Remembering Kate Vanderliet
Kate Vanderliet grew up in Orinda, California, attending summer sessions at the San Francisco Ballet School. She was a principal dancer in Hello Hollywood, Hello! starring Carol Channing, at the MGM Grand Hotel in Reno, Nevada. She also played Val in A Chorus Line after the hotel had been bought by Bally's. She became a star at The Lido in Paris, and was known for her dazzling charisma on stage. Chic, petite, and sophisticated, she commanded attention and respect.
Her death was a severe shock to many; she was only 59. She passed away from ovarian cancer. Those who worked with her described her as having boundless energy and enthusiasm. She was down to earth, friendly and open. Realistic about her career, she did not pursue ballet. She was 6 feet tall, and extremely lean and toned. Her legs and hips were beautifully sculpted; she almost looked like a mannequin. She knew her future was in the Vegas style spectaculars, and and she pursued it.
A lover of the outdoors, she spent many happy days in Lake Tahoe, skiing with her close friend, John Paul Reaves. She was always so excited about going. Although many of the other dancers spent their time training and rehearsing in the ballet studio, Kate loved to ride her bike, hike and ski. She had wonderful times at the lake with her close friends. She was sporty and athletic, and a passionate fan of Barbra Streisand. She used to blast Barbra's albums at home, and sing along with them at the top of her lungs. She later became a singer at The Lido, and effortlessly belted out "Tits And Ass" with ease in A Chorus Line. She had many talents.
Lido de Paris : Dernière de C'est Magique ! www.youtube.com
Self directed and a leader, she described herself as a one on one person, especially in love. She had many close, intimate friends. Her bright aura attracted people to her like a magnet. She made you feel very special, loved and understood. She was highly intelligent and sensitive, and a graduate of the University of Irvine.
Arriving very early in the dressing room at MGM, she was usually the first one there. She had her dramatic stage make-up fully completed hours before the show. It was her nightly ritual, as she sat tall and erect in the Bluebell dressing room. She possessed impeccable skill with her hands, especially when it came to calligraphy or applying stage make-up. Being very exact and precise, she gave extremely thoughtful, personal gifts. Her hand written cards showcased her distinctive, artistic handwriting. She always signed them, "All my love, Kate xxx" She was very expressive, on many levels.
She had a warrior side, as well, and did not tolerate poor treatment. She maintained high standards in love, and insisted on respect and loyalty. She was in Paris when the terrorists attacked. She described them furiously as "barbarians."
When she was first performing in Hello Hollywood, she would to run to her cues backstage. In spite of being told not to, she continued to fly around the backstage area, from the dressing room to the wings. Eventually she was called into the office and given a pink slip. She ran into the office.
Those who knew her will miss her kindness, generosity and open heart.
Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.