What happens when you mix two really good things together? Sometimes, it can be magical. It's practically guaranteed when one of those elements is the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and the other is—wait for it—dance-team–style hip hop.
Waves of sheer dance inventiveness come rolling toward you. Dancers in sneakers, pointe shoes or ballet slippers mingle: it looks like a free-for-all but is carefully plotted out. Philip Glass' music lets the dancers ride his gorgeous momentum.
This is In the Upper Room, the celestial yet kinetically charged ballet made by Twyla Tharp in 1986. It hasn't been done by American Ballet Theatre since 2012 and now it's coming back with full force.
American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Erica Lall spends most of her day in the studio rehearsing with choreographers like Alexei Ratmansky and Michelle Dorrance. But when she's not in the studio or on stage, this "25 to Watch" dancer is home making her family's Jamaican Curry Chicken.
In 2016, Lar Lubovitch decided that New York City's Joyce Theater needed a new look. He envisioned extending the stage outward so that audiences could sit on all sides. And that is pretty much what happened for his Quadrille series, and it was so refreshing that the series returns this year, with a new bunch of intrepid choreographers. I say intrepid because the choreography may be seen from unplanned angles, and the dancers are more exposed.
For the audience, if you're sitting under hundreds of lighting instruments overhead, you naturally feel like you are onstage. And if you're sitting in the usual seats, you see the performers onstage, with half the audience behind them. The whole set-up can be pleasantly disorienting.
10000 Gestures, PC Tristram Kenton
Boris Charmatz, a favorite choreographer in France for his dancing in museums, has come up with an idea for non-stop dance. In his new piece, 10000 Gestures, each action is different—no repeats. This week, a horde of more than 20 dancers invades New York City's NYU Skirball Center, each of them cramming a thousand gestures into one hour. They seem to be exorcising them—shaking, scratching, jabbing, huddling—as though they can't get rid of them fast enough.
Bill T. Jones is one of the few choreographers who can weave together social consciousness with choreographic inventiveness. This is visible in all three parts of his Analogy Trilogy, a 6½-hour marathon that comes to NYU Skirball Center on Sept. 22 and 23.
In this Trilogy, Jones goes beyond his own cultural identity. The first part, Dora: Tramontane, centers on Dora Amelan, a Holocaust survivor who tried to help children during World War II. Her ordeal is told through interviews spoken by the dancers and envisioned in shifting scenes. The second part, Lance: Pretty aka the Escape Artist, is about Jones' nephew, and his involvement in the underground world of drugs and sex in New York in the 80s. This section contains several gorgeously choreographed duets. The third part, Ambros: The Emigrant, is not about a real person but about the nature of trauma and memory.
When Boston Ballet principal dancer Paulo Arrais was approached to choreograph for the company's spring program, Rhapsody, he immediately knew where he wanted to draw inspiration from. "I grew up in a part of Brazil where it was very common to see domestic violence," says Arrais. "I'm angry about this problem and I'm trying to find a way to choreograph with the anger I have."
Choreographer Loni Landon is no stranger to the enticing power of social media. Instagram, for example, makes it very easy for Landon to connect with other artists. "I feel torn about it," says Landon. "On one hand, I think it can be used in a really positive way. I have received so many jobs through connecting with people on social media. But I do think sometimes people are on it for the wrong reasons and it becomes a popularity contest."
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Sarasota Ballet is returning to New York City's Joyce Theater with a batch of rarely-seen Ashton works. But the big news is that guest artist Marcelo Gomes will be performing with the company. Yes, Gomes is back performing in New York, possibly for the first time since he resigned from American Ballet Theatre in December after an allegation of sexual misconduct.
Gomes is one of the greatest male ballet dancers ever to grace the ABT stage—which he did for 20 years. Watching him dance, it's easy to see why he was every woman's favorite partner: He lavishes attention on his ballerina. The audience can feel his connection and his passion.
The first piece that Ohad Naharin brought to New York City after taking over Batsheva Dance Company exploded onto the Brooklyn Academy of Music stage in 2002. The NYC dance audience knew immediately that something big was happening in Tel Aviv. The piece was Naharin's Virus, and it seemed to embody both rage and a Zen acceptance of the unique strangeness of every human body. Now it's back in NYC until July 22, danced by the second company, known as Batsheva — The Young Ensemble, which ranges in age from 20 to 28.
The choreography has the ferocity yet humanity we've come to expect from Batsheva, plus a text from Peter Handke's agitating play, Offending the Audience. The dancers speak Handke's accusations, saying one minute that we, the audience, have a private part of our minds that no one can touch, and then in the next breath that they are invading that part of our brains.
Every summer Tap City gives New Yorkers a week of classes, events and awards culminating in "Rhythm in Motion." This year the showcase, on July 11, has gathered star tappers—and not only tappers—in a mix of tradition and innovation.
Chloe Arnold's new group Apartment 33 (her previous group, Syncopated Ladies, went viral) as well as Caleb Teicher (a 2012 "25 to Watch") will be part of the mix. Lisa La Touche has choreographed a trio, and the fearless B-girl from the Bronx, Ana "Rokafella" Garcia, is choreographing for a quartet of break dancers. Leo Sandoval, the smoothest tapper from Brazil, is making a new piece to music by Steve Reich.
Sahar Damoni, PC Tamar Lamm
Do you ever imagine collaborating with a dancer or musician from a faraway place? Composer Andy Teirstein, professor at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, has made this wish come true for performing artists with his Translucent Borders project. Over the last three years he has brought dancers and musicians from Cuba, Israel, Greece and Ghana to experience other cultures. On June 29, this project culminates in a rich border-crossing event at the Jack Crystal Theater at Tisch.
If you want to know how scary the AIDS epidemic was in the 1980s, come see Ishmael Houston-Jones' piece THEM from 1986. This piece reveals the subterranean fears that crept into gay relationships at the time. Houston-Jones is one of downtown's great improvisers, and his six dancers also improvise in response to his suggestions. With Chris Cochrane's edgy guitar riffs and Dennis Cooper's ominous text, there's an unpredictable, near-creepy but epic quality to THEM.
"We find ourselves in a situation now with global warming where extreme storms, hurricanes and rising sea levels are happening throughout parts the world, and water is scarce or wasted in others," says choreographer Molissa Fenley. A comment on the current global threats to our environment, Fenley's dance series Water Table explores the patterns of large bodies of water.
We stepped into a rehearsal of Water Table with Molissa Fenley and Company as they prepare for an upcoming show at Danspace Project to talk performing in your 60s and how an international upbringing influenced her as an artist.
Sidra Bell is one of those choreographers whose movement dancers are drawn to. Exploring the juxtaposition of fierce athleticism and pure honesty in something as simple as stillness, her work brings her dancers to the depths of their abilities and the audience to the edge of their seats.
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.
The role of Harlequin in Marius Petipa's comic ballet Harlequinade is one American Ballet Theatre dancer Gabe Stone Shayer knows quite well. He first performed a variation of the role when he was just nine years old. Today, he explores commedia dell'arte in Alexei Ratmansky's new take on the ballet, premiering at the Metropolitan Opera House this June.
We stepped into a rehearsal of Harlequinade with Shayer and fellow ABT dancer Cassandra Trenary for our "In The Studio" series:
You can count on Mark Dendy to create a wild and crazy piece that eventually cuts to the heart of the matter. In this case, his New York premiere, Elvis Everywhere, is about our obsession with celebrities.
The piece was inspired by a monologue Dendy happened to see from when Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense, met Elvis Presley. He captures the absurdity of the moment and then some. Commissioned by American Dance Festival with further development at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and UC Santa Barbara, Elvis Everywhere is a collaboration with Dendy's longtime performer, designer and filmmaker, Stephen Donovan.
Gina Gibney runs two enormous dance spaces in New York City: Together they contain 23 studios, five performance spaces, a gallery, a conference room, a media lab and more. Gibney is now probably the largest dance center in the country. It's not surprising that Dance Magazine named Gina Gibney one of the most influential people in dance today.
Since starting his company in 1968, Lar Lubovitch has stood at the forefront of modern dance—although he is hesitant to label his work as "modern."
"I've always felt I've been making dances," he says. "I've always called them dances and I've never been one to exclude any language of movement. When I'm making a dance it's sort of an essay of all the movement I have in my body of all the dance I've studied."
After 50 years of creating dances, his work is still as technical and humanistic as ever.
These days, more and more museums are inviting dancers to liven up the art that's on the walls and pedestals. The New Museum, on the border of SoHo and the Lower East Side, has designated a special room for live events called the South Galleries. Every day for two months, ending April 15, this gallery is home to Co-natural, a mesmerizing performance exhibition by Romanian choreographer Alexandra Pirici (pronounced Pireech). She is acclaimed in Europe and makes her U. S. debut with this exhibit. Included is a life-size hologram that really looks like another person. If you spend some time wandering around in the gallery, you start to see congruencies between the gestures of the live performers and the not-quite-live hologram. And you start to wonder about the stamina of the dancers, who are there, as moving sculpture, all day long (with a few breaks).
The much-anticipated Martha Graham Dance Company season at New York City Center is upon us. From April 11–14, the company will present classics like Chronicle, the sly melodrama Embattled Garden and of course Graham's visceral masterwork The Rite of Spring. This season also includes works by internationally acclaimed choreographers Lucinda Childs, Lar Lubovitch and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
We sat down with Graham artistic director Janet Eilber to talk about bringing back older Graham works, working with new choreographers and what Martha would have to say about today's wave of feminism.