The Dreamer: David Hallberg for NOWNESS
There's a moment in this just-released short film—featuring David Hallberg, that prince of princes—that really resonates. He grabs his left knee, then right, then right ankle, then left, with a kind of testing touch to make sure that everything is responsive. It's a nod to a dancer's relationship with his or her body, that all-powerful instrument that sometimes—often—can fail. Hallberg himself recently returned to the stage after being sidelined with ankle injuries for nearly a year. (He's dancing beautifully, by the way, and performing two Romeo and Juliets this week—with Polina Semionova tonight and Natalia Osipova on Friday.)
Back to "Hallberg at Work." Made by NOWNESS (a lifestyle website that's owned by fashion house LVMH), the film was shot at American Ballet Theatre's studios at 890 Broadway and the choreography is by none other than fellow ABT principal (and DM favorite) Marcelo Gomes. We're not sure that the title really reflects what's going on here (we're pretty sure that Hallberg, at work, doesn't get to be so solitary and serene—or climb on the barre) but the footage does capture his introspective spirit and, when it can tear itself away from his face, his gorgeous line. (To see more of those famous legs and feet, check out Dance Magazine's behind-the-scenes video of his June 2012 cover shoot.)
Photo taken on set at ABT Studios in NYC, May 2013, by Garen Barsegian.
NOWNESS' dance films are a lovely mix of movement and fashion. See New York City Ballet's Janie Taylor (choreography by Justin Peck) here, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet's Craig Black (choreography by Benjamin Millepied) here, and Lil Buck here.
Jennifer Kahn knew the theater industry could do better. As a professional stage manager for 17 years she worked on regional, off-Broadway and Broadway shows. Nearly each time a show closed, something unsettling happened: "I would watch them throw away our shows. All of the beautiful artwork by my friends in the paint shop would go in the trash." The elaborate backdrops? Gone.
But she had an idea: What if the material used in the backdrops and legs could be upcycled into something new? And what if theater lovers could literally keep a piece of a beloved show?
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.
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.
New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns wasn't sure she was strong enough. A ballerina who has danced many demanding full-length and contemporary roles, she was about to push herself physically more than she thought was possible.
"I said, 'I can't. My body won't,' " she says. "He told me, 'Yes, it will.' "
She wasn't working with a ballet coach, but with personal trainer Joel Prouty, who was asking her to do squats with a heavier barbell than she'd ever used.