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Archive for the ‘DSL Dance Wire’ Category

Roman Catholic Priest’s Flamenco Attracts Congregants

Father Jose Planas Moreno; photo by Campanillas Malaga via YouTube

Father Jose Planas Moreno;
photo by Campanillas Malaga via YouTube

A Roman Catholic priest in southern Spain has parishioners banging down his church doors, all so they can praise God and dance the flamenco.

Jose Planas Moreno, or Father Pepe, as he is known, attracts flocks of congregants to the Nuestra Senora del Carmen church in Campanilla by clicking his heels and strutting his stuff.

The 66-year-old priest and female worshippers twirl down the aisles doing the sevillanas, a traditional dance very similar to flamenco, said the New York Daily News. While other Roman Catholic churches deal with dwindling numbers of the faithful, Father Pepe’s pews are filled to overflowing.

“Something happens when I dance,” he told Diario Sur, the local Malaga newspaper, according to Britain’s The Telegraph. “I love it. It brings me closer to God.” He has flamenco in his blood, he said, because his mother was a gypsy.

In 1997, he said, he danced for the late Pope John Paul II at the Vatican. To see the original story, visit




Retiring PBT Corps Member Stephen Hadala in a Class By Himself

Stephen Hadala; photo by Nicholas Coppula

Stephen Hadala; photo by Nicholas Coppula

In a mid-sized company like Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, a corps de ballet member is usually a face in the crowd—a villager, one in a group of friends, a supporting player.

But after his final PBT performance as the foppish nobleman Gamache in Don Quixote, Stephen Hadala took center stage, surrounded by the entire company. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said it was the first time in more than 40 years that PBT had so honored a member of the corps de ballet.

Maybe that was because the 16-year veteran was in a class by himself, above the usual distinctions between principal dancer, soloist, and corps. During his career, he never coveted a promotion. His steadiness, work ethic, and sense of humor made him a “rock” of the company, his colleagues say.

Robert Vickrey, assistant to the artistic director, recalls how the young Hadala would attend a full day of PBT rehearsals then walk to a full-time job at a Rite Aid.

“It was his determination and perseverance,” Vickrey said. “He never slacked off. He kept his nose to the grindstone and was always in class. But there was no one in the world who was more fun than Stephen. You could say anything to him and he had an answer for it.”

Hadala joined the company in 1998, and quickly began to show a gift for character roles, making his mark as Dracula, Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, and Dr. Coppelius in Coppélia.

“Stephen personalized roles no matter how big or how small,” PBT principal dancer Julia Erickson said. “He made something out of everything.”

He gradually developed into a secure partner, debuted in contemporary works, helped to train new dancers, and, as union representative for 14 years, won the respect of management and fellow dancers.

Hadala will return to Detroit so he and his sister can take over the Allard Academy of Dance, the place where everything began. To read the full story, visit




Not All Residents Approve of Library’s Plan to Add Dance Studio Space

Library renovation public hearing; photo by Nikhita Venugopal/DNAinfo

Library renovation public hearing;
photo by Nikhita Venugopal/DNAinfo

A plan to renovate a public library by adding dance studios has created a rift in the community—with some claiming it’s a sign the neighborhood is turning too “tony.”

DNAInfo NewYork said the Brooklyn [NY] Public Library is negotiating a $1.8 million renovation to its 7,500-square-foot Red Hook branch that would convert roughly half the main library room into dance and rehearsal studios for artists.

BPL is hoping to partner with Spaceworks, a nonprofit group and initiative of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs, which would run the studios. The group is “dedicated to expanding the supply of long-term, affordable rehearsal and studio space for artists” and currently operates two artist workspaces in Long Island City and Gowanus.

Spaceworks would fund $650,000 of the total $1.8 million renovation, and the City Council would provide the remainder.

But the studios would invade a free and public space where adults and children come to read and learn, said locals at last week’s Community Board 6’s landmarks and land use public hearing.

“Isn’t that taking away from what we come to library for in the first place?” said Yasmin Rahman, who lives in Red Hook.

The proposal allows for Cora Dance, a Red Hook dance school and studio, to provide 100 hours of free programming in the new studios during the first year. Shannon Hummel, Cora’s founder and artistic director, highlighted the school’s affordable pay-what-you-can classes, a model she hoped to expand into the new space.

To read the full story, visit




Degas’ “Little Dancer” Statue Centerpiece of New National Gallery Exhibit

“Little Dancer Aged Fourteen”; photo courtesy National Gallery of Art

“Little Dancer Aged Fourteen”; photo courtesy National Gallery of Art

“Little Dancer Aged Fourteen,” Edgar Degas’ groundbreaking statuette of a young ballerina that caused a sensation at the 1881 impressionist exhibition, takes center stage in an exploration of Degas’ fascination with ballet and his experimental, modern approach to his work.

The exhibit will run October 5 to January 11, 2015, on the West Main Floor Gallery 82 at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.

An exhibit overview says Degas was a keen observer and wry but sympathetic chronicler of the daily life of dancers, depicting their world offstage, at rehearsal, or in the wings. Degas’s “Little Dancer” showcases this world of gaslight and struggle, as captured by the master.

One of the gallery’s most popular works of art, “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” will be presented with 10 additional works from the gallery’s collection, including the monumental pastel “Ballet Scene” (c. 1907), monotypes, and smaller original statuettes by Degas that are related to “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.” The exhibition also includes the oil painting “The Dance Class” (c. 1873) from the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The National Gallery of Art has the largest and most important collection of Degas’ surviving original wax sculptures in the world. Its wax version of “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” is the only one formed by the artist’s own hands and the only sculpture he ever showed publicly. For more information, visit





Virginia Dance Company Is Going to the Dogs—Literally

Jane Franklin Dance’s Cute Animals; photo courtesy WebMD

Jane Franklin Dance’s Cute Animals; photo courtesy WebMD

Can your dog do a mean fox trot? Virginia’s Jane Franklin Dance is looking for dogs and their human owners willing to partner up and dance through her fall program, “Cute Animals.”

The fall program is an effort to spark a connection between area residents who share a common love for dogs and who would enjoy being introduced to a new physical activity they can share with their canine companions.

Practices will be held August 18, August 25, and September 8 from 6:30 to 7:30pm, with a free public performance set for September 10 at 7pm. Rehearsals and performance will be held at the Charles Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, Virginia.

The program specifically seeks dogs and owners from the Duke Street dog park, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, Charles Beatley Library’s PAWS reading program, Alexandria Animal Welfare League at Vola Lawson Animal Shelter, or residents of the neighboring area.

The program is open to all ages and levels of dancers. There is no charge to participate—but a dog is required. To sign up, call 703.933.1111 or visit for more information.




New Film Musical Remembers the Good Old Days of MGM Musicals

Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Arthur Freed; photo courtesy Broadway World

Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Arthur Freed;
photo courtesy Broadway World

A tap-dancing screenwriter and Mickey Rooney’s son are teaming up to produce an original film musical in the style and tradition of MGM’s legendary Freed Unit, named for movie musical producer Arthur Freed (Singin’ In The Rain, The Bandwagon, An American In Paris).

Dean Ward, writer for the late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, idolized Gene Kelly as a kid, took lessons from legendary hoofers Gregory Hines, Savion Glover, and Charles “Honi” Coles. After attending a tribute to Kelly at the Motion Picture Academy in 2012, Ward set out to write a passion project paying homage to his celluloid hero and other Freed Unit legends including Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra.

Choreographer Michael Rooney (The Muppets, (500) Days of Summer), son of Freed Unit icon Mickey Rooney, will handle the film’s numerous dance numbers. Rooney has worked in film, television, and choreographed music videos for artists and directors including Spike Jonze, Fiona Apple, and Bjork.

The film hopes to capture the look and feel of a Freed Unit musical by using classic film clips to propel the narrative, plus more than a dozen beloved song standards from classic musicals and the Great American Songbook.

Ward’s previous credits include the HBO documentary Let Me In, I Hear Laughter—A Salute To The Friars Club, which also celebrated classic entertainers and entertainment. To see the original story, visit



British Dancewear Supplier Started By Studio Owner With a Desire To Sew

Anne Walker with sewing equipment; photo courtesy IDS

Anne Walker with sewing equipment;
photo courtesy IDS

A Devon, England–based supplier of dance equipment has boosted its profile in the U.S. after attending a reception held at the British Consulate in New York, according to Insider Media.

IDS (International Dance Supplies), which sells dancewear, shoes, costumes, accessories, fabrics, and other dance-related items such as barres and CDs, arranged the trip through UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and has since received orders from dance teachers across 48 states.

IDS was formed 35 years ago by Anne Walker, who had opened her own dance school at the age of 17. Initially she supplied her students with leotard and shoes from a local shop where she had negotiated discounted prices, but as the school developed, Walker decided to try and make leotards for her students herself. She borrowed some sewing equipment, enlisted the help of one mother and her older students (who cut out the garments), and began selling the garments they produced to other dance teachers.

Eventually, the dancewear manufacturing and sales needed to become a separate business from her dancing school. Today IDS is the UK’s largest wholesale dancewear supplier with a customer base of more than 14,000 dance teachers and retailers worldwide.

To see the original story, visit For more information on IDS, visit




Longtime Dance Teacher’s Poem Recognized With International Prize

Joan Kunsch; photo courtesy Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts

Joan Kunsch;
photo courtesy Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts

“Night Blizzard,” a poem written by Joan Kunsch, associate director at Connecticut’s Nutmeg Ballet, has won an International Publication Prize from the Atlanta Review, and will be featured in the fall 2014 issue, reports the Register Citizen.

Kunsch, who celebrates 50 years of teaching this summer, has had her writing published in the U.S., Norway, England, and India. She translates contemporary Norwegian poets, presents readings in Norwegian as well as English, and performs “Flute Meets Poem” in a duo with her sister, Kathi Byam.

This is the second time Kunsch’s work has received the award. The first was in 2006, with “Ballet Teacher’s Brief Bio.”

As a guest teacher and choreographer, Kunsch has worked in North America and abroad, particularly Scandinavia, England, and the Netherlands. She has choreographed more than 60 works for concert stage, television, sacred space, and outdoor sites.

To see the original story, visit





Blind Students Dance with Confidence at Florida Studio’s Annual Workshop

Arthur Murray Dance Studio; photo courtesy Facebook

Arthur Murray Dance Studio; photo courtesy Facebook

Five years ago Lania Berger, owner of the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Palm Harbor, Florida, heard about the nervousness visually impaired students were experiencing prior to a Valentine’s Day dance and wanted to lend a hand.

“Lots of people get nervous about a dance party, especially for Valentine’s Day, but now make it pre-teens who can’t see,” Berger told the Suncoast News. “The kids were terrified.”

Berger offered free lessons to the children from Lighthouse of Pinellas, an organization that assists blind and visually impaired person. That 2009 collaboration went so well that the studio continued working with Lighthouse students ever since. Thursday marked the studio’s annual Lighthouse for the Blind Dance Workshop, which the studio holds in celebration of National Dance Day.

“The idea behind National Dance Day is to get everybody up and moving and having fun,” Berger said. “We take this as a nice opportunity to bring a little more attention to an organization I so strongly believe in and have a great relationship with.”

To see the original story, visit



Free Event Offers Information to Dancers Seeking New Careers in Yoga, Mind/Body


Career Transition for Dancers will hold a free open house/information event July 28 from 5:30 to 7pm regarding teaching careers and advanced studies in yoga and mind/body practices, at 165 West 46th Street, Suite 701, New York City.

TaraMarie Perri, founder and director of The Perri Institute for Mind and Body, will meet with dancers interested in yoga training courses beginning this September in NYC. Since 2009, Mind Body Dancer (MBD) and The Perri Institute for Mind and Body has offered yoga and mind/body practice education to performers, along with certifications and licensing for teachers, research opportunities, therapeutic client care, and community outreach.

The Perri Institute is dedicated to supporting dance professionals as they transition into successful careers in education, healthcare, and wellness. Career Transition for Dancers is a nonprofit that enables dancers to define new career possibilities and develop skills necessary to excel in a variety of disciplines.

To RSVP, contact or call 212.764.0172. Visit or for more information.





International Dance Star, Ángel Corella, Assumes Helm of Pennsylvania Ballet



Ángel Corella; photo courtesy Muppet Wikia

Ángel Corella; photo courtesy Muppet Wikia

Often called “one of the finest dancers of his generation,” American Ballet Theatre standout Ángel Corella has been appointed artistic director of the Pennsylvania Ballet.

“We are incredibly excited to be bringing a director with this level of talent, experience, and passion into our community,” board co-chair David Hoffman said in a release. “Pennsylvania Ballet is at the threshold of a new and dynamic era that calls for an artistic leader with the vision, energy, and creativity to excite audiences. Ángel has the power to make Philadelphia one of the most exhilarating dance cities in the world.”

Born and raised in Madrid, Spain, Corella joined ABT in 1995 and was promoted to principal dancer the following year. He is credited with elevating the technique and artistry of male dancing throughout the world and possessing incredible technical skills matched only by his warmth and passion for the dance.

Corella has spent the last six years in Spain as director of his own company, originally the Corella Ballet Castilla y León, which became the Barcelona Ballet. “Pennsylvania Ballet has such a great reputation, such great dancers and such a loyal audience,” he said. “My dream is to build on this rich history, its Balanchine legacy, and make the company a center for all the best in ballet, a true national model.”

He will replace Roy Kaiser, who is stepping down after 19 years as artistic director to assume the title of artistic director emeritus. To see the full release, visit



Influential Modern Dance Master Bill T. Jones To Receive National Medal of Arts

Bill T. Jones; photo courtesy Kennesaw State University

Bill T. Jones; photo courtesy Kennesaw State University

Bill T. Jones, artistic director of New York Live Arts and artistic director/co-founder of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, will receive the 2013 National Medal of Arts in a July 28 ceremony at The White House.

The National Medal of Arts is the highest award presented to artists and arts patrons by the United States government, and is awarded by the President of the United States to individuals or groups who “ . . . are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States.”

Jones said of the honor: “At a time when the arts have an ever-dwindling presence and importance in education and daily life, I am grateful that the United States government and President Barack Obama take the time to recognize the necessity of art, and to pay respect to the artistic voices that influence and inspire the public to challenge, question, and discover meaning through the arts. I look forward to continuing to engage the people of the United States and the world through the art of movement.”

The National Medal of Arts has been awarded yearly to a select few artists by the National Endowment for the Arts. Dance world recipients have included Jacques d’Amboise, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham, Katherine Dunham, Suzanne Farrell, Martha Graham, Erick Hawkins, Judith Jamison, Gene Kelly, Bella Lewitzky, Agnes de Mille, Arthur Mitchell, Pearl Primus, Twyla Tharp, Maria Tallchief, Paul Taylor, Jerome Robbins, and others.

For more information, visit



Fire Island Dance Festival Nets More Than Half a Million for AIDS

Sara Mearns at Fire Island Dance Festival 2014; photo by Whitney Browne

Sara Mearns at Fire Island Dance Festival 2014;
photo by Whitney Browne

Performances by top dancers from the ballet, contemporary, Broadway, and ethnic dance worlds helped the Fire Island Dance Festival to raise a record-shattering $533,860 for Dancers Responding to AIDS, a program of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Broadway World said the festival celebrated its 20th anniversary edition July 18 to 20, outdoors on the shores of the Great South Bay in Fire Island Pines, New York. This year’s total eclipsed last year’s record-setting $393,647.

The festival lineup included the world premieres of works choreographed by Joshua Bergasse, Marcelo Gomes, and others, plus performances by 48 professional dancers including New York City Ballet principal Sara Mearns, Broadway veteran Nick Kenkel, MOMIX soloist Jon Eden, members of Ailey II, Jon Bond of Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, and members of the Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu all-male hula company.

In its 20 editions, Fire Island Dance Festival has raised more than $3.8 million to help ensure that those who need it most can receive lifesaving medications and health care, nutritious meals, counseling, and emergency financial assistance. To see the original story, visit




Royal Ballet’s Cinema Season Ranges from Winter Tales to White Swans

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; image courtesy Fathom Events

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland;
image courtesy Fathom Events

Five sumptuous Royal Ballet productions will be broadcast to more than 360 cinema screens in the U.S. October through May as part of the 2014–15 Royal Ballet Cinema Season, presented by Fathom Events and the Royal Opera House.

Killer Aphrodite said four ballets will be captured live from London: Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon on October 16, Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on December 16, Anthony Dowell’s Swan Lake on March 19, and Frederick Ashton’s La Fille Mal Gardée on May 5. Rounding out the season is the broadcast of the prerecorded The Winter’s Tale on February 17, also choreographed by Wheeldon.

Each event in the series will also feature 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage including interviews with the performers and specially captured rehearsal elements.

Alastair Roberts, managing director of Royal Opera House Enterprises, said the ballet is excited not only about the expanded cinema broadcast season, but also about its planned 2015 tour of the U.S., with performances set for Chicago, Washington, DC, and New York City.

Tickets for the 2014–15 Royal Ballet Cinema Season are on sale at participating theater box offices and online at For more information about Royal Opera House and the ballet series, visit

To see the original story, visit



Ambitious Schedule of Classes, Performances, Mark Vancouver Tap Fest

Dorrance Dance will appear at the Vancouver International Tap Festival; photo courtesy Broadway World

Dorrance Dance will appear at the Vancouver International Tap Festival; photo courtesy Broadway World

In-demand tap artist Michelle Dorrance and her Dorrance Dance company will headline the 15th edition of the Vancouver International Tap Festival set for August 28 to 31 in Vancouver, Canada.

The four-day festival features dance workshop for youth and adults with more than 60 classes led by Brenda Bufalino, Sam Weber, Dianne Walker, Tony Waag, and others.

Open-to-the-public evening performances include:

• The inaugural Tap Grace Awards Gala, recognizing artist, volunteers, and sponsors who have contributed to the evolution of the festival and of the Vancouver Tap Dance society Academy, is set for August 28 at 8pm at the Holiday Inn Downtown Vancouver.

• New works by two of Canada’s finest tappers— Love.Be.Best.Free by Danny Nielsen and Hold On by Lisa La Touche—will be featured August 29 at 8pm, at the Norman Rothstein Theatre, 950 West 41st Avenue.

• Dorrance and her company will appear in performance August 30 at 8pm, also at the Norman Rothstein Theatre.

• More than 100 dancers will take to the 700 block of Granville Street in the festival’s finale, Tap It Out, on August 31 from 5 to 6pm, followed by performances by students and others at the Festival Showcase & Tap Visions at 8pm at the Norman Rothstein Theatre.

For more details and tickets, visit




Hollywood Celebrity Dance Studio, Millennium, Expands to the East Coast

Millennium Dance Complex; photo by Sarah Schneider/Post-Gazette

Millennium Dance Complex;
photo by Sarah Schneider/Post-Gazette

Millennium Dance Complex, a high-profile studio in North Hollywood, California, known for its connection to major stars such as Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, has opened its first franchise on the East Coast.

Tawni Darby, 23, is the owner and general manager of the new Millennium Pittsburgh on East Carson Street, South Side, Pittsburgh, which opened its doors in February and is planning a formal grand opening for this fall, reported the Post-Gazette.

The original Millennium was started at the Moro Landis Studios in January 1992 by co-CEOs AnnMarie Hudson and Robert Baker, and holds classes in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and other genres while also providing audition and rehearsal space for recording artists like Britney Spears, Usher, and Justin Timberlake.

Darby, a former dancer, was about to begin law studies at the University of Pittsburgh when she saw that the California studio was expanding and submitted a franchise proposal, which was approved in spring of 2013. “To get into this business was always a dream,” says Darby, whose goal is to train and support local students who are pursuing professional careers.

Millennium Pittsburg will offer classes in genres such as ballet, contemporary, jazz fusion, and hip-hop on a drop-in basis, Monday through Saturday. Advance registration is required for master classes and intensive programs.

Other Millennium franchises are in Tokyo, Japan, and Salt Lake City, and plans to open locations in Texas have been announced. To read the full story, visit



Orlando Celebrates Life and Works of Charles Dickens with Flash Mob Contest

Charles Dickens; image courtesy What the Dickens Orlando

Charles Dickens; image courtesy
What the Dickens Orlando

Three dozen arts and cultural organizations in Orlando, Florida, are participating this year in What the Dickens Orlando, a celebration of the 202nd anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

As part of the celebration, the organization is offering a cash prize of $5,000 to the best video of a flash mob, open to any performance organization or group of individuals anywhere in the world. The “musically staged” performance must be of a song from a musical inspired by one of the works of Charles Dickens, without being previously publicly announced, and filmed in a public space where people wandering by will be surprised by the performance.

Videos must be posted on YouTube and the link sent to the What the Dickens Orlando celebration by December 5, 2014. A panel of judges from Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Orlando Ballet, the Mad Cow Theatre, and the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, will be looking for performance quality, audience surprise, visual impact, and use of space.

For more contest rules, entry form, and calendar of related events, visit



Second Annual Cape Dance Festival Brings World-Class Dance to Cape Cod

Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by Sarah Sterner Photography

Annmaria Mazzini of Mazzini Dance Collective; photo by
Sarah Sterner Photography

The Cape Dance Festival, scheduled for July 26 at 6pm at the Province Lands Amphitheatre in Provincetown, Massachusetts, has been a labor of love for co-founders Stacey-Jo Marine and Liz Wolff. And that affection for increasing the amount of dance performance on the Cape has been embraced throughout the region.

“The summer program this year will have a different feel with a lot of new work,” says Marine in Provincetown Magazine. “Newer work and a fresh vibe.”

Scheduled performers include Boston Ballet soloist John Lam, along with dancers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, CorbinDances, Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Take Dance, Mazzini Dance Collective, Pedro Ruiz, and Project Moves Dance Company.

Marine and Wolff formed Cape Dance Festival in 2013 to bring world-class dance to the residents and visitors of Cape Cod through education, altruism, and performance. Marine, who teaches dance production at Marymount Manhattan College, is currently touring with the Martha Graham Dance Company as production supervisor. Wolff is a life-long summer resident of the Cape who danced professionally in New York and Cleveland for 15 years, and is the co-curator for Dance On Camera, a film festival held annually at Lincoln Center, NYC.

The Province Lands Amphitheater is located at 171 Race Point Road, next to the Province Lands Visitor Center. For more information, visit



Learn How to ‘Seize the Day’ with Choreography Tutorial led by Broadway’s Newsies

Christopher Gattelli and Newsies cast members; photo courtesy The Disney Blog

Christopher Gattelli and Newsies cast members;
photo courtesy The Disney Blog

As part of the “Get Up and Go” program that encourages kids to lead healthier lifestyles, choreographer Christopher Gattelli and the Broadway cast from Disney’s Newsies have released an online dance tutorial that takes kids step-by-step through the famous “newspaper-shredding” section of the show’s “Seize the Day” production number.

“Get Up and Go” was launched in December 2013 and is currently offered to schools participating in Disney Musicals in Schools, Disney Theatrical Group’s outreach initiative that builds sustainable theater programs in New York City schools. Newsies cast members have been visiting participating schools, leading students in conversations about making healthy food choices, and teaching dance sequences from the show.

“Get Up and Go” will expand nationally with the onset of the recently announced Newsies National Tour in the fall of 2014. Programs in select cities will be announced at a later date. The program will expand to include sessions from The Lion King and Aladdin in 2015.

The tutorial features slightly less acrobatic moves than the original Broadway choreography, so it can be accomplished by kids of nearly every skill level. All that’s needed is a good size area of smooth floors and a newspaper to shred. To watch the tutorial, visit



Mississippi Dancer’s Inclusion on NFL Cheer Squad a Triumph Over Age, Disease

NFL cheerleader Kriste Lewis; photo by Bill Haber/AP

NFL cheerleader Kriste Lewis;
photo by Bill Haber/AP

Faced with competition from women in their 20s and 30s, 40-year-old dance instructor Kriste Lewis never thought she’d make the New Orleans Saints cheerleading squad, known as the Saintsations. And then she did.

“I wanted to set a goal for myself, and the audition was a specific date that required specific training, so my goal was just to make it to the audition,” said Lewis, who lives with her husband and two sons in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, about 100 miles northeast of New Orleans. “Honestly, I really did not think I was going to make it.”

The Detroit News said that Lewis is one of only two NFL cheerleaders in their 40s. (The other dancer is 45-year-old Laura Vikmanis, who has been with the Cincinnati Bengals dance team, the Ben-Gals, since making the squad at age 40.)

Lewis is the oldest to ever audition for the Saintsations, said squad director Lesslee Fitzmorris, who admitted judges didn’t know the dancer was 40 until finding out during an interview held after three rounds of cuts.

Lewis is motivated to make the most of every day since being diagnosed with a debilitating kidney disease that will eventually lead to dialysis treatments and the need for a kidney transplant. “I know my time is limited,” Lewis said. “I don’t want to let any time go. I want to make every day count.”

Lewis will take the field with the Saintsations when New Orleans plays its first exhibition game August 15 at the Superdome against Tennessee. To read the full story, visit



David Hallberg Enjoying ‘Dual Citizenship’ in Ballet Worlds of Russia and U.S.

David Hallberg in the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake; photo by Stephanie Berger/AP

David Hallberg in the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake;
photo by Stephanie Berger/AP

Talk about worlds colliding. For the past three years, since David Hallberg made headlines by becoming the first American—and first foreigner—to be named a principal dancer at the storied Bolshoi Ballet, Hallberg, a blond, elegant dancer from the American heartland, has lived what he calls two separate lives—his American life, in New York (where he still dances for American Ballet Theatre), and his Russian life, in Moscow.

But last week, the two converged, as the Bolshoi performed in New York for the first time in nearly a decade.

An Associated Press story in the Houston Chronicle said that over the past three years Hallberg has become known as sort of a ballet diplomat: a dancer who took the reverse journey to the one Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov took many years earlier, when they defected. He’s hired a personal publicist, travels the world making guest appearances, and has been a subject of artsy fashion magazine shoots.

He’s feeling “more and more part of the fabric of the Bolshoi.” Almost everyone has been welcoming, he says, down to the cleaners in the hallways. “They all want to say good morning, practice their English,” he laughs.

As for his own Russian, it’s been a slow process. In time, though, he’s built a nice Moscow social life, he says—not so much with dancers as with designers, photographers, stylists, and artists. He’s developed an affinity for a city he once hated—and doesn’t seem to mind the cold.

At work, he’s found that he’s immersed mainly in the classics, like Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. While that can be satisfying, and is physically quite demanding, he says he needs to find time to stretch himself with contemporary choreographers. “I just have to stay aware, because it could turn into all Swan Lakes, all around the world,” he says.

He adds: “You know, when I went to the Bolshoi, I thought, ‘This could totally blow up in my face. I could be back in New York in six months.’ But sometimes life says, ‘Listen, this is what’s going to happen. This is the ride that you’re going to go on.’ ”

To read the full story, visit




Purdue Students, Alumni, Use Dance To Ask The Big Questions About Life

Obsessive-Compulsive Dance; photo by John Terhune/Journal & Courier

Obsessive-Compulsive Dance;
photo by John Terhune/Journal & Courier

What’s wrong with how the media portrays women? How do we fix our education system? What is dance and what should it be? Obsessive-Compulsive Dance asks big questions like these through dance as the group seeks to challenge nearly everything in life—especially themselves.

The Lafayette Journal & Courier said the group was founded in 2013 by Amy Cadwallader, a local math teacher turned contemporary dancer. Obsessive-Compulsive Dance is a hodgepodge of mostly Purdue [IN] University students and former students interested in expressing themselves through movement and posture. They’re not officially affiliated with Purdue’s dance program. That’s partly the point.

The group stresses the importance of independence. Their favorite question is “What if . . . ”, which is also the title of their latest show, subtitled “What if assumptions were challenged . . . instead of just accepted?”

“What if . . . ” will be performed 7 and 9:30pm Friday in a makeshift cabaret-style stage inside the Greater Lafayette YWCA. The show will feature dancing to a TED talk by author Sir Ken Robinson about how schools kill creativity. There’s a short art film by co-director Amberly Simpson that highlights the female image as seen in commercials. Audiences will fill out a form that asks them probing questions about their personal lives.

Obsessive-Compulsive Dance makes the case that serious, politically charged dances can be appealing in a visceral and enjoyable ways. It’s also more proof that an abstract art form like dance can have something to say about societal expectations.

The performance is free. To read more, visit



Tune In Next Week to Catch Final Round of Varna International Ballet Competition

IBC Varna 2014; photo courtesy Facebook

IBC Varna 2014; photo courtesy Facebook

Some 130 representatives of 30 countries are taking part in the 26th edition of the International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria, which aims at finding young talents in classical and contemporary ballet.

2014 marks 50 years since the inaugural Varna festival, founded in 1964 as the world’s first professional international competition. Vladimir Vasiliev from Russia will serve as jury chair for this year’s panel, which includes judges from Cuba, Bulgaria, USA, Japan, Germany, Romania, Monaco, Argentina, France, Korea, China, and Kazakhstan.

Ballet fans around the world can tune in next week as some of the competition and special events are broadcast live on BNT World July 26, 27, 29, and 30 at 8pm Central European Summer Time. (To access the broadcast, visit

Competition began Tuesday. The third round will take place July 26 and 27. Prizes will be awarded at the official closing ceremony July 29, followed by a Super Gala, “Meeting of Generations,” on July 30.

To learn more about Varna, visit



Changing Interpretation of Tax Law Hits Missouri Studio with $73,000 Back Tax Bill

Miss Dianna’s School of Dance; photo courtesy Facebook

Miss Dianna’s School of Dance;
photo courtesy Facebook

For 40 years, a sales tax was never collected at Miss Dianna’s School of Dance in Kansas City because it was considered a place of education, said owner Dianna Pfaff. But the Missouri Department of Revenue is stepping up enforcement of sales tax on places of amusement, entertainment, or recreation, and dance practice might now fall under that category, reports

A year ago, the Missouri Department of Revenue audited her small business and slapped her with more than $73,000 worth of back taxes.

Missouri senator Ryan Silvey, stating that “You can’t raise somebody’s taxes by changing a definition,” helped propose a bill earlier this year that would have better defined places of education to include dance. But Missouri Governor Jay Nixon vetoed it in June.

“I think that [Nixon] is finding all ways to find revenue and forcing people to pay taxes by reinterpreting tax code. I think that’s a way he could get extra money,” Silvey said.

There are hopes to override the veto in September. “I don’t believe in what’s going on here and I have to fight for my families, and all the families who have children that take dance in the state of Missouri,” said Pfaff. “The struggle of paying for dance lessons is a little harder now.”

To see the original story, visit


No Pink Tutus Here: London Boys Ballet School First Of Its Kind

London Boys Ballet School; photo courtesy London Boys Ballet School

London Boys Ballet School;
photo courtesy London Boys Ballet School

The London Boys Ballet School, the first of its kind in the UK, is dedicated entirely to boys, according to its founder James Anthony, who hopes to remove the stigma surrounding boys doing ballet, reports BBC News London.

Anthony, 33, a former teacher and sports coach, says he started the school partially because “I really wanted to take up ballet when I was at school but I thought I would get bullied.”

He said he hoped to stop other boys being put off by creating an environment where they do not feel like the odd ones out. “It’s all about changing the image. There’s nothing girly about the “huge amounts of strength, confidence, flexibility, and athletic ability,” needed by males who dance, he said.

Royal Ballet School figures show the number of boys who applied for full-time training there increased by 30 percent in the past two years. Elsewhere, Matthew Bourne—probably Britain’s best-known choreographer—recently recruited more than 300 novice dancers for his Lord of the Flies tour, in an attempt to get more young men dancing.

And the school has appeared to be receiving recognition from far afield, ever since it opened in March. “We get emails from all over the world praising us for what we do,” Anthony adds.

To read the full story, visit




Despite Tough Financial Times, Joan Myers Brown and Philadanco Dance On

Joan Myers Brown; photo courtesy Philadanco

Joan Myers Brown;
photo courtesy Philadanco

Joan Myers Brown is a Philadelphia legend: in 1960 she started a school—and a decade later, the dance company Philadanco—hoping to nullify entrenched racism in ballet, modern, and theatrical dance. She is also founder of the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), a performance forum and broad-based cultural exchange.

But when Brown received a National Medal for the Arts Award from President Obama last year, she said she was honored, but more concerned with the fiscal shape of her company, reported the

Huffington Post. Today, at age 82 and getting ready for her company’s 45th season, there is no time for a victory lap.

“If I don’t get the company back on its feet, financially, I’m going to have start from scratch,” Brown said. For years she has been one of the few companies to contract her dancers with year-round salaries, and recently she was forced to put them on a two-month furlough.

Philadanco is anything but a static dance company; Brown nurtures new choreographers and new artistic collaborations with other city arts institutions like the Philadelphia Orchestra. The company typically tours 40-plus weeks a year, with many dates sold out. But it never makes enough in ticket sales to pay all the bills. Like many other arts organizations, dance companies have to secure grants and corporate funding to remain solvent, but dance grants are disappearing or becoming more bureaucratically arbitrary and difficult to negotiate.

Brown echoes the frustration of a lot of artistic directors who have proven track records, yet still have to prove themselves worthy. “Being dictating to, what you can and can’t do, so you are not allowed to do your art. I get grants, but there are strings attached.” Rather than lamenting, Brown is even more resolute. The company will head out on another European tour in January.

To read the full story, visit



Ballet Idaho Academy Dancer With Bright Future Overcomes Rough Start in Life

Antonio Carnell; photo by Eric Turner /KTVB

Antonio Carnell; photo by Eric Turner /KTVB

Close to 250 students take classes at Ballet Idaho Academy, including one male dancer who is beating the odds while hoping for a future in ballet, reports

“I get a lot of attention,” admits dancer Antonio Carnell, 15, who is into his sixth year of study at Ballet Idaho. Carnell was prenatally exposed to drugs, born premature, and went through withdrawal. He lived in foster homes in St. Louis, Missouri, before being adopted at age 3 by Michael and Diane Carnell, who brought Antonio to Boise and gave him a safe place to grow.

“Even when he was little he was such a performer,” said Diane. When he showed an interest in dance at age 10, his family encouraged him. A dance scholarship at Ballet Idaho sealed the deal.

Antonio’s teachers say he has a natural ability. “He has a wonderful stage personality,” said academy director Emily Wallace. “And you really see that in him, that drive to perfection.”

The teenager is working hard to reach his goal of becoming an accomplished dancer, including taking part in a summer intensive in Oregon for the next few weeks. Instructors in Boise say he has the potential to keep growing, and perhaps dance in a ballet company in the future.

To see the original story, visit



Dancers Starting Earlier Than Ever in Babywearing Ballet Class

Babywearing Ballet class; photo courtesy Daily Mail

Babywearing Ballet class; photo courtesy Daily Mail

It’s ballet, but not quite as you know it. As well as the usual ballet attire, dancers are also wearing their babies. The Daily Mail reports that in a new fitness craze sweeping the U.S., Babywearing Ballet is being billed as the perfect exercise class for new mothers, especially those who can’t find a babysitter.

It means the little ones are already doing pliés and tendus before they can even walk. For the duration of the class, the mothers practice usual ballet techniques while wearing their newborn babies in a baby carrier or sling.

It is claimed that not only do the classes benefit the mothers who get a gentle, safe, and effective workout, but the babies too, who enjoy the movement and music, said to emulate the swaying and motion they felt in the womb.

Ballet dancer and mother of two Morgan Castner created this class in Tustin, California.

Now a video she posted on Facebook showing her students dancing with their babies has been shared more than 20,000 times. Castner said she has been overwhelmed by the response to her video since posting it online.

Castner teaches with her nine-week-old daughter Quinn in a sling and came up with the idea two years ago. She explains: “My son was 11 months old and with my husband serving in the military, I was looking for fun things we could do together out of the house while he was away. I love dancing and loved babywearing, so it was a natural progression.”

Castner says that the main focus of the class is bonding between mother and child, adding that it is only natural that babies enjoy the motion from dance and find it relaxing after being swayed in the womb for nine months.

According to her website, classes begin by warming up at the barre with pliés, tendus and dégagés and move to center floor work, all while wearing the little one in a sling. Castner says Babywearing Ballet is suitable for all levels of fitness and for babies from newborn to any babywearing age. All participants need is a comfortable and secure baby carrier and usual gym clothes.

Tutus are optional.

To see the original story, visit



Mount Vernon Library Hosts Photo Exhibit of Dance

Photo on exhibit in “Grace in Motion” show; photo courtesy ArtsWestchester

Photo on exhibit in “Grace in Motion” show;
photo courtesy ArtsWestchester

The Mount Vernon [NY] Public Library, in collaboration with ArtsWestchester, is featuring a new exhibition of renowned local artists who immortalize the grace, athleticism and artistry of dance through photography, reports the White Plains Daily Voice.

“Grace in Motion: Photographing Dance” features contemporary images of dance performances from around the world, as well as dancers from regional companies. On view in the Mount Vernon Public Library’s Rotunda Gallery through August 2, this exhibition features 16 pieces that highlight the beauty of dance.

“Grace in Motion: Photographing Dance” features the works of established local photographers Stephanie Berger, Ira Block, and Ellen Crane.

Berger has been photographing performance and cultural events at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum. She has been the Lincoln Center Festival staff photographer since its inception in 1996 and has been commissioned by major orchestras and dance companies.

A frequent contributor to many publications, Block is an internationally renowned photojournalist, teacher, and workshop leader who has produced over 30 stories for National Geographic magazine and its affiliates NG Traveler and Adventure. He began his career as a newspaper photographer, earning numerous press club awards.

Crane, of Dobbs Ferry, a ballerina in the ‘80s, found that she enjoyed watching and analyzing movement as much as dancing. After moving to New York City to further her dance career, she eventually entered the Gallatin School at New York University to pursue her interest in photography. Crane has worked with renowned dance photographer Lois Greenfield and covered dance as a freelance photographer for publications including the New York Times, the Village Voice, New York magazine and Dance Magazine.

To see the original story, visit



Filmmaker’s Robotic Camera Creates Stunning Film of Romantic Pas De Deux

Francesca da Rimini; photo Alexander Reneff-Olson

Francesca da Rimini; photo Alexander Reneff-Olson

Star-crossed lovers. Immaculate dance moves. Giant robots. If it sounds like the plot of the newest Guillermo del Toro movie, you wouldn’t be too far from the truth. The reality, however, might be even more exciting: Tchaikovsky’s ballet fantasia, Francesca da Rimini, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov and danced by Maria Kochetkova and Joan Boada of San Francisco Ballet—and gorgeously filmed with the aid of a massive, robot-controlled camera.

As director Tarik Abdel-Gawad explained in The Creators Project: “The film itself brings the viewer closer to a ballet performance than is possible on a stage. Using a robot allows the camera to be choreographed as well as the dancers, achieving spectacular shots designed specifically for this performance. The end result is a film that makes viewers feel they’re in the room dancing with the performers.”

The work began by capturing the real choreography digitally and with animated camera motion in 3D. The digital and the physical were then united as the real performance was shot with a motion control camera.

The robot never appears on screen: it is used as a tool for camera control. “The camera motion was designed to move in rhythm with the choreography, following the dancers like another performer that counters and amplifies their movement,” he said. “We didn’t want to change the choreography to accommodate the tech. The challenge was to perform it with an intimidating robotic partner. It was more difficult for the dancers to adapt to this environment than it was for the robot.”

To view the finished film, as well as a “making of” featurette, visit




“Bessie” Nominees To Be Announced July 16


The Bessies, New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, will announce the 2013–2014 nominees, as well as the recipient of the 2014 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer via a press conference on Wednesday, July 16 at 6pm at Lower Manhattan’s Gibney Dance Center.

The nominees for the New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer are Rashida Bumbray, Jessica Lang, Jen Rosenblit, and Gillian Walsh.

Nominees for the New York Dance and Performance Awards, “The Bessies,” will be announced in the categories of Outstanding Production, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Visual Design, Outstanding Composition or Sound Design, and Outstanding Revived Work. The newly chosen members of 2014 Bessie jury, responsible for the unique Juried Bessie Award will also be announced.

Bessie steering committee chairman and executive director of Dance/NYC Lane Harwell, The Bessies director Lucy Sexton, choreographer and 2014 Bessie jury member Annie-B Parson, will make remarks and presentations. Additional members of The Bessies selection committee will also participate.

Cocktail party reception will be held from 5 to 6pm; Tickets are $50. Press conference will be held at 6pm, for press only. All events to be held at Gibney Dance Center, 280 Broadway, New York City.

For press RSVP email For cocktail reception tickets, visit




Christopher Walken to Don Tap Shoes for Live TV Production of Peter Pan



Christopher Walken; photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

Christopher Walken; photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

According to the Los Angeles Times, Christopher Walken has been tapped to play iconic character Captain Hook in NBC’s production of Peter Pan Live.

Bob Greenblatt, NBC’s chairman of entertainment, made the announcement Sunday, playing up Walken’s background in musicals and his twinkle-toes reputation as making him the perfect man to take on the popular villain from the James M. Barrie work.

“It might be the first tap-dancing Captain Hook you’ve ever seen,” Greenblatt said.

Walken, known for his irreverent film work, began his wide-ranging career in musicals on Broadway. And he’s combined the two, appearing in a few film musicals including Hairspray and Pennies From Heaven. He also can be seen dancing in Clint Eastwood’s Jersey Boys adaptation.

Sunday’s news marks the first major casting announcement for the production, which will be executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. The pair, coincidentally, worked with Walken on Hairspray.

In a statement released by the network, Walken had this to say: “I started my career in musicals, and it’s wonderful after all this time, at this point in my career, to be in this classic musical I watched as a child and to work with Neil Meron and Craig Zadan again after Hairspray. It’s a chance to put on my tap shoes again.”

Peter Pan, which is set to air live December 4, marks the peacock network’s next go at a live musical production after last year’s The Sound of Music (also produced by Zadan and Meron), which did well in the ratings but was panned by critics. Earlier this year, the network announced that it will next add another classic musical, 1957’s The Music Man, to its live repertoire.

To see the original story, visit



Local Skaters and Dancers Share the Spotlight with Stars During Skate Dance Dream

Skate Dance Dream; image courtesy Facebook

Skate Dance Dream;
image courtesy Facebook

Skate Dance Dream, a new show tour that fuses dance and ice skating together and also teams professionals with local youth talent, will make an appearance at the Carolina Ice Palace in Charleston, South Carolina, on July 19 at 7pm.

Moultrie News said Skate Dance Dream is sanctioned by U.S. Figure Skating. Skate Dance Dream Charleston will feature performances by So You Think You Can Dance competitors Amelia Lowe and Tucker Knox.

On the ice, the show will feature 2013 U.S. National pewter medalist Courtney Hicks, 2012 U.S. National junior silver medalist Tim Dolensky, and U.S. National competitor Sean Rabbitt.

Sharing the spotlight will be local dancers and skaters from the surrounding areas selected through a web-based audition process. In each tour stop, these locals also have the opportunity to take classes from the pros and attend rehearsals with them.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Make-A-Wish South Carolina. For tickets to Skate Dance Dream Charleston or more information, visit

To see the original story, visit



Australian Dance Theatre’s Video Technology Adapted To Aid Stroke Victims

Australian Dance Theatre; photo courtesy ABC News

Australian Dance Theatre; photo courtesy ABC News

Stroke victims are getting help from technology created for Australian Dance Theatre in a world-first medical trial that could change the way doctors understand rehabilitation, reported Australian Broadcasting Corporation News.

Australian Dance Theatre has been experimenting with video and dance since 2012. Choreographer Garry Stewart explained how cameras film a dancer, and then software takes video grabs that are projected onto a screen so the dancer can “interact with herself” during the performance.

Neuroscientist Susan Hillier, University of South Australia associate professor of health sciences, has been using the technology in a medical trial that helps patients see what’s going wrong, then make changes to correct body movement they can barely feel.

“Garry and the dancers had this experience when they tried this new technology for themselves when they were moving. They got this better sense of where they were in space and how they were moving,” Hillier said. “And then they got to talking to other people, and because Garry is mates with another neuroscientist, one of my friends, they said, ‘Well, why don’t we try this? Why don’t we try this with people who have movement difficulties?’ ”

Three days of experiments and interviews will show if the trials are worth pursuing. If they work, it will be a bittersweet experience for Hillier. She spent her life studying the way patients with brain injuries respond to physical feedback, and this could show she’s been on the wrong path for 30 years.

“In the past, in my research, we’ve actually taken vision out of the picture,” she said. “We’ve literally had people shut their eyes to concentrate on their body sense. And so this is now doing the complete opposite.”

To view a video report of how the technology works, visit




Ballet San Antonio Expands Staff

Amy Fote; photo courtesy Ballet San Antonio

Amy Fote; photo courtesy Ballet San Antonio

Ballet San Antonio, which will be the resident ballet troupe at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, has added dancers from across the country to its artistic staff, reports

Amy Fote, a former principal dancer with the Houston and Milwaukee ballets, will be coaching, mentoring, and rehearsing dancers. She replaces Dede Barfield. Susan Clark, who danced with the Atlanta and Milwaukee ballets, is being brought in as artistic associate and répétiteur.

Besides those hires, the company has added Ben Stevenson, a noted choreographer and artistic director emeritus of Houston Ballet, to its advisory board.

“Ben, Amy and Susan will be invaluable as we expand our repertoire and continue to shape our company’s artistic style,” Artistic Director Gabriel Zertuche said in a press release. “The fact that artists of this caliber are joining our Ballet San Antonio family, speaks to our strengths and the national attention we are attracting.”

The company kicks off its first season at Tobin with Zertuche’s “Dracula” in October.

To see the original story, visit




Emerging Choreographers Can Win Opportunity to Set Piece on Joffrey Student Dancers

Choreographers of Color; image courtesy Joffrey Academy of Dance

Choreographers of Color;
image courtesy Joffrey Academy of Dance

The Joffrey Academy of Dance, official school of The Joffrey Ballet, announces a national call for artists to submit applications for the Joffrey Academy’s Fifth Annual Choreographers of Color Award.

The goal of the award is to recognize talented and emerging choreographers of color whose diverse perspective will ignite creativity in the form of original works of dance. The deadline for application is October 1, 2014.

The winning choreographers will be awarded a $2,500 stipend and given a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours. They will set their piece on the international members of the Joffrey Academy Trainee Program and the newly formed Joffrey Studio Company, and have the opportunity to work closely with Joffrey academy artistic directors Anna Reznik and Alexei Kremnev.

The choreographic work must be original and developed by the applicant and the finished piece must be a minimum of 10 minutes and maximum of 12 minutes long. The world premiere works will be showcased at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, 220 E. Chicago Avenue, March 7 and 8, 2015.

For application details, visit



After Successful Nationals, Dance Studio Left Reeling by Theft of Props Truck

Relevé Performing Arts owner Jamie Osteen and students; photo by Patrick Sullivan/Times-News

Relevé Performing Arts owner Jamie Osteen and students; photo by Patrick Sullivan/Times-News

Jamie Osteen, co-owner and instructor at Relevé Performing Arts Center of Hendersonville, North Carolina, and her troupe of 75 dancers returned home from Kids Artistic Revue’s national competition in high spirits June 29.

But spirits crashed last week when a trailer holding most of the props used in their winning numbers was stolen from the studio parking lot, reported Blue Ridge Now. “They were coming back on such a high,” Osteen said. “To come home and have this happen, I just can’t believe this.”

Stolen was scenery from the troupe’s national championship number, The Auction, a spooky routine choreographed by Osteen in which dancers creep out of the walls and props on stage; and oversized props such as a large blue Lego and gigantic blades of grass used in a production number, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

When the theft happened, two trailers were parked outside the studio: a 10-foot-long trailer emblazoned with the company’s name, address, and phone number, and a plain 12-foot-long trailer the company had borrowed from the father of Osteen’s business partner. The borrowed trailer was missing.

“They couldn’t have hit us in a worse way,” Osteen said. “As much as I hate losing the trailer, it can be replaced. The props can’t be replaced.” She estimated the props to have been worth at least $1,000 to the company.

The troupe is still hoping its props may be returned, and some of them—such as a wooden mountain range large enough for 10-year-olds to scale—could be easy to spot.

To see the full story, visit



Aerialists, Dancers, Musicians Lure Art Lovers to Schuylkill River

Invisible River choreographer Alie Vidich (right) and dance collaborator Amy Lynne Barr; photo by Clem Murray/staff photographer

Invisible River choreographer Alie Vidich (right) and dance collaborator Amy Lynne Barr;
photo by Clem Murray/staff photographer

Invisible River, an arts event planned for this weekend along the Schuylkill River, will feature a flotilla of 65 dragon boats, kayaks, and canoes for ticketed spectators who will partake of performances by dancers on shore, in canoes, on paddleboards, and dangling from a bridge, said

It’s part environmental advocacy, part public art, and part wish fulfillment for participants like the event’s founder, Alie Vidich, who will, for the second year, undertake an aerial dance suspended from the span of Philadelphia’s Strawberry Mansion Bridge.

The goal is to bring a new constituency to the Schuylkill (the name means “hidden river”).

“The idea,” Vidich said, “is really to activate the Schuylkill in a way it’s not normally activated—to bring people onto the water . . . and use art to change their perspective and to get them interested in being stewards of the river.”

Musicians Mike Wall and Jon Yerby will set the soundtrack on a pontoon boat, performing on piano, trumpet, and guitar, as they accompany various elements of the performance: a community dance group, composed of women 23 to 70, on the edge of Peter’s Island; a floating sculptural installation by visual artist Polly Kurasch; and another installation of LED lights on the dragon boat dock.

The flotilla departs from 1233 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at 6:15pm Saturday and Sunday, returning between 8:30 and 9pm. Tickets are $25 and must be purchased in advance at, though the program is partially visible from places along the eastern shore (the rowing grandstand, Strawberry Mansion Bridge) for free.

To see the original story, visit



NYCB Soloist Justin Peck Becomes Company’s Resident Choreographer

Justin Peck; photo by Andrea Mohin/New York Times

Justin Peck; photo by Andrea Mohin/New York Times

New York City Ballet soloist Justin Peck has been appointed resident choreographer just two years after creating his first piece for the company, reported the New York Times.

Peck’s appointment, announced on Wednesday and effective immediately, makes him the second person to hold this position at NYCB, after Christopher Wheeldon, who was the company’s resident choreographer from 2001 to 2008.

The appointment requires Peck, who will continue to dance with NYCB, to create two ballets a year for the next three years. He will also be able to create ballets for other companies—upcoming premieres of his work are planned for Pacific Northwest Ballet in November and Miami City Ballet in March.

“I’m ecstatic,” Peck, 26, said in a telephone interview from Saratoga Springs where NYCB was preparing for a week of performances, including his most recent ballet, Everywhere We Go. “It has been a dream or goal of mine to have a more permanent place as a dance maker, and City Ballet is my ideal place and my home in the dance mecca of New York.”

Wheeldon and Alexei Ratmansky (who was offered the resident choreographer position at NYCB after Wheeldon left, but went to American Ballet Theatre as its artist in residence in 2009) are generally considered the major ballet choreographers of the last decade.

Peck’s work “perfectly captures the spirit and dynamic of today’s generation of dancers at City Ballet,” said Wheeldon by telephone from Paris. “They are extremely lucky to have him.”

To see the full story, visit



People Everywhere Urged to Get Up and Move on July 26’s National Dance Day


National_Dance_DayNational Dance Day events—all free and open to the public—will be held July 26 in Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, DC, as the Dizzy Feet Foundation continues its quest to encourage Americans of all ages to incorporate dance into their lives.

Three routines are now available online that NDD participants can learn and perform at either the official events or locally organized events. They include the official 2014 “Everybody Dance” beginner routine choreographed by SYTYCD’s Nigel Lythgoe to “To Cool to Dance” by Eden xo; an adapted “seated” version of the beginner routine; and an advanced routine choreographed by SYTYCD choreographer Chris Scott to “Get My Name,” by Dancing with the Stars’ Mark Ballas.

FOX TV announced that actress and classically trained dancer Jenna Elfman will host the Washington DC event, beginning at 4pm at Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. “Dance has helped me through my career, my personal life and in my life as an artist,” she said. “It is so liberating to use one’s body to communicate ideas and emotions . . . whether one is exactly trained in dance or not.”

So You Think You Can Dance break-out stars tWitch and Allison Holker will host the New York City event at Lincoln Center, also beginning at 4pm. The Los Angeles event will run from 10am to 3pm at Grand Park.

Lythgoe introduced the idea of a National Dance Day to the U.S. Congress in 2010. Occurring annually on the last Saturday in July, NDD has encouraged thousands of people of all ages from across the nation to participate in dance flash mobs and community dance events.

For videos of the three routines, visit  To see the original story, visit




Entire San Francisco Ballet Company In Paris For Festival Performances

San Francisco Ballet in Caprice;  photo by Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet in Caprice;
photo by Erik Tomasson

San Francisco Ballet is in Paris for an unprecedented 17-day engagement at the Théâtre du Châtelet, beginning on July 10, and is featured in the Les Etés de la Danse Festival, reported San Francisco Classical Voice.

The company program is varied and extensive, compressing virtually the entire home season into the festival days. The entire company—principals, soloists, corps de ballet—is participating. A notable homecoming is that of Mathilde Froustey, on extended leave from the Paris Opera Ballet; she will stay with SF Ballet at least through 2015.

Opening night is an exceptionally generous gala. The program: Renato Zanella’s Alles Walzer, Val Caniparoli’s No Other, the pas de deux from Kenneth MacMillan’s Concerto, Helgi Tomasson’s Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers, Yuri Possokhov’s Classical Symphony, the pas de deux from George Balanchine’s Agon, Johan Kobborg’s Les Lutins, Frederick Ashton’s Voices of Spring, the second movement pas de deux from Balanchine’s Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet, Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain, and the fourth movement and finale from Balanchine’s Symphony in C.

From the opening until the July 26 closing concert, SF Ballet will present some three dozen works.

Interesting tidbit: Théâtre du Châtelet was originally used for drama performances. Beginning in April 1876, the stage version of Jules Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, adapted by Verne and Adolphe d’Ennery, began a run spanning 64 years and 2,195 performances (not continuously), until the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940 closed the production permanently.

To see the original story, visit



Two High School Dancers Create Program to Share Love of Dance With Others

Just Dance creators Ashlee Schuh, 17, (left), and Kaitlyn Xavier, 16; photo by Mark Crosse/The Fresno Bee

Just Dance creators Ashlee Schuh, 17, (left), and Kaitlyn Xavier, 16; photo by Mark Crosse/The Fresno Bee

In a small storage room with no air conditioning at the Zimmerman Boys & Girls Club in central Fresno, California, a dozen youngsters in the Just Dance program must keep from banging into hockey equipment, boxes, and each other, but are having a blast learning how to dance.

The Modesto Bee said Just Dance was created last summer by San Joaquin Memorial High School and Fresno Dance Studio students Kaitlyn Xavier, 16, and Ashlee Schuh, 17. Every week, Xavier and Schuh take time between school and a rigorous rehearsal and performance schedule to teach children ages 6 to 12 basic dance moves.

“We wanted to share our passion for dance with little girls and boys that may not be able to afford to come to a dance studio,” Schuh said during the recent annual Fresno Dance Studio recital, where Just Dance children were guest performers.

The instructors sacrifice more than just time and energy to support Just Dance. Over the last year, they have sent out a barrage of emails asking for donations from friends, family, and teachers to help pay for costumes for performances. Schuh and Xavier spend their own money each week to provide the group with snacks.

Ralph Villarreal, grandfather of a Just Dance dancer, praised the program. “This is a great open door for these kids,” he said. “It’s an awesome experience for them.”

To see the full story, visit



Wheelchair Dance Contestants Secure Spots in Asia Paralympic Games

International wheelchair dancing competition; photo courtesy

International wheelchair dancing competition;
photo courtesy

Winners of a global wheelchair dancing competition held in Beijing have secured a spot at the Asia Paralympic Games, which will be held this October in Incheon, Republic of Korea. It will be the first time wheelchair dance is included as an official sport at the games, said.

Among the 116 contestants from eight countries in Beijing, the oldest was an 85-year-old Japanese woman whose passionate movements won much applause.

Competitor Shi Ke, 55, from China, said she learned about wheelchair dancing during the 2008 Paralympic Games and soon fell in love with it. “Wheelchair dance has not only improved my health, but also brought me a lot of friends. Our dance partners are all healthy people. They volunteer to teach and dance with us,” she said.

Wheelchair dance requires good upper body strength, which poses a challenge for aging contestants such as Shi. She has calluses all over her hands, but she is happy when dancing on her wheels. “The wheels are like my wings that help me realize my dreams and fly me to a bigger stage,” she said.

To see a video report on the competition, visit



Dancers, Fans, Ready to Wish ABT a Happy 75th Anniversary

Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes celebrate ABT’s 75th anniversary; photo by Gene Schiavone

Gillian Murphy and Marcelo Gomes celebrate ABT’s 75th anniversary; photo by Gene Schiavone

American Ballet Theatre’s upcoming 75th anniversary celebration will feature works by choreographers most closely associated with ABT, including Agnes de Mille, Antony Tudor, Michel Fokine, Frederick Ashton, Léonide Massine, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and Alexei Ratmansky.

These works, such as Tudor’s Jardin aux Lilas and Robbins’ Fancy Free, will serve to showcase the company’s wide-ranging style, historic legacy, and continuing innovation. Special anniversary events commemorating the company’s history will be outlined in upcoming announcements.

ABT’s fall season at New York City’s David H. Koch Theater, set for October 22 to November 2, will include a world premiere by Liam Scarlett, and a new production of Raymonda Divertissements, staged by Kevin McKenzie and Irina Kolpakova after Marius Petipa.

ABT principal dancers include Isabella Boylston, Paloma Herrera, Julie Kent, Gillian Murphy, Veronika Part, Xiomara Reyes, Hee Seo, Herman Cornejo, Marcelo Gomes, David Hallberg, Daniil Simkin, Cory Stearns, and James Whiteside.

Fall season tickets, priced from $20, go on sale July 14 at, the Koch box office, or at 212.496.0600.



Dance All Day—For Free!—on July 26, Philadelphia Dance Day

Philly Dance Fitness; photo courtesy Facebook

Philly Dance Fitness; photo courtesy Facebook

Philadelphia Dance Day, a nonprofit festival featuring free workshops, live performances, and a huge evening dance party, will be held July 26.

Philly Dance Fitness, an independent company based in Center City, first organized this event three years ago to celebrate National Dance Day. Organizers seek to unite the Philly community as they celebrate dance both as a platform for creative expression and as a joyful, physical activity.

More than 300 people participated in the 2013 celebration, and with the addition of more participating organizations and more volunteers, an even bigger turnout is expected this year.

There is no pre-registration, and no limit to the number of workshops participants can attend. Workshops are filled on a first come, first served basis. All daytime workshops are free. (There is a $5 entrance fee for the evening dance party and other events at the historical Ethical Society Building on Rittenhouse Square.)

Locations and offerings include:
• Headlong Studios: power jam stretch, impact jazz, Indonesian dance, hip-hop, striptease, dance party boot camp
• Major Movement Studio: Tap Tonic, Piloxing (Pilates and boxing), modern fitness, JazzTech, BalletEXTREME, Bhangra Blast, tango
• Philadelphia Dance Academy: adult beginner ballet and advanced beginner adult tap
• Studio 1831: belly dance
• Christian Street YMCA: Zumba Sentao, Body Jam, Sh’Bam, hip-hop master class
• Art in Motion Dance Academy: Bachata
• The Ethical Society of Philadelphia; cardio bellydance, Zumba party, lindy hop, rumba, salsa

To see the full schedule, visit



Early Proponent of Modern Dance in Seattle, Martha Nishitani, Dies at Age 94

Martha Nishitani in 1952; photo by The Seattle Times

Martha Nishitani in 1952;
photo by The Seattle Times

Martha Nishitani, a champion of modern dance in Seattle, died at 94 on June 5, reported the Seattle Times.

For decades her Martha Nishitani Modern Dance School was a home for aspiring dancers of every age. Her own dance troupe, Martha Nishitani Dance Company, toured the region extensively and was the only modern-dance company in Seattle in the early 1950s.

Some of her students went on to professional careers, including James Howell (Joffrey Ballet), Sandra Neels (Merce Cunningham Dance Company), and Jennifer Thienes (Mark Morris Dance Group). Touring dance troupes, including the Joffrey and Cunningham companies, made use of her studio, as did Pacific Northwest Ballet in its earliest days.

“A chance to enlighten people about modern dance is the most satisfying thing that I’ve experienced,” she told Sara Yamasaki in a 1998 interview for Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project.

Nishitani was born February 27, 1920, the ninth of 10 children. She caught the dance bug at age 6, when she saw a vaudeville dance act. Her education at the University of Washington was interrupted by World War II when she and her family were interned at Camp Minidoka in Idaho.

She returned to Seattle in 1946 and established her own dance troupe in 1951. By 1959, she was being described in this newspaper as “Seattle’s foremost exponent of modern dance.” From 1954 to 2002, she ran her dance school on University Way Northeast (now home to Open Flight Studio). She also taught in local public schools, Helen Bush School, and for the Seattle Parks Department.

She joined University of Washington Opera Theater in 1955, choreographing all its productions for the next 10 years. Nishitani was honored as a Woman of Achievement by the Seattle chapter of Theta Sigma Phi in 1968, and as an Asian American Living Treasure by the Northwest Asian American Theatre in 1984.

To read the full story, visit



Lyons, Kelly, Latest Inductees Into International Tap Dance Hall of Fame

Carnell Lyons; photo courtesy American Tap Dance Foundation

Carnell Lyons; photo courtesy American Tap Dance Foundation

Hollywood icon Gene Kelly and Carnell Lyons (“Mr. Magic Feet”) will be inducted into the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts tonight as part of the American Tap Dance Foundation’s annual Tap City festival, announced

Lyons (1917–1992), along with the acrobatic duo of Jesse Franklin and James Hawthorne, climbed to the heights of show business in the ‘50s, appearing with Kate Smith, Jackie Gleason, and Milton Berle on TV, and as one of the few black acts that played Las Vegas (El Rancho) and Radio City Music Hall (May 23, 1953) in that era. Lyons later performed extensively in Europe and the Far East, and, according to his American Tap Dance Foundation bio, was responsible for bringing rhythm tap to Europe through his late-in-life teaching career.

Tony Waag, Tap City’s director, says that Kelly (1912–96) continues to inspire male dancers who identify with his athleticism. “He represented—similar to Gregory Hines—a very masculine, positive image for tap dance,” Waag says.

The festival also features two evening tap-centered events this week at NYC’s Symphony Space: on Wednesday, Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, will offer up insight and film clips during “Gene Kelly: The Legacy.” On Thursday, an international cast of hoofers will perform in “Tap and Song.” For more information on both shows, visit

Tap City concludes on July 12 with a free public celebration featuring 150 dancers in historic Foley Square.

For more information on the International Tap Dance Hall of Fame, visit

To see the original story, visit



Illustrated Documentary to Tell Story of African American Ballerina Janet Collins

Janet Collins; photo courtesy Sweet Blackberry

Janet Collins; photo courtesy Sweet Blackberry

Former Fresh Prince of Bel Air star Karyn Parsons—whose production company, Sweet Blackberry, creates animated documentaries for kids that tell the stories of unsung African American heroes—has enlisted the support of Hollywood power players like Chris Rock, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and various Fresh Prince cast members to help share the story of African American ballerina Janet Collins.

The Calgary Herald said that Collins auditioned for and was accepted into Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1932, but turned down the offer when the ballet insisted she dance in white face. ”I said no,” Collins told Anna Kisselgoff in a 1974 interview in the New York Times. ”I sat on the steps and I cried and cried.”

Collins went on to dance in films such as Stormy Weather (1943), tour in a nightclub act, teach dance, and present her own choreography at New York City’s 92nd Street Y. In 1951, Collins became a principal dancer at the Metropolitan Opera, performing in Aida, Carmen, and other productions.

Collins paved the way for dancers such as Geoffrey Holder and current American Ballet Theatre dancer Misty Copeland. “What she did by dancing the way she did,” Holder said, “to be a prima ballerina at the Metropolitan Opera House, gave everybody hope.”

Chris Rock, a dad of two young girls, has agreed to narrate the film, which will be drawn by New Yorker and New York Times illustrator R. Gregory Christie, and animated by Pixel Pirate Studio. Sweet Blackberry has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000 to finance production of the film.

To see the full story, visit



Free Ballroom Dance Classes Aim to Assist Alzheimer’s Sufferers with Symptoms

Volunteers and caregivers dance with seniors; photo by Sarah Wilson

Volunteers and caregivers dance with seniors;
photo by Sarah Wilson

The Alzheimer’s Association Central and North Florida Chapter will hold free ballroom dance classes for those diagnosed with dementia and their caregivers every Saturday in July from 2 to 3pm at the Crosby Center YMCA in Winter Park, reported the Winter Park/Maitland Observer.

Danny Anez, associate director of programs for the Alzheimer’s Association Central and North Florida Chapter, said while there is no “100 percent proven method for slowing progression or prevention” of Alzheimer’s, keeping both the mind and body active is important for all seniors.

“Ballroom dancing has the unique ability to stimulate the brain in new and novel ways, as well as physically working on things like balance—which is a huge issue when it comes to senior populations,” he said.

According to statistics collected by the Alzheimer’s Association, more than 5 million Americans are living with dementia, and every 67 seconds another person develops Alzheimer’s. Experts estimate that by the year 2050, 16 million people will have the disease.

The symptoms of dementia—memory loss and decreased problem-solving and reasoning skills—are incredibly disruptive to daily life for the individual. John Davis, president of the Orlando chapter of USA Dance, hopes those who come to the dance program create a stronger bond with their caregiver, have fun, and perhaps reminisce about happier times.

“Some of the things that happen when you start with cognitive deterioration is that it does lead to a certain isolation and loneliness, and certainly ballroom dancing with a partner will help them to channel communication on a social level and on a physical level,” he said.

Volunteer partners are available, and RSVP is required at 800.272.3900. To read the full story, visit



AileyCamp Teaches Middle-Schoolers Dance While Building Self-Esteem

AileyCamp national director Nasha Thomas-Schmitt; photo by Belinda Lawley

AileyCamp national director Nasha Thomas-Schmitt;
photo by Belinda Lawley

AileyCamp, named in honor of the late Alvin Ailey, a choreographer and activist who founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in New York City, is part dance camp and part road map for the tricky terrain of the middle-school years.

The camp was founded in 1989, the year of the death of Ailey, who promoted opportunities for African American dancers. About 900 children will participate in nine camps nationwide this summer, including in Kansas City, Miami, and Berkeley, California.

The Baltimore Sun said the roughly 50 children age 11 to 14 who participated in the camp this summer at Towson University were interviewed before being selected, with organizers looking for children from underserved populations of Baltimore who needed help with their self-esteem and who could benefit from learning creative expression.

Nasha Thomas-Schmitt, the national director of AileyCamp, said many of the students are seeking support. “They’re looking for someone to identify with,” Thomas-Schmitt said.

The Baltimore camp, which ran from June 19 to July 3, started this year as a pilot, with Towson University donating space in its Center for the Arts. Next year, organizers hope to double the number of campers and by 2016 expand the session to six weeks.

The children work with professional dancers on modern, ballet, jazz, and West African dance and take classes in “creative communication” using poetry, art, and journalism. They get counseling in nutrition, drug and alcohol abuse prevention, and in how to develop social and conflict resolution skills. The children also were provided with breakfast, lunch, and a snack, as well as tights, leotards, ballet shoes, backpacks, and other items.

To read the full story, visit,0,5817488.story.



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