Flashback Friday: Celebrating Edward Villella

Edward Villella in many ways epitomized the American ballet dancer of the mid-20th century in his years with New York City Ballet. Born October 1, 1936, in New York City, he began training at School of American Ballet at age 10, and, after stepping away from ballet to earn his degree at New York State […]

TBT: Swing Time and Fred Astaire's Complicated Legacy

Perhaps no film better encompasses the complexity of Fred Astaire’s legacy than Swing Time. Released in the U.S. in September 1936, the musical film was the sixth in which Astaire appeared opposite Ginger Rogers, and is widely considered one of the strongest (if not the strongest) of their partnership—at least in terms of the dancing. […]

What Dancers Can Learn From La Meri’s Focus on the Global Spectrum of Dance

When I came back to taking dance classes after a 37-year lapse (which I do not recommend), I returned to ballet. It’s the foundation. Right? Gradually I added in contemporary, Pilates, Gyrokinesis and a sprinkling of yoga. It looked like the equivalent of the food pyramid for dance, which is reflected in the curriculums of […]

TBT: Gene Kelly On Creating An American in Paris

The cover of the August 1951 issue of Dance Magazine featured Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron in an image from the feature film An American in Paris, which premiered in London that month. In an essay penned for the issue, Kelly described their approach to making the film’s 18-minute central ballet with the cinema in […]

3 Reasons Why We're Pumped for the New "AILEY" Documentary

Calling all dance history enthusiasts: the AILEY documentary opens today in movie theaters nationwide. Directed by Jamila Wignot, the work is a moving biography of the legendary choreographer, dancer, director, and activist Alvin Ailey. Here are just a few reasons why we can’t wait to watch it. #1 The doc enables us to explore Ailey’s […]

TBT: Ted Shawn's Opening Night Prank at Jacob's Pillow

When Ted Shawn bought a mountaintop farm named Jacob’s Pillow in 1931, it would have been impossible to predict that the scrappy artistic retreat in the Berkshires would become such a beloved center for dance in America. In the summer of 1941, beset by financial difficulties, Shawn rented the Pillow to ballet stars Anton Dolin […]

#TBT: Pearl Primus on Fighting Ignorance and Prejudice Through Dance

Born in Trinidad in 1919 and raised in New York City from a young age, Pearl Primus did not come to formal dance training until 1941, after earning an undergraduate degree in biology. She studied with New Dance Group, with which she made her professional performance debut in 1943. A sensational performer, she quickly became […]

#TBT: "Baby Ballerina" Tamara Toumanova

Tamara Toumanova graced her first of several Dance Magazine covers for the May 1936 issue, when the publication was still called The American Dancer. Though only 17 at the time, she was already a seasoned soloist. She gave her first performance as a very young child mere months after starting ballet lessons in Paris, when […]

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