Dance in Pop Culture

Benjamin Millepied Teamed Up With Some of Our Fave Dancers in a Mesmerizing Video for Rag & Bone

via Instagram

Benjamin Millepied is dipping his toes into New York Fashion Week—sort of. The artistic director of L.A. Dance Project recently worked with fashion brand Rag & Bone to create a dance-focused short film that replaced the brand's traditional runway show. "Why Can't We Get Along" stars actors Kate Mara and Ansel Elgort, and it also includes some familiar dance faces.


Modeling Rag & Bone's Spring 2018 collection, you'll find eight members of American Ballet Theatre, three Hiplet dancers, three members of Bullettrun Parkour and YouTube dance star Kandi Reign. The totally trippy video also features music by Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and begins with Kate Mara stumbling around an abandoned warehouse as the dancers move around her.

The video includes cameras swinging from pendulums and iPhone footage filmed by Elgort. According to Le Cinéma Club, the entire short was filmed in one day at Greenpoint Terminal in Brooklyn—which is pretty impressive given that there are several dance sequences throughout.

Designers joining forces with dancers for fashion week has become a trend we're all in favor for. New York City Ballet dancers have appeared in shows for Opening Ceremony, and last season, Pam Tanowitz choreographed the presentation for TOME. As athleisure wear becomes more popular, we're even seeing dancers as the stars of major campaigns. Emma Portner just joined Rag & Bone, the Hiplet dancers collaborated with Jonathan Simkhai and, of course, NYCB has been working with Puma for several seasons.

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Rant & Rave
Jessica Lang's Her Notes, one of ABT's few recent commissions from women. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor

A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.

"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.

Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.

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The inimitable Alicia Alonso, now 97, remains at the helm of Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Photo by Leysis Quesada, Courtesy BNC

On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.

Dance in Pop Culture
Participants show off their plié. Screenshot via YouTube

We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)

Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?

SELF decided to find out.

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What Wendy's Watching
PC Paul Kolnik

New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.


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92Y Harkness Dance Center is hosting the first festival dedicated to dance films captured on mobile devices. Photo by Adam Grannick, Courtesy 92Y

Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.

Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:

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Lisset Santander is adding more contemporary works to her repertoire. Here with Jarrett Reimers in Christopher Wheeldon's Fools Paradise. Photo by Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet.

When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.

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James Samson in Three Dubious Memories. Photo by Paul B. Goode, courtesy Paul Taylor Dance Company

For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.

But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.

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via Instagram

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Rant & Rave
The power dynamics and working environments in dance can leave women vulnerable. Photo by Soragrit Wongsa/Unsplash

When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.

Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.

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