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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Career Advice
BalletMet costume shop manager Erin Rollins in a costume fitting with Leiland Charles. Jennifer Zmuda, Courtesy BalletMet

What's the best way to extend the life of your favorite leotard or piece of workout wear? Aside from fabric quality, it largely comes down to what you do on laundry day.

We spoke with Erin Rollins, costume shop manager at BalletMet, for her top tips on keeping your beloved dancewear in rotation for years to come. (Spoiler alert: No, washing and drying everything on the same setting isn't advised.)

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Health & Body
Ashley Daigle. Photo by Sydney Barrett, Courtesy Daigle

During this pandemic, we dancers have not been living in our normal bodies. Even though we may not see a physical change, on the inside, our bodies have altered. Use me as an example: Before COVID-19, I was a 28-year-old healthy, active human being. But after my recovery, a 15-minute abdominal workout practically destroyed my hips, kidneys and my entire dance career.

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Career Advice
Yvonne Montoya with her son Buddy at home. Photo by Dominic A Bonuccelli, Courtesy Montoya

When Yvonne Montoya climbs all over the piano while her 12-year-old son Buddy tries to practice on it, we might guess that she is either having a parental meltdown or making a dance. Turns out, it's both. "It's been wild, and completely overwhelming," says Montoya from her Tucson, Arizona home, where she lives with Buddy and her husband.

Montoya, a 23rd-generation Nuevomexicana and founding director of Safos Dance Theatre, is one of many dance artists navigating motherhood during COVID-19. Choreographers, educators, artistic directors and dancers are not only trying to keep their careers afloat by creating digital work, but some have also been dealing with their now homebound children in the wobbly world of the Zoom school room, which is about to crank up again in most of the U.S. Doing that while managing a company, a studio or a freelance career can sometimes generate a type of artful chaos.

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Dancers Trending
Houston Ballet principal Connor Walsh. Photo by Claire McAdams, Courtesy Houston Ballet
It's no secret that I love what I do. I find dance to be one of the most honest and magical ways to connect with myself and the people around me. There are no words, paint or instruments between us and the world. Just the movement we create and the people who embody it.
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Health & Body
Courtesy Kari Brunson

When she was a corps member with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Kari Brunson pretty much ate the same thing for breakfast and lunch every single day: a big bowl of oatmeal in the morning, and then after class it might be a bar and yogurt, an apple, some turkey. She kept it simple. "I don't think it was about restriction—it was more about safety," she says. "It was food I knew worked well with my body and kept me going all day."

After rehearsals finished, she'd experiment with far more elaborate meals for dinner. She ended up falling so in love with cooking that at just 26, in 2009, she retired from ballet and launched a culinary career. Today she co-owns both the plant-focused Juicebox Café and a plant-based ice cream shop called Frankie & Jo's in Seattle.

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News
Yung Phil. Still from Turf Nation

When Yung Phil and his crew Turf Feinz hop on the train to dance in exchange for donations, it's likely that most passengers underestimate the artists in front of them. Few realize they're watching a live performance by professionals.

A new short film, Turf Nation by director Jun Bae, explores that dichotomy by chronicling Turf Feinz as they work the crowds on BART trains in the San Francisco Bay Area, and talk about how they use BART performances as a way to get by between gigs like music videos, concerts, tours and commercials.

Before the film's screening at the Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival this month, Dance Magazine spoke with one of the featured dancers, Yung Phil, about what it's like to shuffle between film sets and train cars.

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