Dancers Trending

The Power of Surprise Onstage

Ballet West in The Lottery PC Tyler Gum

In a stroke of genius, Val Caniparoli has built a reverberating surprise into The Lottery, his new ballet at Ballet West. Based on Shirley Jackson's gruesome short story of the same title about ritualized violence in America, the ballet could have been a dreaded experience. Instead, the audience looks forward to each edition. The choreographer decided that when the villagers draw lots, the performers really are going through a chance procedure (echoes of John Cage?) to find out who is the “chosen one" that will be stoned to death. (See our “Quick Q&A" here.)

Because of the way the papers are unfolded and shown, the dancers and the audience only gradually see who has been chosen. The other performers have to change from being friendly to ostracizing that character—even if it's their spouse. We see them basically improvising.

Then the chosen one launches into a wrenching solo. All the dancers have rehearsed this coveted solo, but none of the dancers know who will dance it until that moment.

Afterward, the whole company gets a rousing ovation and the audience cannot stop talking about it. Of course, part of its success is Caniparoli's ability to contain a narrative within a clear framework. The ballet will have a long life because of the surprise built into it.

A couple of decades ago Mark Morris choreographed a piece where most of the company formed a single diagonal line, and a different dancer each night stepped out for a solo.

And I made a piece called Standard Deviation in 1984, where we had three new people every night; they came in for a 15-minute rehearsal just before the performance so they could do a short segment of “partnering" with the choreographed trio.

But Caniparoli goes further than either of these examples because he allows the audience to witness the dancers' reaction to the outcome. He's provided both the dancers and the audience a stimulating source of unknowing. —Wendy Perron

The Conversation

Jellicle obsessives, rejoice: There's a new video out that offers a (surprisingly substantive) look at the dancing that went down on the set of the new CATS movie.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance & Science
Via Wikimedia Commons

When Dr. Mae Jemison was growing up, she was obsessed with space. But she didn't see any astronauts who looked like her.

"I said, Wait a minute. Why are all the astronauts white males?" she recounts in a CNN video. "What if the aliens saw them and said, Are these the only people on Earth?"

Keep reading... Show less
Career Advice
Wayne McGregor. Photo by Johan Persson, Courtesy ROH

It's no surprise that dancers make some of the best TED Talk presenters. Not only are they great performers, but they've got unique knowledge to share. And they can dance!

If you're in need of a midweek boost, look no further than these eight presentations from some incredibly inspiring dance artists.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for Fun

As Dance Magazine editors, we admittedly spend more time than we'd like sifting through stock photography. Some of it is good, more of it is bad and most of it is just plain awkward.

But when paired with the right caption, those shots magically transform from head-scratchers to meme-worthy images that illustrate our singular experience as dancers. You can thank the internet for this special salute to dancer moods.

Keep reading... Show less


Get Dance Magazine in your inbox