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The Joffrey Ballet's Victoria Jaiani and Alberto Velazquez in Anna Karenina. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet

Unexpected collaborations, celebrations of culture, literary classics that take a turn for the tragic—it might be freezing outside, but the new season is just heating up. Here are six shows we'd happily brave the winter weather for this month.

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Career Advice
Urban Bush Women in Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Walking With 'Trane. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

While some companies thrive on uniformity of style and attack, the dancers of Jawole Willa Jo Zollar's Urban Bush Women find strength in the very opposite: Her movement is human, with an aesthetic that makes the choreography appear to be improvised. That's been a foundation of Zollar's work since she started UBW in 1984.

Three Bessie Awards and two Doris Duke Awards later, Zollar has also created work for companies like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Philadanco. Given her desire for all her dancers to share their voices, it's no surprise that many former UBW members have gone on to make accom­plished work of their own.

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Career Advice
Every dancer has their own pre-performance routine. Photo by Lindsay Thomas

For demanding, vulnerable performances, the mental warm-up and wind-down is unique to each artist. Three dancers share how they get in the zone, and come back to normal life afterward:

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Career Advice
Tsai-Wei Tien in Bausch's Rite of Spring. Photo by Alexandra Campeau, courtesy Tanztheater Wuppertal

In a sheer red slip—dirt-covered and exposed—the Chosen One frantically pleads with the community encircling her, wildly dancing until she at last succumbs to an inevitable death. Part of Pina Bausch's haunting Rite of Spring, this solo is one of the most vulnerable in dance.

"When I perform this role, there is no acting, my struggle is very real—it becomes very spiritual," says Tanztheater Wuppertal dancer Tsai-Wei Tien. "I squeeze everything I have into those final moments."

A truly unguarded performance electrifies the stage and connects deeply with the audience, in a way that surpasses even the most flawless technical prowess.

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