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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Last night, longtime theater legends (including Chita Rivera herself!) as well as rising stars gathered to celebrate one of Broadway's danciest events: the third annual Chita Rivera Awards.
The evening paid tribute to this season's dancer standouts, fabulous ensembles, and jaw-dropping choreography—on- and off-Broadway and on film.
As usual, several of our faves made it into the mix. (With such a fabulous talent pool of nominees to choose from, we're glad that ties were allowed.) Here are the highlights from the winner's list:
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
When you're a foreign dancer, gaining legal rights to work in the U.S. is a challenging process. It's especially difficult if you're petitioning to work as a freelance dancer without an agent or company sponsorship.
The process requires professional muscle along with plenty of resources and heart. "There's a real misnomer that it's super easy," says Neena Dutta, immigration attorney and president of Dutta Law Firm. "People need to educate themselves and talk to a professional."
Here are four things every foreign dancer who wants to work in the U.S. needs to know to build a freelance dance career here.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
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On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.