What Wendy's Watching: Dorrance Dance Taps Up An Eclectic Storm
|Michelle Dorrance, Jillian Meyers, Melinda Sullivan and Josette Wiggan-Freund performing Until the Real Thing Comes Along (a letter to ourselves) at The Joyce Theater. Photo © Todd Burnsed|
I'm watching Dorrance Dance's tech/dress rehearsal at the Joyce. What a blast!
Michelle Dorrance is showing two major works. The world premiere, Until The Real Thing Comes Along (a letter to ourselves), is about four women entertainers. They are fabulous tappers, and they make reference to vaudeville and other traditions of entertainment. (I swear I saw a split second of the Marx Brothers in there). But Dorrance's choreography digs underneath for deeper characterizations, for instance playing with gender. Melinda Sullivan sings a sly semi-drag version of "Night and Day;" Josette Wiggan-Freund, wearing a ruby red dress, is the fancy, girly-girl; Jillian Meyers gets left behind and shows her pluck; and Dorrance herself does a terrific non-gendered drunken solo.
Leonardo Sandoval, Gabriel Winns Ortiz, Warren Craft, Michelle Dorrance, and Claudia Rahardjanoto performing "Myelination" (2017) at The Joyce Theater. Photo © Todd Burnsed
Dorrance's Myelination is all about rhythm. The word "myelination" has something to do with synapses firing. And that's what's happening here. You may see hip hop, house and rhythm tap, and sparks fly when these forms encounter each other. House dancer Ephrat Asherie rocks the house, and gangly Warren Craft is a total original.
Dorrance is not content to just make tap numbers. She envisions the entire stage when she choreographs, and that's evident in both these pieces. Dorrance Dance is at the Joyce until Dec. 31. Click here for more info.
In the middle of one of New York City Center's cavernous studios, Misty Copeland takes a measured step backwards. The suggestion of a swan arm ripples before she turns downstage, chest and shoulders unfurling as her legs stretch into an open lunge. She piqués onto pointe, arms echoing the sinuous curve of her back attitude, then walks out of it, pausing to warily look over her shoulder. As the droning of Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto's mysterious "Attack/Transition" grows more insistent, her feet start to fly with a rapidity that seems to almost startle her.
And then she stops mid-phrase. Copeland's hands fall to her hips as she apologizes. Choreographer Kyle Abraham slides to the sound system to pause the music, giving Copeland a moment to remind herself of a recent change to the sequence.
"It's different when the sound's on!" he reassures her. "And it's a lot of changes."
The day before was the first time Abraham had seen Copeland dance the solo in its entirety, and the first moment they were in the studio together in a month. This is their last rehearsal, save for tech, before the premiere of Ash exactly one week later, as part of the opening night of City Center's Fall for Dance festival.
Back in 2011 when Joe Lanteri first approached Katie Langan, chair of Marymount Manhattan College's dance department, about getting involved with New York City Dance Alliance, she was skeptical about the convention/competition world.
"But I was pleasantly surprised by the enormity of talent that was there," she says. "His goal was to start scholarship opportunities, and I said okay, I'm in."
Today, it's fair to say that Lanteri has far surpassed his goal of creating scholarship opportunities. But NYCDA has done so much more, bridging the gap between the convention world and the professional world by forging a wealth of partnerships with dance institutions from Marymount to The Ailey School to Complexions Contemporary Ballet and many more. There's a reason these companies and schools—some of whom otherwise may not see themselves as aligned with the convention/competition world—keep deepening their relationships with NYCDA.
Now, college scholarships are just one of many ways NYCDA has gone beyond the typical weekend-long convention experience and created life-changing opportunities for students. We rounded up some of the most notable ones:
Dancers are understandably obsessed with food. In both an aesthetic and athletic profession, you know you're judged on your body shape, but you need proper fuel to perform your best. Meanwhile, you're inundated with questionable diet advice.
"My 'favorite' was the ABC diet," says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristin Koskinen, who trained in dance seriously but was convinced her body type wouldn't allow her to pursue it professionally. "On the first day you eat only foods starting with the letter A, on the second day only B, and so on."
"The show must go on" may be a platitude we use to get through everything from costume malfunctions to stormy moods. But when it came to overcoming a literal hurricane, Houston Ballet was buoyed by this mantra to go from devastated to dancing in a matter of weeks—with the help of Harlequin Floors, Houston Ballet's longstanding partner who sprang into action to build new floors in record time.