Photographer Jordan Matter’s
Dancers Among Us is full of images like this one of Jeffrey Smith, former member of Paul Taylor Dance Company.
Dancers Among Us: A Celebration
of Joy in the Everyday
By Jordan Matter. NYC. Workman Publishing Company, Inc. 2012. 231 pages. Illustrated. Paper. $17.95.
Inspired by his toddler son’s wide-eyed enthusiasm for life, photographer Jordan Matter decided to rediscover the world around him through his camera lens. Using professional dancers as his muses and everyday life as a canvas, Matter began photographing dancers leaping, laughing, reclining, and soaring in some of the most unconventional spots: in offices, crossing a busy street, high up in a leafy tree limb, and even in the shower!
His new book Dancers Among Us gathers a vast collection of images organized around themes like work, play, love, exploration, and dreaming, and showcases both Matter’s sensitivity and sense of humor. And there’s no Photoshopping here, so when you see Michelle Fleet suspended upside-down in a crowded office cubicle or Erin Clyne powerfully launching across train tracks while an engine’s glowing lights creep up behind her—you know it’s the real deal. Matter’s personal anecdotes about life, learning, and family are excellent companions to his photos. Honest and spontaneous, his pictures are sure to resonate with dancers and non-dancers alike. His advice to readers: “Relish moments large and small, recognize the beauty around you, and be alive!” —Emily Ancona
No Daughter of Mine is Going to Be a Dancer: Dancing for Agnes de Mille and the Giants of Dance in the 40’s
By Sharry Traver Underwood. Charleston, SC. Published by the author. 2012. 372 pages. Illustrated. Paper. $15.95.
Noel Coward gave us the song “Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage, Mrs. Worthington.” Now Sharry Traver Underwood has given us No Daughter of Mine is Going to Be a Dancer. It was her father’s viewpoint. But she left home in the artistically exciting but financially sketchy 1940s to ricochet between dance classes, performing (with Ted Shawn and many others), teaching, and a potpourri of outside jobs.
It was a hard existence, but Underwood’s account is liberally flavored with humor. She must also have kept voluminous notes over the years. Her descriptions of the works in which she danced are so clear and enticing that the reader feels like jumping up to try them. They range from Broadway gems like Bloomer Girls and Finian’s Rainbow to modern dance classics like Charles Weidman’s A House Divided and Fables for Our Time.
The book is self-published, which explains vagaries in editing. Also, some of the many photographs are too small or too foggy to do justice to Underwood’s bright text. —Doris Hering
Singin’ in the Rain: 60th Anniversary Collector’s Edition
Warner Home Video. 103 minutes. $84.99.
You haven’t heard of Ukelele Ike or the Brox Sisters. But you surely know the song they introduced in a 1929 movie—“Singin’ in the Rain.”
It’s more familiar, of course, as the centerpiece of the 1952 film, in the joyous, indelible dance sequence created by Gene Kelly. To mark its 60th anniversary, Warner Home Video has remastered the movie—considered by many the finest film musical ever—for Blu-ray and repackaged it with four hours of supplementary material, a book, and yes, even an umbrella.
The extras include reminiscences from Kelly’s co-stars, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor, and other participants; homages from contemporary performers and choreographers, like Matthew Morrison and Paula Abdul; a 1996 PBS documentary on the career of Arthur Freed, MGM’s fabled producer of musicals (and “Singin’ in the Rain” lyricist); even the cornball performance by Ike and the Broxes. Some is fascinating, some repetitive. The movie itself? Eternal. —Sylviane Gold
Part conversation, part performance, all fascinating: The Guggenheim Museum’s Works and Process program takes art lovers behind the scenes of new productions in an intimate setting. But while the museum’s theater only seats a few hundred people, W&P’s audience can number in the thousands, thanks to the program’s livestreaming of select evenings at www.ustream.com. The program’s fall season includes an in-depth look at Alexei Ratmansky’s choreography. American Ballet Theatre dancers will perform excerpts from a range of his ballets—maybe even from his upcoming premiere. W&P will also go behind the scenes of Justin Peck’s new work for New York City Ballet. The young corps member, who is making his choreographic debut on the Koch Theater stage, will talk about his collaboration with indie singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens, while principals including Ashley Bouder, Robert Fairchild, and Janie Taylor will dance excerpts. In a third program, the Royal Danish Ballet celebrates La Bayadère, 135 years young, in director Nikolaj Hübbe’s new production that the company will preview ahead of the ballet’s premiere in Copenhagen. Check www.worksandprocess.org for dates and times. —Kina Poon