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Vital Signs

Big Dancing in Small Parks 

NEW YORK CITY  SummerStage is back, offering free outdoor performances in all five boroughs. This month, the Francesca Harper Project performs Harper’s Modo Fusion: Art Prototype, a foray into the world of beauty pageants that fuses dance with music and film in the East River Park, Aug. 16. In a series of theatrical vignettes, the work explores the exploitation of women and the way beauty pageants have evolved over time. The previous week, Aug. 9 & 10, Harlem Dance Caravan brings Illstyle & Peace Productions (a hip-hop based company), Camille A. Brown & Dancers, and Forces of Nature Dance Theatre to Marcus Garvey Park. www.cityparksfoundation.org/summerstage.

 

Dominique Rosales of Francesca Harper Project. Photo by Lois Greenfield, Courtesy Summerstage.

 

 

Russian Stars Come London Calling

LONDON  The Bolshoi, that purveyor of bravura, takes over the Royal Opera House for three weeks through Aug. 17. Its most buzzed-about ballerinas, namely Zakharova, Obraztsova, and “25 to Watch” Smirnova, appear in works like Balanchine’s Jewels, La Bayadère, and Swan Lake. It is hoped that director Sergei Filin will be able to join them (see “Dance Matters,” June). Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev make a one-night-only, megawatt guest-star turn in Ratmansky’s Flames of Paris, which has been sold out for months—a housewarming party of sorts for Osipova, who joins The Royal Ballet as a principal dancer for the upcoming season. www.roh.org.uk.

 

Osipova in Flames of Paris. Photo by Elena Fetisova, Courtesy Bolshoi.

 

 

Dreams from My Father

MOUNT TREMPER, NY  “This dance honors my past, present, and future family.” The enigmatic Souleymane Badolo shows his Buudou, BADOO, BADOLO, part ecstatic ritual, part seance, at the Mount Tremper Arts Festival on Aug. 3. (Buudou means “family” in Badolo’s mother tongue Gourounsi.) The natural wonder of Mount Tremper’s Catskill Mountains locale only adds to the work’s eeriness. www.mounttremperarts.org.

 

Badolo in Buudou, BADOO, BADOLO. Photo by Ian Douglas, Courtesy Danspace.

 

 

Sounds of Summer

NATIONWIDE  Tap festivals for all ages and levels abound in August. Get down with star faculty and performers at workshops across North America:

Rhythm World at Chicago’s American Rhythm Center with Lane Alexander, Derick K. Grant, and Chicago Human Rhythm Project, through Aug. 4. www.chicagotap.org.

L.A. Tap Fest with Jason Samuels Smith and Chloe Arnold, Aug. 5–10. www.latapfest.com.

Bay Area Tap Festival with Channing Cook Holmes and John Kloss. Aug. 13–18. www.stepology.com.

Motor City Tap Fest with Gregg Russell, Claudia Rahardjanoto, and Sarah Reich, Aug. 15–17. www.motorcitytapfest.com.

Tap United at the Collins Center for the Performing Arts in Andover, MA, with Aaron Tolson, Tap Attack, and Sean Fielder, Aug. 16. www.tapunited1.com.

Jersey Tap Fest with Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and Jason Janas, Aug. 22–25. www.jerseytapfest.com.

Santa Fe Tap Festival with Mark Mendonca and the D’Jeune D’Jeune African Drum and Dance Ensemble. Aug. 29–30. www.stepology.com.

Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival with Dianne Walker, Jumaane Taylor, and Michelle Dorrance, Aug. 30–Sept. 1. www.vantapdance.com.

 

Charles Renato of Brazil jumps into Rhythm World in Chicago. Photo by Adilson Machado, Courtesy CHRP.

A Rash of Small Ballet Troupes

NEW YORK CITY  The Joyce is trying something new this summer. Gathering six small ballet companies from around the country, it is presenting a two-week sampler from Aug. 6–17. New Yorkers don’t often get to see BalletX from Philly, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater from Houston, Company C Contemporary Ballet from the Bay Area, or Whim W’Him from Seattle—though each group has a following in its hometown. Add to this intriguing roster two from NYC—Jessica Lang Dance and BalletCollective (a project of New York City Ballet’s Troy Schumacher)—and you have a mini festival that may lure you away from the beach. www.joyce.org.

 

 

Domenico Luciano of Dominic Walsh Dance Theater in Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake. Photo by Frank Atura, Courtesy DWDT.

 

 

Ladies, Start Your Engines

SAN FRANCISCO  Eight dance groups—all with women at the helm—perform at San Francisco’s Summer Performance Festival, SPF6. The artists were recent participants in The Garage residency, under the auspices of SAFEhouse, a local incubator for emerging artists with a strong LGBTQ bent. Different movement styles and topics are tackled, from Aura Fischbeck Dance’s Have we all melted yet?, which explores assimilation, to BodiGram’s D.R.U.N.K.S, a satirical look at drinking culture (complete with drinking games). At the ODC Theater Aug. 14–18. www.spf6.org.

 

The Milissa Payne Project’s Up in the Air. Photo by Lynn Fried, Courtesy SPF6.

 

 

Chicago’s Finest, For Free

CHICAGO  Where can you see Hubbard Street, Giordano, the Joffrey Ballet, Ensemble Español, Natya Dance Theatre, and Chicago Human Rhythm Project for free? Five times over? Chicago Dancing Festival, of course. These Windy City companies are joined by dancers from Ailey, Brian Brooks Moving Company, Philadanco, Juilliard, and Lar Lubovitch Dance Company (Lubovitch is a CDF co-founder). Performances take place at the Harris Theater, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and the Auditorium Theatre, with an outdoor finale at the vast Pritzker Pavilion of Millennium Park. Aug. 20–24. www.chicagodancingfestival.com.

 

Krithika Rajagopalan of Natya Dance Theatre. Photo by Eileen Ryan, Courtesy CDF.

 

 

Viva Vail

VAIL  The Vail International Dance Festival this summer, which celebrates its 25th year with a wealth of programs and events, has something for everyone. The anniversary benefit performance presents styles from tango to ballet, with Charles “Lil Buck” Riley (see cover story), Gabriel Missé, Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild, and Herman Cornejo, among others. The festival continues to show its range in two evenings of international dance, a ballroom spectacular, and performances by dancers from popular TV shows. And Damian Woetzel, the festival’s mastermind, hosts an evening of premieres, including works by Paul Taylor, Larry Keigwin, and Fang-Yi Sheu. July 28–Aug. 10. www.vaildance.org

 

 

 

Kit McDaniel and Brandon Cournay of Keigwin + Company. Photo by Matthew Murphy, Courtesy VIDF.

Treasure Trove

WASHINGTON, DC  “The Ballets Russes changed the way people viewed dance.” So wrote Deborah Jowitt about the legendary company on the occasion of its centenary (see “Russes Revolution,” Feb. 2009). The burst of fauvist color, themes of eroticism, and blockbuster collaborations woke audiences up to the allure of ballet. Now on display at the National Gallery of Art’s Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909–1929: When Art Danced with Music in Washington, DC, are costumes, set designs, rare film footage, and drawings (by the likes of Bakst, Matisse, Picasso, and Chanel) from that ground-breaking period. Of special note is Natalia Goncharova’s cubist backdrop for Fokine’s glorious Firebird. Through Sept. 2. www.nga.gov.

 

Léon Bakst’s costume design for an Odalisque from Schéhérazade, 1911. Photo from Collection of the McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Gift of Robert L. B. Tobin, Courtesy NGA.

 

 

A Different Kind of Peace Process

NEW YORK CITY  Transplanted Israeli choreographer Zvi Gotheiner takes an ancient Arab line dance for the basis of his dynamic work DABKE, which comes to Lincoln Center Out of Doors Aug. 3. With images of both protest and prayer, the dance unites Israeli and Arab traditions. ZviDance shares the evening with El Gusto, a group of both Jewish and Muslim musicians. (Maybe dancers and musicians can accomplish what Hillary Clinton could not.) Other offerings in the series—which is free—include Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion on Aug. 1, and Dance Heginbotham on Aug. 8. www.lcoutofdoors.org.

 

Gotheiner’s DABKE. Photo by Jacqueline Chambord, Courtesy Lincoln Center.

 

 

Contributors: Suzannah Friscia, Wendy Perron, Kina Poon

 

 

The Conversation
Dancer Voices
Paloma Garcia-Lee has appeared on Broadway and in TV's "Fosse/Verdon" and will be in the new West Side Story film. Photo by Susan Stripling, Courtesy Garcia-Lee

I have a commitment, a romance, a love affair with dance, with the feeling that happens when the music and the steps so perfectly align and I can't help but get chills. That feeling when my partner and I are dancing as one, when everyone onstage feels the same heartbeat, when it's just me alone in my bedroom.

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Hive by Boston Conservatory student Alyssa Markowitz. Photo by Jim Coleman

The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.

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Dance in Pop Culture
Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon. Photo by Eric Liebowitz/FX Networks

You can see them in "Fosse/Verdon" episode one. Michelle Williams, playing Gwen Verdon, wears them with a cool, retro, forest-green jumpsuit. Tucked beneath a mop top of tousled Gwen Verdon locks, Williams sports a pair of discreet and tasteful onyx drop-earrings—the dancer's favorites. Verdon wore them all her adult life, according to her daughter Nicole Fosse, a co-executive producer of the FX series that puts a spotlight on a great woman of American dance.

"I have very little memory of my mother wearing other earrings. They were her Gwen Verdon earrings," says Fosse, speaking by phone from her home in Vermont. "She's wearing them in 99 percent of the pictures of her performing."

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Dance Training
Courtesy CalArts

Four years of lectures, exams and classes can feel like a lifetime for college dancers who have their sights set on performing. So when a professional opportunity comes knocking, it can be tempting to step away from your academics. But there are a few things to consider before putting your education on hold.

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Sponsored by McCallum Theatre
Last year's winner: Manuel Vignoulle's EARTH. Jack Hartin Photography, Courtesy McCallum Theatre

It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.

Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.

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Career Advice
LA Dance Project. Photo by Jonathan Potter, courtesy LADP

We've all been there: You see the craziest/most beautiful/oddest/wildest clip of a dance on Facebook and you simply have to see more.

But do you actually get yourself to the theater and sit through a 90-minute performance? The consensus, at this point, typically seems to be: No.

There is no clear correlation between a company's social media campaigns and how many seats they fill in the theater. That doesn't mean social media isn't, of course, vital. It simply means that "social media campaigns operating without other marketing campaigns don't cut it," says Rob Bailis, associate director of Cal Performances at UC Berkeley. "But campaigns without social media are far worse off."

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Dance in Pop Culture
Carlos Acosta in a still from Yuli. Photo by Denise Guerra, Courtesy Janet Stapleton

Since the project was first announced toward the end of 2017, we've been extremely curious about Yuli. The film, based on Carlos Acosta's memoir No Way Home, promised as much dancing as biography, with Acosta appearing as himself and dance sequences featuring his eponymous Cuba-based company Acosta Danza. Add in filmmaking power couple Icíar Bollaín (director) and Paul Laverty (screenwriter), and you have a recipe for a dance film unlike anything else we've seen recently.

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News
Ramasar and Catazaro, photos via Instagram

One of the country's top arbitrators has decided to reinstate Amar Ramasar and Zachary Catazaro to New York City Ballet. The former principals were fired last fall for "inappropriate communications," namely graphic text messages.

The dancers' union, American Guild of Musical Artists, fought the termination, arguing that the firings were unjust since they related entirely to non-work activity. After a careful review of the facts, an independent arbitrator determined that while the company was justified in disciplining the two men, suspension was the appropriate action and termination took it too far.

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Rant & Rave
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre in Fancy Free. Photo via pbt.org

A woman passes three men in the street. The men pursue her. They thrust their pelvises at her. They continue to pursue her after she slaps one's hand and walks away. They surround her. She glances around at them in alarm. One snatches her purse (to review the Freudian significance of purses, click here) and saunters off with it, mocking her. She tries to take the purse back, and the three men toss it over her head among each other. They make her dance with them. Each time she indicates "No," the men try harder to force her submission to their advances.

This is all within the first 10 minutes of Jerome Robbins's Fancy Free, a 1944 ballet about three sailors frolicking on shore leave during World War II, beloved by many and still regularly performed (especially during the last year, since 2018 was the centennial celebration of Robbins's birth). Critic Edwin Denby, after the premiere with Ballet Theatre, called it "a remarkable comedy piece" and "a direct, manly piece."

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What Dancers Eat
Courtesy Bloc Talent Agency

When you're bouncing between hotel rooms without access to a kitchen, eating a pescatarian diet can be challenging. Stephanie Mincone, who most recently traveled the globe with Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour, told Dance Magazine how she does it—while fueling herself with enough energy to perform for thousands of Taylor fans.

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Dancers Trending
Hamrick rehearsing Port Rouge in St. Petersburg. Photo courtesy Hamrick

Choosing music for your first-ever choreography commission can feel daunting enough. But when you're asked to create a ballet using the vast discography of the Rolling Stones—and you happen to be dating Stones frontman Mick Jagger—the stakes are even higher.

So it's understandable that as of Monday, American Ballet Theatre corps de ballet dancer Melanie Hamrick, whose Port Rouge will have its U.S. premiere tonight at the Youth America Grand Prix gala, was still torn about which songs to include.

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Advice for Dancers
Photo by freestocks.org/Unsplash

What is an acceptable request from a choreographer in terms of nudity? On the first day of shooting All That Jazz in the 1970s, Bob Fosse asked us men to remove everything but our jock straps and the women to remove their tops. His rationale was to shock us in order to build character, and it felt disloyal to refuse. Would this behavior be considered okay today?

—Anonymous

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Career Advice
Stephen Mills' Grimm Tales, which premiered last month, is the first ballet funded by the Butler New Choreography Endowment. Photo by Anne Marie Bloodgood, Courtesy Ballet Austin

As much as audiences might flock to Swan Lake or The Nutcracker, ballet can't only rely on old war horses if it wants to remain relevant. But building new full-lengths from scratch isn't exactly cheap.

So where can companies find the money?

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Rant & Rave
Social media validates extremes over clean, solid technique. Photo by David Hofmann/Unsplash

The entrancing power of Instagram can't be denied. I've lost hours of my life scrolling the platform looking at other people documenting theirs. What starts as a "quick" fill-the-moment check-in can easily lead to a good 10-15 minute session, especially if I enter the nebulous realm of "suggested videos."

My algorithm usually shows me professional ballet dancers in performances, rehearsals, class, backstage and on tour, which I quite enjoy. But there are the other dance feeds that I find myself simultaneously intrigued and horrified by: the hyper-elastic, hyper-extended, gumby-footed girls always at the barre doing developpés to six o'clock. There are the multiple turners, the avid stretchers and we can't forget the endless balancers.

This parade of tricksters always makes me wonder, What else can they do? Can they actually dance?

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Just for Fun
Royal Winnipeg Ballet revived Lila York's adaptation of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale earlier this month. Photo by David Cooper, Courtesy RWB

When American Ballet Theatre announced yesterday that it would be adding Jane Eyre to its stable of narrative full-lengths, the English nerds in the DM offices (read: most of us) got pretty excited. Cathy Marston's adaptation of Charlotte Brontë's classic novel was created for England's Northern Ballet in 2016, and, based on the clips that have made their way online, it seems like a perfect fit for ABT's Met Opera season.

It also got us thinking about what other classic novels we'd love to see adapted into ballets—but then we realized just how many there already are. From Russian epics to beloved children's books, here are 10 of our favorites that have already made the leap from page to stage. (Special shoutout to Northern Ballet, the undisputed MVP of turning literature into live performance.)

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Cover Story
Courtesy Khoreva

The pleasure of watching prodigies perform technical feats on Instagram can be tinged with a sense of trepidation. Impressive tricks, you think, but do they have what it takes for an actual career?

Just look at 18-year-old Maria Khoreva, who has more followers than most seasoned principals; in videos, her lines and attention to detail suggested a precocious talent, and led to a Nike ambassador contract before she even graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy. Still, when she joined the Mariinsky Ballet last summer, there was no guarantee any of it would translate to stage prowess.

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Dance History
Merce Cunningham in his Changeling (1957). Photo courtesy DM Archives

Today—April 16, 2019—marks what would have been Merce Cunningham's 100th birthday. As dancers from Los Angeles to New York City to London gear up for Night of 100 Solos (the marathon performance event being livestreamed today), and as companies and presenters worldwide continue to celebrate the Cunningham Centennial through their programming, we searched through the Dance Magazine Archives to unearth our favorite images of the groundbreaking dancemaker.

Courtesy DM Archives

Dance in Pop Culture
Courtesy MPRM Communications

A bright disposition with a dab of astringent charm is how I remember Brock Hayhoe, a National Ballet School of Canada schoolmate. Because we were a couple years apart, we barely brushed shoulders, except at the odd Toronto dance party where we could dance all night with mutual friends letting our inhibitions subside through the music. Dancing always allows a deeper look.

But, as my late great ballet teacher Pyotr Pestov told me when I interviewed him for Dance Magazine in 2009, "You never know what a flower is going to look like until it opens up."

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News
A 1952 photograph of Merce Cunningham in Sixteen Dances for Soloist and Company of Three. Photo by Gerda Peterich, Courtesy Blake Zidell & Associates

One night. Three cities. Seventy-five dancers. And three unique sets of 100 solos, all choreographed by Merce Cunningham.

This incredible evening of dance will honor Cunningham's 100th birthday on April 16. The Merce Cunningham Trust has teamed up with The Barbican in London, the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York City and the Center for the Art of Performance in Los Angeles for a tri-city celebration.

The best part? You don't have to be in those cities to watch—Night of 100 Solos is being live-streamed in its entirety for free.

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The Creative Process
George Balanchine's Don Quixote. Photo by Martha Swope ©The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

When George Balanchine's full-length Don Quixote premiered in 1965, critics and audiences alike viewed the ballet as a failure. Elaborate scenery and costumes framed mawkish mime passages, like one in which the ballerina washed the Don's feet and dried them with her hair. Its revival in 2005 by Suzanne Farrell, the ballerina on whom it was made and to whom Balanchine left the work, did little to alter its reputation.

Yet at New York City Center's Balanchine festival last fall, some regretted its absence.

"I'd want to see Balanchine's Don Quixote," says Apollinaire Scherr, dance critic for the Financial Times. "It was a labor of love on his part, and a love letter as well. And you want to know what that looks like in his work."

Even great choreographers make mistakes. Sometimes they fail on a grand scale, like Don Quixote; other times it may be a minor misstep. Experiment and risk help choreographers grow, but what happens when a choreographer of stature misfires? Should the work remain in the repertory? And what about a work that fails on some levels but not others?

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News
Sarah Lane will perform in one of the "You Are Us" benefit concerts. Photo by Erin Baiano, Courtesy ABT

After the horrific March 15 terrorist attacks at two New Zealand mosques, the music and arts community sprang into action to plan a way to help victims and their families. A series of resulting concerts, titled "You Are Us/Aroha Nui," will take place in New Zealand (April 13 and 17), Jersey City, New Jersey (April 17) and Los Angeles (April 18). Proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to the Our People, Our City Fund, which was established by the Christchurch Foundation to aid those affected by the attacks.

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News
Malpaso Dance Company in Cunningham's Fielding Sixes. Photo by Nir Ariel, Courtesy Richard Kornberg & Associates

Throughout 2019, the Merce Cunningham Trust continues a global celebration that will be one of the largest tributes to a dance artist ever. Under the umbrella of the Merce Cunningham Centennial are classes and workshops, film screenings and festivals, art exhibitions and symposia, and revivals and premieres of original works inspired by the dancemaker's ideas. The fever peaks on April 16, which would have been the pioneering choreographer's 100th birthday, with Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event, featuring a total of 75 dancers in three performances live-streamed from London, Los Angeles and New York City.

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