In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
The last year and a half has seen profound change at the Paul Taylor Dance Company. The most dramatic event, of course, was the death of Paul Taylor, the man who founded the company in 1954, creating almost 150 works over the ensuing six decades. He died in August of last year, only months after selecting the then-35- year-old company dancer Michael Novak as his successor. The choice was a surprise, both to Novak himself and to the world of Taylor fans.
For decades the name Alicia Alonso has been virtually synonymous with Ballet Nacional de Cuba, the company she co-founded in Havana in 1948. Alonso died on October 17, just shy of what would have been her 99th birthday. In recent years, she had stepped back from day-to-day decision-making in the company. As if preparing for the future, in January, the company's leading ballerina, 42-year-old Viengsay Valdés, was named deputy director, a job that seems to encompass most of the responsibilities of a traditional director. Now, presumably, she will step into her new role as director of the company. Her debut as curator of the repertory comes in November, when the troupe will perform three mixed bills selected by her at the Gran Teatro de la Habana Alicia Alonso. The following has been translated from a conversation conducted in Spanish, Valdés' native tongue.
The 2019–20 season is here, and with it more performances than any one person could reasonably catch. But fear not: We polled our writers and editors and selected the 31 most promising tickets, adding up to one endlessly intriguing year of dance.
But even when they were kids, they had a glimmer of their future star power, giving a glimpse of what was to come. Thankfully for Instagram, we've got the pictures and home videos to prove it.
Kyle Abraham's powerhouse A.I.M has recently been expanding its model. Last spring, the company invited Andrea Miller to create a work, A.I.M's first commission by a guest choreographer. The program also included pieces by Bebe Miller and Doug Varone—marking a shift from all-Abraham repertory shows.
This fall, for its Joyce season, A.I.M is again trying something new: company member Keerati Jinakunwiphat, who graduated from SUNY Purchase in 2016, is creating a new group work, Big Rings, for six of her A.I.M colleagues.
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When George Balanchine's full-length Don Quixote premiered in 1965, critics and audiences alike viewed the ballet as a failure. Elaborate scenery and costumes framed mawkish mime passages, like one in which the ballerina washed the Don's feet and dried them with her hair. Its revival in 2005 by Suzanne Farrell, the ballerina on whom it was made and to whom Balanchine left the work, did little to alter its reputation.
Yet at New York City Center's Balanchine festival last fall, some regretted its absence.
"I'd want to see Balanchine's Don Quixote," says Apollinaire Scherr, dance critic for the Financial Times. "It was a labor of love on his part, and a love letter as well. And you want to know what that looks like in his work."
Even great choreographers make mistakes. Sometimes they fail on a grand scale, like Don Quixote; other times it may be a minor misstep. Experiment and risk help choreographers grow, but what happens when a choreographer of stature misfires? Should the work remain in the repertory? And what about a work that fails on some levels but not others?
Throughout 2019, the Merce Cunningham Trust continues a global celebration that will be one of the largest tributes to a dance artist ever. Under the umbrella of the Merce Cunningham Centennial are classes and workshops, film screenings and festivals, art exhibitions and symposia, and revivals and premieres of original works inspired by the dancemaker's ideas. The fever peaks on April 16, which would have been the pioneering choreographer's 100th birthday, with Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, featuring a total of 75 dancers in three performances live-streamed from London, Los Angeles and New York City.
Choreographer Kyle Abraham makes captivating, dynamic dances. But did you know that he makes just as many captivating, dynamic playlists?
Abraham creates a custom playlist for every piece he makes. They don't include songs that are actually in the piece; rather ones that capture the atmosphere or energy of it. His 2011 work Live! The Realest MC returns to New York this weekend, and in honor of the occasion, Abraham made us an updated version of his original playlist for the work.
We talked to Abraham about his prolific playlist-making, and where he finds all those deep cuts that find their way into his work:
Raise your hand if you've ever gotten sucked down an informational rabbit hole on the internet. (Come on, we know it's not just us.) Now, allow us to direct you to this new project from Google Arts & Culture. To celebrate Black History Month, they've put together a newly curated collection of images, videos and stories that spotlights black history and culture in America specifically through the lens of dance—and it's pretty much our new favorite way to pass the time online.
Tamisha Guy has always loved pushing her body. The dynamic A.I.M dancer and rehearsal director performs like she has no limits. And she's recently taken up a sport that pushes her even further: boxing.
Two or three times a week, she takes a 45-minute class at New York City boxing studios Shadowbox or EverybodyFights. Workouts include a warm-up of core exercises and body-weight strength training. "Then we put the gloves on and go at it on the bag," says Guy.
Tamisha Guy in Kyle Abraham's The Gettin'. Photo by Jerry and Lois Photography, courtesy A.I.M.
Although she was initially afraid that the workouts would bulk up her already muscular physique, she's found they've simply added definition to her arms. More importantly, they've improved her stamina.
"Thirty minutes into class is usually the point where you're like, 'I can't punch anything else,' but you have 15 more minutes to go," she says. "It's just like when you've been dancing for an hour and have to dig deeper to find something in yourself to stay present. Pushing through the uncomfortable part is so gratifying." She feels boxing has put extra fire in her to keep up the intensity onstage.
Her favorite time to box is in the morning. "I find I have more energy going into rehearsals after boxing," she says. "I feel so ready to take on my day."
But if she's got more than four hours of rehearsal, she'll wait to box until after dancing so that her arms aren't overly fatigued. "Then, if I still have a little fight in me, I might take an evening class."
Tamisha Guy is also working to start a side hustle as a fitness model. "You're only young once," she says. Photo by Whitney Browne, courtesy Guy.
For now, she's not looking to enter any fights. "I think I'm gonna stick with the bag," she says, laughing.
Though she admits she loves the feeling of being in a ring. "I've had a few private training sessions inside it, with my trainer calling out sequences," she says. "But he wasn't hitting me back!
Ever since I saw it last week, Kyle Abraham's The Runaway for New York City Ballet has been haunting me.
Of course, it was a big deal that the interim leadership team (specifically Justin Peck) asked Abraham to choreograph on the company, marking the first time in more than a decade that NYCB has hired a black choreographer. But what struck me most was not the symbolism of the commission. Or even the experience of hearing Kanye West blasted at Lincoln Center, for that matter. It's what Abraham did with Taylor Stanley that I haven't been able to stop thinking about.
As the fall performance season kicks into high gear, we've been cramming as much excellent dance on our calendars as possible. But if you're feeling overwhelmed by all the options, we've got you covered: From rare U.S. appearances by one of our 2018 "25 to Watch" to an autumn mainstay for New Yorkers, Romeo and Juliet to The Handmaid's Tale, here's what caught our eye.
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.
Last month, Kyle Abraham was announced as one of the six choreographers contributing new work to New York City Ballet's 2018-19 season.
In its 70-year history, NYCB has only commissioned four black choreographers—all men: John Alleyne and Ulysses Dove in 1994, Dance Theatre of Harlem's Robert Garland in collaboration with Robert LaFosse in 2000, and Albert Evans in 2002 and 2005. It's been 11 years since Evans, an NYCB alum, made work for the company and 18 years since a black choreographer outside of NYCB has been invited to choreograph.
Take a moment to take that in.
Ever since New York City Ballet's interim leadership team took over from Peter Martins, we've been curious whether they'd get a chance to try their hand at programming. (It was unclear how much Martins had done before he retired.)
As it turns out, Martins left room for Justin Peck, Rebecca Krohn, Craig Hall and Jonathan Stafford to select two of the company's six commissions for the 2018-19 season. Their choices—Kyle Abraham and Emma Portner—are surprising, and thrilling.
The ever-so-busy Kyle Abraham is back in New York City for a brief visit with his company Abraham.In.Motion as they prepare for an exciting spring season of new endeavors with some surprising guests. The company will be debuting a new program at The Joyce Theater on May 1, that will include two new pieces from Abraham, restaged works by Doug Varone and Bebe Miller, and a world premiere from Andrea Miller. Talk about an exciting line-up!
We caught up with Abraham during a recent rehearsal where he revealed what he is tired of hearing in the dance community.
Here is my list of favorites from this year, some of them with video clips embedded. I've also added "lingering thoughts" about certain situations in the dance world. As usual, my choices are limited by what I have actually seen. Most of the following are world premieres.
• Andrea Miller's Stone Skipping in the Egyptian room at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Ancient and ultra-modern at once, gaga-initiated grapplings, telling many stories of people in struggle and solidarity. The group sequence (with her company Gallim plus dancers from Juilliard) from lying on the floor with pelvis bobbing to standing, to swaying, to skipping wildly about was transcendent.