Sahar Damoni, PC Tamar Lamm

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

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.


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Stark Photo Productions, Courtesy Harlequin

Why Your Barre Can Make or Break Your At-Home Dance Training

Throughout the pandemic, Shelby Williams, of Royal Ballet of Flanders (aka "Biscuit Ballerina"), has been sharing videos that capture the pitfalls of dancers working from home: slipping on linoleum, kicking over lamps and even taking windows apart at the "barre." "Dancers aren't known to be graceful all of the time," says Mandy Blackmon, PT, DPT, OSC, CMTPT, head physical therapist/medical director for Atlanta Ballet. "They tend to fall and trip."

Many dancers have tried to make their home spaces as safe as possible for class and rehearsal by setting up a piece of marley, like Harlequin's Dance Mat, to work on. But there's another element needed for taking thorough ballet classes at home: a portable barre.

"Using a barre is kinda Ballet 101," says 16-year-old Haley Dale, a student in her second year at American Ballet Theatre's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. She'd bought a portable barre from Harlequin to use at her parents' home in Northern Virginia even before the pandemic hit. "Before I got it, honestly I would stay away from doing barre work at home. Now I'm able to do it all the time."

Blackmon bought her 15-year-old stepdaughter a freestanding Professional Series Ballet Barre from Harlequin early on in quarantine. "I was worried about her injuring herself without one," she admits.

What exactly makes Harlequin's barres an at-home must-have, and hanging on to a chair or countertop so risky? Here are five major differences dancers will notice right away.

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December 2020