Vital Signs

A Homecoming (of Sorts) for Vilaro
Ballet Hispanico sets out on a nine-city tour, with an ambitious rep of old and new. After performances in Reading, PA; St. Louis, MO; Boston, MA; Harrisburg, PA; and Augusta, GA, the company touches down at Columbia College in Chicago. BH director Eduardo Vilaro definitely knows his way around the Windy City, having founded Luna Negra Dance Theater there in 1999 (Columbia College is also his alma mater). In Chicago, Ronald K. Brown’s Espiritu Vivo will make its world premiere. Brown has chosen the soulful songs of Peruvian singer Susana Baca for his exploration of African and Latino diasporas in the Caribbean and Latin America. Also on the program are Asuka, Vilaro’s first work for BH since he became director in 2009, and Andrea Miller’s gripping Naci. The company continues on to Birmingham, AL, and Amherst, MA, before its home season at the Joyce Theater next month.  www.ballethispanico.org.

 

Ballet Hispanico in Talley Beatty’s Tres Cantos. Photo by Eduardo Patino, Courtesy BH.

 

 

History Told in Tutus
In addition to performing great ballets, the National Ballet of Canada has mounted an ongoing celebration of its 60th anniversary in the form of The Tutu Project. To build a collection of 60 tutus, a gorgeous timeline of the company’s past, present, and future, NBC dug into its archives for some stunning designs—from the timeless Romantic tutu of Les Sylphides (NBC company premiere dates to 1951) to the sexy, modern tutu from Kudelka’s Firebird (2000), designed by Santo Loquasto. Joining the costumes are community-created designs, which NBC has timed to celebrations like Pride Toronto and Canada Day. The collection is on display throughout the season, and will move to the Design Exchange for the summer. NBC’s diamond-year season continues this month with Ashton’s La Fille mal gardée, Nureyev’s Sleeping Beauty, and Neumeier’s The Seagullwww.national.ballet.ca.

 

Tutus made at Family Day Fest in Downsview Park and Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa. Photo by Setareh Sarmadi, Courtesy NBC.

 

 

Tynek Travels Cross-Country
For its fourth installment, Hope Mohr Dance’s Bridge Project has chosen to bring Czech-born, NYC-based choreographer Dusan Tynek to the Bay Area for a shared program this month. Praised for his intelligent and inventive dancemaking, Tynek makes his West Coast debut. The formal rhythms of Base Pairs, set to a Cynthia Polutanovich text read by Lucinda Childs (both Tynek and Mohr danced for her), and cool restraint of Transparent Walls join a premiere by Mohr.  www.dusantynek.org and www.hopemohr.org.

 

Hope Mohr Dance’s Cameron Growden and Derek Harris. Photo by Margo Moritz, Courtesy HMD.

 

 

Preljocaj Takes a Bite

Blanche Neige, Angelin Preljocaj’s probing of the more sinister elements of the Grimm fairytale Snow White, embarks on a two-month U.S. tour. His simple, unembellished movement for his Aix-en-Provence–based company Ballet Preljocaj stands in contrast to the ballet’s outrageous costumes by Jean Paul Gaultier (is Snow White wearing a Grecian tunic, a diaper, or both?) Preljocaj, whose theatrical works are in the reps of the Paris Opéra Ballet, La Scala, and the Bolshoi—as well as New York City Ballet and Cedar Lake—has dreamed up a maniacal, sadomasochistic stepmother and dwarves who perform aerial dance, as well as sensual pas de deux for Snow White and her Prince. Blanche Neige comes to Davis, CA, March 17–18; Los Angeles, CA, March 23–25; and Washington, DC, March 30–April 1; continuing on to Chapel Hill, NC, Minneapolis, MN, and Ann Arbor, MI.  www.preljolcaj.org.

Virginie Caussin and Emma Gustafsson in Blanche Neige. Photo by Jean-Claude Carbonne, Courtesy Preljocaj.

 

 

Tulsa’s Ballets Russes Roots
Tulsa Ballet’s current director Marcello Angelini pays tribute to the company’s roots in “A Ballets Russes Evening.” Moscelyne Larkin and the late Roman Jasinski danced with several of the Ballets Russes companies before settling in Tulsa, OK, where they founded TB in 1956 (Dance Magazine honored them with a DM Award in 1988). The company dancers perform two works made for the Ballets Russes—Balanchine’s Apollo (a TB premiere) and Fokine’s Le Spectre de la Rose—in addition to 2011 “25 to Watch” Adam Hougland’s take on The Rite of Spring. March 30–April 1.  www.tulsaballet.org.

 

Roman Jasinski and Tania Stepanova in Afternoon of a Faun (1944). Photo from DM Archives.

 

 

The Changing LAB
When Colleen Neary and Thordal Christensen founded the Los Angeles Ballet in 2006, their Balanchine DNA was reflected in the rep. In 2010, LAB adapted to L.A.’s most active dance hub—the commercial scene—commissioning So You Think You Can Dance choreographers like Travis Wall and Sonya Tayeh (who is making another work for LAB in May). Last year, the company produced its first full-length ballet, Giselle, and continues this trajectory with Swan Lake, which premieres March 3. This version, by Neary and Christensen after Petipa and Ivanov, shows both confidence in the company’s dancers (a good sign, considering the bad local press highlighting high turnover at the start of the season) and a move to make the company a bigger player on the national scene. March 3–31.  www.losangelesballet.org.

 

LAB’s Allynne Noelle. Photo by Reed Hutchinson & Catherine Kanner, Courtesy LAB.

 

 

Streetcar in Steel City
As far as stories ripe for dramatic plucking go, it’s hard to beat Tennessee Williams’ seminal play A Streetcar Named Desire. Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre gives John Neumeier’s version its U.S. premiere March 9–11. Made for the Stuttgart Ballet in 1983, with Marcia Haydée and Richard Cragun in the leads, Neumeier’s Streetcar uses his love of flashback to full effect. He makes Blanche DuBois’ backstory more explicit and dramatizes the darker aspects of the story, including suicide, physical abuse, and rape.  www.pbt.org.

 

Eva Trapp and Robert Moore. Photo by Duane Rieder, Courtesy PBT.

 

The Conversation
Spotlight
James Alsop has choreographed for stars from Beyoncé to Janelle Monae. Photo via Facebook

Even if you haven't heard her name, you've almost certainly seen the work of commercial choreographer James Alsop. Though she's made award-winning dances for Beyoncé ("Run the World," anyone?) and worked with stars like Lady GaGa and Janelle Monae, Alsop's most recent project may be her most powerful: A moving music video for Everytown for Gun Safety, directed by Ezra Hurwitz and featuring students from the National Dance Institute.

Enough! www.youtube.com

We caught up with Alsop for our "Spotlight" series:

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Dance Magazine Awards
A very important name got skipped in the introductions.

I want to make an apology because, in my opening speech at the Dance Magazine Awards on Monday, I inadvertently left out one awardee. I said, "Tonight we are honoring four outstanding dance artists who have contributed to the dance field over time." But then I named only three. How could I have forgotten Lourdes Lopez?!?!

We had all been hearing about Lourdes's taking the helm at Miami City Ballet with grace, intelligence, compassion and new ideas. I was planning to say, "Lourdes Lopez, who has brought new life to Miami City Ballet" because I thought that would cover a lot of ground. (My only quibble with myself was whether to say "brought new life" or "gave new life.")

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Dance in Pop Culture
Albert Watson, courtesy of Pirelli Calendar

We were beyond excited to see the annual Pirelli Calendar when it was announced last summer that Misty Copeland was to be one of four women featured in the 2019 edition. And now, the wait is finally over.

Albert Watson, courtesy of Pirelli Calendar.

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Dance in Pop Culture
Julia Roberts is one of 12 celebs Justin Peck choreographed on. Photo by Philip Montgomery, Courtesy NYT Mag.

Each year, The New York Times Magazine shines a spotlight on who they deem to be the best actors of the year in its Great Performers series. But, what we're wondering is, can they dance? Thankfully, the NYT Mag recruited none other than Justin Peck to put them to the test.

Peck choreographed and directed a series of 10 short dance films, placing megastars in everyday situations: riding the subway, getting out of bed in the morning, waiting at a doctor's office.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Clockwise from top left: Crystal Pite, photo by Michael Slobodian; Lourdes Lopez, photo by Alexander Iziliaev; Michael Trusnovec, photo via Instagram; Ronald K. Brown, photo by Julieta Cervantes

Today, we are thrilled to announce the honorees of the 2018 Dance Magazine Awards. A tradition dating back to 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards celebrate the living legends who have made a lasting impact on dance. This year's honorees include:

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Health & Body
Even a 10-minute nap can give you a performance boost. Photo by Getty Images

On busy performance days, international guest artist Joy Womack always makes time for one activity after class and rehearsals: a nap. "I like to feel well-rested when I need to be in the spotlight at night, not dragging at the end of the day," she says. "It helps me recover and refocus."

With her earbuds tuned to a guided medi­tation app, she can squeeze in a nap wherever she needs to. "One time I even took a nap on the floor of the tour bus in Siberia," she says. "Dancers can sleep anywhere."

Joy Womack prioritizes napping before a show. Photo by Quinn Wharton for Pointe magazine.

As research has revealed the benefits of short daytime naps, power-napping advice has proliferated, and more dancers are choos­ing to include a nap in their pre-performance routines. Approaching napping strategically will help you get the most out of an afternoon snooze.

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In Memoriam

On Monday night, a memorial was held at Riverside Church to honor the life and achievements of Dance Theatre of Harlem co-founder Arthur Mitchell. With nearly three months to process and grieve (Mitchell passed away on September 19) the atmosphere was not that of mourning as much as reflection, reverence and admiration for who he was, what he built and what remains. (Watch the full livestream here.)

The church filled with family, artistic friends, fans and admirers. What was most gratifying was the volume of DTH alumni from the school, company and organization who traveled across the globe to pay their respects, from founding members to present dancers and students. The house of worship was filled with the sentiment of a family reunion. As Mitchell was sent home, it was a homecoming for many who have not shared air together in decades. What was palpable was the authentic bonds that Dance Theatre of Harlem and Mitchell fostered in all.

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Rant & Rave
Precious Adams is not cast as Odette/Odile, but is the face of ENB's marketing campaign. Screenshot via English National Ballet's website

Fans of the sublime English National Ballet first artist Precious Adams were probably excited to see her image splashed across the company's website in a promotional image for an upcoming production of Swan Lake.

But those who took a closer look were met with a disappointing reality: Adams, who is the only black woman in the company, is not listed on the principal casting sheet for the production.

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News
Amy Seiwert rehearses Sacramento Ballet. Photo by Keith Sutter, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet

Gennadi Nedvigin is not the only early tenure director breaking out a new production of The Nutcracker this season.

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News
RUBBERBANDance Group in Victor Quijada's Vraiment doucement. Photo by Mathieu Doyon, Courtesy Danse Danse

We love The Nutcracker as much as the next person, but that perennial holiday classic isn't the only thing making its way onstage this month. Here are five alternatives that piqued our editors' curiosity.

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News
Yuri Possokhov at work on his new Nutcracker for Atlanta Ballet. Photo by Kim Kenney, Courtesy Atlanta Ballet

The Nutcracker is synonymous with American ballet. So when Gennadi Nedvigin took the helm at Atlanta Ballet in 2016, a new version of the holiday classic was one of his top priorities. This month, evidence of two years' worth of changes will appear when the company unwraps its latest version at Atlanta's Fox Theatre Dec. 8–24. Choreographed by Yuri Possokhov and produced on a larger-than-ever scale for Atlanta, the new ballet represents Nedvigin's big ambitions.

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What Wendy's Watching
Shelby Colona and Chris Bloom in CARMEN.maquia. PC Christopher Duggan

Ballet Hispánico returns to the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem with its full-length ballet, CARMEN.maquia. Spanish choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano has reenvisioned the story of Carmen to emphasize Don José, the man who falls in love with Carmen, suffers because of her infidelity, then murders her in a "fit of passion." Their duets are filled with all the sensuality, jealousy and violence you could wish for—in a totally contemporary dance language.

Sansano's previous piece for Ballet Hispánico, El Beso, bloomed with a thousand playful and witty ways of expressing desire. He has a knack for splicing humor into romance.

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Dance Training
Sending a video audition gives you more control over the process. Photo by ShareGrid via Unsplash

Not being able to attend the in-person audition at your top college can feel like the end of the world. But while it's true that going to the live audition is ideal, you can still make the best out of sending a video. Here are some of the perks:

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Health & Body
Dance classes will be a part of a movement towards "social prescribing." Photo by Leon Liu via Unsplash

It's become a colloquialism—or, we admit, a cliche—to say that dance can heal.

But with a new initiative launched by British Health Secretary Matt Hancock, doctors in the U.K. will soon be able to prescribe dance classes—along with art, music, sports, gardening and more—for patients suffering from conditions as various as dementia, lung problems and mental health issues.

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News
Ramasar and Catazaro, photos via Instagram

New York City Ballet fired principal dancers Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro on Saturday. Both had initially been suspended until 2019 for engaging in "inappropriate communications," while principal Chase Finlay, who was the instigator of those communications, resigned. (Although, in a statement on Saturday, NYCB made it clear they had decided to terminate Finlay prior to his resignation.)

The New York Times reports that NYCB says the change from suspension to termination resulted from hearing the concerns of dancers, staff members and others in the NYCB community. Yet it's hard to ignore the fact that a lawsuit against NYCB had been filed in the meantime. A statement from NYCB executive director Katherine Brown and interim artistic team leader Jonathan Stafford stated:

"We have no higher obligation than to ensure that our dancers and staff have a workplace where they feel respected and valued, and we are committed to providing that environment for all employees of New York City Ballet."

Since the news was announced, both Catazaro and Ramasar have spoken out publicly about being fired.

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Health & Body
LINES dancer Courtney Henry. Photo by Quinn Wharton

We always figured that stretching made us more flexible by loosening up our muscles and joints. Some of us, ahem, might have even tried to fall asleep in our middle splits to get our stubbornly stiff inner thighs to let go.

But it turns out that might not actually be how stretching works.

A new review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Science & Medicine in Sports suggests that increased flexibility actually comes from your brain growing more used to the tension.

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Advice for Dancers
Getty Images

I'm really upset with myself for bingeing. I'm good with my diet for a few days, but then I give in and stuff myself with pizza and ice cream and am filled with self-hate.

—Binge Eater, White Plains, NY

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Dance Magazine Awards
Misty Copeland opened the 2018 Dance Magazine Awards. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

What does it mean to be human? Well, many things. But if you were at the Dance Magazine Awards last night, you could argue that to be human is to dance. Speeches about the powerful humanity of our art form were backed up with performances by incredible dancers hailing from everywhere from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to Miami City Ballet.

Misty Copeland started off the celebration. A self-professed "Dance Magazine connoisseur from the age of 13," she not only spoke about how excited she was to be in a room full of dancers, but also—having just come from Dance Theatre of Harlem's memorial for Arthur Mitchell—what she saw as their duty: "We all in this room hold a responsibility to use this art for good," she said. "Dance unifies, so let's get to work."

That sentiment was repeated throughout the night.

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The Creative Process
Snow Scene in Val Caniparoli's The Nutcracker for Louisville Ballet. Photography by Wade Bell

Choreographer Val Caniparoli started his ballet career by performing in Lew Christensen's The Nutcracker with San Francisco Ballet in 1971. Today, he still performs with SFB as Drosselmeir, in the company's current version by Helgi Tomasson.

It takes Caniparoli a lot of concentration to stick to the choreography.

"I have the four versions that I choreographed of the role in my head, plus the original I danced for years by Lew," he says. "That's a lot of versions to keep straight."

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Dance in Pop Culture
Juliet Doherty looking out from the Radio City Music Hall stage

A list of Clara alumnae from Radio City's Christmas Spectacular reads like a star-studded, international gala program: Tiler Peck and Brittany Pollack of New York City Ballet (and Broadway), Meaghan Grace Hinkis of The Royal Ballet, Whitney Jensen of Norwegian National Ballet and more. Madison Square Garden's casting requirements for the role are simple: The dancer should be 4' 10" and under, appear to be 14 years old or younger and have strong ballet technique and pointework.

The unspoken requisite? They need abundant tenacity at a very young age.

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Rant & Rave
Jessica Lang Dance in Lang's Thousand Yard Stare. Photo by Todd Rosenberg

When I read last month that Jessica Lang Dance had announced its farewell, I'm sure I wasn't the only dancer surprised. In the same way that many of us, when reading an obituary, instinctively look for the cause of death, I searched for a reason for the company's unexpected folding. It was buried in the fifth paragraph of The New York Times article:

Her manager, Margaret Selby, said in an interview that Jessica Lang Dance's closing showed how difficult it is to keep a small dance company running these days. "You have to raise so much money, the smaller companies don't have enough staff, and Jessica was running the company for the last seven years without a day off," she said. "She wants to focus on creative work."

Whereas the announcement itself may have come as a shock, the root cause certainly doesn't. All of us in the field are familiar with the conditions to which Selby refers. But that these problems can topple the success of a company like Lang's, which boasts seven years of national and international touring that include commissions from Jacob's Pillow and The Joyce, among others, is sobering.

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