Plugged In

August 31, 2012

Photographers to follow online, Susan Rethorst’s
A Choreographic Mind, Two Dutch National Ballet DVDs, Fifth Wall iPad app, Broadway or Bust on PBS



Photographer Christopher Duggan updates his blog with photos like this one of Yin Yue on the Inside/Out stage at Jacob’s Pillow. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Duggan.



Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. If you’re seeking some inspiration, here are a few dance photographers who regularly post images that will get you going:

At Christopher Duggan’s blog (, the photographer shares his favorite photos taken during performances at venues like the Joyce. As the resident photographer of Jacob’s Pillow, his weekly summer updates briefly transport you to that haven of dance.

Matthew Murphy
, an American Ballet Theatre dancer before he became a photographer, has a great eye for dance shapes. His high-style promotional shoots with Broadway stars and modern companies, as well as intimate performance photos, are updated daily at his Facebook page,

Gene Schiavone
seems to be everywhere at once. He regularly shoots all the big ballet companies in performance, from ABT to the Bolshoi and Kirov (Mariinsky), capturing jaw-dropping moments from some of the biggest stars. See

Other ballet-centric pages to “Like” are Angela Sterling’s, who takes fantastic photos of Pacific Northwest Ballet and Dutch National Ballet ( and The Ballerina Project (, photographer Dane Shitagi’s dreamy collection of photos that puts dancers from ABT, Miami City Ballet, and Boston Ballet on busy city streets and quiet, sweeping landscapes. —Kina Poon



A Choreographic Mind: Autobodygraphical Writings

By Susan Rethorst

Published by Teatterikorkeakoulu.

150 pages. 28€.

Early on in Susan Rethorst’s compelling new collection of essays, A Choreographic Mind: Autobodygraphical Writings, we learn about what she calls her “disinclination for talk.” As a child, Rethorst recounts, tracing her spatial and physical proclivities to her early impressions of the world, she found solace in silence, solitude. Later, as a student of choreography at Bennington College, she began to develop a practice of steady, intuitive dancemaking—applying the principle of “dailiness” inherited from her teacher Judith Dunn—without verbally analyzing the what, why, and how of it. “For the first eight or nine years of making dances,” she writes, “not only could I not have said, but I had in fact no interest in saying what it was that I was doing and responding to, why I was drawn in certain directions and not others, nor what the things I got to were going to ‘mean’ to the viewer.”

Any dancemaker—or any artist, for that matter—with an aversion to questions like, “What is your work about?” or “Why did you make this work?” will find their own kind of solace in this book. While A Choreographic Mind is, in itself, the product of Rethorst’s journey away from silence, toward a rigorous articulation of how and why she does what she does, it makes a powerful case against the need to define, in words, a dance’s function or meaning while in the process of making it. Rethorst champions, instead, “making with trust in immediacy and physicality,”  relying on “the knowledge first found in the body by the body.” Her keenly insightful, frequently funny prose—which ambles, hiccups, and surges across the page with the same candor and clarity as the dances she puts onstage—guides us through the life and mind of an artist and teacher whose work rests on the humble conviction that “my dances are smarter than I am.” It’s a profoundly pleasurable, if sometimes slightly meandering journey. But as Rethorst says to her students when proposing a new method of thinking (or not thinking) about movement, “Don’t take my word for it.” Get your hands on a copy, and read it. —Siobhan Burke

Rethorst ca. 1980. Photo by John Mann, Courtesy Rethorst.





Don Quichot: Dutch National Ballet

Arthaus Musik. 152 minutes. $29.99.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

Arthaus Musik. 135 minutes. $29.99.

The Dutch National Ballet has been nurturing a partnership between Matthew Golding, a Canadian dancer who quickly rose to principal after leaving American Ballet Theatre’s corps, and Russian ballerina Anna Tsygankova (who are a couple both onstage and off). Two DVDs flaunt these leading dancers: Alexei Ratmansky’s Don Quichot (Golding’s Basilio earned him his principal promotion) and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, by Wayne Eagling and Toer van Schayk.

Ratmansky’s Don Q has earned rave reviews for its beautiful sets and costumes, and his sensitive treatment of what can be an incredibly silly libretto (Pacific Northwest Ballet recently acquired this version). But at its center are the showstopping pas de deux for the dancers. As the choreographer says in an interview for the DVD booklet, “After all, this ballet is essentially about each dancer being able to show off their best qualities.” Tsygankova’s sweetly flirtatious Kitri is complemented by Golding’s good-natured presence. Maia Makhateli is a standout for her blazingly quick Cupid.

While it’s early in the year for Nutcracker (outside the U.S. the ballet is performed year-round), this version is enjoyable for its setting in an Amsterdam canal house, complete with ice skaters gliding on the frozen-over water. Golding is more in his element as the elegant Prince, while the delicate Tsygankova impresses with sustained balances and strong lines. —K. P.

iPad Apps

The opportunity to make a dance is at your fingertips, with the Fifth Wall app from 2wice Arts Foundation. Dancer/choreographer Jonah Bokaer performs four short dances in a black box whose dimensions match those of the iPad. As the camera rotates, Bokaer suddenly appears to be climbing up a wall or suspended from the ceiling, unbound by gravity. The viewing experience is left up to you. You can watch the same sequence from four points of view, or the four dances simultaneously—in split-screen view (toggle the order with the swipe of your finger) or embedded within each other (creating a falling-down-the-rabbit-hole effect). $0.99 at the App Store. —K. P.

A screenshot from the Fifth Wall app, with Jonah Bokaer.





When 60 high school students from across the country converged on the Minskoff Theater last June, they weren’t just competing for the National High School Musical Theater Awards. The weeklong Broadway intensive was filmed by PBS, and Broadway or Bust will air as three hour-long episodes on Sundays at 8:00P.M. EST, starting Sept. 9. Look out for choreographer Kiesha Lalama; Smash star (and recent Tony winner for Peter and the Starcatcher) Christian Borle, on hand as a mentor; and Montego Glover (Memphis), one of seven judges. Tune in to see who will win scholarships to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a $10,000 prize. —K. P.