What Wendy's Watching

The Most Epic Cross-Cultural Collaboration is Coming to NYC This Weekend

Sahar Damoni, PC Tamar Lamm

Do you ever imagine collaborating with a dancer or musician from a faraway place? Composer Andy Teirstein, professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, has made this wish come true for performing artists with his Translucent Borders project. Over the last three years he has brought dancers and musicians from Cuba, Israel, Greece and Ghana to experience other cultures. On June 29, this project culminates in a rich border-crossing event at the Jack Crystal Theater at Tisch.


Here are some of the dance artists involved in these cross-cultural collaborations:

Sahar Damoni, a young Palestinian who has danced in the Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company and the Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival and who makes work about the challenges she faces as a woman in an Arab Palestinian society. She is collaborating with Teirstein (who has composed for choreographers like Donald Byrd, Stephen Petronio, Liz Lerman and Sara Pearson) and Israeli singer Yair Dalal.

Dege Feder, an Ethiopian-Israeli dancer who has her own restless style. She has danced and choreographed with Ruth Eshel's Eskista Ethiopian dance troupe and toured internationally. She is collaborating with Italian composer Angela Ambrosini.

Donald Byrd, artistic director of Spectrum Dance Company in Seattle. He traveled to Ghana and was very moved by the history there. He visited Cape Coast Castle, which beginning in the 1600s had dungeons where Africans were kept before being forced to travel to the New World as slaves. Byrd has said that it changed him in ways he couldn't express. He will be working with Ghanaian musician/dancer/storyteller Merigah Abubakari—Yaya for short.

Yaya with Andy Teirstein in Ghana, PC Cari Ann Shim Sham

Sulley Imoro, an internationally known Ghanaian dancer/musician. Although he is a traditional dancer and drummer, he can burst forth with delightful improvisations. He is working with two musicians from Israel's amazing System Ali (the members sing in Hebrew, Arabic and/or Russian): accordionist Neta Weiner and rapper Muhammad Mugrabi.

Full disclosure: As an adjunct at Tisch Dance, I participated in Translucent Borders last year. So some of these artists are like old friends to me.


Dancers Trending
Rachel Papo

In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.

And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.

"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."

The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by NYCDA
Ailey II artistic director Troy Powell teaching an Ailey Workshop at NYCDA. Courtesy NYCDA

Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.

"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."

Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.

Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:

Keep reading... Show less
Health & Body
Getty Images

Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.

"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored by Harlequin Floors
Left: Hurricane Harvey damage in Houston Ballet's Dance Lab; Courtesy Harlequin. Right: The Dance Lab pre-Harvey; Nic Lehoux, Courtesy Houston Ballet.

"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.

Keep reading... Show less

mailbox

Get Dance Magazine in your inbox