Dance Magazine Awards
Jodi Melnick and Marc Happel presenting to Sara Mearns. Photo by Christopher Duggan

What a night. The Dance Magazine Awards yesterday at the Ailey Citigroup Theater was jam-packed with love for dance.

From legendary icons to early-career choreographers we can't stop obsessing over, the Dance Magazine Awards, presented by the Dance Media Foundation, recognized a wide spectrum of our field.

And with more performances than ever before, the night was an incredible celebration of the dance community. As host Wendy Perron pointed out, in many ways, we doubled the usual fun this year: Some honorees had two performances, some had two presenters, and David Gordon and Valda Setterfield were themselves, well, two awardees.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Jayme Thornton (2)

All net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony go towards the Harkness Promise Awards, which grant $5,000 and 40 hours of studio space to innovative young choreographers. This year's awardees are Bobbi Jene Smith and Caleb Teicher.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Courtesy The Joyce

In an industry that has been clamoring for more female leadership, Linda Shelton, executive director of New York City's The Joyce Theater Foundation since 1993, has been setting an example for decades. As a former general manager of The Joffrey Ballet, U.S. tour manager for the Bolshoi Ballet, National Endowment for the Arts panelist, Dance/NYC board member and Benois de la Danse judge, as well as a current Dance/USA board member, Shelton has served as a global leader in dance. In her tenure at The Joyce, she has not only increased the venue's commissioned programming, but also started presenting beyond The Joyce's walls in locations such as Lincoln Center.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

Sara Mearns is a force. There is a monumentality to her dancing that was apparent even as a young corps member of 19, cast in her first Swan Lake with New York City Ballet. She threw herself into the role heart and soul, stretching each shape to the limit, trusting the music to carry her to a deep place (and her partner to save her should she go too far). In the 13 years since, her dancing has gained in power and focus, while never losing that edge of risk.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Luc Delahaye, Courtesy Gordon & Setterfield

How to frame two lifetimes of work as broad and vibrant as that of choreographer David Gordon and performer Valda Setterfield? When onstage together, an invisible tether connects them, whether they're kibitzing, chiding, flirting or embracing a sense of melancholy.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet

When Angel Corella took over as artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet in 2014, the company underwent a sea change. And while some in the ballet world were shocked by Corella's vision to reinvigorate and redirect the company, longtime fans of his career shouldn't have expected anything less.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Andrew Eccles, Courtesy Ailey

When Masazumi Chaya moved to New York City in 1970, leaving his Japanese homeland behind, he never dreamed he would become one of the longest-serving artists with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

For 47 years, Chaya has been a constant force in the Ailey studios: first as a dancer for 15 years, then as choreographic assistant to Ailey, a rehearsal director and, most recently, associate artistic director alongside Judith Jamison and Robert Battle. Quietly guiding hundreds of AAADT dancers to find their own artistic voices has sustained his unwavering work ethic for decades.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Clockwise from top left: Angel Corella photo by Arian Molina Soca, courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet. David Gordon and Valda Setterfield photo by Luc Delahaye, Courtesy Gordon and Setterfield. Sara Mearns photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB. Masazumi Chaya photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Ailey

The 2019 Dance Magazine Awards are here! A tradition dating back to 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards have long celebrated living legends who've made a lasting impact on dance. These days, we go even further with our recently added Chairman's Award for distinctive leaders behind the scenes, and Harkness Promise Awards, a grant for innovative young choreographers.

So who's included among this year's honorees?

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Dance Magazine Awards
Misty Copeland opened the 2018 Dance Magazine Awards. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

What does it mean to be human? Well, many things. But if you were at the Dance Magazine Awards last night, you could argue that to be human is to dance. Speeches about the powerful humanity of our art form were backed up with performances by incredible dancers hailing from everywhere from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to Miami City Ballet.

Misty Copeland started off the celebration. A self-professed "Dance Magazine connoisseur from the age of 13," she not only spoke about how excited she was to be in a room full of dancers, but also—having just come from Dance Theatre of Harlem's memorial for Arthur Mitchell—what she saw as their duty: "We all in this room hold a responsibility to use this art for good," she said. "Dance unifies, so let's get to work."

That sentiment was repeated throughout the night.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Harkness Promise Awardees Raja Feather Kelly and Ephrat Asherie. Photos by Kate Shot Me and Matthew Murphy

The Dance Magazine Awards are almost here. As we look forward to the celebration on Monday night, we're sharing an excerpt from the program—a letter written by our CEO Frederic Seegal:

The 61st year of the Dance Magazine Awards represents a major step forward. It extends the reach of the awards and now marks the second year of our collaboration with the Harkness Foundation for Dance, thus uniting two iconic organizations.

Firstly, this will be the inaugural presentation of the Harkness Promise Awards, which recognizes new talent at the upswing of their careers. Nurturing emerging artists, especially choreographers, is critical to ensuring dance's role in today's cultural landscape.

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News

As virtually every dancer, choreographer or dance company with a smart phone and a web connection has put their original and archival material online, the internet is awash with options—short and long, professional and amateur, serious and ironic.

But few are as novel as Warren Wright's recent effort: re-creating Bob Fosse's iconic "Rich Man's Frug" entirely with Barbie dolls. The self-taught graphic and visual artist admits to a penchant for 20th-century movie musicals and mid-century pop culture and, while he never played with his sisters' Barbies growing up in Los Angeles, he began collecting them as an adult. So when he wound up with plenty of time on his hands while sheltering in place, the Brooklyn-based Warrencito (his nom de plume) put the dolls to use.

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Training

Since the dance world changed overnight due to COVID-19, we've been bringing you constant content on how our community is adapting to the pandemic—from following dancers who are #SocialDisDancing to asking the experts for tips on taking class at home.

Now, we're launching Dance Media Live!, a curated class series with everything from ballet to Pilates to cardio to jazz, featuring some of our favorite teachers.

So join us on Zoom, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2 pm ET, beginning May 7. Classes are $10 each.

Sign up here, and see the full class schedule below:

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Career Advice
Getty Images

Late last year, choreographer Kate Wallich received an email that seemed promising. Claiming to be a patron of dance, the writer expressed interest in supporting Wallich's work, and asked if they could meet to discuss it further. The writer's use of dance terminology and knowledge of the field indicated a strong dance background, and made them seem legit. In the end, however, Wallich ended up having to file a police report against the fake donor, whose intentions seemed more stalkerish than philanthropic.

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News
Getty Images

COVID-19 has brought about rapid shifts in how dance artists work. But the business side of dance, just as essential to a company's success, has been equally challenged. As the industry continues to shift in response to the current crisis and beyond, what should arts administrators be doing to keep up?

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Popular
Quinn Wharton

Since placing in the Top 10 on "So You Think You Can Dance" in 2006, Martha Nichols' career has been steadily on the rise: She spent two years dancing with Cirque du Soleil, has toured with the likes of Rihanna and Madonna, and has appeared in films like La La Land, The Greatest Showman and, soon, In the Heights.

But it just as easily could have never happened.

"I actually did not want to audition for 'SYTYCD,' " she says with a laugh. "My mother had passed 10 days after I graduated high school, and so I stopped dancing. We were watching the show, and my adopted dad kept saying, 'Hey, you should do this.' " Nichols finally gave it a shot, and the rest is history.

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Popular
Luke Isley, Courtesy Ballet West

In 2007, Oregon Ballet Theatre asked Nicolo Fonte to choreograph a ballet to Maurice Ravel's Boléro. "I said, 'No way. I'm not going near it,' " recalls Fonte. "I don't want to compete with the Béjart version, ice skaters or the movie 10. No, no, no!"

But Fonte's husband encouraged him to "just listen and get a visceral reaction." He did. And Bolero turned into one of Fonte's most requested and successful ballets.

Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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