What Wendy's Watching
PC Paul Kolnik

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.


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What Wendy's Watching
Photo by Brook Trisolini

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.

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What Wendy's Watching
Photo by Scott Shaw

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.

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What Wendy's Watching
Five dancers and a hologram in Co-Natural. Photo by Julieta Cervantes

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).


What Wendy's Watching
Jaqlin Medlock rehearsing Signals, with, seated, Rashaun Mitchell, Melissa Toogood and Petronio, PC Paula Court

Stephen Petronio brings a bracing season to New York City's Joyce Theater, where he has performed almost every year for 24 years. His work is exciting to the subscription audience as well as to many dance artists. He delves into movement invention at the same time as creating complex postmodern forms. The new work, Hardness 10, is his third collaboration with composer Nico Muhly. The costumes are by Patricia Field ARTFASHION, hand-painted by Iris Bonner/These Pink Lips. Petronio's work still practically defines the word contemporary.

Stephen Petronio Company also continues with its Bloodlines series. That's where he pays homage to landmark works of the past that have influenced his own edgy aesthetics. This season he's chosen Merce Cunningham's playful trio Signals (1970), which will be performed with live music from Composers Inside Electronics.

Completing the program is an excerpt from Petronio's Underland (2003), with music by Nick Cave. Video footage courtesy of Stephen Petronio Company, filmed by Blake Martin.

What Wendy's Watching
Meredith Monk, center, in Cellular Songs, PC Julieta Cervantes

Meredith Monk is a choreographer, composer and interdisciplinary artist who takes us back to the most elemental forms of what it is to be human. Experiencing her work is almost like you're hearing an oracle. Krista Tippett, the host of NPR's On Being, said, "Meredith Monk makes music and theater that feels edgy and ancient at the very same time."

For Cellular Songs, which premieres at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theater on March 14, the press release says, "Monk looks to underlying systems in nature that can serve as a prototype for human behavior in our tumultuous world."

The cast of five women is joined by ten singers from the Young People's Chorus of New York City.

What Wendy's Watching
Company Wayne McGregor performing "Autobiography." Photo © Andrej Uspenski

Wayne McGregor is known for his extreme partnering—limbs pushed, pulled and flung in all directions. While his choreography may seem wild and crazy, he's very thoughtful about the creative process. In our 2013 cover story, he talked about understanding your individual filters as choreographic thinking tools.

In his current work, Autobiography, he applies a scientific filter: using his own genome sequencing as a score for the choreography.

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What Wendy's Watching
Arthur Mitchell in The Four Temperaments

When Arthur Mitchell set out to prove that African Americans could excel in ballet, there were many skeptics. He not only created a world-class ballet company—Dance Theatre of Harlem—but he launched a discussion about race and ballet that we are still engaged in.

Who was Arthur Mitchell and how did he get the chutzpah to start a (mostly) black ballet company? Now we have a multi-faceted answer in an exhibit at Columbia University titled "Arthur Mitchell: Harlem's Ballet Trailblazer." It's curated by 2016 Dance Magazine Awardee Lynn Garafola, who is considered the foremost American dance historian.

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