Originally from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Lauren is a graduate of Barnard College with degrees in Dance and English. She has performed works by Annie B Parson, Mark Dendy, Reggie Wilson and Karla Wolfangle, and has danced with with e r a dance collective and TREES. While at Barnard/Columbia she choreographed and collaborated on several original musical theater works, among them the 120th Annual Varsity Show. She now serves as the chair of the Dance/NYC Junior Committee.
We knew that Ivo van Hove and Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker's production of West Side Story would challenge our preconceived notions about the show.
But a recent Vogue story gives us a taste of just how nontraditional the Broadway revival will be. Most notably, van Hove is cutting "I Feel Pretty" and the "Somewhere" ballet, condensing the show into one act to better reflect the urgency of the 48-hour plot. (The choice has been approved by the West Side Story estate, including Sondheim, who has "long been uncomfortable" with some of the "I Feel Pretty" lyrics.)
It's one thing to understudy three different demanding principal roles in one show. But sometimes, Sasha Hutchings has to perform them all in one day.
Hutchings, a Broadway dancer who originated an ensemble role in Hamilton and was recently seen in "Fosse/Verdon," understudies both Laurey and Ado Annie in the current Broadway revival of Oklahoma!—plus the lead dancer, who performs the 13-minute dream ballet practically solo. Though she hasn't performed the dream ballet yet, she rehearses it every Friday, right before rehearsing the whole show as either Ado Annie or Laurey, then sometimes performing one of those roles in the evening show.
"As soon as I'm done rehearsing the dream ballet, I have to let that fade in order to fully immerse myself in Laurey," she says. "And if I ran Laurey earlier in the day and I'm watching her scene as Ado Annie, I have to let go of her lines. Once you start going down the thought pattern of that character, it takes you to a whole other place."
We talked to Hutchings about the mental and physical gymanstics of understudying three such distinct roles—and how her dance training helps her do it:
Most dance performances used to begin predictably: The lights dimmed, the curtain rose and the music started. But in recent years, some audiences have started experiencing a new kind of preshow ritual: Someone walks onstage—perhaps the director or an usher—and names the indigenous tribes that have lived on the land where the venue is situated, maybe offering some information about those people or taking a moment of silence to honor them.
Land acknowledgments like these have become a bona fide trend in institutions of all kinds—from business conferences to major universities to art museums—across the country. (And in Canada, New Zealand and Australia, where they are even more common.) But they've particularly caught on in socially conscious dance venues.
It's possible that this bandwagon effect stems from the embodied nature of our form—as dancers we physically feel our connection to the land and the space we occupy. Or perhaps it's just a matter of people wanting to jump on a trend. Either way, their rising popularity in dance raises questions about who these acknowledgments are really for.
On Friday, National Ballet of Canada announced that artistic director Karen Kain will step down in January 2021 to become artistic director emeritus.
Kain, who has served as artistic director since 2005, joined NBoC as a dancer in 1969 and went on to become one of the company's most beloved stars, often dancing alongside Rudolf Nureyev.
After earning a dance degree from Juilliard and accumulating a resume of professional dance experience, Charlotte Bydwell grew tired of the professional dancer grind. "I had become encumbered by the conservatory training and the challenges of having a professional career," she says. For the past several years, Bydwell has been focused on acting instead.
But her latest project—The Michaels, a new play at The Public Theater by writer/director Richard Nelson—has reawakened Bydwell's relationship with dance. No, it's not a musical, or even a dance-theater work, but a play about a fictional choreographer named Rose Michael and her family. Bydwell plays Rose's daughter, Lucy, who is a also a dancer and choreographer.
Just last year, the previously Rockville, Maryland-based American Dance Institute—now called the Lumberyard Center for Film and Performing Arts—moved to a 30,000-square foot-former lumberyard in Catskill, New York, spending 5 million dollars to renovate the building.
Now, the organization needs to raise 1 million dollars by the end of 2019, or risk having to shut down their pre-premiere technical rehearsal program.
What happened between last May, when the much-talked-about facility opened its doors, and today, when Lumberyard's signature program faces potential closure?
These days, social media is an essential tool for dance companies looking to promote their work. Karole Armitage's company, Armitage Gone! Dance, recently posted ads for their upcoming show at New York Live Arts, You Took A Part Of Me, a "mysterious and hypnotic display of erotic entanglement and unresolved attachment" inspired by traditional Japanese Noh drama.
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Today, dancers are cross-training more than ever. And though there are some recommendations about what types of cross-training might be best for dancers' bodies, ultimately it comes down to what works for you.
We asked 13 pros about their go-to cross-training routines as part of our "Spotlight" series—and each one of them has a totally different approach:
A quick scroll through Instagram will tell you that astrology and all things witch-y are all the rage. "There's a lot of people speaking about magic," says dance artist iele paloumpis, who teaches a class at Movement Research called Witchcraft - A Corporeal Practice. "It's more in the public consciousness again."
But for paloumpis, who has taught some form of the class since 2011, these practices have been a part of their life from an early age, having grown up in a family of "witches and mystics." They chose to use the word witchcraft in the class title "as a feminist, queer reclamation of the idea of being a witch."
We took paloumpis' class for our "We Tried It" series to see how witchcraft can be relevant to dance artists:
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of:
In a sensual, troubled duet to the music of Amy Winehouse, dancers Chloe Perkes and Zachary Kapeluck channel the late singer's fraught relationship with fame, performance and love. They embody the haunting gravity of her story—while wearing enormous pairs of bunny ears.
On paper, Trey McInytre's Big Ones sounds like it shouldn't work. But risky choices are par for the course at BalletX, and this risk pays off. Founded as a summertime pickup troupe in 2005 by Christine Cox and Matthew Neenan when they were dancers at Pennsylvania Ballet, BalletX is dedicated to performing new work—and lots of it. Its repertory boasts a whopping 76 world premieres in 14 years.
Snap, crackle, pop, crack, thunk, click.
Dancer hips can make an impressive variety of noises. Sometime these are painful, sometimes not; sometimes they're intentional, sometimes they just happen when dancing, cross-training or walking.
But what's actually making those noises—and should you be worried about them?
When it comes to our bodies, dancers have a bad habit of focusing on the negative. We often wish we were taller, or shorter, or stronger, or slimmer.
But as dancers our bodies give us so much, and negative body talk doesn't do anything to help us become better artists.
So we thought it'd be a nice change of pace to instead ask dancers what they love about their bodies:
Last Friday, Dance Magazine published what has already become our most-read story of all time. At 2.8 million views and counting, our take on Lara Spencer's cruel comments about Prince George taking ballet prompted an enormous response from both the dance community and those who were simply bothered by what amounted to the bullying of a 6-year-old on national television.
But Spencer's comments struck a nerve for dancers especially. Rarely have we seen our field so united, or so passionate.
Most everyone agrees that Spencer's comments were unacceptable and reflect broader ignorance about both dance and gender. But some more nuanced takes have been left out of the hundreds of new stories about the controversy.
We found some perspectives from the dance world you might not have seen yet—and broke down why they're important:
Ah, stretching. It seems so simple, and is yet so complicated.
For example: You don't want to overstretch, but you're not going to see results if you don't stretch enough. You want to focus on areas where you're tight, but you also can't neglect other areas or else you'll be imbalanced. You were taught to hold static stretches growing up, but now everyone is telling you never to hold a stretch longer than a few seconds?
Considering how important stretching correctly is for dancers, it's easy to get confused or overwhelmed. So we came up with 10 common stretching scenarios, and gave you the expert low-down.
The most-played song on your Spotify says a lot about you. Maybe it's that guilty pleasure track you dance to while you're in the kitchen, or the one you have to listen to before going onstage.
We talked to 10 of our favorite pros about the song that's racked up the most plays on their phones—whether it's one they teach to, cross-train to, or just a song that helps them escape.
Is dance a sport? A Google search of that question will yield hundreds of results of impassioned arguments about whether or not we should consider dance a sport. The fact that breaking was recently provisionally added to the 2024 Summer Olympics program is certain to make the conversation even more heated.
In theory, NYCharities was a small dance company's dream. Free to use, the nonprofit acted as a clearinghouse for companies to accept credit and debit card donations online. It also allowed companies to sell tickets to galas and events, set up recurring donations and even give donors the option to pay processing fees themselves—an important feature for dance companies with small budgets.
In the past several years, ballet has been called out time and again for not fostering, presenting and commissioning the work of women. Recently, highlighting women ballet choreographers has become somewhat of a trend, with companies pioneering initiatives to try to close the gender gap, or presenting all-women programs.
But numbers don't lie, and unfortunately, we still haven't made much progress.
When Dr. Mae Jemison was growing up, she was obsessed with space. But she didn't see any astronauts who looked like her.
"I said, Wait a minute. Why are all the astronauts white males?" she recounts in a CNN video. "What if the aliens saw them and said, Are these the only people on Earth?"
Congratulations to the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team for their epic World Cup dominance! Now that the tournament is over and we're basking in all the patriotic feminist glory, we decided to do the only thing that made sense to us as soccer-obsessed dancers: Decide what kind of dancers the USWNT players would be if they made sudden and drastic career changes.
We've been watching their technique closely for weeks now, and have come up with what we're pretty sure is a definitive and highly accurate list: