Amber Gray and the cast of Hadestown. Photo by Helen Maybanks, Courtesy DKC/O&M
The Tony Award nominations were announced yesterday morning, and, as always, they gave us a lot to talk about.
Could Hadestown sweep the awards? Why didn't John Heginbotham's work on Oklahoma! garner him aBest Choreography nomination? What musical numbers will the nominated shows bring to the ceremony on June 9? To discuss, we gathered a group of musical theater–loving editors from Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit for a roundtable conversation about the nominees.
Hadestown at London's National Theatre. Photo by Helen Maybanks, Courtesy DKC/O&M
There are more intriguing performances than one person could possibly see this month, so our editors' picks run the gamut. The topics—Greek mythology and systemic racism, the Ballets Russes and secondary incarceration—are as varied as the styles—contemporary, bharatanatyam, aerial. The one through line: They're bound to make you look at the world a little differently.
Jane Comfort's S/He. Photo by Arthur Elgort, Courtesy Comfort
What do choreographers Mark Dendy, David Neumann and Edisa Weeks have in common? They all cut their dancing-and-talking teeth with Jane Comfort and Company. This month, they, along with 20 other former Comfort dancers, return for the company's 40th Anniversary Retrospective. In excerpts from 12 works that draw on Comfort's political and gender satire and her signature rhythmic complexity, the tone ranges from haunting to ribald. High points in this Lumberyard production will surely include Four Screaming Women (1982), Underground River (1998), Faith Healing (1993) and S/He (1995). April 5–8. lamama.org.
David Neumann's I Understand Everything Better. Photo by Maria Baranova, courtesy Neumann
Collaboration is a curious thing. For choreographers, it can open their practice to another set of eyes. It can allow their work to exist in a larger way. It can add serious heft to the final artistic product, with a signature all of its own.
But: There's an art to working in close communion with another artist, whether they're a designer or a composer. At the heart of the process is developing a rapport where each collaborator feels a sense of freedom within a set of given limits, where each understands what the other needs. Getting to that point takes some back and forth, trial and error, and several stabs in the dark.
Showing choreography at a major venue in New York City is a goal and milestone for many dance artists. Yet when such an opportunity comes their way, choreographers frequently find themselves scrambling for time and technical resources to give their work that professional shine. What they end up performing may not have the polish they intended. "Far too often artists are arriving at their presenting house and the piece isn't ready," says Adrienne Willis, the executive and artistic director of Lumberyard Contemporary Performing Arts, an organization that helps dance artists develop new work.
Back when Lumberyard was known as the American Dance Institute and operated out of a strip mall in Rockville, Maryland, it pioneered its Incubator program to whip new pieces into shape, kind of like the "out-of-town" tryout model for theater. Several of the artists it supported ultimately brought their shows to the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of New York City's most prestigious venues, which quickly recognized the positive influence of the Incubator on performances.