- The Latest
- Breaking Stereotypes
- Rant & Rave
- Dance As Activism
- Dancers Trending
- Viral Videos
- The Dancer's Toolkit
- Health & Body
- Dance Training
- Career Advice
- Style & Beauty
- Dance Auditions
- Guides & Resources
- Performance Calendar
- College Guide
- Dance Magazine Awards
- Meet The Editors
- Contact Us
- Advertise/Media Kit
- Buy A Single Issue
- Give A Gift Subscription
We Tried It: The Museum Workout With Monica Bill Barnes
I was doing jumping jacks in front of a sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art this morning when a security guard's face caught my eye. He was grinning from cheek to cheek. And his smile reminded me, Oh right, this isn't normal.
The Museum Workout. Photo by Paula Lobo, courtesy Met Museum.
For the next four weeks, Barnes and her longtime performing partner Anna Bass will lead small groups of visitors on a 45-minute, two-mile journey through the museum in the hours before it opens to the public. A score of disco and Motown hits plays out of a speaker strapped to the back of Barnes' creative producing director, Robert Saenz de Viteri. Barnes and Bass wear their signature sequined dresses and sneakers; the rest of us wear our finest athleisure outfits.
Photo by Paula Lobo, courtesy Met Museum
The two dancers greeted us on the grand steps just off The Great Hall. After a short introduction (and, of course, a warning not to touch the art), de Viteri hit play, and the sounds of the Bee Gees filled the atrium.
We followed Bass and Barnes as they jogged, marched and power walked through galleries until reaching, for example, John Singer Sargent's "Portrait of Madame X," which we'd face for a minute while doing something like squats. There was no commentary or time to read any explanation about the works. But it felt oddly reverential, like we were doing some ritual movement to honor the art gods.
No, it wasn't exactly bootcamp. But my calves did feel the burn, and my overpriced moisture-wicking garb came in handy as I quickly started sweating. There were no movements that all ages in the group couldn't handle, though. We were basically doing a better-choreographed version of your mom's low-impact aerobics class. While surrounded by fine art.
But why were we working up a sweat in a museum, of all places?
Clips of recorded conversations with illustrator Maira Kalman, who curated the route and chose each piece we visited, offered some insight. She explained that when we work out in nature, rather than trying to understand everything we see, we just observe. The implication was that there might be a benefit in taking that same approach to art. She also spoke about how much she personally hated having to talk to people at museums, how you were expected to comment on the work—something we didn't have to do while jogging.
Paula Lobo, courtesy Met Museum
"The Vine," via metmuseum.org
The workout ended with us all lying down on the floor of the American Wing. (Meanwhile, outside the large windows, cyclists and runners were doing their workouts in Central Park.) Looking up from the floor, I saw Harriet Whitney Frishmuth's "The Vine." And for the first time, I noticed just how beautiful it was: The line of her cambré arches back gloriously; her outstretched fingers would even make Balanchine proud. I don't know anything about this work or the artist's intention, but I couldn't help getting swept up in its dancer-like beauty.
Who knows if I would have noticed the same thing had I not just been following along with two dancers for the past 45 minutes. But I realized that I loved being in a museum without having to stand around so much, the way you usually do. Being able to really move through it felt, if not exactly natural, at least more comfortable.
Not that I plan on doing squats in front of my favorite paintings during my next visit. But I might be tempted to walk around a bit more. And maybe sneak in just a couple jumping jacks before the security guards catch me.
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
Some dancers move to New York City with their sights set on a dream job: that one choreographer or company they have to dance for. But when Maggie Cloud graduated from Florida State University in 2010, she envisioned herself on a less straightforward path.
"I always had in mind that I would be dancing for different people," she says. "I knew I had some kind of range that I wanted to tap into."
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
We all know that the general population's knowledge of ballet is sometimes...a bit skewed. (See: people touching their fingertips to the top of their head, and Kendall Jenner hopping around at the barre.)
Would your average Joe know how to do ballet's most basic step: a plié? Or, more to the point, even know what it is?
SELF decided to find out.
New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.
Who says you need fancy equipment to make a festival-worthy dance film? Right now, two New York City–based dance film festivals are calling for aspiring filmmakers to show their stuff—and you don't need anything more cumbersome than a smartphone to get in on the action.
Here's everything you need to know about how to submit:
When Lisset Santander bourréed onstage as Myrtha in BalletMet's Giselle this past February, her consummate portrayal of the Queen of the Wilis was marked by steely grace and litheness. The former Cuban National Ballet dancer had defected to the U.S. at 21, and after two years with the Ohio company, she's now closer to the dance career she says she always wanted: one of limitless possibilities.
For 17 years, James Samson has been the model Paul Taylor dancer. There is something fundamentally decent about his stage persona. He's a tall dancer—six feet—but never imposes himself. He's muscular, but gentle. And when he moves, it is his humanity that shines through, even more than his technique.
But all dancing careers come to an end, and James Samson's is no exception; now 43, he'll be retiring in August, after a final performance at the Teatro Romano in Verona, where he'll be dancing in Cloven Kingdom, Piazzolla Caldera and Promethean Fire.
The wait for Alexei Ratmansky's restaging of Petipa's Harlequinade is almost over! But if you can't wait until American Ballet Theatre officially debuts the ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House on June 6, we've got you covered. ABT brought the Harlequinade characters to life (and to the Alder Mansion in Yonkers, NY) in a short film by Ezra Hurwitz, and it's a guaranteed to make you laugh.
When an anonymous letter accused former New York City Ballet leader Peter Martins of sexual harassment last year, it felt like what had long been an open secret—the prevalence of harassment in the dance world—was finally coming to the surface. But the momentum of the #MeToo movement, at least in dance, has since died down.
Martins has retired, though an investigation did not corroborate any of the claims against him. He and former American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes, who suddenly resigned in December, were the only cases to make national headlines in the U.S. We've barely scratched the surface of the dance world's harassment problem.