Congratulations to Dance Magazine Award Honoree Ronald K. Brown
Choreographer Ronald K. Brown sees himself as a weaver—of movement, but more importantly, of stories. "When I started my company Evidence 33 years ago, I needed to make a space for what I thought of as evidence—work that tells stories, so that when people saw the work, they would see a reflection or evidence of themselves onstage," says Brown, now 51. "That was my mission, my purpose."
Fast-forward to today: Evidence has become a mainstay in the modern dance world and Brown is now considered a vanguard among choreographers fusing Western contemporary dance with movement from the African diaspora, including popular dance and traditions from West African cultures like Senegalese sabar.
The fusion comes naturally to Brown. "I just use this reservoir in my body and whatever comes out, comes out," he says. "I'm playing around now for an Ailey piece (The Call) and yes, there's an arabesque and some passés in there, but it's still coming out with my movement. I just let it flow."
Evidence, A Dance Company | BK Stories www.youtube.com
Brown's trademark style has garnered legions of fans in addition to numerous accolades. His relationship with the Ailey organization, for example, extends back more than 20 years, and the company calls his 1999 work Grace one of the most popular in its repertoire.
Other companies who have performed Brown's works include Philadanco, the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble and Ballet Hispánico. Brown has also choreographed for theater including for Regina Taylor's play Crowns, for which he earned an AUDELCO Award; and for Broadway's The Gershwins' Porgy & Bess, for which he received an Astaire Award.
"A lot of Ron's work is about loss, how losing somebody brings people together," says Arcell Cabuag, who's been dancing with Brown for 21 years. "Ron wants us to be completely open, where we're not thinking about steps. There's a huge amount of humility you have to have, where you just let everything go."
Brown says, ultimately, he tries to find ways to reflect what lies beneath people and their lives. "When I hear my audience say it feels real, that's the key."
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"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.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.