Vital Signs

November 15, 2010







Keeping Up with Mr. Jones

What do Paul McCartney, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill T. Jones have in common? They are all 2010 Kennedy Center Honorees. Jones, whose Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray returns to the Kennedy Center in February, and his fellow honorees will be celebrated on Dec. 5 with special performances. No doubt, they will rub shoulders with the president and the dance-loving first lady. The gala will be broadcast on CBS on Dec. 28. See



Stepping Out

Brian Williams brings his high-energy troupe Step Afrika! to New Jersey Performing Arts Center, capping off a busy week in residence with two performances on Dec. 18. Titled “The Spirit of Kwanzaa,” the holiday program melds the rhythms of contemporary stepping with the gumboot dance and other traditional forms of South Africa. The similarities between the styles inspired Williams to found the Washington, DC–based company in 1994 in partnership with Soweto Dance Theatre. See


Basra Nights

Violence, greed, and true love: all the makings of a great fairy tale—and a great story ballet. Enter Abdallah and the Gazelle of Basra, a production in the repertoire of the Royal Danish Ballet but little known in the U.S. The Netherlands-based De Dutch Don’t Dance Division debuts an original production of the ballet this month, choreographed by co-directors Rinus Sprong and Thom Stuart. Will the poor shoemaker Abdallah earn back his beloved Irma’s trust? Dec. 25–28 at the Lucent Danstheater in The Hague. See


Nutcracker in 2-D

Nutcrackers abound this month—not only onstage but onscreen. The Bolshoi Ballet’s Dec.19 performance of The Nutcracker will be broadcast in movie theaters across the U.S. as part of Emerging Pictures’ “Ballet in Cinema” series (see for schedules). San Francisco Ballet’s production, set during the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exhibition, will re-air nationwide on PBS Dec. 12 and 17. Choreographed by director Helgi Tomasson and filmed in 2007, the version spotlights audience favorites like Yuan Yuan Tan, Maria Kochetkova, and Davit Karapetyan. Check your local listings.


Under the Current

The WestWave Dance Festival came in tides this year. Revamped from its usual month-long summer slot, the San Francisco–based series was instead spread over four months, with the final performance on Dec. 13. As in past years, multiple choreographers share the bill, most of them local. Among those presenting work this month are emerging choreographers Pam Gonzales and Alyce Finwall, whose work Enter Demeter bears traces of her time spent with the Cullberg Ballet. See


Carreño Charms Sarasota

American Ballet Theatre will lose its sexiest star in August when Jose Manuel Carreño retires. But the princely principal’s future plans include planting dance roots in Florida. On Dec. 21, he launches the inaugural Carreño Dance Festival, with former Sarasota Ballet director Robert de Warren acting as president. As a reprieve from Nutcracker-heavy programming, the lineup for the two-night event includes Carreño and Julie Kent from ABT, New York City Ballet’s Tiler Peck and Joaquin de Luz, and the luscious Jacoby & Pronk. See


Nutcracker by the Numbers


Total cost of pointe shoes for each run of National Ballet of Canada’s version: $150,000


Number of crystals and pearls adorning each of BalletMet’s snowflake crowns: 124


Height and weight of New York City Ballet’s “growing” Christmas tree: 41 feet and 1 ton


Amount of paper confetti “snow” reused every night by Pennsylvania Ballet: 40 gallons


Number of jingle bells on each of Alabama Ballet’s Candy Cane costumes (based on Karinska’s original designs for Balanchine’s production): 254



Pictured: Bill T. Jones’
Fondly Do We Hope…Fervently Do We Pray. Photo by Russell Jenkins, courtesy Zane/Jones