"My whole mission in life is to keep Balanchine's work alive," says former New York City Ballet dancer Karin von Aroldingen in Frances Mason's I Remember Balanchine, a collection of interviews by George Balanchine's friends and colleagues. Her words feel especially potent now—and never more true. On Friday, January 5, news came to light that the German-born dancer, teacher, NYCB ballet master and longtime stager for the Balanchine Trust had died at age 76.
Born in East Germany in 1941, von Aroldingen joined Frankfurt Ballet as a first soloist before George Balanchine invited her to join NYCB in 1962. Trained in the Russian method, she had to adjust her technique to fit NYCB's fast, streamlined style. "It took me years to unwind myself, to be good," she says in Mason's book. She eventually rose to principal dancer in 1972. Her dancing was strong, assertive and passionate. During her 22-year career at NYCB, Balanchine created 20 roles for her, including Kammermusik No. 2, Union Jack, Vienna Waltzes, Who Cares?, Robert Schumann's Davidsbündlertanze and her most well-known, Stravinsky Violin Concerto. (Who hasn't marveled at her elastic backbends in the 1972 "Dance in America" broadcast above?)
In a crowded company class at Tulsa Ballet, Maine Kawashima stands out, and not just because of her tiny size. (She's 4'11".) The 22-year-old corps de ballet member is fiercely focused, repeating combinations over and over again with tireless determination. Once class is over, she keeps going, whipping out fouettés.
"She is a technical wizard," says artistic director Marcello Angelini. "But she's also a sensitive and versatile dancer."
The messages started coming in Monday evening. A concerned teacher was worried about several dancers she knew at American National Ballet—did we know what was going on? Later that night, more information started emerging on social media—and it was clear something was up at the Charleston, South Carolina–based company.
We've been interested in ANB since its debut was first announced in April—not only was it a brand new company, but one with close to 50 dancers, and some major names attached, like Rasta Thomas, Sara Michelle Murawski and Jessica Saund. The founders, Doug and Ashley Benefield, had few ballet credentials but they made an encouraging promise to highlight diversity, hiring dancers of different body types and races. A story in Charleston's The Post & Courier reported that they had a strategic business plan to support the company through for-profit ventures such as a licensing enterprise, a dancewear line and an academy.
Gelsey Kirkland walks toward a group of teenage students in the middle of the studio. The dancers are practicing the tricky hops on pointe at the end of Swanilda's Act III variation from Coppélia. It's a stressful moment, and can easily read that way from the audience if a dancer tenses up. In her signature long-sleeve button-down shirt and tinted glasses, Kirkland offers a metaphor to better place their upper bodies over their standing leg. “You're practicing for your first child," she says with a smile, leaning over slightly to shake her finger at an imaginary toddler. The imagery doesn't just help the dancers better align their bodies; it gives them a physical focal point, out of the mirror and back into Swanilda's world.
For an hour and 10 minutes, Kirkland continues breaking down the same short section of the variation, with students divided into groups of four. Most corrections concern the eyes, rib cage, épaulement and port de bras. This kind of detailed coaching is a luxury most dancers never receive, yet it's par for the course at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet's summer Classical Repertory Workshop. The program offers advanced students a chance to study iconic roles under Kirkland. Her goal is clear. “It's important for dancers to understand how classroom technique, especially upper body technique, is related to the characters you create," she says. “You can't look a certain way in class and another way when you decide to create a character—it has to be joined."
Nicole Wolcott in her UWM MFA thesis Paper Pieces. Photo by Whitney Brown, Courtesy University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee.
For many dancers, concerns about the next stage in their career frequently loom overhead. Enrolling in a master’s program serves as a crucial stepping-stone, especially if one wants to teach in a university or K–12 setting, choreograph or explore somatic practices. In the past, that usually meant uprooting and relocating—not always a good option for working professionals. Luckily, several universities have developed low-residency MFAs to accommodate just this type of student. “Once you’re no longer at the barre, so to speak, you don’t hear about that next gig, those new opportunities,” says Luc Vanier, graduate program director at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. “These programs benefit professionals who don’t want to lose their connection to the field.” With short, intense semesters held over summer months (when dancers, choreographers and teachers generally have freer schedules) and other courses that can be completed remotely in the fall and spring, low-residency programs give working artists more flexibility to pursue their academic and creative goals. —Amy Brandt
Located: Roanoke, VA
No. of students in program: 43
Degree offered: MFA in dance. Three-summer track: designed for emerging artists, teachers and dance professionals. Two-summer track: designed for mid-career dance professionals and teachers, with 12 credits granted for professional experience (minimum 10 years).
Audition required: Admission is based on applicant’s portfolio, which is reviewed by a panel of faculty.
Coursework includes: Mentored and individualized studio practice, dance history, theory and criticism, contemporary body practices, contemporary art practices, performance workshop, visiting artist series
How it works: Students meet for eight weeks during the summer: five weeks in residence at Hollins University, followed by three weeks in Frankfurt, Germany, studying at The Forsythe Company studio and the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts. Academic and creative coursework are completed off-site during the fall and spring terms.
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE OF CALIFORNIA
Located: Moraga, CA
No. of students in program: 13
Degree offered: MFA in Dance: Creative Practice
Audition required: Yes, by invitation only, after application review.
Coursework includes: Choreography, technique, production practicum, dance history, critical dance pedagogy, design methodologies, lighting design, somatics, research methods
How it works: Students meet for four-week residencies over two years: three in June and two in January. In the fall and spring they take technique classes locally, as well as independent somatics-based courses and online/weekend classes (depending on their needs and proximity to campus). Students take choreography courses in the spring, receiving feedback via video, Skype or FaceTime.
UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN—MILWAUKEE
Located: Milwaukee, WI
No. of students in program: 25–30
Degree offered: MFA in dance
Audition required: Applicants apply to the graduate school and submit a written statement, a choreography reel and letters of recommendation to the dance department. Candidates are selected by a committee.
Coursework includes: Dance technique (ballet, modern and African), Alexander technique, composition, improvisation, choreography, Laban Movement Analysis, dance literature, yoga
How it works: Students meet for seven weeks during the summer: a one-week intensive workshop taught by guest faculty, followed by a six-week semester. In the fall and spring, students have formal online classes and self-proposed independent studies, and they can develop a pre-thesis project, completing the thesis during the second fall and spring semesters. (Five semesters total.)
University of Wyoming students performing at Vedauwoo rec area. Photo by J. Harper, Courtesy University of Wyoming.
Lately, aerial dance has become a major genre—take a look at productions of Cirque du Soleil or on Broadway, and you’ll see dancers high overhead, engulfed in swaths of fabric or bounding gracefully off the walls. And dedicated aerial dance companies are popping up all over the country. As techniques evolve, more universities are incorporating it into their dance programs. “Aerial demands breadth of training in a variety of apparatuses,” says Nada Diachenko, dance professor at University of Colorado, Boulder. “It takes a lot of body conditioning, and safety issues are huge.” Here are three programs with extensive aerial dance offerings. —Amy Brandt
UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
Location: Durham, NH
Dance audition required: Yes
Prior aerial experience required: No
Degrees offered: BA in theater with an option in dance; dance minor
Program description: Ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and aerial arts make up the core curriculum, as well as courses in pedagogy, composition, dance history and choreography. Aerial classes are in two-hour time blocks in which students rotate between four stations: Trapeze and silks are offered every class; lyra, single-point trapeze, net, triple trap, Spanish web and other apparatuses are interspersed throughout the semester. Safety, rigging techniques and injury prevention are also addressed each class. Advanced students assist beginning and intermediate classes; once a week, advanced aerial students meet for an extra lab.
Facility: One studio with 20-foot steel-beam ceilings that allow for rigging
Performance opportunities: Spring dance concert provides opportunities for aerial performance, Aerial Showcase at the end of each semester, outdoor performances
UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO, BOULDER
Location: Boulder, CO
Dance audition required: Yes, for both CU-Boulder’s graduate dance program and the Frequent Flyers program. Base strength requirements and health insurance also required for aerial training.
Prior aerial experience required: One year of focused training in an aerial apparatus; teacher-training candidates should be at an advanced level in an aerial apparatus, with prior teaching experience in either dance or aerial dance.
Degree offered: MFA in dance; secondary concentration in aerial dance with two track options (performance or teaching) through a partnership with Frequent Flyers, a professional aerial company and school.
Program description: Aerial track students complete 10 credit hours through FF towards total MFA requirements of 60 hours. All students take aerial fitness, aerial dance technique, ground-based movement, improvisation/choreography, open gym, stretching and workshops. Candidates work with fabric, trapeze, hoop, invented apparatus and stilts. Performance track includes student company and private lessons. Teaching-track candidates graduate with an MFA and FF teaching certification. CU graduate dance coursework includes technique, choreography, pedagogy, graduate seminar, final project, among others.
Facility: Aerial classes take place at Frequent Flyers’ studio, plus one on campus.
Performance opportunities: Student and/or faculty concerts, Aerial Dance Festival, informal showings
UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING
Location: Laramie, WY
Dance audition required: No audition required for the BA, which all freshmen declare. Students audition for the BFA program at the end of their freshman or sophomore year.
Prior aerial experience required: No
Degrees offered: BA in dance, BFA in dance performance, BFA in dance science, dance minor
Program description: Vertical dance courses (which involve rope and harness) are offered as electives to the overall dance curriculum, which includes ballet, modern and jazz. Vertical I is open to all dance majors and introduces safety measures, basic equipment and vertical dance vocabulary. Dancers work individually and in pairs, developing sequences and transitions for a final performance. Vertical II expands upon rigging techniques and focuses on individual choreography. Both courses begin each class with conditioning specific to vertical dance.
Facility: Classes are held in a black-box theater with an easily accessible grid, as well as in larger theaters. Rehearsals are held outdoors in late summer in preparation for performances at a local recreational area.
Performance opportunities: Two main-stage productions a year, collaborative faculty concerts, biannual performance at Vedauwoo outdoor recreation area, American College Dance Festival Association Northwest Conference
For the past 11 summers, emerging choreographers and dancers from across the country have gathered in southern California for the National Choreographer’s Initiative. And the benefits are two-fold: Dancers on their summer break receive engaging, process-oriented work, while the four selected dancemakers receive creative freedom, valuable studio time and highly-trained artists to work with.
Starting Monday, this year’s chosen choreographers—Gabrielle Lamb, Barry Kerollis, Garrett Smith and Philip Neal—have three weeks at the University of California, Irvine dance studios to create a new work. The dancers (eight men and eight women) are an eclectic mix, hailing from Sacramento Ballet, Ballet Austin, Los Angeles Ballet, Ballet Met, Richmond Ballet, Texas Ballet Theatre, Nashville Ballet, Company “C” Contemporary Ballet and Festival Ballet Theatre. The project culminates in a performance at the Irvine Barclay Theatre on July 26th.
As an added benefit, Lamb, Kerollis, Smith and Neal will retain the right to promote and license their works to other companies. This is very good news, indeed—since 2004, NCI has produced 44 new works, 23 of which have entered company repertoires throughout the U.S.
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Three college programs for aspiring triple threats.
Singing. Dancing. Acting. For college-bound students hoping to become the next triple threat, it’s often hard to find a dance program that nurtures all three—and few musical theater programs offer enough challenging courses for seriously trained dancers. Choosing the right school takes some digging and creative planning. For instance, dance majors can sometimes take advantage of a musical theater minor. Or, they can look for a musical theater major with a dance emphasis, such as Roosevelt University’s newly launched program. Below are three strong schools for aspiring triple threats to consider. —Amy Brandt
OKLAHOMA CITY UNIVERSITY
Located: Oklahoma City, OK
No. of dance majors: 193
Degrees offered: BPA (bachelor of performing arts) in dance performance, BS in dance pedagogy, BS in dance management
Audition required: Yes (ballet, jazz, tap); voice presentations optional
Dance classes required: Tap, jazz, ballet, theater dance
Voice and acting classes required: Music fundamentals, class voice, private voice, acting
Performance opportunities: American Spirit Dance Company (2 main-stage shows, plus local performances and touring), 4 musicals (2 full-length), 4 operas, student choreography show
Opportunities for outside study: Students are encouraged to perform in summer stock theater/theme parks, including Music Theatre of Wichita, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma and Busch Gardens. Summer internship organizations include Broadway Dance Center and Jacob’s Pillow.
Alumni: Broadway, Las Vegas, national tours, cruise ship productions, Radio City Rockettes, television, film, music videos
Above: OCU’s American Spirit Dance Company. Photo by John Bedford, Courtesy Oklahoma City University.
Located: Chicago, IL
No. of dance majors: 18 (22 incoming freshmen expected for 2014–15)
Degrees offered: BFA in musical theater—dance emphasis
Audition required: Yes (ballet, jazz, song, monologue)
Dance classes required: Ballet, jazz, tap, modern, hip hop, partnering, navigating song and dance, anatomy and kinesiology, dance pedagogy
Voice and acting classes required: Ensemble singing, piano, music theory, private voice, acting for the musical stage
Performance opportunities: 3 main-stage musicals, 3 main-stage plays, 4 freshman showcases, 4 musical theater showcases, 3 acting showcases
Opportunities for outside study: RU has internship programs with Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Lookingglass Theatre and Chicago Shakespeare Theatre. Juniors and seniors may audition for outside productions.
Alumni: Broadway, off-Broadway, Chicago theater, national tours, film, television
Above: Roosevelt students in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Photo by Zeke Dolezaleck, Courtesy Roosevelt University.
POINT PARK UNIVERSITY
Located: Pittsburgh, PA
No. of dance majors: 240
Degrees offered: BFA in dance, BA in dance, BA in dance pedagogy, minor in musical theater. Many musical theater dancers pursue a BFA (jazz concentration) and a musical theater minor.
Audition required: Yes (ballet, modern, jazz); audition for musical theater minor occurs sophomore year.
Dance classes required: Ballet, modern, jazz, anatomy, kinesiology, dance history, music fundamentals. Ballet concentrations take pointe/men’s class, pas de deux. Jazz and modern concentrations take contemporary partnering.
Voice and acting classes required: For musical theater minor: voice, private voice lessons, acting, musical theater techniques, piano/theory fundamentals, sight-singing fundamentals
Performance opportunities: 6 main-stage productions a year (including one full-length) plus The Nutcracker. Dancers can also audition for the theater department’s full-length musicals.
Opportunities for outside study: Dancers may pursue outside opportunities, but because of Point Park’s rigorous class and rehearsal schedule, they must be selective. Students may also study abroad for one semester.
Alumni: Broadway, national tours, Cirque du Soleil, ballet and contemporary companies, film, television
Above: Point Park University students in Oklahoma!. Photo by Jeff Swenson, Courtesy Point Park University.
For the past two weeks, over 90 dancers from around the world have taken over the city of Jackson, Mississippi, for the USA International Ballet Competition. Since Tuesday, the remaining 31 finalists have been strutting their stuff to packed audiences at Thalia Mara Hall. While there’s been plenty of thrilling pyrotechnics in the classical department, many of the contemporary pieces have felt like an afterthought. That is, until Washington Ballet’s Andile Ndlovu, 26, stunned the crowd in an electrifying, self-choreographed solo. Expertly blending traditional African dance and hip hop, his dynamic, rippling performance was a welcome shot in the arm.
Originally from South Africa, Ndlovu started out as a ballroom dancer, eventually switching to ballet at age 15. After spotting him in a South African ballet competition, artistic director Septime Webre offered him a full scholarship to the Washington Ballet School in 2008. Two years later, Ndlovu competed in the 2010 USA IBC, only to be cut after the first round. I sat down with him yesterday at the dancer’s dormitory to talk about how it’s going the second time around.
Was it hard to leave South Africa?
No, not really. When you get an invitation to come to America, you go. It was always a dream of mine. Opportunities are limited in South Africa if you’re as ambitious as I am.
Tell me about the first time you competed at USA IBC in 2010.
It was a nightmare. I came here young and full of energy, wanting to do everything, but not really understanding what it was really that I was coming here to do. We all come here to go for that gold or silver medal, but without understanding how much you can grow here as an artist, how much it helps you to understand other artists and how other people react to disappointment and how others react to excitement. I worked hard, but not enough—not enough on the important things, which I realized after I got knocked out after the first round. And so ever since then, I’ve been doing competitions to just better myself, to nurture my talent and to get the world to see it.
Now that you’re back, how have you applied what you learned the first time?
When I got knocked out the last time, I thought, the next time I come here, I’ll be in the final. That goal has been imprinted in my mind since then. How I got to where I am now is by working on my artistry—to be able to switch from a prince to a happy peasant to a slave in Corsaire or a hunter from Diane and Acteon. I had to work really hard on that, refining all those professional aspects, what I wanted from myself.
Do you feel like you’re representing yourself, South Africa or Washington Ballet?
Representing myself is a good thing, but for me, it’s much bigger than that. You always represent where you come from, no matter how much you’ve been disappointed or not appreciated for where you’re from. You still represent it—you just should have that integrity as a professional.
Your contemporary solo, Wondering Thoughts, really brought down the house on Tuesday night. I noticed it was your own choreography—did that add another level of stress to the competition?
Yes, because I had to edit my solo five times—I was still editing backstage! It’s really hard to choreograph on yourself. You need other eyes to tell you what looks good and what doesn’t. My coach Charla Genn Croitoroo worked really hard with me before I got here. She wasn’t able to come to Jackson, so once I got here we started Skyping during my rehearsals. It was hard, but it helped a lot.
Wondering Thoughts is about two lives, two backgrounds: my life in South Africa, and my life here. I used a lot of traditional movements from home with classical music, to show the two contrasts. The thought is to understand that at the end, they both complement each other. And it’s not separate: Coming from raw, earthy tribal movements and mixing it with hip hop and breakdancing and classical—that’s me confronting the new world, asking myself, “How do I fit in?” And then at the end I realize there’s no fitting in. It’s the same.
What do you hope to come away with from IBC-Jackson?
A gold, silver or bronze medal would be great. But if that doesn’t happen, I’m still happy to be in the final, because that’s the goal I set for myself and I achieved it. If I get an award then that would just put the cherry on top.
This week, the Royal Ballet has been performing at the glittering Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. But two senior dancers, who the company has declined to name, are absent. Earlier this month, the dancers—one man and one woman—pulled out of the Royal’s tour to Moscow in protest of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay legislation, including a law that prohibits distributing information about homosexuality to minors.
“Out of the 96-strong dancers in The Royal Ballet, just two dancers have chosen not to go for political reasons,” the company released in a statement. It went on to say that several other dancers were staying home for other reasons, making the protestors identities harder to pinpoint. “On any overseas tour, there are inevitably some dancers who are not required in the repertory being taken on tour, or who have family or other commitments that do not allow them to go overseas for the duration of the tour.” According to a BBC news report, Moscow’s homegrown talent Natalia Osipova, along with Carlos Acosta, Sarah Lamb and Steven McRae, are among those performing.
The protests make a strong statement, especially since this year marks the UK-Russia Year of Culture, which, according to organization’s website, “aims to foster cultural exchange, increase the flow of ideas and develop stronger relationships between people, institutions and governments.”
Today marks the start of NYC Dance Week, a 10-day event of free and discounted dance, somatics and fitness classes at studios citywide (including the outer boroughs). Mark Morris Dance Center is this year’s partner studio, although other participating studios include The Ailey Extension, Power Pilates, Peridance Capezio Center, Ballet Academy East and Dancewave. (The list of is lengthy—check it out here for free and discounted classes). Registration is needed for Dance Week Passes, which can be printed out and brought to the studios, and some classes require an RSVP.
In addition, the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries is hosting two informative events: an Injury Prevention Seminar at Peridance Capezio Center today at 2:30, and a Health and Wellness Q&A Session on June 23 at Gibney Dance Center. Attendees can also sign up for free injury prevention assessments during the festival. And don’t miss NYC10 at Dixon Place on June 25, where 10 emerging companies have 10 minutes to showcase new works.
While we’re lazing around next Saturday afternoon, the Bavarian State Ballet will be hard at work, performing a triple bill of early 20th century ballets from the repertoire of the Ballets Russes. But you don’t have to miss out—the company is streaming their performance live on STAATSOPER.TV for free. The performance, which starts at 7:30 Munich time (that translates to 1:30 EST/10:30 PST) on June 21, includes three classics from the Diaghilev era: Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Biches, Vaslav Nijinsky’s L’Apres-midi d’un faune and Michael Fokine’s Shéhérazade. So go ahead and cancel those brunch plans. Click on staatsoper.de/tv to watch.
If you happen to be in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood this weekend, you’re in for a treat. That’s because the ninth annual Seattle International Dance Festival: Beyond the Threshold starts tomorrow, running through June 22. The event kicks off with a dance party at dusk, complete with food trucks, flash mobs and impromptu performances by b-boy crew Massive Monkees.
The festival’s Inter|National Artists Series, held both weekends at Cornish College of the Arts, features performances by Seattle’s own Khambatta Dance Company; companies and solo artists from Brazil, France, India and Romania; and mixed media collaborations between dancers from the U.S., Peru, Germany and China. In addition, the festival’s Threshold Institute offers a weeklong workshop with an international roster of teachers and choreographers.
From June 17–19, three local dancers (Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Andrew Bartee, Massive Monkees’ Jerome Aparis and KT Niehoff) act as curators for the Spotlight on Seattle series. Each artist pays homage to the city’s thriving dance scene with an evening of selected works showcasing local dance companies. The performances also serve as a competition of sorts—each night, audience members, along with panelists Donald Byrd and Dayna Hansen, award one group or solo artist $500 to develop a work for the 2015 festival. Byrd and Hansen will also serve as mentors to the winners.
And keep your eyes peeled for a cabaret-style performance on June 21—the location will be determined 24 hours beforehand. Participating choreographers will have one week to create a work based on a theme chosen by audience members on the festival’s opening night. June 13–22. Click here for schedule and tickets.
One of the best parts about summer in NYC is the abundance of outdoor dance performances—especially when they’re free! Starting next week, Bryant Park Presents Modern Dance, in collaboration with the non-profit interdisciplinary arts space Inception to Exhibition, presents a series of performances over three consecutive Friday evenings. The shows, which feature an amalgam of well-established and emerging dance companies, all take place on the Bryant Park Stage. And if you’re in town on July 4th, don’t miss the Booking Dance Festival Edinburgh, a sneak-peek showcase of ten companies on their way to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
Here’s the lowdown of performance details:
Friday, June 13, 6:00–7:30 pm: Elisa Monte Dance, Buglisi Dance Theatre, Jennifer Muller/The Works
Friday, June 20, 6:00–7:30 pm: Stephen Petronio Company, NØA Dance, UnderOneDances, The Dash Ensemble
Friday, June 27, 6:00–7:30 pm: TAKE Dance, Steps Repertory Ensemble, BodyStories: Teresa Fellion Dance
Friday, July 4, 2:00–4:00 pm: Booking Dance Festival Edinburgh featuring Art of Motion, Antara Bhardwaj, Barkin/Selissen Project, Buggé Ballet, Dzul Dance, Michael Mao Dance, Rebecca Stenn Company, Reed Dance, Synthesis Dance, Compagnie Christiane Emmanuel
For the past 30 years, Kultur International Films has been a leading distributor of performing arts videos, dominating the dance and opera shelves at libraries, as well as the virtual shelves of Amazon.com. Now the company is joining the likes of Netflix and Hulu: Last month, it launched Kultur.com, a subscription-based digital streaming service. Kultur, which owns thousands of hours of performing arts programming, is still in the process of uploading more dance videos to its digital library online. It currently offers a collection of rarely seen classics featuring yesteryear’s mega-stars: Mikhail Baryshnikov, Gelsey Kirkland and Marianna Tcherkassky in Baryshnikov Live at Wolftrap; Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn in The Royal Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet; Maya Plisetskya in Plisetskya Dances; Virginia Johnson in Dance Theatre of Harlem’s Creole Giselle; and Fernando Bujones in The Sleeping Beauty, among others. Kultur also acquired the licensing rights to Riverdance.
The first 30 days are free, then $9.99 a month for unlimited streaming to home theater, computer and mobile devices. In addition to performing arts videos, Kultur is broadening its offerings into educational programming, historical documentaries and lifestyle shows. Click here to check it out.
Dance and filmmaking have grown more comfortable with each other lately, bringing fascinating new visual perspectives to choreographic ideas. Next week, downtown L.A. will be abuzz when Dance Camera West presents its 13th annual Dance Media Festival, a three-day event that includes screenings, Q&A sessions, panel discussions and live performances. BODYTRAFFIC kicks off the festival with a free performance on June 6th at Music Center Plaza, where artist Gustavo Godoy will also unveil a large-scale sculpture to honor the festival’s “Restructure” theme.
Film screenings will be divided between the Music Center Plaza, Grand Park, REDCAT, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Highlights include Miss Hill: Making Dance Matter, Greg Vander Veer’s documentary of influential dance educator Martha Hill; Slovakian director Andrea Sudorova’s visually stunning Adelaars, choreographed by Jan Sevcik; and UPAJ: Improvise, a behind-the-scenes documentary that follows the making of India Jazz Suites, a collaboration between tap dynamo Jason Samuels Smith and Indian classical dancer Pandit Chitresh Das (with a Q&A with both dancers immediately following). For schedule details and tickets, go to DanceCameraWest.org.
American Ballet Theatre is having a good day. Each May, the Benois de la Dance Awards recognize an extraordinary choreographer, select male and female dancers and a lifetime achievement recipient in a star-studded gala at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. This year, three of the four awards, from a group of 18 nominees, went to artists from ABT. Principal dancer Polina Semionova won for her performances in Theme and Variations, Symphony in C, Bach Partita and Les Sylphides, while Herman Cornejo received an award for his roles in Swan Lake, The Tempest and Martha Clarke’s Cheri. Royal Swedish Ballet’s Mariko Kida also won for her portrayal of Juliet in Mats Eks’ Juliet and Romeo. Nominees included New York City Ballet principal Ashley Bouder.
Meanwhile, Alexei Ratmansky, ABT’s artist-in-residence, won the choreographic prize for his Shostakovich Trilogy and The Tempest. Longtime Paris Opera director Brigitte Lefèvre also received the Benois Lifetime Achievement Award. The all-female jury (a first for this competition, which chooses a different jury panel each year), included luminaries such as Carla Fracci, Agnés Letestu and Ana Laguna.
Photo: Polina Semionova and Marcelo Gomes in Alexei Ratmansky's Symphony No. 9, courtesy ABT
Get your tap shoes on—May 25 is National Tap Dance Day! Founded in 1989 to honor the birthday of tap legend Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, the day is celebrated throughout the country with master classes, performances and, of course, jam sessions. Here’s just a few examples of what’s going on this weekend:
Washington, DC: The American Embassy of Dance celebrates tap and percussive dance in “For the Love of Tap” at the Atlas Theater. Baakari Wilder, Cartier Williams and Joseph Webb of Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk fame, along with Soles of Steel and The Jam Project promise to bring the house down. Flamenco artist Anna Menendez and percussive dance artists Matthew Olwell and Emily Oleson are additional bonuses. Friday, May 23 at 7:30 pm. Click here for ticket information.
Las Vegas, NV: MADD Rhythms’ second annual Las Vegas National Tap Dance Day Festival offers two master classes, two workshops, a tribute show, tap jam and more at the East Las Vegas Community Center. Keep an eye out for special guest appearances by Dr. Prince C. Spencer (the last living member of Hollywood’s infamous The Four Step Brothers) and Bril Barrett. Saturday, May 24 from 1:00-6:00 pm. Click here for prices and more information.
New York City: Head to Hudson River Park Pier 45 for “Tap Attack,” a free, outdoor event presented by the American Tap Dance Foundation. Students of all ages will join professionals onstage for performances at 1:00, 2:00 and 3:00 pm. In addition to open jam sessions, look for special appearances by Chloe Arnold, Kazu Kumagai, Michela Marino Lerman, Max Pollack, Jason Samuels Smith and the Tap City Youth Ensemble. Sunday, May 25 from 1:00-3:00 pm. For more info, click here.
Austin, TX: Join Tapestry Dance Company, Tapestry Too! and the Shirley McPhail School of Dance Tap Ensemble under the dome in the Texas State Capital’s rotunda for a free series of live performances and rhythm games. And make sure to stick around for the mass Shim Sham. Sunday, May 25 from 12:00-1:00 pm. Click here for more information.
What’s going on in your neighborhood? Let us know!
The thought of spending four years in college often gives aspiring dancers panicked feelings of anxiety about losing precious career time. That’s why The Boston Conservatory and the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts are teaming up for a new, expedited BFA program. The alliance allows students at Walnut Hill, a performing arts boarding high school in Natick, Massachusetts, to apply to BoCa’s dance program their junior year. If selected, they can then apply their senior year coursework towards the conservatory’s academic and performance requirements—and graduate with a BFA in three years instead of four.
Tomorrow, over 10,000 dancers will descend on the streets of New York City to revel in the Eighth Annual Dance Parade and Festival. Over 155 groups in 77 genres will be represented, from ballet to salsa to—yes—roller disco. The parade also features an international smorgasbord of folk dance, led by the Isra Ukrainian Folk Ensemble in recognition of their nation’s current political struggles. The grand marshals are none other than Urban Bush Women’s Jawole Willa Jo Zoller and tap luminary Savion Glover. Also keep an eye out for The Paul Taylor Teen Ensemble and waacking sensation Princess Lockeroo’s Soul Train Float.
The parade starts at 1pm at 21st and Broadway and weaves its way east, culminating in a four-hour festival of free performances, lessons and social dancing in Tompkins Square Park. Thinking of getting your groove on? Click here for more information.
Guillaume Côté, a longtime principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada in Toronto, has been spreading his wings for a while now, excelling in both musical composition and choreography (he was appointed NBC's choreographic associate in 2013).
Now he can add director to the mix. In 2015, he will assume leadership of Quebec’s Festival des arts de Saint-Sauveur. The festival, held in the mountain town of Saint-Sauveur, features an international array of dance and music. This year’s lineup includes the Martha Graham Dance Company, Compagnie Marie Chouinard and ProArteDanza, as well as a gala featuring dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, Boston Ballet, New York City Ballet, Ballet BC, Alberta Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.
Côté, a native Québécois, has already been getting his feet wet by co-producing this year’s festival (which runs July 31–August 9) with current director Anik Bissonnette. The opening night program is devoted to Côté’s choreography, including the world premeire of Dance Me To the End of Love, set to music by Leonard Cohen.