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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
New York City–based dancers know Gibney. It's a performance venue, a dance company, a rehearsal space, an internship possibility—a Rubik's Cube of resources bundled into two sites at 280 and 890 Broadway. And in March of this year, Gibney (having officially dropped "Dance" from its name) announced a major expansion of its space and programming; it now operates a total of 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces across the two locations.
Six of those studios and one performance space are brand-new at the 280 Broadway location, along with several programs. EMERGE will commission new works by emerging choreographic voices for the resident Gibney Dance Company each year; Making Space+ is an extension of Gibney's Making Space commissioning and presenting program, focused on early-career artists. For the next three years, the Joyce Theater Foundation's artist residency programs will be run out of one of the new Gibney studios, helping to fill the gap left by the closing of the Joyce's DANY Studios in 2016.
What is the right flooring system for us?
So many choices, companies, claims, endorsements, and recommendations to consider. The more you look, the more confusing it gets. Here is what you need to do. Here is what you need to know to get the flooring system suited to your needs.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't possibly give you the amount of money you're asking for."
My heart sinks at my director's final response to my salary proposal. She insists it's not me or my work, there is just no money in the budget. My disappointment grows when handed the calendar for Grand Rapids Ballet's next season with five fewer weeks of work.
"It just...always looks better in my head."
While that might not be something any of us would want to hear from a choreographer, it's a brilliant introduction to "Off Kilter" and the odd, insecure character at its center, Milton Frank. The ballet mockumentary (think "The Office" or "Parks and Recreation," but with pointe shoes) follows Frank (dancer-turned-filmmaker Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla) as he comes back to the studio to try his hand at choreographing for the first time since a plagiarism scandal derailed his fledgling career back in the '90s.
We've been pretty excited about the series for a while, and now the wait is finally over. The first episode of the show, "The Denial," went live earlier today, and it's every bit as awkward, hilarious and relatable as we hoped.
Dancers crossing over into the fitness realm may be increasingly popular, but it was never part of French-born Julie Granger's plan. Though Granger grew up a serious ballet student, taking yoga classes on the side eventually led to a whole new career. Creating her own rules along the way, Granger shares how combining the skills she learned in ballet with certifications in yoga, barre and personal training allowed her to become her own boss (and a rising fitness influencer).
Travis Wall draws inspiration from dancers Tate McCrae, Timmy Blankenship and more.
One often-overlooked relationship that exists in dance is the relationship between choreographer and muse. Recently two-time Emmy Award Winner Travis Wall opened up about his experience working with dancers he considers to be his muses.
"My muses in choreography have evolved over the years," says Wall. "When I'm creating on Shaping Sound, our company members, my friends, are my muses. But at this current stage of my career, I'm definitely inspired by new, fresh talent."
Wall adds, "I'm so inspired by this new generation of dancers. Their teachers have done such incredible jobs, and I've seen these kids grown up. For many of them, I've had a hand in their exposure to choreography."
José Greco popularized Spanish dance in 1950s and '60s America through his work onstage and on screen. Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater's American Spanish Dance & Music Festival is honoring the icon in recognition of what would have been his 100th birthday. As part of the tribute, Greco's three dancing children are reuniting to perform together for the first time since their father's death in 2000. Also on the program is the premiere of contemporary flamenco choreographer Carlos Rodriguez's Mar de Fuego (Sea of Fire). June 15–17, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. ensembleespanol.org.
Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Christopher McDaniel and Crystal Serrano were working on Nacho Duato's Coming Together in rehearsal when McDaniel's foot hit a slippery spot on the marley. As they attempted a swinging lift, both dancers went tumbling, injuring Serrano as they fell. She ended up being out for a week with a badly bruised knee.
"I immediately felt, This is my fault," says McDaniel. "I broke my friend."
What's on the minds of college students today?
I recently had the honor of adjudicating at the American College Dance Association's National College Dance Festival, along with choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess and former National Endowment for the Arts dance specialist Douglas C. Sonntag. We chose three winners—one for Outstanding Choreography and two for Outstanding Performance—from 30 pieces representing schools throughout the country. It was a great opportunity to see what college dance students are up to—from the issues they care about to the kinds movement they're interested in exploring.
Here were the biggest trends and takeaways:
It's summer festival season! If you're feeling overwhelmed by the dizzying array of offerings, never fear: We've combed through the usual suspects to highlight the shows we most want to catch.
Subscription box services have quickly gained a dedicated following among the fashion and fitness set. And while we'd never say no to a box with new jewelry or workout wear to try, we've been waiting for the subscription model to make its way to the dance world.
Enter barre + bag, a new service that sends a curated set of items to your door each season. Created by Faye Morrow Bell and her daughter Tyler, a student in the pre-professional ballet program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, this just-launched service offers dance, lifestyle and wellness finds in four themed bags each year: Spring Performance, Summer Study, Back-to-Studio and Nutcracker. Since all the products are specifically made for dancers, everything barre + bag sends you is something you'll actually use, (Plus, it all comes in a bag instead of a box—because what dancer can ever have enough bags?).
barre + bag's Summer Collection
Today, American Ballet Theatre announced a new initiative to foster the development of choreography by company members and freelance dancemakers. Aptly titled ABT Incubator, the program, directed by principal David Hallberg, will give selected choreographers the opportunity to spend two weeks workshopping new dances.
"It has always been my vision to establish a process-oriented hub to explore the directions ballet can forge now and in the future," said Hallberg in a press release from the company. Interested? Here's how you can apply to participate.
Back in January, Chase Johnsey grabbed headlines when he resigned from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, where his performances had garnered critical acclaim for over a decade, alleging a culture of harassment and discrimination. (An independent investigation launched by the company did not substantiate any legal claims.) Johnsey, who identifies as genderqueer, later told us that he feared his dance career was at an end—where else, as a ballet dancer, would he be allowed to perform traditionally female roles?
But the story didn't end there. After a surprise offer from Tamara Rojo, artistic director of English National Ballet, Johnsey has found a temporary artistic home with the company, joining as a guest at the rank of first artist for its run of The Sleeping Beauty, which continues this week. After weeks of working and rehearsing with the company, last week Johnsey quietly marked a new milestone: He performed with ENB's corps de ballet as one of the ladies in the prince's court.