What happens during a performance is the product of the painstaking process of realizing an artistic vision. Whether held beforehand, afterward, offsite or online, audience discussions tend not to be so preordained, easily thrown off track without a skilled moderator at the helm.
"I'm someone who dreaded talkbacks and Q&As," admits Bill Bragin, former director of public programming at Lincoln Center. "While I was in New York, a lot of the time it was just audience members trying to show off how smart they were."
These events present a pile of difficult questions: How much do you reveal about a piece before it's shown? How can a conversation designed to hit key points feel casual and spontaneous? How do you cater to the needs of diverse attendees, from novice dancegoers to lifelong fans to scholars and critics? And how do you avoid smothering dance with language, flattening all its complexity?
Mention "flamenco" to anyone in the Cuban dance scene, and they are likely to bring up Irene Rodríguez. Artistic director of Compañía Irene Rodríguez, Cuba's premiere flamenco company, Rodríguez has shared the stage with such renowned flamenco artists as Eva Yerbabuena, María Juncal and Antonio Gades. She is also a faculty member at Havana's Fernando Alonso National Ballet School, and has served as a choreography consultant at Ballet Nacional de Cuba.
Starting this week, she's stateside to direct the flamenco and Spanish dance program at Jacob's Pillow.
Summer might seem impossibly far away (especially with so much of the U.S. still in the throes of the latest polar vortex), but it's almost too late to win a chance for your choreography to appear at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival this August.
The submission period for the Pillow's third-annual Chance to Dance contest closes next Friday, February 8. Choreographers can submit a video of their work, up to three minutes in length, to be considered. The public will have a chance to vote for the six semi-finalists selected by the Pillow via PillowTV (aka the Pillow's YouTube channel) March 18–24.
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.
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.
You nominated the best performances you've seen so far in 2018, and we narrowed them down to our favorites. Now it's time to cast your vote to decide who will be featured in our December issue!
Voting is open until September 17. Only one submission per person will be counted.
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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 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.
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.
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.
This year's finalists include:
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.
We caught up with her for our "Spotlight" series:
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.
Heads up, choreographers: Jacob's Pillow just announced the launch of a new choreography program, starting next summer.
Inspired by the famous Bessie Schönberg workshops 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.
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)
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."
It's our 90th anniversary! To celebrate, we excavated some of our favorite hidden gems from the DM Archives—images that capture a few of the moments in time we've documented over the decades.