Whoever told Emma Portner not to move to NYC probably feels silly now. Photo by Quinn Wharton
Raise your hand if you've received bad advice from well-meaning friends or family (or strangers, tbh) who don't know anything about what it really takes to be a dancer.
*everyone raises hands*
Sometimes it's even dance insiders whose advice can send you down the wrong path. We've been asking pros about the worst advice they've ever received in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and rounded up some of the best answers:
"A dancer should not be encouraged to stay in a trainee position for years if it is unlikely that they will move to the next level," says Julie Kent. Photo by Rachel Papo for Dance Teacher
One of the most crucial responsibilities of an artistic director is the development of dancers. Sharing the benefit of my experience through daily class and rehearsals is perhaps the most gratifying part of my work at The Washington Ballet. But artistic leaders also need to help dancers in the broader navigation of their careers.
Whether it involves difficult conversations with seasoned professionals or with teenagers coping with the anxiety of an uncertain career path, advising dancers is personal because our art is personal. Dancers create their art with their own bodies—not on paper, not with instruments made of brass or wood and strings, but with themselves. This highly intimate element of the job cannot be underestimated, and as a result, every conversation about the work essentially becomes about the person. Trust is not assumed nor is it given easily, as only time and shared experiences allow for it to grow.
The Joffrey Ballet's "The Nutcracker." Photo by Cheryl Mann
Since Thanksgiving is finally here, it's officially time to talk Nutcracker. With countless productions taking place between now and Christmas (and even some through the new year), we've been keeping tabs on Instagram to check in on rehearsals. Whether you're obsessed with all things Sugar Plum Fairy or the snow scene is more your speed, we've got your first look at the holiday classic.
We have a feeling even the Boston Ballet dancing bear couldn't keep up with second soloist Lawrence Rines' tricks in Russian.
Few things are most frustrating than arriving at your summer intensive full of excitement—only to get injured, stuck sitting out on the sidelines and missing out on the experience you signed up for.
To help you avoid this disappointment, we tapped Daniel Cuttica, D.O., an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon with The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics and consultant to The Washington Ballet, for expert advice on how to keep your body healthy, safe and injury-free this summer.
By the end of the summer, two major international ballet companies will have new artistic directors. And they'll both be American.
Today, The Royal New Zealand Ballet announced that current Grand Rapids Ballet artistic director Patricia Barker will take over the company later this month. The former Pacific Northwest Ballet star will succeed Francesco Ventriglia, who announced his resignation in November. We've yet to hear who will be taking over for Barker at Grand Rapids, but for the 2017-2018 season, Barker will be doing double artistic director duty from across the world.
The Mariinsky in Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Photo by Natasha Razina, Courtesy Mariinsky.
One Hundred Years Later
May 29 marks the centennial of Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. Dance artists pay tribute to the original provocateur around the world (probably without the riots, but one never knows):
Akram Khan Company in the premiere of Khan’s iTMOi in London
Richmond Ballet in Salvatore Aiello’s 1993 version in Norfolk, VA
Shen Wei Dance Arts in Wei’s The Rite of Spring in Houston, TX
Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch in Bausch’s Frühlingsopfer in Gothenburg, Sweden
Tero Saarinen’sHUNT, a veritable light show, in Dublin
The Mariinsky Ballet will perform a commissioned Rite of Spring by Sasha Waltz in St. Petersburg. Both a reconstruction of Nijinsky’s original and the Sasha Waltz version will be danced in Salzburg, and, on the 29th and in two subsequent performances, at the original scene of the crime: the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in Paris.
The choreographic offerings of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s two-week season at NYC’s Joyce Theater are plentiful: Ohad Naharin, Mats Ek, Aszure Barton, and Sharon Eyal are represented, along with works by former HSDC dancer Robyn Mineko Williams and resident choreographer Alejandro Cerrudo. But two company performances happening this month in Chicago are no less intriguing: a Picasso-inspired site-specific day at the Art Institute of Chicago on May 9, and a big gala on May 30, honoring the country’s most vocal dance supporter/mayor, Rahm Emanuel. www.hubbardstreetdance.com.
Penny Saunders and Pablo Piantino in Ohad Naharin’s THREE TO MAX. Photo by Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy HSDC.
An American Tale
It’s a simple but elegant solution to the notion that ballet is inaccessible: Draw from the American literary canon to pull in audiences. After mounting The Great Gatsby in 2010, with live jazz musicians and singers that captured the Roaring ’20s, Septime Webre, director of The Washington Ballet, premieres the second work in his American Experience series, Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises, based on the classic novel. With a setting that ranges from Paris’ Left Bank to Pamplona for a bit of running with the bulls, it’s an ambitious undertaking. For future productions, the company is looking to adapt works by Henry James, Tennessee Williams, and Langston Hughes—and commission other choreographers. May 8–12 at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater. www.washingtonballet.org.
Jared Nelson in Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises. Photo by Brianne Bland, Courtesy TWB.
Sounds of Celebration
May 25 is National Tap Dance Day, which falls on Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s birthday, and the party lasts all month long. Events like Dance Inn Production’s National Tap Dance Day weekend in Massachusetts and Spring to Dance (see below right), where Michelle Dorrance will debut a new piece, provide fun for all. The festivities also go international, from the Norman Rothstein Theatre in Vancouver to a hoofers’ gala at the Moscow International House of Music.
Michelle Dorrance. Photo by Matthew Murphy and Kenn Tam, Courtesy Dorrance Dance.
Spoleto Festival USA welcomes an international crop of dance talent to Charleston, SC, this month. Compagnie Käfig energetically blends samba, hip-hop, and capoeira in Correria and Agwa, while Kuchipudi diva Shantala Shivalingappa and Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía tell stories in their own dialects. American artists who bring humor to their work are also in the lineup: Lucky Plush Productions from Chicago and Jared Grimes, who makes his festival debut in a commissioned evening-length work. May 24–June 9. www.spoletousa.org.
Compagnie Käfig in Agwa at Jacob’s Pillow. Photo by Christopher Duggan, Courtesy Pillow.
If the Pointe Shoe Fits
Christopher Wheeldon’s imaginative new version of Cinderella, a co-production between San Francisco Ballet and Dutch National Ballet, has its U.S. premiere this month with performances in San Francisco from May 3–12. The choreographer’s version is more adult than Disney—he drew inspiration from the dark undertones of Prokofiev’s score. Wheeldon brings the production into the 21st century with spectacular special effects and puppetry by Basil Twist. www.sfballet.org.
Over Memorial Day Weekend, more than 30 groups will descend on the Touhill Performing Arts Center in St. Louis for the Emerson Spring to Dance Festival. Representing the Midwest are companies like Grand Rapids Ballet and Kansas City Ballet, with some friends from the coasts including ODC/Dance and Camille A. Brown. The festival will be a homecoming of sorts for St. Louis native Antonio Douthit, one of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s most riveting dancers, who will perform Ailey’s Pas de Duke with the luminous Alicia Mack Graf. And at just $15 each, tickets are a steal. www.dancestlouis.org.
Antonio Douthit of Ailey in Robert Battle’s Strange Humors. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Ailey.