Jessica Lang Dance in Lang's Thousand Yard Stare. Photo by Todd Rosenberg
When I read last month that Jessica Lang Dance had announced its farewell, I'm sure I wasn't the only dancer surprised. In the same way that many of us, when reading an obituary, instinctively look for the cause of death, I searched for a reason for the company's unexpected folding. It was buried in the fifth paragraph of The New York Times article:
Her manager, Margaret Selby, said in an interview that Jessica Lang Dance's closing showed how difficult it is to keep a small dance company running these days. "You have to raise so much money, the smaller companies don't have enough staff, and Jessica was running the company for the last seven years without a day off," she said. "She wants to focus on creative work."
Whereas the announcement itself may have come as a shock, the root cause certainly doesn't. All of us in the field are familiar with the conditions to which Selby refers. But that these problems can topple the success of a company like Lang's, which boasts seven years of national and international touring that include commissions from Jacob's Pillow and The Joyce, among others, is sobering.
Xenos, Akram Khan's final full-length solo, is an ode to the soldiers of World War I. Photo by Nicol Vizioli, Courtesy Sadler's Wells
We might have gotten a little bit carried away with this year's "Season Preview"—but with the 2018–19 season packing so many buzzy shows, how could we not? Here are over two dozen tours, premieres and revivals that have us drooling.
Netta Yerushalmy (back left) deconstructs masterworks in Paramodernities. Photo by Paula Lobo, Courtesy Yerushalmy
In Paramodernities, Netta Yerushalmy deconstructs dance masterworks and presents their movement alongside scholarly essays that contextualize them. Yerushalmy has had a sterling dance career, working with Doug Varone's company and freelancing with notables like Joanna Kotze, as well as making her own dances. This particular project is in demand in such places as Jacob's Pillow this month, and later at venues across the country, including multiple New York City sites.
Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie (front left) and her company in Odeon, which premieres at Jacob's Pillow this summer. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Asherie
Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie is no stranger to Jacob's Pillow. The New York–based b-girl has performed on the famous Inside/Out stage and at the Doris Duke Theatre and has appeared several times as a guest artist with Dorrance Dance. The native Israeli returns this summer as the first recipient of the Jacob's Pillow Fellowship at Tilles Center for the Performing Arts at LIU Post (which includes a $15,000 grant, a weeklong Pillow residency and another residency at Long Island University)—and to premiere a new work, Odeon, with her company, Ephrat Asherie Dance.
You must be so excited to go to Jacob's Pillow again.
It's truly amazing to be somewhere where people value dance so much. There's a weight given to what we do that's special and not how the rest of the world tends to operate around art. It's like a dance fairyland.
The Chance to Dance winner will perform on the Inside/Out stage at Jacob's Pillow. Photo by Taylor Crichton, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.
The Inside/Out: Chance to Dance Contest from Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival is in full force. Now through April 2, the power is in your hands, or more accurately, it lies in your YouTube viewing. Between now and Monday, head to the festival's YouTube page to watch videos of the five Chance to Dance finalists. The company whose video earns the most thumbs-up votes gets far more than bragging rights: They'll perform on the iconic Inside/Out outdoor stage at the Pillow this summer.
860 Movement performing on the Inside/Out stage. Photo by Brooke Trisolini, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.
For the second year in a row, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival is putting programming power in dance lovers' hands with its Inside/Out: Chance to Dance Contest. Now through February 25, the Massachusetts-based summer fest is accepting video submissions for a coveted spot in its Inside/Out series. That means that your work could join the likes of Pilobolus, Urban Bush Women and James Whiteside on the Pillow's famed outdoor stage.
Ephrat "Bounce" Asherie has a thing for breaking boundaries. A trained ballet dancer, Asherie fell in love with hip hop in college and soon became one of the most talked-about b-girls on the scene. Today, she brings house and breaking to concert stages with her celebrated choreography, and continues to cross genres as a dancer in works by artists like Michelle Dorrance.
Summer intensive audition season is almost here. But how do college students decide which program they're aiming for? With the number of intensives available, it can be overwhelming to choose the one that will serve you best. We talked to outgoing Juilliard dance division artistic director Lawrence Rhodes about how he advises his students:
If you're a first-year or sophomore: "Do a program that is going to benefit you physically and technically, and keep you on track to get your body in the best possible shape. If you sense that you need more exposure to modern or ballet, choose a program that features it."
For most dancers, walking into the theater elicits a familiar emotion that's somewhere between the reverence of stepping into a chapel and the comfort of coming home. But each venue has its own aura, and can offer that something special that takes your performance to a new level. Six dancers share which theaters have transported them the most.
GLENN ALLEN SIMS
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Glenn Allen Sims in Alvin Ailey's Masekela Langage. Photo by Paul Kolnik, courtesy AAADT
Favorite theater: Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain
Royal details: "The theater is gorgeous and ornate, with deep red upholstery and gold trim. There is a huge royal box in the center, which takes you back to when kings and queens were watching performances there."
Impressive facilities: Even the dressing rooms are a sight to see: Amenities for the dancers include large, carpeted rooms, and towel service.
Dancers in the new Perles Family Studio. Photo by Robert Benson, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow
Heads up, choreographers: Jacob's Pillow just announced the launch of a new choreography program, starting next summer.
Inspired by the famous Bessie Schönbergworkshops from the '80s and '90s, the Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellows Program is designed to help eight early-career choreographers (approximately 20–30 years old) refine their voices and expand their networks. The program, August 21–31,will be directed by none other than pioneering choreographer Dianne McIntyre and renowned Limón teacher and choreographic advisor Risa Steinberg.
Photo by Jessica Zollman (@jayzombie) via #CamerasandDancers
If you're like us, your Instagram feed is probably oversaturated with gorgeous dance shots of your favorite performers. (Not complaining!) But search for "#CamerasandDancers," and you'll find dance photography that stands out from the crowd.
#CamerasandDancers in Washington Square Park, PC Dave Krugman (@davekrugman)
Trisha Brown: In Plain Site. Photo by Agathe Pouponey, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.
For a special viewing of the Trisha Brown: In Plain Site series, Jacob's Pillow is teaming up with the Clark Art Institute, one of the best museums in the Berkshires. The Institute's exquisite landscaping will no doubt provide a harmonious setting for the profound simplicity of Brown's early work on Aug. 13. This free event is a prelude to the Trisha Brown Dance Company's program at the Pillow, Aug. 16–19, that includes three works: the baroque L'Amour au théâtre (2009), the jazz-inflected Groove and Countermove (2000) and the serenely quiet Opal Loop (1980). jacobspillow.org.
As usual, the calendar at Jacob's Pillow this month is overflowing with exciting artists and events. Tomorrow evening, The DASH Ensemble, led by choreographer Gregory Dolbashian and composed of four electric dancers, will take to the Inside/Out stage to perform a semi-new work. Titled Ways to Handle, the piece originated last year during a residency at the Kaatsbaan International Dance Center but has since evolved for the company's performance at the Pillow. Dolbashian says the work is inspired by "how people respond to the different facets of life: love, loss, determination."
Calpulli Mexican Dance Company performing on the Pillow's Inside/Out stage. Photo by Hayim Heron, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.
Jacob's Pillow kicked off its annual summer dance festival this weekend, and with it, its 85th anniversary season. It's the first to be curated by new director Pamela Tatge, offering a glimpse of the direction in which she plans to lead the historic festival. But as of this morning, we have more than just a glimpse: We have a newly announced strategic plan for the Pillow's future.
It's called Vision '22, a five-year blueprint for taking the Pillow from a summer dance destination to a year-round center for dance creation. In a press release, Tatge said, "Vision '22 will help us strengthen our artistic core, boost our civic leadership and community involvement, and renew essential campus facilities."
New director Pamela Tatge is making the most of Jacob's Pillow's vast resources. She's reenvisioned the dance mecca as a year-round institution, not only expanding the Creative Development Residencies but giving those residents 24-hour access, a generous stipend and funds to bring in an outside eye. Residency showings are open to students from nearby colleges, part of Tatge's ambitious new Jacob's Pillow Dance College Partnership Program, designed to bring more rigor into dance research, along with deeper artistic inquiry.
Camille A. Brown. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Jacob's Pillow.
It may be Jacob's Pillow's 85th season, but it's director Pamela Tatge's first time presenting her curatorial vision at its summer dance festival. "The stakes are high," admits Tatge. "I needed to honor the past, consider the artists who have had a long association with the Pillow, and introduce my favorites, as well." Keeping with Pillow tradition, audiences can expect a wide range of genres, from ballet (Miami City Ballet, The Washington Ballet, Ballet Hispanico) to flamenco Afro-Cuban fusion (Compañía Irene Rodríguez).
Both the personal and the profound entered into her choice to bring Paul Taylor Dance Company back after a long absence. "I saw Esplanade when I was 13," recalls Tatge. "That joy was so powerful onstage. I saw what dance can be." And on a more bittersweet note, just months after Trisha Brown's death, the Trisha Brown Dance Company returns, performing a specially curated program highlighting the company's history, along with other works.