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Summer Daze: The Shows to Catch During This Year's Packed Summer Festival Season
It's summer festival season! If you're feeling overwhelmed by the dizzying array of offerings, never fear: We've combed through the usual suspects to highlight the shows we most want to catch.
American Dance Festival
Members of A.I.M. perform Kyle Abraham's Dearest Home. Photo by Paula Court, Courtesy ADF
ADF shows no sign of slowing down as it enters its 85th season. Amongst the 53 performances, look out for the Wondrous Women program featuring ADF-commissioned solos created and performed by Aparna Ramaswamy, Michelle Dorrance, Rhapsody James and Yabin Wang, plus an excerpt from Camille A. Brown's ink. June 14–July 21. americandancefestival.org.
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival
Eastman will perform Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Fractus V. Photo by Filip Van Roe, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow
The Pillow season is as overwhelmingly, comfortingly full as ever. Keep an eye out for the return of Royal Danish Ballet and Houston Ballet; premieres from Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie, Ronald K. Brown, Michelle Dorrance and Netta Yerushalmy; and Monica Bill Barnes & Company's after-party romp Happy Hour. June 20–Aug. 26. jacobspillow.org.
Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts
Miguel Gutierrez and Ishmael Houston Jones' Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd will be presented by LUMBERYARD. Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy Blake Zidell and Associates
Its Catskill, NY, campus is still under construction, but that isn't stopping LUMBERYARD from launching its inaugural summer season in its new hometown. STREB Extreme Action and Bridgman|Packer Dance will perform at the construction site, while at nearby theaters Urban Bush Women, d. Sabela Grimes and John Jasperse premiere new works. June 28–Sept. 1. lumberyard.org.
Bates Dance Festival
Nora Chipaumire's Portrait of Myself as My Father. Photo by Gennadi Novash, Courtesy Bates
Sean Dorsey, Rennie Harris and Nora Chipaumire tackle masculinity, morality, spirituality and community during Bates' first season under the direction of Shoshona Currier. The festival opens with Mycelial: Street Parliament, a collaboration between Chicago- and Cairo-based artists in which a mobile app will lead audience members through an interactive performance installation. July 5–Aug. 4. batesdancefestival.org.
Davalois Fearon's Time to Talk. Photo by Andrew Lee Imaging, Courtesy The Yard
Caleb Teicher, The Bang Group and Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie liven up Martha's Vineyard in Tap The Yard: A Vineyard Festival of Rhythm and Beats, July 5–7 and 14. Later in the summer, look for Doug Elkins (July 27–28), Canadian ice skating group Le Patin Libre (Aug. 3–4), and The Wondertwins on a split bill with the fearless Davalois Fearon (Aug. 16–18). dancetheyard.org.
San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival
Nunamta Yup'ik Eskimo Singers and Dancers. Photo by RJ Muna, Courtesy Scott Horton Communications
The festival celebrates its 40th season with performances at the War Memorial Opera House after a free opening event July 6 at San Francisco City Hall. Twenty artists or groups representing 18 distinct dance styles—from flamenco to kuchipudi to Appalachian clogging—will present centuries-old dances and new works. July 6, 14–15, 21–22. sfethnicdancefestival.org.
Mostly Mozart Festival
Lucinda Childs' Available Light. Photo by Craig T. Mathew, Courtesy Lincoln Center
While the Lincoln Center Festival is no more, the organization's Mostly Mozart Festival has expanded its offerings to include more dance. This year opens with the revival of Lucinda Childs' Available Light, its first NYC appearance in over 30 years, and closes with the premiere of Mark Morris' The Trout, set to the eponymous Schubert quintet. July 12–Aug. 12. lincolncenter.org.
Vail Dance Festival
Michelle Dorrance and Byron Tittle perform at Vail. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy Vail
The star-studded end-of-summer festival turns 30 with the company debuts of American Ballet Theatre, Alonzo King LINES Ballet and Ballet Hispánico, plus new choreography from Vail veterans Lil Buck, Michelle Dorrance, Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck, Tiler Peck (her choreographic debut), Silas Riener and Rashaun Mitchell, and Claudia Schreier. July 28–Aug. 11. vaildance.org.
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New York City–based dancers know Gibney. It's a performance venue, a dance company, a rehearsal space, an internship possibility—a Rubik's Cube of resources bundled into two sites at 280 and 890 Broadway. And in March of this year, Gibney (having officially dropped "Dance" from its name) announced a major expansion of its space and programming; it now operates a total of 52,000 square feet, 23 studios and five performance spaces across the two locations.
Six of those studios and one performance space are brand-new at the 280 Broadway location, along with several programs. EMERGE will commission new works by emerging choreographic voices for the resident Gibney Dance Company each year; Making Space+ is an extension of Gibney's Making Space commissioning and presenting program, focused on early-career artists. For the next three years, the Joyce Theater Foundation's artist residency programs will be run out of one of the new Gibney studios, helping to fill the gap left by the closing of the Joyce's DANY Studios in 2016.
What is the right flooring system for us?
So many choices, companies, claims, endorsements, and recommendations to consider. The more you look, the more confusing it gets. Here is what you need to do. Here is what you need to know to get the flooring system suited to your needs.
"I'm sorry, but I just can't possibly give you the amount of money you're asking for."
My heart sinks at my director's final response to my salary proposal. She insists it's not me or my work, there is just no money in the budget. My disappointment grows when handed the calendar for Grand Rapids Ballet's next season with five fewer weeks of work.
"It just...always looks better in my head."
While that might not be something any of us would want to hear from a choreographer, it's a brilliant introduction to "Off Kilter" and the odd, insecure character at its center, Milton Frank. The ballet mockumentary (think "The Office" or "Parks and Recreation," but with pointe shoes) follows Frank (dancer-turned-filmmaker Alejandro Alvarez Cadilla) as he comes back to the studio to try his hand at choreographing for the first time since a plagiarism scandal derailed his fledgling career back in the '90s.
We've been pretty excited about the series for a while, and now the wait is finally over. The first episode of the show, "The Denial," went live earlier today, and it's every bit as awkward, hilarious and relatable as we hoped.
Dancers crossing over into the fitness realm may be increasingly popular, but it was never part of French-born Julie Granger's plan. Though Granger grew up a serious ballet student, taking yoga classes on the side eventually led to a whole new career. Creating her own rules along the way, Granger shares how combining the skills she learned in ballet with certifications in yoga, barre and personal training allowed her to become her own boss (and a rising fitness influencer).
Travis Wall draws inspiration from dancers Tate McCrae, Timmy Blankenship and more.
One often-overlooked relationship that exists in dance is the relationship between choreographer and muse. Recently two-time Emmy Award Winner Travis Wall opened up about his experience working with dancers he considers to be his muses.
"My muses in choreography have evolved over the years," says Wall. "When I'm creating on Shaping Sound, our company members, my friends, are my muses. But at this current stage of my career, I'm definitely inspired by new, fresh talent."
Wall adds, "I'm so inspired by this new generation of dancers. Their teachers have done such incredible jobs, and I've seen these kids grown up. For many of them, I've had a hand in their exposure to choreography."
José Greco popularized Spanish dance in 1950s and '60s America through his work onstage and on screen. Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater's American Spanish Dance & Music Festival is honoring the icon in recognition of what would have been his 100th birthday. As part of the tribute, Greco's three dancing children are reuniting to perform together for the first time since their father's death in 2000. Also on the program is the premiere of contemporary flamenco choreographer Carlos Rodriguez's Mar de Fuego (Sea of Fire). June 15–17, North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. ensembleespanol.org.
Dance Theatre of Harlem dancers Christopher McDaniel and Crystal Serrano were working on Nacho Duato's Coming Together in rehearsal when McDaniel's foot hit a slippery spot on the marley. As they attempted a swinging lift, both dancers went tumbling, injuring Serrano as they fell. She ended up being out for a week with a badly bruised knee.
"I immediately felt, This is my fault," says McDaniel. "I broke my friend."
What's on the minds of college students today?
I recently had the honor of adjudicating at the American College Dance Association's National College Dance Festival, along with choreographer Dana Tai Soon Burgess and former National Endowment for the Arts dance specialist Douglas C. Sonntag. We chose three winners—one for Outstanding Choreography and two for Outstanding Performance—from 30 pieces representing schools throughout the country. It was a great opportunity to see what college dance students are up to—from the issues they care about to the kinds movement they're interested in exploring.
Here were the biggest trends and takeaways:
Subscription box services have quickly gained a dedicated following among the fashion and fitness set. And while we'd never say no to a box with new jewelry or workout wear to try, we've been waiting for the subscription model to make its way to the dance world.
Enter barre + bag, a new service that sends a curated set of items to your door each season. Created by Faye Morrow Bell and her daughter Tyler, a student in the pre-professional ballet program at University of North Carolina School of the Arts, this just-launched service offers dance, lifestyle and wellness finds in four themed bags each year: Spring Performance, Summer Study, Back-to-Studio and Nutcracker. Since all the products are specifically made for dancers, everything barre + bag sends you is something you'll actually use, (Plus, it all comes in a bag instead of a box—because what dancer can ever have enough bags?).
barre + bag's Summer Collection
Today, American Ballet Theatre announced a new initiative to foster the development of choreography by company members and freelance dancemakers. Aptly titled ABT Incubator, the program, directed by principal David Hallberg, will give selected choreographers the opportunity to spend two weeks workshopping new dances.
"It has always been my vision to establish a process-oriented hub to explore the directions ballet can forge now and in the future," said Hallberg in a press release from the company. Interested? Here's how you can apply to participate.
Back in January, Chase Johnsey grabbed headlines when he resigned from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, where his performances had garnered critical acclaim for over a decade, alleging a culture of harassment and discrimination. (An independent investigation launched by the company did not substantiate any legal claims.) Johnsey, who identifies as genderqueer, later told us that he feared his dance career was at an end—where else, as a ballet dancer, would he be allowed to perform traditionally female roles?
But the story didn't end there. After a surprise offer from Tamara Rojo, artistic director of English National Ballet, Johnsey has found a temporary artistic home with the company, joining as a guest at the rank of first artist for its run of The Sleeping Beauty, which continues this week. After weeks of working and rehearsing with the company, last week Johnsey quietly marked a new milestone: He performed with ENB's corps de ballet as one of the ladies in the prince's court.
Ukrainian ballet dancer Sergei Polunin doesn't appear to have completely shed his bad-boy skin. A new video from Rankin Hunger Magazine, "Sergei x Rankin," shows us what happens when Polunin is given total freedom to explore his tendency for raw, emotional movement. Paired with British photographer Rankin, the duo creates a captivating video that explores our primal need for unrestrained expression set to an alternative rock soundtrack by Husky Loops.