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These College Dancers Worked With Solange on the Project of A Lifetime
While Solange was busy helping big sis Beyoncé give Coachella its best performances of all time, an equally compelling project was quietly circulating on Instagram:
Solange directed this stunning interdisciplinary film, called Metatronia (Metatron's Cube), which features choreography by Gerard & Kelly and was created with Los Angeles' Hammer Museum as well as the clothing brand Uniqlo.
But of the almost 70 dancers in the film, the vast majority of them are college students. How'd they get so lucky?
Most of the students attend California Institute of the Arts and worked with the choreographers for a workshop earlier in the semester. Students from University of Southern California, Loyola Marymount University, University of California Los Angeles and the Alonzo King LINES Ballet program at Dominican University of California were also hired through an audition, along with some professional dancers.
We talked to Kevin Zambrano, a CalArts student who took part in the project, about the experience:
On the audition process:
The CalArts dancers were initially shocked that Gerard & Kelly were choreographing for such a high-profile artist—and even more shocked that they were being invited to participate. "To even be able to attend the audition was really special," says Zambrano.
Though the students were already familiar with the choreographers' work, Zambrano says the audition wasn't about getting phrases exactly right or being adept at any particular style. "They weren't looking for if you had technique, but dancers who were driven and had the ability to perform their truth," he says.
On working with Solange:
Zambrano says that Solange was involved every step of the way—from helping select the dancers to choreographing them spatially after Gerard & Kelly taught them phrases. "Her eye for dance and architecture is kinda ridiculous," he says.
She also cultivated a relaxed, down-to-earth vibe in rehearsals. "There were ups and downs in trying to complete the video, but having Solange treat you as if you're one of her own made it not stressful," Zambrano says.
On the final product:
Many of the reactions to the film have been about how calming and peaceful it is, says Zambrano. That was no accident: "Uniqlo is about inner peace, and we had to practice that as we performed because we sometimes we looked too angry or too happy," he says.
But the film makes an implicit political statement, too. "The immense amount of bodies, especially people of color and different sexual orientations and ages, speaks to the now," says Zambrano. "Solange spoke about how minimalism is dominated by the heterosexual white male and how her doing this was truly historical. What can we say with our bodies within this space that is not seen as ours?"
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
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.
Many choreographers have been defeated by Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. However, one dancemaker whose stridency, rhythmic daring and sheer inventiveness could possibly match Stravinsky's is Wayne McGregor. For his first commission from American Ballet Theatre, McGregor has taken on this earth-cracking music in AFTERITE, to premiere at ABT's Spring Gala. Also on the May 21 gala program are excerpts from Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of the comic ballet Harlequinade, the full version of which will premiere next month, and a pièce d'occasion by tapper Michelle Dorrance. May 21–26. abt.org.
If diamonds are a girl's best friend, it's safe to say that faux-diamond earrings are a dancer's best friend. A fixture onstage at just about every competition weekend, these blinged-out baubles are also the surest sign that recital season is upon us again. And what better way to get into the sparkly spirit than by drooling over these 5 diamonds in the rough? (Sorry not sorry!)