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What Makes the Dance Magazine Awards So Uplifting
Some nights, you head home buzzing with energy. After last night's Dance Magazine Awards, we were dancing with it.
Joshua Culbreath in Doubt & Dolo. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
The night opened with an incredible performance by Rennie Harris Puremovement in The Word, plus Doubt & Dolo, a gripping solo that Harris said he choreographed for his mother, who had just passed.
Harris went on to thank all of the surrogate mothers who still look out for him: Brenda Dixon Gottschild (who presented his award with an adorably awesome rap), Joan Myers Brown, and his "sister" Charmaine Warren.
Rennie Harris. Photo by Christopher Duggan
Although Diana Vishneva wasn't able to fly in from St. Petersburg due to illness, she sent a lovely video sharing that, "New York lifted me up; Marcelo lifted me higher."
That Marcelo she was referring to was of course Marcelo Gomes, her former partner at American Ballet Theatre. He presented Vishneva the award with a hilarious speech recounting their first time dancing together: She'd requested Gomes partner her in Manon—with just four days notice. But their first rehearsal together ended up being one of the best hours of his career. Gomes learned that Vishneva's "magical, intense stillness" is one of her greatest gifts. "She's a professional pauser," he joked. "That's her job."
To honor Marika Molnar, her daughter Veronika Jokel sang live to accompany New York City Ballet star (and long-time Molnar patient) Tiler Peck, in a solo she choreographed for the event.
Veronika Jokel and Tiler Peck. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
In presenting Molnar with her award, Miami City Ballet artistic director Lourdes Lopez thanked her for not only helping dancers to perform, but for helping them to keep moving and demonstrating long after they retire from the stage, so that they can pass everything on to the next generation.
Molnar then told the story of how she became NYCB's physical therapist: When she was fresh out of school, Balanchine was one of her first patients. Mr. B hated doing PT exercises like squats and heel raises, so, at his suggestion, they danced the exercises by waltzing together—three times a week around his living room!
Lopez presenting to Molnar. Photo by Christopher Duggan
The night wrapped up with a searing performance of Alvin Ailey's Cry by honoree Linda Celeste Sims, who showed off her ability to be equal parts "a Sherman tank and rose petals" as presenter Judith Jamison put it. "She's like steel, but then there's that heart and vulnerability."
Co-presenter Robert Battle playfully compared Sims to her famous pernil recipe: "She seasons it perfectly with salt and garlic and sazon; marinates it for three days. It's the kind of thing where you savor it, and the next day you say, 'Mmm, I can still taste it!' " said Battle. "Well, that's what her dancing is."
Linda Celeste Sims. Photo by Christopher Duggan.
A huge "thank you" to everyone who traveled from near and far to help us celebrate. With so much joy, talent and love for dance, the Dance Magazine Awards was something we know we'll be savoring for many days to come.
Bales of hay, black umbrellas, bicycles—this Midsummer Night's Dream would be unrecognizable to the Bard. Alexander Ekman's full-length, inspired by Scandinavian solstice traditions and set to music by Mikael Karlsson, is a madcap celebration of the longest day of the year, when the veil between our world and that of the supernatural is said to be at its thinnest. The Joffrey Ballet's performances mark the seductively surreal work's North American premiere. April 25–May 6. joffrey.org.
"There's an ancient energy in Fana's movement, a deep and trusted knowing," says Jeff, director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. "Because I witnessed the raw humanity of his dancer's souls, I wanted my dancers to have that experience."
When I wrote about my struggle with depression, and eventual departure from dance because of it, I expected criticism. I was prepared to be challenged. But much to my relief, and horror, dancers from all over the world responded with support and stories of solidarity. The most critical response I saw was this one:
"Dance isn't for everyone."
This may as well be a mantra in the dance world. We have become entrenched in the Darwinian notion that the emotionally weak will be weeded out. There is no room for them anyway.
In his final bow at New York City Ballet, during what should have been a heroic conclusion to a celebrated ballet career, Robert Fairchild slipped and fell. His reaction? To lie down flat on his back like he meant to do it. Then start cracking up at himself.
"He's such a ham," says his sister Megan Fairchild, with a laugh. "He's really good at selling whatever his body is doing that day. He'll turn a moment that I would totally go home and cry about into something where the audience is like, 'That's the most amazing thing ever!' "
Growing up in a family-owned dance studio in Missouri had its perks for tap dancer Anthony Russo. But it also earned him constant taunting, especially in high school.
"There was a junior in my sophomore year health class who was absolutely relentless," he says. "I'd get tripped on my way to the front of the classroom and he'd say, 'Watch out, twinkle toes.' If I raised my hand and answered a question incorrectly, I'd hear a patronizing 'Nice one, Bojangles.' "
Choreographer Sergio Trujillo asked the women auditioning for ensemble roles in his newest musical to arrive in guys' clothing—"men's suits, or blazers and ties," he says. He wasn't being kinky or whimsical. The entire ensemble of Summer: The Donna Summer Musical is female, playing men and women interchangeably as they unfold the history of the chart-busting, Grammy-winning, indisputable Queen of Disco.
Have a scroll through Agnes Muljadi's Instagram feed (@artsyagnes), and you'll notice that in between her ballet shots is a curated mix of lifestyle pics. So what exactly sets her apart from the other influencers you follow? Muljadi has made a conscious effort to only feature natural beauty products, sustainable fashion and vegan foods. With over 500k followers, her social strategy (and commitment to making ethical choices) is clearly a hit. Ahead, learn why Muljadi switched to a vegan lifestyle, and the surprising way it's helped her dance career.
He may not be a household name, but you probably know Brandon Stirling Baker's work. The 30-year-old has designed the lighting for most of Justin Peck's ballets—including Heatscape for Miami City Ballet, and the edgy The Times Are Racing for New York City Ballet—but also Jamar Roberts' new Members Don't Get Weary at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and a trio of Martha Graham duets for L.A. Dance Project.
He's been fascinated by lighting ever since he attended a public performing arts middle school in Sherman Oaks, California, where he had his first experiences lighting shows. He also has a background in music (he plays guitar and bass) and in drawing. Both, he says, are central to the way he approaches lighting dance.
Update: Due to an overwhelming response, the in-person audition has been moved to a larger location to accommodate more dancers. See details below.
For the first time in more than 10 years, Janet Jackson is holding an open audition for dancers.
Even better? You could land a spot in her #JTribe simply by posting a video on social media.
What does it take to become an international superstar? Carlos Acosta might have a few ideas.
At the Oxford Literary Festival earlier this month, the BBC sat down with Acosta to ask for his life lessons. His answers—which he says he will pass on to his kids one day—give incredible insight into how he's become such a beloved worldwide success.