Kaleena Miller Dance. Photo by Dan Norman, Courtesy Cowles Center

Why Companies Are Increasingly Opting For Shared, Collaborative Programs

In what seems to be a growing trend, regional companies are coming together to share stages and expand their audiences. These team-ups often go beyond split bills, with companies swapping choreographers and performing at least one joint work. While the logistics of co-presentations can be complicated—with more dancers to schedule, budgets to balance and creative visions to blend—the benefits can range from bigger box-office returns to lasting relationships for the artists.


In 2017, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem came together for a shared program at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture in Pittsburgh. "We got great feedback from the audience and I knew it was a good thing," says Terrence Orr, artistic director of PBT. The joint production was such a success, they're at it again this spring.

At the Cowles Center in Minneapolis, an initiative called MERGE, begun in 2016, has been partnering up local dance companies to help their dedicated audiences grow beyond their comfort zones. "We present 12 dance companies a year, so we are able to look for opportunities where we might cross-pollinate, say finding tap dancers who work well with breakers," says Andrew Dolan, manager of advancement for the Cowles Center.

"Sure, the financials are complicated and require foundations and sponsors," says Orr, "but there are a thousand reasons to do it and they are all good." For the artists, these team-ups are an opportunity to experience new perspectives and creative processes in the studio. For Pittsburgh audiences, the DTH and PBT shared program was a chance to see more dancers of color onstage with their home company.

"We want to meet a dance patron where they are at and then introduce them to even more," says Dolan.

Collaborations to Keep an Eye Out for This Month

"Made in Chicago" 312 Series

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in Robyn Mineko Williams' Cloudline

Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Auditorium Theatre

Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and Malpaso Dance Company share the stage in this series at the Auditorium Theatre. In addition to a collaborative work, Hubbard Street will perform a piece from Malpaso artistic director Osnel Delgado, and Malpaso will dance a premiere by Hubbard regular Robyn Mineko Williams. March 2–3.

In Collaboration

BRKFST Dance Company

Bill Cameron, Courtesy Cowles Center

BRKFST Dance Company, a troupe that works on the edges of break dancing, martial arts and contemporary dance, will take part in a collaborative evening at the Cowles Center in Minneapolis with tap company Kaleena Miller Dance. March 8–10.

Tour de Force

Allen Birnbach, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Colorado Ballet teams up with fellow Denver-based companies Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and Wonderbound in new works by Robinson and Wonderbound's Garrett Ammon created especially for this program. March 8–10, Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre + Dance Theatre of Harlem

Duane Rieder, Courtesy PBT

This mixed rep features signature works from both companies and a collaborative staging of Stanton Welch's Orange. March 15–24, August Wilson Center.

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Clockwise from top left: Photo by Loreto Jamlig, Courtesy Ladies of Hip-Hop; Wikimedia Commons; Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet; Natasha Razina, Courtesy State Academic Mariinsky Theatre; Photo by Will Mayer for Better Half Productions, Courtesy ABT

The 10 Biggest Dance Stories of 2019

What were the dance moments that defined 2019? The stories that kept us talking, week after week? According to our top-clicked articles of the year, they ranged from explorations of dance medicine and dance history, takedowns of Lara Spencer and companies who still charge dancers to audition, and, of course, our list of expert tips on how to succeed in dance today.

We compiled our 10 biggest hits of the year, and broke down why we think they struck a chord:

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Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Nichols

I Am a Black Dancer Who Was Dressed Up in Blackface to Perform in La Bayadère

On Instagram this week, Misty Copeland reposted a picture of two Russian ballerinas covered head to toe in black, exposing the Bolshoi's practice of using blackface in the classical ballet La Bayadère. The post has already received over 60,000 likes and 2,000 comments, starting a long overdue conversation.

Comments have been pouring in from every angle imaginable: from history lessons on black face, to people outside of the ballet world expressing disbelief that this happens in 2019, to castigations of Copeland for exposing these young girls to the line of fire for what is ultimately the Bolshoi's costuming choice, to the accusations that the girls—no matter their cultural competence—should have known better.

I am a black dancer, and in 2003, when I was 11 years old, I was dressed up in blackface to perform in the Mariinsky Ballet's production of La Bayadère.

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Here's the First Trailer for the "In the Heights" Movie

Lights up on Washington Heights—because the trailer for the movie adaptation of the hit Broadway musical In the Heights has arrived. It's our first look into Lin-Manuel Miranda's latest venture into film—because LMM isn't stopping at three Tony awards, a Grammy award, and an Emmy.

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