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NYC's Upcoming Season is Full of Powerful Women

Bausch's Rite of Spring, Courtesy BAM

Maybe it's just by chance, but it seems like the upcoming lineup in New York City is designed to remind us of the women giants of our field. What a great welcome to the new season!

• Twyla Tharp brings new and old work to the Joyce. She may be the most prolific living choreographer in any genre. Her movement is always bursting with inventiveness, and she challenges her mighty dancers with impossibly complex and non-stop motion.


Tharp's Raggedy Dances (1982) with Sara Rudner and Rose Marie Wright, PC William Pierce

• Two formative works by Pina Bausch are coming to Brooklyn Academy of Music: The Rite of Spring and Café Müller. Bausch shook the international dance (and theater) world with her brash and brilliant work 30 years ago. Though she died in 2009, her dancers still make complacency impossible at the same time as they satisfy our lust for a rich, provocative imagination onstage.

• Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker's Vortex Temporum exploded onto the stage of BAM last fall and, in a different version, at the Museum of Modern Art's atrium a few months later. The power of dance and music pushing each other's momentum gives us a visceral thrill. She premieres A Love Supreme with music by John Coltrane at New York Live Arts.

• Germaine Acogny, known as "the mother of contemporary African dance," is a commanding performer in her own right. At the age of 73, she tackles Stravinsky's Rite of Spring at BAM. The solo, titled Mon élue noire (My Black Chosen One): Sacre #2 is choreographed by Olivier Dubois.

• The Trisha Brown Dance Company helps open Fall for Dance at New York City Center with a duet from the 1990s. On the same program is a premiere by a more current giantess—Michelle Dorrance.

Dorrance, center, in her Myelination, PC Julieta Cervantes

In Memoriam
A flyer showing Alberto Alonso, Fernando Alonso, Benjamin Steinberg and Alicia Alonso. Photo courtesy the author

Alicia has died. I walked around my apartment feeling her spirit, but knowing something had changed utterly.

My father, the late conductor Benjamin Steinberg, was the first music director of the Ballet de Cuba, as it was called then. I grew up in Vedado on la Calle 1ra y doce in a building called Vista al Mar. My family lived there from 1959 to 1963. My days were filled with watching Alicia teach class, rehearse and dance. She was everything: hilarious, serious, dramatic, passionate and elegiac. You lost yourself and found yourself when you loved her.

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Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.

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Hansuke Yamamoto in Helgi Tomasson's Nutcracker at San Francisco Ballet, which features an exciting and respectful Chinese divertissement. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

It's Nutcracker time again: the season of sweet delights and a sparkling good time—if we're able to ignore the sour taste left behind by the outdated racial stereotypes so often portrayed in the second act.

In 2017, as a result of a growing list of letters from audience members, to New York City Ballet's ballet master in chief Peter Martins reached out to us asking for assistance on how to modify the elements of Chinese caricature in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker. Following that conversation, we founded the Final Bow for Yellowface pledge that states, "I love ballet as an art form, and acknowledge that to achieve a diversity amongst our artists, audiences, donors, students, volunteers, and staff, I am committed to eliminating outdated and offensive stereotypes of Asians (Yellowface) on our stages."

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Dance & Activism
Allegra Bautista in Nevertheless, by ka·nei·see | collective. Photo by Robbie Sweeny

An audience member once emailed Dallas choreographer Joshua L. Peugh, claiming his work was vulgar. It complained that he shouldn't be pushing his agenda. As the artistic director of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance, Peugh's recent choreography largely deals with LGBTQ issues.

"I got angry when I saw that email, wrote my angry response, deleted it, and then went back and explained to him that that's exactly why I should be making those works," says Peugh.

With the current political climate as polarized as it is, many artists today feel compelled to use their work to speak out on issues they care deeply about. But touring with a message is not for the faint of heart. From considerations about how to market the work to concerns about safety, touring to cities where, in general, that message may not be so welcome, requires companies to figure out how they'll respond to opposition.

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