The USC Kaufman graduating class with Mikhail Baryshnikov. Gus Ruelas/USC
Just four years ago, the University of Southern California's Glorya Kaufman School of Dance welcomed its first class of BFA students. The program—which boasts world-class faculty and a revolutionary approach to training focused on collaboration and hybridity—immediately established itself as one of the country's most prestigious and most innovative.
Now, the first graduating class is entering the dance field. Here, six of the 33 graduates share what they're doing post-grad, what made their experience at USC Kaufman so meaningful and how it prepared them for their next steps:
American Ballet Theatre mourns the passing of its dear friend and colleague Barbara Bilach. Barbara served as ABT's highly-esteemed company pianist for the past 22 years.
Prior to joining ABT in 1997, she served as company pianist for Cleveland Ballet (under artistic director Dennis Nahat) and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Her playing was joyful, virtuosic and personal. Her performance repertoire with ABT included Allegro Brillante, Baker's Dozen, Ballet Imperial, Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes, Jane Eyre, Kaleidoscope, Piano Concerto No. 1, Remanso, Seven Sonatas and Symphonic Variations.
Barbara was an extraordinary talent whose light and life touched a generation of dancers at ABT. She was a beloved member of the ABT family and will be dearly missed.
Irving Burton, a dancer, choreographer, teacher and actor passed away at 95 years of age in March. Irving studied with Martha Graham and performed with the New Dance Group, Charles Weidman, Pearl Lang, his niece Rosalind Newman, Claire Porter/PORTABLES and Susan Thomasson Works. He taught dance at the New Dance Group studios, Bennington College and The Irving Burton School of Dance. He performed on Broadway, off Broadway and was a featured member of The Paper Bag Players, a nationally and internationally known pioneer of children's theatre for 25 years. He performed with them throughout the United States as well as internationally and was seen on numerous television shows as well as in movies. He was Dance Audition Winner, 92nd St Y 1953 and won various fellowships for his productions. He continued to create and perform into his 90s.
Married for 60 years he leaves behind his wife, Maryan, whom he met as her dance teacher and who performed in his company, four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Irving Burton was a brilliant, creative mind, a beautiful and gifted dancer, a man who loved his family, his dogs, his friends and the dance community. He will be deeply missed.
Devon Teuscher performing the titular role in Jane Eyre. Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT
Story ballets that debut during American Ballet Theatre's spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House are always the subject of much curiosity—and, sometimes, much debate. Cathy Marston's Jane Eyre was no different. The ballet follows the eponymous heroine of Charlotte Brönte's novel as she grows from a willful orphan to a self-possessed governess, charting her romance with the haughty Mr. Rochester and the social forces that threaten to tear them apart.
While the ballet was warmly received in the UK when Northern Ballet premiered it in 2016, its reception from New York City–based critics has been far less welcoming. A group of editors from Dance Magazine and two of our sister publications, Dance Spirit and Pointe, sat down to discuss our own reactions.
This month's picks include premieres, Little Princes and a principal dancer's farewell that's sure to leave you sobbing. Here are the shows our writers and editors around the country are most excited to catch.
What does it take to "make it" in dance? It's no secret that turning this passion into a profession can be a struggle. In such a competitive field, talent alone isn't enough to get you where you want to be.
So what kinds of steps can you take to become successful? Dance Magazine spoke to 33 people from all corners of the industry to get their advice on the lessons that could help us all, no matter where we are in our careers.
"If I Didn't Care" choreographed and directed by Liz Bustle, tells the story of a couple stuck in their own ways and trying to find a common ground. The quirky choreography, danced by Kate Coleman and Luis "L.t." Martinez, parallels the light-hearted nature of Connie Francis' title track.
Amber Gray and the cast of Hadestown. Photo by Helen Maybanks, Courtesy DKC/O&M
The Tony Award nominations were announced yesterday morning, and, as always, they gave us a lot to talk about.
Could Hadestown sweep the awards? Why didn't John Heginbotham's work on Oklahoma! garner him aBest Choreography nomination? What musical numbers will the nominated shows bring to the ceremony on June 9? To discuss, we gathered a group of musical theater–loving editors from Dance Magazine and Dance Spirit for a roundtable conversation about the nominees.
Barak Marshall's Monger, which appears at the Walking Distance Dance Festival this month. Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, Courtesy John Hill PR
A Broadway luminary and a postmodern darling bring their talents to ballet, a music video maven turns to the concert stage, and a contemporary choreographer gets soulful with Aretha Franklin. Our editors' must-sees this May are all about the unexpected.
Hive by Boston Conservatory student Alyssa Markowitz. Photo by Jim Coleman
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Hadestown at London's National Theatre. Photo by Helen Maybanks, Courtesy DKC/O&M
There are more intriguing performances than one person could possibly see this month, so our editors' picks run the gamut. The topics—Greek mythology and systemic racism, the Ballets Russes and secondary incarceration—are as varied as the styles—contemporary, bharatanatyam, aerial. The one through line: They're bound to make you look at the world a little differently.
Last year's winner: Manuel Vignoulle's EARTH. Jack Hartin Photography, Courtesy McCallum Theatre
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
This film by Gus&Lo features Iratxe Ansa and Igor Bacovich dancing in a demolished worksite with a destroyed building in the background. They move organically in their duet, with choreography so fluid that it almost feels improvised.
An Orlando Ballet audition. Photo by Fellipe Buccianti, Launchpad Photo, Courtesy Orlando Ballet
There has been much discussion lately about the practice of professional arts organizations charging fees for performers to audition. Sara Bibik's letter to Dance Magazine brought that conversation to the forefront of the dance community and gave me—and hopefully many others—an opportunity to revisit and reflect on something that's commonplace in our industry.
After careful review, Orlando Ballet recently made the decision to stop this practice. We will no longer charge dancers to audition for the professional company. These changes were effective immediately, and Orlando Ballet is in the process of refunding the audition fees for our most recent Atlanta and Orlando auditions.
Lucy Venable performing in José Limón's "Chopin Mazurkas" at the Connecticut College Summer Dance Festival in 1958. Photo by Matthew Wysocki.
Ohio State Dance emerita professor Lucy Venable died peacefully Tuesday morning, January 29, 2019. She is survived by her five nieces and their families. She was preceded in death by her brother and parents.
Lucy was born on October 28, 1926 in Charleston, West Virginia. She graduated with a BA from Wellesley College as a Spanish major and spent 20 years in New York City where she studied dance, primarily with José Limón, Doris Humphrey, Margaret Craske and Alfredo Corvino.
During this time, she became certified by the Dance Notation Bureau as a Labanotation teacher and Labanotator, and taught Labanotation and Limón technique at the Juilliard School and Connecticut College. Lucy performed with the José Limón Company (1957-1963), touring in the United States, Europe, Central and South America and the Far East. For five years, she was rehearsal director for the Merry-Go-Rounders, a dance company that performed for children. From 1961-1967 she directed the Dance Notation Bureau in New York City.
In 1968, she arrived at the Ohio State University where she taught dance fundamentals, Labanotation, repertory and Alexander Technique. She founded the Dance Notation Bureau Extension for Education and Research and was its director for 12 years. While at Ohio State, Lucy worked closely with fellow professor Odette Blum, establishing one of the department's foundational principles to center on dance documentation and Labanotation. Lucy also collaborated with George Karl and Scott Sutherland on the development of the software program LabanWriter, a project she continued with David Ralley. She served as vice president of the International Council of Kinetography Laban, on the board of directors of the Dance Notation Bureau and taught the Alexander Technique.
Lucy played a critical role in establishing Ohio State as an international center for Labanotation and Laban Studies. Her work helped to preserve the history of modern dance so that we can continue to bring it alive in the present. Her legacy continues to have a lasting impact on the college's dance department.
Lucy will be buried in the family plot in Charleston. A celebration of her life will be held at the Ohio State University Department of Dance, Sullivant Hall, 1813 North High Street in Columbus, Ohio, on a date to be announced.
The Joffrey Ballet's Victoria Jaiani and Alberto Velazquez in Anna Karenina. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy The Joffrey Ballet
Unexpected collaborations, celebrations of culture, literary classics that take a turn for the tragic—it might be freezing outside, but the new season is just heating up. Here are six shows we'd happily brave the winter weather for this month.