- The Latest
- Breaking Stereotypes
- Rant & Rave
- Dance As Activism
- Dancers Trending
- Viral Videos
- The Dancer's Toolkit
- Health & Body
- Dance Training
- Career Advice
- Style & Beauty
- Dance Auditions
- Guides & Resources
- Performance Calendar
- College Guide
- Dance Magazine Awards
- Meet The Editors
- Contact Us
- Advertise/Media Kit
- Buy A Single Issue
- Give A Gift Subscription
Will Dance for Food
It was 6 am on a Saturday, the sun was pulling up a warm summer morning, and the birds were singing just for me. I was “wrapped." I had finished filming “Flesh and Bone" and retired from American Ballet Theatre. I felt like a creature released into the wild, freed into the next phase of my life. Now I could take a breath. Now I could eat carbs.
We'd shot the gritty ballet-themed series over four months, from April to August of 2014. Until my final performance in July, I also danced with ABT. A typical week saw me working Monday and Tuesday on the TV show, Wednesday through Saturday with the ballet company. Sunday was for the gym, for massage, for writing a series of vogue.com columns about my last season as a professional dancer, for running lines and for preparing for Monday, which would kick off with a 4:45 am pickup (warm-up class commenced at 6) and stretch deep into the night. No man should wear a dance belt for as long as I did on those days.
Radetsky with Sarah Hay in a scene from the show. Courtesy Starz.
The “Flesh and Bone" set was a city within a city, a boomtown of trailers and trucks sprouting overnight on the streets of Manhattan or a soundstage in Queens. It drew a range of industry specialists, from sound engineers to gaffers to the Pomeranian wrangler (whose cloud of canine fluff played the role of Princess). Our job as dancer/actors was to put our best pointed foot forward every time the slate snapped shut and the cameras rolled. A given scene involved multiple takes per camera angle, and each angle required a new setup for lighting, sound and props, a fresh set of marks for everyone, continuity checks/touch-ups for wardrobe, hair and makeup, and rehearsals to sync our timing and movements with the crew's. If the scene called for dialogue, which it often did, we danced to the dull pulse of a metronome instead of music. Our show runners were consummate pros, and went to great lengths to capture the dance sequences with efficiency and concern for our physical well-being. But filming takes time. Given the number of moving parts involved, the pace was inevitably slow and repetitive—the reverse of the adrenaline blitz of a live performance. A quick montage of class exercises, for instance, took hours to shoot. We kicked a few weeks' worth of grands battements that day; the Rockettes had nothing on us, except maybe more convincing smiles.
My fellow dancers on the show hailed from a range of ballet companies, but under the guidance of our terrific choreographer, Ethan Stiefel, we coalesced into a single troupe. The strenuous conditions led to some frayed nerves (and teary eyes), but they also bonded us together. Most of us were thankful for this opportunity to bring dance to new audiences and to document what otherwise lasts only in memory after the curtain falls. We were jostled out of our comfort zones and into collaboration with other types of artists, swept into a heady mix not just of dancers, choreographers and musicians, but also of accomplished writers, photographers, actors and visual artists. Imagine Greenwich Village in the Sixties, or the Moulin Rouge of Belle Époque Paris, only with more nudity.
To shoulder my workloads at ABT and “Flesh and Bone," I had to trim away all distractions. I shut down my social life, and extra-curricular activities largely ceased. I streamlined in a literal sense, too: I hit the gym whenever possible, if only for a manic 20 minutes at the end of a day. Before filming began, I cut sugar, grains and starches from my diet, and eventually phased out cheese and juice, as well. My meals, of lean protein and veggies, were modest in portion, and snacks, of nuts and some fruit, were occasional. I often indulged in a glass of wine, but I didn't drink a beer for five months (that one was tough, but I've since made up for lost time). I was part caveman/part monk, and all nerd.
"Flesh and Bone" premieres on the Starz TV network November 8. Courtesy Starz.
I had danced on camera before, in the film Center Stage. I was 22 when we made that movie, still an ABT corps member, just a sweet-sweaty whippersnapper working on his double-double tours. Then, too, I remember the stuttering pace of shooting, the dancing at extreme hours. But such particulars don't faze you at that age; your body is wondrously resilient, and endless dances yet await you, like flavors arrayed in an ice cream shop. This time around, the stakes were different; the end of the arc was near. A sense of urgency animated my every plié.
There were a couple of late nights on the “Flesh and Bone" set when, numerous takes into shooting a dance scene, with my audience reduced to the stoic black eye of a Steadicam lens and the kinetic joy of moving through choreography long ebbed out of me, my inspiration faltered. But then it would surge back, from places of responsibility and gratitude. I've been fortunate to do what I love, among people I love, for many years, to bookend a rewarding career in ballet with a movie and now a TV show. I could certainly hustle up a few more sauts de basque and press lifts for the camera. Maybe I just needed a carrot to chase—or something heartier, to be precise. Get it together, dude. You can frolic in the sunshine and sleep like a bear and eat vast stacks of pancakes very soon, I'd assure myself, my mouth watering. n
Sascha Radetsky is currently writing fiction as a fellow at the NYU Center for Ballet and the Arts.
Season 2 of World of Dance is almost here! The new season officially kicks off on Tuesday on NBC, and it's bringing a whole new crew of talented dancers with it (plus, some old favorites). Dance pro judges Jennifer Lopez, Derek Hough and Ne-Yo are back, too, with Jenna Dewan serving as the show's host.
Obviously we'll be watching, but just in case you're not completely sold, here's why you're not going to want to miss out:
JLo Might Be Performing
Earlier this week, JLo (who serves as the show's executive producer) posted this insane promo clip to her Instagram. Dancing to a mashup of Cardi B's "Bodak Yellow" and her new single "Dinero," JLo reminded us all of her dance skills while also leading us to believe she might just hit the stage herself for a performance.
Travis Wall draws inspiration from dancers Tate McCrae, Timmy Blankenship and more.
One often-overlooked relationship that exists in dance is the relationship between choreographer and muse. Recently two-time Emmy Award Winner Travis Wall opened up about his experience working with dancers he considers to be his muses.
"My muses in choreography have evolved over the years," says Wall. "When I'm creating on Shaping Sound, our company members, my friends, are my muses. But at this current stage of my career, I'm definitely inspired by new, fresh talent."
Wall adds, "I'm so inspired by this new generation of dancers. Their teachers have done such incredible jobs, and I've seen these kids grown up. For many of them, I've had a hand in their exposure to choreography."
A few weeks ago, American Ballet Theatre announced the A.B.T. Women's Movement, a new program that will support three women choreographers per season, one of whom will make work on the main company.
"The ABT Women's Movement takes inspiration from the groundbreaking female choreographers who have left a lasting impact on ABT's legacy, including Agnes de Mille and Twyla Tharp," said artistic director Kevin McKenzie in a press release.
Hypothetically, this is a great idea. We're all for more ballet commissions for women. But the way ABT has promoted the initiative is problematic.
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba tours the U.S. this spring with the resolute Cuban prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso a the helm. Named a National Hero of Labor in Cuba, Alonso, 97, has weathered strained international relations and devastating fiscal challenges to have BNC emerge as a world-class dance company. Her dancers are some of ballet's best. On offer this time are Alonso's Giselle and Don Quixote. The profoundly Cuban company performs in Chicago May 18–20, Tampa May 23, Washington, D.C., May 29–June 3 and Saratoga, New York June 6–8.
Considering we practically live in our dance clothes, there's really no such thing as having too many leotards, tights or leggings (no matter what our mom or friends say!). That's why we treat every sale as an opportunity to stock up. And thanks to the holiday weekend, you can shop all of your dancewear go-tos or try something totally new for as much as 50% less than the usual price.
Here are the eight sales we're most excited about—from online options to in-store retailers that will help you find the perfect fit. Happy Memorial Day (and shopping)!
Now through Monday, Danskin's site will automatically take 25% off your entire purchase at checkout. Even new items like their Pintuck Detail Floral Print Sports Bra and Pintuck Detail Legging (pictured here) are fair game.
"The sun may be shining brightly, but we are not in a very sunny mood today!" said New York State assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal during yesterday's rally for the Artists of Ailey.
The dancers and stage crew are demanding increased wages and more comprehensive benefits, what they have termed "reaching for the standard" and "fair wages."
Pain is an inevitable part of a dancing life and dancers have a high tolerance for it, according to Sean Gallagher, a New York physical therapist whose practice includes many professional performers. "So when dancers complain, it really means something," he says.
But women and men experience pain differently, and tend to be treated for it differently as well. Female dancers need to understand those differences before they go to a doctor, so they can make sure they get treated promptly and effectively.
Rebecca Warthen was on a year-long assignment with the Peace Corps in Dominica last fall when a storm started brewing. A former dancer with North Carolina Dance Theatre (now Charlotte Ballet) and Columbia City Ballet, she'd been sent to the Caribbean island nation to teach ballet at the Dominica Institute of the Arts and in outreach classes at public schools.
But nine and a half months into her assignment, a tropical storm grew into what would become Hurricane Maria—the worst national disaster in Dominica's history.
Sidra Bell is one of those choreographers whose movement dancers are drawn to. Exploring the juxtaposition of fierce athleticism and pure honesty in something as simple as stillness, her work brings her dancers to the depths of their abilities and the audience to the edge of their seats.