A new season of "So You Think You Can Dance" is just around the corner, and the search for contestants begins this Saturday in New York City. "SYTYCD" is back for its 12th season, but with a brand new format. Contestants will be placed into one of two categories—street or stage—and of the Top 20, 10 will be street dancers and 10 will be stage dancers. Every week, a dancer from each category will be eliminated until the season finale, in which either a studio or street dancer will be announced the winner. With the new format comes a new panel of judges: Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo will join Nigel Lythgoe, while longtime judge Mary Murphy has stepped down. The show will premiere on TV this summer. Find a list of audition dates and locations below, and click here for more information!
New York, NY Saturday, Jan. 24 8 am Manhattan Center Grand Ballroom & Hammerstein Ballroom 311 West 34th Street New York, NY 10001
Dallas, TX Saturday, Feb. 14 8 am Southern Methodist University McFarlin Memorial Auditorium 6405 Boaz Lane Dallas, TX 75275
Detroit, MI Sunday, Feb. 22 8 am Fillmore Detroit 2115 Woodward Avenue Detroit, MI 48201
Memphis, TN Sunday, March 8 8 am Orpheum Theatre 203 Main St. Memphis, TN 38103
Los Angeles, CA Sunday, March 15 8 am Orpheum Theatre 842 Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90014
Ballet fans, rejoice! After a 10 year hiatus, the Royal Ballet is appearing in New York City. From June 23 to 28, New York audiences can enjoy performances by the famed company at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, presented by The Joyce Theater Foundation. In addition to their New York tour, the company will perform in Washington, DCJune 9–14 and Chicago, ILJune 18–21. Programs will vary based on location, but look out for favorites like Wayne McGregor's Infra, Frederick Ashton's The Dream and Carlos Acosta's Don Quixote.
Today marks the kickoff of the 2015 Youth American Grand Prix season, with competitions beginning in Tampa, Florida and Seattle, Washington. Started by former Bolshoi dancer Larissa Saveliev (and Dance Magazine Award winner!), and her husband, Gennadi, YAGP is in its 16th season. Upon moving to the United States in 1995, they felt there was a shortage of collaborative opportunities for teachers and students to share training information and methods. Three years later they created YAGP, now the largest student ballet competition in the world. Over the last 15 years, the competition has awarded over $3,000,000 in scholarships to students with exceptional talent and promise. Many alumni have gone on to great professional success (including a few of our cover stars, like Catherine Hurlin, Sara Mearns, Hee Seo, Sarah Van Patten and more!). Preliminary rounds will take place around the world from now until early March, culminating in the New York Finals in April.
For many of us, dance is a source of inspiration—physical, mental, emotional, expressive or otherwise. As seen in this heartwarming video, dance is a life-changing source of inspiration for Philip Martin-Nelson. As a boy, he was diagnosed with the most severe form of autism (and told he'd never be self-sufficient). But now, he's a principal dancer with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Martin-Nelson credits ballet class with freeing him and enabling him to live a life of his own. See Martin-Nelson and the rest of the Trocks at the Joyce Theater, now through Sunday, January 4th!
Burned out from the Nutcracker but still in the holiday spirit? Christmas may be over, but the abundance of holiday programs is not! Check out these five non-Nutcracker shows and performances to carry you into the New Year with holiday cheer.
1) Radio City Christmas Spectacular: A high-energy, festive, joyful and truly spectacular performance, starring none other than the amazing Radio City Rockettes.
With the end of the year comes celebration and reflection. It's a time to give thanks for the good in your life, a time to rethink the not-so-good and a time to reaffirm why you do what you do. The Huffington Post gave 39 dancers from companies and schools around the country a simple task that echoes this spirit of the holidays: To complete the sentence "I dance because...". The result of its #whyidance campaignis a visual celebration of portraits of dancers holding signs with their own handwritten answers. Some are sweet, some are emotional, some are silly—but all affirm that dance falls into "the good" category of each person's life.
Disney lovers, take note: This Sunday, ABC will air"Backstage with Disney on Broadway: Celebrating 20 Years", a one-hour special about the magic of Disney on the Great White Way. Viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of productions like The Lion King, Newsies, Aladdin and other the five other Disney on Broadway productions. Hosted by"Modern Family"star Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the feature will also include legends like Elton John and Whoopi Goldberg performing and sharing their Broadway memories. Tune in at 7 pm ET this Sunday, December 14, and check out abc.com for more information.
The stakes were high for NBC's live broadcast of "Peter Pan Live!", which premiered last night. After "The Sound of Music Live!" got dismal reviews last year, many feared "Peter Pan Live!" would be of the same caliber. Leading-lady (boy) Allison Williams, aware of the skeptical attitude many viewers had toward the production, remained positive and warned that hate-watching would be nearly impossible for this fun-filled, nostalgic classic.
The production is over, the reviews are in, and general consensus is...there were a lot of parts deserving of praise, particularly the dancing. Admittedly, there were a few questionable spots (that "sleeping" maid in the closet?), but Williams' Pan had a lovely voice and exuberant energy, Christopher Walken brought an unusual but interesting spin on the classic villain Hook, and the Lost Boys (aka the entire cast of Newsies) totally stole the show in ensemble numbers like "I Won't Grow Up" and one of my favorites, "Wendy". You can watch clips of the show and behind-the-scenes footage at: nbc.com.
The Joffrey Ballet's Fabrice Calmels was recently named Tallest Ballet Dancer by Guinness World Records. Standing at 6' 6", his presence onstage is striking. Dance Magazine talked with him about his record, his height and his history.
DM: Tallest Ballet Dancer in the world! That's quite a record. How does it feel?
FC: It's coming up at a really appropriate time. I get lots of messages from other tall dancers who quit because they're told they're too tall, who are happy to hear that I was successful, who are inspired to keep going in their training. I want them to know there's no such thing as the wrong height.
DM: Have you always been taller than your peers?
FC: I had a huge growth spurt when I was about 16 or 17. I was growing an inch a month! It was really painful, because your bones grow fast but the muscle mass doesn't follow as quickly. You have to learn how to dance again, to relearn your coordination and strength and flexibility. Everything I'd been working with was gone; it felt like a totally new body.
DM: What made you decide to ignore your teachers when they said you were too tall?
FC: It's difficult to hear the people you trust tell you something like that, because you've spent years listening to their opinions. It feels like your whole world is falling apart. My mother (who is a very short woman) helped keep me on track. My family doesn't understand the dance world and I think that outside perspective helped her have a steadfast belief in me.
DM: What is the biggest challenge of being a tall dancer today?
FC: People don't understand how much having this much extra mass and this higher center of gravity impacts movement. I have to dance in an ensemble with the Joffrey, and most of them aren't my size. Adapting to a group that dances in a different, faster scale because of their size difference is a challenge. But it's also exciting, because when you do it, it feels like such an achievement.
DM: What is the best part of being a tall dancer?
FC: My stature makes expression and readability on stage easier. I feel that my stage presence is much stronger as a result.
DM: Do you do specific exercises that are necessitated by your height?
FC: Oh, yes! My spine definitely takes a toll, as do my limbs, because they're longer. I work out all the time, I run to keep up my endurance and cardio. I've had injuries due to my height, so I've learned to really focus on stretching and strengthening my spine.
DM: Any advice you have for other tall dancers?
FC: I look back at how stressful what I did was for me, because there were no examples to follow. I had to make that path on my own, but it taught that you can make your own journey. If you believe in yourself, you can make it happen.
Dancers in the Bay Area—want to take class from principal dancer Sarah Van Patten in San Francisco Ballet's studios? Clear your Sunday schedule! SFB is holding a master class on Sunday, November 23 at 10 am. The first in a series of themed classes (all taught by company dancers, ballet masters and teachers), The Art of Mime and Acting in Story Ballets will give students ages 15-25 an opportunity to learn sequences from SFB's own Nutcracker from Van Patten and ballet master and assistant to the artistic director Ricardo Bustamante. Other class themes will center around auditions, contemporary ballet and pas de deux technique. Each class is $50, and space is limited to 40 participants. Observer tickets are also available for $20. For more information, check out http://school.sfballet.org/masterclassseries.
Calling all college-bound New York City area dancers! If the college application has you feeling stressed and overwhelmed, we've got good news for you. This weekend, The School at Steps is hosting College Day, a panel discussion covering all aspects of the college dance scene. Representatives from Barnard College, Boston Conservatory, Goucher College, The Juilliard School, Marymount Manhattan, Montclair State University and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts will be there to address program specifics, the application process and advice on auditioning. The event begins at 6:30 pm on Sunday, November 16. For tickets ($10) and more information, head to Steps on Broadway's website.
Watching the new season of "city.ballet." is like getting a backstage pass inside NYCB. We get to see Chase Finlay make dinner for Lauren Lovette at his apartment, Ratmansky rehearse his latest work for the company, Silas Farley in his bible study group. But one thing missing is any Justin Peck footage. Luckily, Ballet 422, the documentary by director Jody Lee Lipes, just released its official trailer. The film premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, earning high praise from critics and audiences. Following Peck as he creates Paz de la Jolla, NYCB's 422nd new work, it examines the choreographic process from start to finish, giving viewers an intimate, thorough look at one of ballet's most exciting dance makers in his element. Look for it in theaters on February 5, 2015!
Mark Wolfe, executive director of Virginia's Manassas Ballet Theatre, and his wife Amy, artistic director, have choreographed and produced a ballet as a tribute to their son, Colin. A lifelong ballet dancer, he lost his life serving in Iraq. Wolfe collaborated with composer Mark Menza to create a 27-minute piece, which she is expanding into a full-length production, to premiere on Veteran's Day. In an interview with the Washington Post, Wolfe said she views the ballet as a gift from Colin to anyone experiencing loss, helping them find peace. CBS News "Sunday Morning" will air a story about the ballet this Sunday, November 2 at 9:00 a.m. ET.
A video of two American priests battling it out on the dance floor—er, dinner table—went viral this week. The clip features the pair dancing at a dinner at North American College, a rectory not far from the Vatican. One priest does an upbeat tap dance, the other does an Irish jig. It's playful and unexpected, garnering over 750,000 views (and counting) on YouTube.
Often what these viral videos share is not stellar technique or dazzlingly impressive feats, but elements of surprise and relatability. These are normal, everyday people, trying their hand at dance. To me, this celebrates the joyful, uninhibiting, inclusive nature of dance, where there is a place for anyone; all are welcome. To dance, all you need is yourself, and these videos remind us of that. I'll never lose interest in watching Sofiane Sylve do picture perfect pirouettes, but I'll also always be up for a clip of an adorable small child and her father dancing to "Shake It Off".
Dancing with grace and poise is a challenge for any dancer. But the challenge is amplified exponentially if that dancer happens to be visually impaired. Brazilian ballerina and physiotherapist Fernanda Bianchini created the Association of Ballet and Arts for the Blind in 1995 as a way to help students improve their posture, balance, spatial sense and self-esteem—as well as reduce stigmas about people with handicaps. Amazingly, Bianchini was just 15 at the time. Yesterday, her students performed Corsario and Paquitas at the Italo Theater in São Paulo. The performance photosare beautiful and inspiring, and a documentary, Looking at the Stars, is in production for an in-depth look at this unique and innovative organization.
New York City Ballet dancers, a Telluride backdrop and choreography by up-and-comer Troy Schumacher? Sounds like the makings of dance video goodness to us. BalletCollective just released a short film entitled "This Weather is Perfect," previewing an except from Dear and Blackbirds, one of Schumacher's pieces to premiere at NYU's Skirball Center later this month. The video is beautiful—Ashley Laracey and Harrison Coll dance delicately and passionately against mountains, blue skies and sweeping fields. The pickup company will perform the entire piece, plus another premiere and a performance of The Impulse Wants CompanyOctober 29–30.