just before that, she appeared in a revival of the Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon, directed by Christopher Wheeldon. It was a revelation. "I was definitely bitten by the Broadway bug," she says. "Acting has always been my favorite thing about dancing."
Also last fall, she got to flex her acting chops in a music video for the band The National, directed by Peck. To the song "Dark Side of the Gym," the couple danced a quietly romantic pas de deux, their first time performing together. "It was so real to get to dance with him; he wasn't the director or the choreographer when we were dancing," she says. "He really came to me."
Earlier this year, she started to stage ballets, setting Peck's In Creases on Boston Ballet, and she and her sister Jeanette collaborated on a staging of his Heatscape at Dresden Semperoper Ballet. She relishes the process, analyzing the steps and learning all the parts so that she can show them in the studio.
"I love this art so much," she says. "I always wanted to give back. And I like to see people dance well."
More than anything, what this year has taught her is self-reliance. In Miami, she was surrounded by her colleagues; their presence encouraged and stimulated her. Now she often finds herself on her own, working to stay in shape, rehearsing, making plans for the future. She admits it can be daunting at times.
"But," she reflects, "it's refreshing to find my own way."
Delgado has embraced life as a freelancer. Photo by Rachel Papo
Choosing music for your first-ever choreography commission can feel daunting enough. But when you're asked to create a ballet using the vast discography of the Rolling Stones—and you happen to be dating Stones frontman Mick Jagger—the stakes are even higher.
So it's understandable that as of Monday, American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, whose Port Rouge will have its U.S. premiere tonight at the Youth America Grand Prix gala, was still torn about which songs to include.
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.
What is an acceptable request from a choreographer in terms of nudity? On the first day of shooting All That Jazz in the 1970s, Bob Fosse asked us men to remove everything but our jock straps and the women to remove their tops. His rationale was to shock us in order to build character, and it felt disloyal to refuse. Would this behavior be considered okay today?
As much as audiences might flock to Swan Lake or The Nutcracker, ballet can't only rely on old war horses if it wants to remain relevant. But building new full-lengths from scratch isn't exactly cheap.
So where can companies find the money?
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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Today—April 16, 2019—marks what would have been Merce Cunningham's 100th birthday. As dancers from Los Angeles to New York City to London gear up for Night of 100 Solos (the marathon performance event being livestreamed today), and as companies and presenters worldwide continue to celebrate the Cunningham Centennial through their programming, we searched through the Dance Magazine Archives to unearth our favorite images of the groundbreaking dancemaker.
A bright disposition with a dab of astringent charm is how I remember Brock Hayhoe, a National Ballet School of Canada schoolmate. Because we were a couple years apart, we barely brushed shoulders, except at the odd Toronto dance party where we could dance all night with mutual friends letting our inhibitions subside through the music. Dancing always allows a deeper look.
But, as my late great ballet teacher Pyotr Pestov told me when I interviewed him for Dance Magazine in 2009, "You never know what a flower is going to look like until it opens up."
One night. Three cities. Seventy-five dancers. And three unique sets of 100 solos, all choreographed by Merce Cunningham.
This incredible evening of dance will honor Cunningham's 100th birthday on April 16. The Merce Cunningham Trust has teamed up with The Barbican in London, the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City and the Center for the Art of Performance in Los Angeles for a tri-city celebration.
The best part? You don't have to be in those cities to watch—Night of 100 Solos is being live-streamed in its entirety for free.
When George Balanchine's full-length Don Quixote premiered in 1965, critics and audiences alike viewed the ballet as a failure. Elaborate scenery and costumes framed mawkish mime passages, like one in which the ballerina washed the Don's feet and dried them with her hair. Its revival in 2005 by Suzanne Farrell, the ballerina on whom it was made and to whom Balanchine left the work, did little to alter its reputation.
Yet at New York City Center's Balanchine festival last fall, some regretted its absence.
"I'd want to see Balanchine's Don Quixote," says Apollinaire Scherr, dance critic for the Financial Times. "It was a labor of love on his part, and a love letter as well. And you want to know what that looks like in his work."
Even great choreographers make mistakes. Sometimes they fail on a grand scale, like Don Quixote; other times it may be a minor misstep. Experiment and risk help choreographers grow, but what happens when a choreographer of stature misfires? Should the work remain in the repertory? And what about a work that fails on some levels but not others?
After the horrific March 15 terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques, the music and arts community sprang into action to plan a way to help victims and their families. A series of resulting concerts, titled "You Are Us/Aroha Nui," will take place in New Zealand (April 13 and 17), Jersey City, New Jersey (April 17) and Los Angeles (April 18). Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Our People, Our City Fund, which was established by the Christchurch Foundation to aid those affected by the attacks.
Throughout 2019, the Merce Cunningham Trust continues a global celebration that will be one of the largest tributes to a dance artist ever. Under the umbrella of the Merce Cunningham Centennial are classes and workshops, film screenings and festivals, art exhibitions and symposia, and revivals and premieres of original works inspired by the dancemaker's ideas. The fever peaks on April 16, which would have been the pioneering choreographer's 100th birthday, with Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, featuring a total of 75 dancers in three performances live-streamed from London, Los Angeles and New York City.
Cloud & Victory gets dancers. The dancewear brand's social media drools over Roberto Bolle's abs, sets classical variations to Beyoncé and moans over Mondays and long adagios. And it all comes from the mind of founder Tan Li Min, the boss lady who takes on everything from designs to inventory to shipping orders.
Known simply (and affectionately) to the brand's 41K Instagram followers as Min, she's used her wry, winking sense of humor to give the Singapore-based C&V international cachet.
She recently spoke with Dance Magazine about building the brand, overcoming insecurity and using pizza as inspiration.
The Ballet Memphis New American Dance Residency, which welcomes selected choreographers for its inaugural iteration next week, goes a step beyond granting space, time and dancers for the development of new work.
This is huge news, so we'll get straight to it:
We now (finally!) know who'll be appearing onscreen alongside Ariana DeBose and the other previously announced leads in Steven Spielberg's remake of West Side Story, choreographed by Justin Peck. Unsurprisingly, the Sharks/Jets cast list includes some of the best dancers in the industry.
The pleasure of watching prodigies perform technical feats on Instagram can be tinged with a sense of trepidation. Impressive tricks, you think, but do they have what it takes for an actual career?
Just look at 18-year-old Maria Khoreva, who has more followers than most seasoned principals; in videos, her lines and attention to detail suggested a precocious talent, and led to a Nike ambassador contract before she even graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy. Still, when she joined the Mariinsky Ballet last summer, there was no guarantee any of it would translate to stage prowess.
What's next for the dance world? Our annual list of the dancers, choreographers and companies that are on the verge of skyrocketing has a pretty excellent track record of answering that question.
Here they are: the 25 up-and-coming artists we believe represent the future of our field.
At six feet tall, Jesse Obremski dances as though he's investigating each movement for the first time. His quiet transitional moments are as astounding as his long lines, bounding jumps and seamless floorwork. Add in his versatility and work ethic, and it's clear why he's an invaluable asset to New York City choreographers. Currently a freelance artist with multiple contemporary groups, including Gibney Dance Company and Limón Dance Company, Obremski also choreographs for his recently formed troupe, Obremski/Works.
Last night at Parsons Dance's 2019 gala, the company celebrated one of our own: DanceMedia owner Frederic M. Seegal.
In a speech, artistic director David Parsons said that he wanted to honor Seegal for the way he devotes his energy to supporting premier art organizations, "making sure that the arts are part of who we are," he said.
It's a bit of an understatement to say that Bob Fosse was challenging to work with. He was irritable, inappropriate and often clashed with his collaborators in front of all his dancers. Fosse/Verdon, which premieres on FX tonight, doesn't sugarcoat any of this.
But for Sasha Hutchings, who danced in the first episode's rendition of "Big Spender," the mood on set was quite opposite from the one that Fosse created. Hutchings had already worked with choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler, who she calls "a dancer's dream," director Tommy Kail and music director Alex Lacamoire as a original cast member in Hamilton, and she says the collaborators' calm energy made the experience a pleasant one for the dancers.
"Television can be really stressful," she says. "There's so many moving parts and everyone has to work in sync. With Tommy, Andy and Lac I never felt the stress of that as a performer."