Romeo and Juliet was the first professional production Nicolas Petrov saw as a student in Yugoslavia. Later, as the founding artistic director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, he created the first American production in 1971. Now the revival of that same full-length ballet at Point Park University will mark his final bow in a 67-year career in dance.
“That’s a lot of pliés,” he quipped dryly to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
One day after World War II in a small Yugoslavian town, representatives from the ballet showed up at his public school to audition potential students. “Ballet? What is ballet?” he thought.
Among the benefits for dancers was special VIP food and a two-week paid vacation, so he set about studying the art of ballet at age 12 in Novi Sad.
While dancing with the National Theatre in Belgrade, French choreographer Janine Charrat saw him and invited him to Paris where he took classes at Olga Preobrajenska’s famed studio and met choreographer Leonide Massine and fellow Yugoslavian Frano Jelincic. Later, Jelincic enticed him to come to Pittsburgh, first for a job at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and eventually at Point Park College.
His Romeo and Juliet was the first American production, an original full-length ballet culled from his own memories. He would go on to bring historic figures to fertilize his fledgling group, including teachers Edward Caton and Vitale Fokine, dancers Edward Villella, Violette Verdy, and Frederic Franklin, and mentor Leonide Massine. Eventually, Petrov would create 10 full-length ballets and more than 50 shorter works, some at Point Park, others in professional groups such as American Dance Ensemble and Ballet Petrov, which he formed in association with the college.
Romeo and Juliet runs through Sunday at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. To read the full story, visit http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/theater-dance/2013/12/09/Final-steps-in-67-years-of-dance/stories/201312090026.
Dancers have until March 30, 2014 to submit applications for the first annual international Contemporary Dance and Choreography Competition, which will be held April 28 and 29 at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway, New York City.
The competition is produced by former Bolshoi ballerina Valentina Kozlova, creator of the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition.
For the new contemporary competition, competition divisions include solos (two pieces), duets, and groups, and pieces may be entered as competing dancers and/or competing choreographers. Dancers may perform either barefoot or in soft shoes. Unlike the ballet competition, there is no age restriction.
Prizes include scholarships for summer intensives with The Ailey School, Peridance Capezio Center, and the Juilliard dance division, plus a choreography workshop at an international location. The judging panel will be headed by Bolshoi Ballet star Andris Liepa.
For information or the application, visit www.vkibc.org or call 212.245.0050.
When Dick Van Dyke got the role of Bert in the 1964 movie musical Mary Poppins, Walt Disney asked him if he had a recommendation for a choreographer. Van Dyke recalled working with the team of Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood, who had created a number for the Jack Benny television show.
“I’m not really a dancer,” Van Dyke said. “I could move a little and I was what you call an eccentric dancer—loose-limbed and light on my feet. But they took what I could do and made the most of it. I was just thrilled.”
Disney took his recommendation and the married duo created one of the best-known live-action dances in the history of the studio—the chimney sweep number to the song “Step In Time.” According to the Los Angeles Times, Breaux, 89, a Broadway dancer who had trained with Doris Humphrey and Charles Weidman, died November 19 in Mesa, Arizona, in an assisted-living facility where he had been in frail condition, said his son, Michael.
Mary Poppins also led them to work on the 1965 film version of The Sound of Music. Working with performers who were not primarily dancers became a Breaux and Wood hallmark. In the 1970s—during the time variety shows were popular on television — they created dances for more than 200 TV episodes.
To read the full obituary, visit http://www.latimes.com/obituaries/la-me-marc-breaux-20131122,0,196559.story#ixzz2lOiPIUf4.
The extraordinary legacy of Anna Sokolow, one of the premiere modern dance choreographers of the 20th century, will be honored in a new production, Anna Sokolow Way, December 4 to 8, at the Theater at the 14th Street Y in New York City, reported The Huffington Post.
Conceived and directed by Jim May, Sokolow Ensemble’s founder, artistic director, and former dancer, Anna Sokolow Way will include new choreography, rare video, live performance, and narrative script, along with highlights from Sokolow master works, Dreams, Rooms, From the Diaries of Franz Kafka, Opus 65, and Magritte, Magritte.
From the Horse’s Mouth, the acclaimed dance/narrative series co-directed by Tina Croll and Jamie Cunningham, will present its unique blend of movement, storytelling, and supportive visual imagery to bring Sokolow vividly to life by tapping into the personal experiences of dancers, actors, critics, and musicians who worked with Sokolow over the course of her 60-year career in dance.
To see a From the Horse’s Mouth video segment on Sokolow, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7uyqQzhxDo.
Sokolow choreographed for Broadway (Street Scene, Camino Real, Candide, and the original Hair). She taught at New York’s Clark Center, at The Juilliard School in the dance and drama divisions, at HB Studio, the Actor’s Studio, and the American Theater Wing. Her work is in the repertories of the Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and others. She helped influence Israeli dance and had a lifelong association with the dance and theater arts in Mexico, and returned to both countries frequently as teacher and choreographer.
To read the full story, visit http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adria-rolnik/anna-sokolow-way-honors-l_b_4234416.html.
Applications are now being accepted for more than $38,000 in scholarships to be awarded through Catch A Rising Star: The 2014 Dance Council of North Texas Scholarships.
Over the past eight years, DCNT has awarded scholarships totaling $244,000 to outstanding dancers from ages 13 through graduate school. There is no residency requirement. DCNT scholarship recipients receive funding, tuition waivers, or both to attend prestigious summer intensives and workshops that encompass every dance style.
Recipients have attended nationally renowned summer programs such as School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet (Seattle), Kirov Ballet, Alvin Ailey (NYC), Jacob’s Pillow, American Dance Festival, Miami City Ballet, the Arathi School (to study bharata natyam), to attend technique and choreographer intensives, dance critique studies, among other programs.
Teachers have been awarded scholarships for continuing education programs with American Dance Festival, Debbie Allen Dance (LA), Third Coast Rhythm Project (San Antonio, Texas), and the Katherine Dunham Workshop. Choreographers have attended the Glenda Brown Choreography Project in Kansas City, Missouri. The Margaret Putnam Dance Writers Scholarship provides funding to attend a dance writers’ workshop.
Deadline to submit application is midnight on Saturday, February 9, 2014. Recipient notification is March 15, 2014. Apply at www.dancecouncilscholarships.org.
What’s up in the dance community
This Follies Defied the Odds—and Gravity
It could have been “folly,” indeed. The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a Southern California troupe that produces lavish variety shows starring shapely showgirls and Rockettes-worthy dancers, opened in 1992 to doubts and derision. For beneath all those feathers and sequins was a cast that ranged in age from their mid-50s to mid-80s. “Who wants to pay to see old ladies’ legs?” one reporter was heard to say.
But age provided no obstacle to audiences, who showed up at the circa-1936 Plaza Theatre in droves; kept the show running five days a week, 11 months a year, for more than two decades; and contributed to a tourism boom that revitalized the sagging Palm Springs downtown. On November 1 the show will open its 23rd and final season with The Last Hurrah! Like all Follies shows, this revue pays tribute to the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s “golden age” of the stage, with burlesque-style comedy acts and Broadway-big production numbers.
“It has been an amazing, wonderful ride,” said Follies producer and co-founder Riff Markowitz, who, as master of ceremonies, hasn’t missed a single show. “It’s hard for me to believe that sometime during the coming season we will seat our three-millionth audience member.”
The curtain closes May 18, 2014. Visit psfollies.com for details.
Ticket to Ride: SF Trolley Dances
Public transportation is great for getting from here to there. Or, if you’re in San Francisco this October, you can get where you’re going and see great dance at the same time.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of San Francisco Trolley Dances, founded by Kim Epifano, artistic director of Epiphany Productions, a dance-theater company that produces large-scale, multidisciplinary, collaborative performances around the world.
Riders hop aboard at the Market Street Railway Museum and ride for as long or as little as they like through San Francisco’s famous Market Street area. At stops along the track, a variety of Bay Area dance companies use the picturesque streets, sidewalks, train stations, and other sites as three-dimensional performance spaces.
Riders must purchase a MUNI ticket ($2 general, 75 cents students and seniors); anyone who happens along on foot or bicycle can enjoy the dance for free. Trolley Dances tours will set out six times each day, October 19 and 20. Check it out at epiphanydance.org.
NYC Ponders Why Dance Matters
“My name is Sara Mearns,” says the New York City Ballet principal in a video clip. “I’m a New Yorker for dance because it allows dreams to come true for boys and girls from all around the world that make dance their communication and their expression. I’m a living example of that.”
Short, strong, to the point. This web campaign from the nonprofit service organization Dance/NYC features roughly 30-second snippets about why dance matters from artists, dancers, and fans such as Bolshoi and ABT star David Hallberg, innovative choreographer Elizabeth Streb, and Staten Island studio owner Luanne Sorrentino. Some talk about dance’s power or its ability to inspire; others why they love it. (“Legs,” says designer Isaac Mizrahi with a saucy smirk.)
Launched in June, new videos from famous faces will be added periodically. Why does dance matter to you? Share your thoughts @DanceNYC #newyorkersfordance.
Joffrey Seeks Choreographers of Diversity
Three promising young choreographers will win the opportunity of a lifetime through Joffrey Ballet’s fourth annual Choreographers of Color Award. The program seeks young artists with a “diverse perspective” who will create original works on Joffrey Academy of Dance trainees, then present the pieces at Chicago’s Harris Theater for Music and Dance on March 1, 2014.
Aside from encouraging young choreographic talent, the program provides a challenge for the Joffrey trainees. In a YouTube video, one of last year’s winners, William B. McClellan Jr., described his style as a fusion of jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, African, samba, capoeira—“a melting pot of forms”—and a way for the ballet students to “think about movement differently.”
Have a last-minute application? The deadline is September 2 at joffrey.org/cofc. Tickets to the March 1 choreography showcase go on sale in January.
Joan Myers Brown Wins National Medal of the Arts
Since 1960, when she opened the doors of her Philadelphia School of Dance Arts—thereby allowing previously excluded African American students the opportunity for formal training—Joan Myers Brown has been a force in dance and dance education. A dancer and choreographer, Brown founded The Philadelphia Dance Company in 1970 to provide professional opportunities for minority dancers. Dubbed Philadanco, the contemporary company became known as one of the finest in the land.
For her tireless efforts championing the cause of African Americans in dance in Philly and around the world, President Barack Obama recognized Brown with a National Medal of the Arts at the White House on July 10.
Justin Allen, Stefanie Batten Bland, and Norbert De La Cruz III are the winners of the Joffrey Academy of Dance’s third annual Choreographers of Color Award.
The Choreographers of Color Award was created by the Joffrey Academy, the official school of the Joffrey Ballet, to recognize promising young minority choreographers whose diverse perspective will ignite creativity in the field of dance. Each of the three selected choreographers will set a new work on the Joffrey Academy trainees, receive a $2,500 stipend, and have the opportunity to work with Joffrey Academy artistic directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.
The three world premieres will be presented in Winning Works: Choreographers of Color Awards 2014, March 1, 7pm, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 E. Randolph Drive, Chicago.
Stefanie Batten Bland, from New York, was recognized as a 2010-12 Baryshnikov Arts Center artist in residence, has danced for Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and others, and created Company Stefanie Batten Bland in 2008 in France so that she might better investigate the human condition and its relationship within the natural world.
Justin Allen was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and was trained at the Baltimore School for the Arts, The Rock School for Dance Education, and the Miami City Ballet School, among others. In 2009, he joined Ballet Theatre of Maryland where he performed as a soloist, and in 2010 he became a full-time faculty member and a choreographer at The Rock School.
Norbert De La Cruz III was born in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines, and raised in Los Angeles, California. Cruz graduated from The Juilliard School in 2010 with a BFA in dance, and has balanced a career as a professional dancer, photographer, and emerging choreographer.
Tickets will be available as of January 13, 2014 at www.harristheaterchicago.org.
The dancer-choreographer Kyle Abraham, who recalled relying on food stamps just three years ago, was among the 13 men and 11 women officially named MacArthur fellows on Wednesday, reported The New York Times. Alexei Ratmanski, 45, choreographer and artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre, was also a recipient.
Besides the imprimatur of achievement and future promise, the 2013 fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation come with a sweetened stipend of $625,000 paid over five years.
It was amazing to me,” Abraham, 36, said of receiving the good news via a recent telephone call from Cecilia Conrad, vice president of the program. “It was a shock. I was laughing about it; I was crying about it, it was so overwhelming. I’ve been trying to figure out how to pay off my student loans to this day.”
A Pittsburgh native whose latest work, Pavement, uses dance to probe violence, Abraham lives in Brooklyn and is the founder and artistic director of his company, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion. “Getting an award like this lets me know I can continue to make work and pay my dancers and I can pay my rent.”
To see the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/25/arts/macarthur-genius-award-winners-named.html?_r=0.
The North Carolina Dance Alliance (NCDA) will hold its annual event on October 12 and 13 with more than 30 different classes in multiple dance forms, scholarship auditions, the annual NCDA Choreographers Showcase and Annual Award Presentation, and an adjudicated performance featuring works by North Carolina dance students.
Avis Hatcher-Puzzo of Fayetteville, assistant professor of dance at Fayetteville State University, will receive the Annual Award, which honors an individual who has made significant lifetime contributions to the growth and development of dance in North Carolina. The 2013 NCDA Choreography Fellowship will go to Sherone Price of Boone, assistant professor of dance at Appalachian State University. Price will receive a stipend of up to $1,000 to cover the cost of a new work.
The NCDA Choreographers Showcase will be held October 12 at 8pm, with the Youth and College Performance Showcase on October 13 at 5pm. The event will be held the Durham [NC] School of the Arts. Information and registration is available at www.ncdancealliance.org.
Houston native Patsy Swayze, the late actor Patrick Swayze’s mother, died Monday night after suffering a stroke earlier this month, reported KHOU. She was 86.
The longtime dance instructor and choreographer passed away just two days after the anniversary of her son’s 2009 death. Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer at age 57.
Patsy Swayze was best-known for choreographing movies like Urban Cowboy and Hope Floats. She taught dance in Houston for several years before moving to Simi Valley, California, and opening a dance studio there.
Former students remembered her fondly Tuesday for her passion for dance—and for them.
“She would give. She would stay at the studio till 9:30, 10 o’clock if somebody needed her,” said Krissy Richmond, Kinkaid Dance School director. “She loved what she did. She has always treated her students like they were her own kids.”
To see the full report, visit http://www.khou.com/community/Longtime-Houston-dance-instructor-choreographer-Patsy-Swayze-dies-at-86-224134561.html.
Legendary choreographer Bill T. Jones will be the honored guest for the first-ever Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center Mitchell Artist Lecture on September 12 at the Moores Opera House, University of Houston.
A public reception will begin at 6pm with the lecture at 7pm. Admission is free.
A Kennedy Center Honors–award winner, Jones has choreographed more than 45 works for his own company, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, and won Tony Awards for his recent ventures into Broadway theater as co-creator of FELA! and choreographer of Spring Awakening. Jones has also choreographed pieces for major companies such as the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Boston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Lyon Opera Ballet, and others.
In his Mitchell Lecture, Jones will discuss his significant legacy of interdisciplinary collaboration over the course of his career, including artistic partnerships with Louise Nevelson, Kiki Smith, Toni Morrison, Jessye Norman, Keith Haring, and dozens of others.
The annual Mitchell Artist Lecture will feature individuals emblematic of artistic collaboration and innovation.
For more information, visit http://www.mitchellcenterforarts.org/events/recent/mitchell-artist-lecture-featuring-bill-t-jones/?utm_source=Mitchell%20Center&utm_campaign=c361c20758-September%2012%3A%20Bill%20T.%20Jones&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_bf722ee827-c361c20758-129712342.
Eight choreographers chosen from a field of 152 contestants will show their work during the Celebrity 2013 CREATE Competition, set for September 14 at the Renaissance Hotel Glendale, Arizona.
The eight finalists are: Matthew Delly, Melissa Farrar, Jennifer Forst, Madi Jean Ballester, Larisa Perez, Katie Taylor, Dana Metz, and Chris Thomas.
Special guests in attendance at the event will include Ade Obayomi and Daniel Baker from So You Think You Can Dance; Chaz Buzan, a dancer for Madonna; Talia Favia, Celebrity 2012 CREATE winner; Josh Scribner from Cirque Du Soleil; Chelsea Thedinga from Shaping Sound Dance Company; and Brian Friedman from The X Factor.
The grand prize–winner will take home $2,500, a gift prize from Capezio, and the title of Celebrity CREATE Champion. “Celebrity Dance Competitions is very proud to promote the art of choreography and is thrilled for the live show,” Celebrity director Drew Phillip said. Tickets will be available at http://www.dancecelebrity.com/ the first week of September.
For this year’s holiday issue, we decided to take a cue from TV’s popular cooking show Top Chef, in which chefs concoct an innovative dish using specified ingredients or limitations. For our version of this challenge, we gave five choreographers a list of dance and theatrical ingredients to use in cooking up a holiday spectacle.
The required ingredients were: ballet, jazz, hip-hop, and modern dance; homemade scenery, use of props, and costumes of a non-clothing nature; one traditional Christmas carol, one nontraditional version of a holiday song, one spoken-word element, music played live onstage, and use of nontraditional instruments; one character, musical excerpt, or setting from Nutcracker; a fruit, an endangered animal, a piece performed by people other than students, one unthinkably expensive element that would be out of the question in real life, and two of three major holidays: Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa.
Five imaginations went to work to create five memorable holiday shows. Let us know your favorites!
Favorite Things, Holiday Style
By Julie Holt Lucia
My holiday show will begin with the sounds of a light thunderstorm filling the theater—a patter of rain and rolling thunder more intriguing than ominous. The curtain will slowly rise during the thunderstorm to reveal a warm and inviting living room scene, complete with two large windows positioned upstage right and upstage left, as well as armchairs with fluffy cushions and a huge faux fire crackling in a fireplace upstage center. On each side of the fireplace will be an opulent Christmas tree, adorned with glittering red, green, and gold ornaments, gold tinsel, and a gold star on top.
When the curtain is up, the thunderstorm quiets. A teenage dancer, barefoot and dressed in a simple white dress with a blue satin sash, walks from the wings to a downstage center microphone, and with a smile, recites the lyrics to “My Favorite Things.”
Kindergarten dancers in kitten costumes (complete with makeup whiskers) dance to “The Christmas Kitten” by Dickie Bird, eliciting giggles from the audience.
As the dancer leaves the stage, a string quartet enters and takes its place downstage right, and the words “Raindrops on roses” are projected onto the cyc. A group of beginning and intermediate ballet students, each holding a red rose and outfitted in a swirly red chiffon ballet dress, enters accompanied by a group of Raindrops (advanced ballet students wearing pale blue tutus). After their places have been taken, the musicians begin to play “Winter” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. At various times throughout the dance, each rose dancer hands off her red rose to a raindrop dancer.
After the ballet dancers and string quartet exit, “Whiskers on kittens” appears on the cyc and the next group enters: kindergarten dancers in kitten costumes (complete with makeup whiskers), sneaking onto the stage with tiny bourrées. They perform a creative-movement–based dance to “The Christmas Kitten” by Dickie Bird, eliciting giggles from the audience with their pas de chats and leaps.
The lights dim as the kittens skitter offstage, and colorful side- and footlights begin pulsing. A remixed version of RuPaul’s “Funky Christmas” starts to play and the words “Brown paper packages tied up with string” appear as all levels of hip-hop dancers, outfitted in pants, skirts, and tops made of brown craft paper and string, groove their way onstage. The dancers move with partners up and down the width of the stage and in circles, mimicking the party scene patterns in The Nutcracker. The stage lights continue flashing and blinking, giving the paper costumes a lit-up Christmas-tree glow as the dancers move into a tree-like formation for their final poses.
After intermission the curtain rises to reveal a snowy wonderland. The words “Silver white winters” appear on the cyc, fading to a frosty silver-blue, and a row of glittering snow-flocked Christmas trees line the upstage area. The string quartet returns to its place and begins to play Yo-Yo Ma’s version of “Dona Nobis Pacem.” At the same time, the dancer who began the show with the reading reappears on a trapeze, swinging above the stage, a gentle sway to complement the strings. The words “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes” appear, and after four measures of music, a group of advanced modern dancers, dressed in white dresses with blue satin sashes, bend and curve their way into swirling snowlike patterns. The trapeze dancer swings offstage and then reenters, joining the dancers. When the piece is over, the dancers bring the string quartet members to center stage for recognition.
The words “Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes” appear as beginning and intermediate jazz dancers roll out three large faux snowballs, each constructed of chicken wire and cotton batting and designed to fit together. They take their places as Ray Conniff’s version of “Frosty the Snowman” fills the air. Jazz steps alternate with pantomime as the dancers put Frosty together, adding his accessories one at a time. (The props are hidden inside the bottom snowball.) When one dancer mistakenly gives Frosty a banana for a nose instead of a carrot, another dancer has to correct her and the audience gets a good laugh.
For the final routine, the music is Julie Andrews’ iconic version of “My Favorite Things.” A group of dancers from each of the previous pieces joins the dance, revealing all the elements of the song that were used in the show.
But suddenly there’s an interruption! Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee” breaks through “My Favorite Things” and the dancers’ dads bumble out of the wings in black-and-yellow stripes, buzzing a chaotic path through the dancers. Among the bees is a dancing dad dressed as a Mexican long-nosed bat. The music screeches to a halt as the dancer who did the reading approaches the bat, throws her hands up in the air, and shouts, “Bees, Dad! Bees, not bats!”
The bat shrugs and exits, followed quickly by the bees. The audience applauds as “My Favorite Things” resumes, closing the show with all the dancers onstage together, hands clasped, for a final bow.
The Horrible Holidays
By Larry Sousa
Lights up on Sam the Snowman, the iconic storyteller from the 1964 TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Played by a studio dad, the snowman is dressed exactly as the famous character: green plaid vest, bowler hat, black ribbon tie, with a white goatee.
Sam welcomes the audience with a folksy speech about holiday traditions. “I’m a tradition too,” he says. “You can’t go a year without seeing me on TV. And in that spirit, here’s a story.” Revealing an oversized book, he reads: “Why I Hate the Holidays: A Celebration of the Most Annoying Traditions We Endure Year After Year.” Quick blackout. Sam returns throughout the evening to introduce each new Annoying Tradition.
In a voice-over, a cacophony of pitchmen hawk Black Friday deals. An oversized digital clock reads “11:59pm.” A spotlight reveals department store doors upstage center with dancers behind them, squishing their faces against the glass.
Midnight strikes and the doors fly open. Desperate shoppers (played by the senior hip-hop class) dance to a frantic remix of “12 Days to Christmas” from the Broadway musical She Loves Me. Merchandise rolls by—homemade, oversized props such as doll houses, teddy bears, and TVs—and gets danced on, or with, or worn as costumes (yes, dancing cell phones and perfume bottles). Fistfuls of money are thrown about like snow. As two moms fight over the one remaining toy, a tiny dancer sneaks in and grabs it. The brawl clears.
The stage is a mess. Junior-level tappers dressed as janitors perform a “clean up” dance to “Hard Times for an Elf” by Robot Holiday, and then a vintage switchboard rolls on. The operator, his back to the audience, plugs and unplugs cables while repeating, “ACME Widget Company. Yes, I’ll connect you” into his headset. Then: “It’s time? It’s time!”
Midnight strikes and the doors fly open. Desperate shoppers dance to a frantic remix of “12 Days to Christmas” from the Broadway musical She Loves Me.
The operator turns to the audience. It is Sam, who says, “It’s time for our next tradition: The Dreaded Office Party!” The switchboard and Sam roll offstage.
The Broadway song “Turkey Lurkey Time” from Promises, Promises plays as dancers in business attire enter—interns, secretaries, computer geeks, and The Boss— along with office furniture. They begin a jazz dance with a ’60s feel, which evolves into a contemporary style as the song morphs into a funky extended remix of itself.
Sam reappears, still looking like a switchboard operator: “It’s time for Secret Santa!” Groans. Gifts are exchanged, the last being the ugliest Christmas sweater ever. Sam puts it on. Drumroll. The office disappears and a 10-foot-tall gift with a bow on top appears downstage left.
The front of the present opens, revealing a studio mom wearing a sweater even uglier than Sam’s. They see each other. Angels sing. It’s love—but not so fast. One by one, moms enter through the large gift, wearing stunningly ugly sweaters. The moms flirt with Sam as they do a sultry jazz dance to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” by Eartha Kitt and Louis Armstrong.
A mid-stage curtain rises, revealing a chorus of handbell players. Junior-level dancers perform a modern piece to “Carol of the Bells,” accompanied by the handbell musicians. Sam reappears as Scrooge and bellows, “Bah, humbug!” A Rockette-like line of dads, all dressed as Scrooge, enters. The junior dancers watch the dads perform a pouty, hilarious character dance to No Doubt’s funky-punky “Oi to the World.”
As the junior dancers join their Scrooge dads, Sam introduces the next tradition: The Awkward Family Gathering. The stage transforms into an open space with a kitchen, dining room, and living room. A dad parks himself in a recliner at center stage. As he nods off, his boisterous family enters—unruly kids, crazy aunts and uncles, cantankerous grandparents, and one completely stressed-out mom, all played by student dancers.
As Alvin and the Chipmunks’ “Here We Come a-Caroling (The Wassail Song)” plays, pools of light reveal kids eating cookies, mom and aunts chatting over coffee, and grandparents playing cards. The song speeds up and the dance scenes become comic: the kids have a food fight, mom and the aunts enter full gossip mode, and Grandpa spikes his eggnog while Granny peeks at his cards. Dad wakes up and clicks an oversized remote control, desperately seeking escape. He shouts, “Yay! A football game!” and the dancing freezes.
Sam returns and announces, “Our next tradition: Holiday Specials Ruining Your TV Schedule! We interrupt this football game to bring you the ultimate holiday treat: a six-hour ballet about sugar plums and stuff.”
Distraught, Dad surfs channel after channel, hearing the same announcement over and over until Sam delivers the final blow: “Don’t bother—it’s on every channel.” The dancers begin a Nutcracker-ish ballet production number, complete with Christmas carols, reindeer, and dancing mice. The sequence evolves into a global celebration, featuring a horah danced to “Oh Chanukah,” and a Kwanzaa dance to live percussion—dancers using kitchen utensils, tabletops, and gift boxes as drums. Dad sleeps through it all.
The doorbell rings. It is Scrooge (played by Sam), bearing a gift. The family gathers around. Drumroll. Reveal. Silence. The entire family says, “Fruitcake. Um, thanks.”
À la Nutcracker, an enormous, tacky, aluminum Christmas tree begins to rise, a larger version of the tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas. A grandmother places a color-wheel light in front of it, eliciting groans. The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s holiday jazz classic “Linus and Lucy” begins, and everyone does the Peanuts characters’ famous “bouncy” dance. Sam sneaks offstage and the dancers move into the auditorium, encouraging the audience to dance with them.
Sam reenters with Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (a senior-level dancer) in tow. They bring the smallest dancer front and center.
“You, little angel, are the future,” Rudolph tells her. “Here is a special gift just for you. I know you will love it and keep it close to your heart.”
She peeks inside the box. She hates it. Closing the box, she says, “Ladies and gentlemen, our final holiday tradition: Re-gifting!” She hands the present to Sam and skips away.
The finale kicks off, a fast mega-mix of snippets from every dance in the show, with bows worked in—a “re-gifting” of the dances. As a projection of tiny reindeer pulling a miniature sleigh glides up over the audience, snow falls, and so does the curtain.
The Christmas Butterfly
By Holly Derville-Teer
As the curtain opens, teen ballet dancers wearing traditional second-act Nutcracker costumes dance to “Nutcracker Suite” by The Brian Setzer Orchestra. The Sugar Plum Fairy and Russian, Arabian, and Waltz of the Flowers dancers perform, followed by an ensemble finish that features Clara and concludes with a cast bow.
The Sugar Plum Fairy cries, “Cast party!” and everyone reacts with excitement. Ten- to 12-year-old hip-hop dancers (dressed in black and pretending to be the backstage crew) push a Christmas tree and three boxes of presents (two large, one much smaller) onstage, placing them upstage right. Cheered on by the Nutcracker dancers, who surround the hip-hop group in a U formation, the hip-hoppers begin dancing to “Holiday Bounce” by Yo Yo Yo Kids.
Smoke meanders onto the stage, creating an eerie atmosphere. The upstage curtain opens, revealing a dancer dressed as a blue butterfly imprisoned in a homemade cage.
As the song fades out, a tall, mysterious, Drosselmeyer-like dance teacher wearing a black dress and cape moves downstage, slowly and elegantly. Three Nutcracker boys follow her, moving the boxes of presents downstage. The teacher presents the boys with bugles and the girls with dolls. She gives Clara the small box, which contains a blue butterfly stuffed animal. The teacher reads “The Butterfly Upon the Sky” by Emily Dickinson as Clara performs a ballet dance with her gift.
During a quick blackout, the tree and boxes are struck and replaced by a bed and dressing table. A nightgown-clad Clara performs a jazz dance with her butterfly toy to “Christmas Butterfly” by Romeo. A group of 5- and 6-year-old tappers wearing blue wings, leotards, and tutus performs alongside her.
The tappers exit and Clara falls asleep. “Can’t Fly” by SevenMinusZero begins and the lights dim. Smoke meanders onto the stage, creating an eerie atmosphere. The upstage curtain opens, revealing a dancer dressed as a blue butterfly imprisoned in a homemade cage made of wood, with widely spaced thin bars. She is wearing a blue unitard with blue fabric wings that attach at her back, wrists, and ankles. On her head is a sparkly blue headband with antennae attached. Imprisoned, the Butterfly dances a melancholy modern piece.
Modern dancers ages 7 to 9 enter. Dressed as menacing spiders, they wear black hooded unitards with two “legs” (tubes of black fabric stuffed with Styrofoam peanuts) on each side. The Spider Queen, a teenage dancer wearing a tiara, enters, wielding a sword. Clara awakens and throws an apple from her dressing table at the Spider Queen, killing her. After the spiders drag the Queen offstage, Clara frees her butterfly friend.
The Butterfly (wearing a wireless mike) tells Clara she is a Fender’s blue butterfly, an endangered species. Her home is with her family at the zoo’s butterfly garden, and she is lost. Clara (also miked) promises to help her get home.
The set changes to a semicircle of 12 artificial, blue, four-foot Christmas trees. Blue snow falls as the Butterfly is joined by a large group of teen blue butterflies dressed like her, symbolizing the family she is missing. They dance a lyrical piece to “Blue Christmas” by The Perishers. The Butterfly reaches for the butterflies dancing around her but can’t get their attention. As she clings to Clara for comfort, the curtain closes.
The second act begins with broom-carrying zoo workers ages 10 to 12 dancing in front of the curtain. They do an a cappella Stomp-inspired dance, making music with their brooms and tap shoes. As their dance concludes, the Butterfly and Clara enter.
The curtain opens, unveiling a zoo version of Land of the Sweets. A zoo sign, bench, and homemade cages set the scene. An overall-wearing Zookeeper (formerly the Sugar Plum Fairy) greets the duo and invites them to sit on the bench. She performs a jazz dance solo to “Rockin’ at the Zoo” by Linda Arnold. Prompted by the lyrics, she introduces a Lion playing bass, a Monkey on drums, a Tiger on guitar, a Penguin on keyboards, a Giraffe lead singer, a Hippo on sax, an Elephant on trumpet, and a singing Duck, who enter at the appropriate melodic prompts.
The band plays “O Come All Ye Animals (Faithful)” by Troy and Genie Nilsson, joined by jazz-dancing 5- and 6-year-old bears (in brown leotards, skirts, and headband ears) and elephants (in gray leotards, skirts, and fabric ears attached to headbands).
Clara, the Butterfly, and the Zookeeper watch a group of 7- to 9-year-old tap dancers jive to “Tiger Feet” by The Party Animals. Next comes a funny staff-member musical-theater–style jazz dance to “We Three Camels (Kings)” by Troy and Genie Nilsson, followed by an acrobatic solo to “Sarah the Seal” by Too Many Cookes.
Finally it is time for the Butterfly to be reunited with her family. Butterfly’s mother enters and runs to embrace her daughter. The Mother dances a lyrical solo to “My Treasure” by Larry Gonsky, about a woman whose Chanukah wish is to have a child.
After the Mother’s dance concludes, the Blue Butterfly begins to dance to “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65. Her butterfly friends and family join in at 42 seconds, concluding the show with a jazz production number that includes all dancers ages 7 and up (except the Zookeeper, who exits during the chorus). During the second and third choruses, the lights fade to black, leaving only the glow of blue LED lights on the butterfly costumes.
During the final chorus, the zoo set is struck and replaced by Clara’s bed. All of the butterflies exit. In the final 20 seconds of the music, the lights come up, revealing Clara waking from her wonderful dream.
A quick blackout allows Clara to exit. As the lights come up and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” by Weezer begins, the dancers take their bows.
The lights come up on a tropical island beach with the remnants of an airplane crash strewn around, along with large trunks labeled “NUTCRACKER ON TOUR,” with tutus and props hanging out of them. Dancers of all ages are lying on the beach, hot, hungry, and desperate. A voice-over says: “The search for the missing Nutcracker on Tour plane has been called off. Families hold out hope for a miracle!”
Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of “Too Darn Hot” begins to play and the survivors begin a musical-theater dance. As they finish, one dancer yells, “Move back! The tide is coming in!”
From one corner of the stage, 12 teen dancers appear, dressed in flowing blue costumes. They perform a segment of Doris Humphrey’s Water Study, a modern dance that spills across the stage like waves. This version ends with strips of blue fabric stretched across the stage.
Everyone pitches in, decorating the beach with Nutcracker props and island decor while singing “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and dancing with a hula flair.
A group of beginning dancers scurries in, dressed as sea creatures. They do a jazz dance to the song “Under the Sea,” from The Little Mermaid, while people hidden behind the fabric strips act as puppeteers, animating fish on the end of sticks, jumping fish (attached to hula hoops that circle), and white birds (attached to strings like fishing poles) that swoop onstage.
The blue material drops to the floor to reveal a preteen contemporary dance class performing a dance as dolphins playing in the waves. They finish and exit, along with the fabric.
A portly, balding man then enters (an overweight studio dad), accompanied by a band of monkeys. He announces himself as the island’s self-proclaimed king. The trespassers must leave at once, or else he will set loose his man-eating tiger. The terrified dancers huddle together, trying to figure out a way to save themselves.
The King plops down in an oversized beach chair throne and snaps his fingers. Two monkeys appear with a drink in a coconut and a lobster on a platter.
As the King eats, some of the monkeys try on the Nutcracker costumes. The King spots the Cavalier’s costume and tries it on. Although he can’t button it, he is thrilled to wear it and obviously impressed with how he looks.
The dancers notice the King’s interest in the costume and decide to distract him from his threat about the tiger by entertaining him. The advanced teens do an energetic acrobatic dance to the “Mother Ginger and Her Polichinelles” music. The King is delighted. The monkeys put on the Snowflake costumes and the dancers lead them in a balletic waltz to “Waltz of the Snowflakes.”
As the King applauds, children dressed as lobsters crawl onstage and dance the Spanish variation, using their claws as castanets. They finish by sliding down a chute into a large silver pot that has been rolled onstage. Monkeys stir the pot with giant spoons.
Three teenage boys perform the Russian variation, collapsing at the end from hunger and exhaustion. The Island King summons a Witch Doctor (a teenage hip-hop soloist) and commands him to revive the boys. The Witch Doctor dances around the boys to “Witch Doctor,” sung by Sha Na Na. The boys recover and the Island King decides to throw a huge luau.
Everyone pitches in, decorating the beach with Nutcracker props and island decor while singing “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” and dancing with a hula flair. Three monkeys seated stage right accompany them on the ukulele.
The decorating done, children in tropical floral costumes (an intermediate ballet class) dance to “Waltz of the Flowers.”
A large clamshell rolls onstage and preschool-age dancers crawl out, dressed like pearls (eggshell-colored tutus with a pearl-colored balloon affixed to the front). They dance to Nutcracker’s “March of the Children.”
The Island King, thrilled by all the dancing, opens his arms. The dancers are welcome to stay, he announces, and the tiger will remain caged. The King sits in his beach-chair throne and reads Leonard and Ruth Hawk’s poem, “’Twas the Night of the Luau.” The Pearls fall asleep in the clamshell and are pulled offstage.
As the King’s story comes to an end, the Sugar Plum Fairy starts to cry. Behind a scrim, a 12-year-old dancer does a dreamlike lyric solo to the song “Home” from The Wiz. The Island King, fighting back tears, tells some monkeys (a beginning tap class) to cheer everyone up. They dance to Raffi’s “Banana Phone.”
The Sugar Plum Fairy discovers that one of the phones works and calls for help. The whole ensemble (including the lobsters in the pot) dances to “Celebration,” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
A ship’s bow appears onstage and the dancers climb aboard. They urge the Island King to come with them, but he refuses. The Sugar Plum Fairy gives him a nutcracker and everyone waves farewell.
As the ship leaves, the Island King becomes very sad. Alone on the beach, he sits in his chair and falls asleep hugging the nutcracker. And the palm trees begin to grow . . . and grow . . . and grow.
The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus
The theater is dark, save for the curtain warmers and a glow near the proscenium where musicians are playing a warm rendition of “Silent Night.”
The curtain rises to reveal a living room set, obviously crafted by children. A cardboard rabbit-ear TV, green sculptured damask couch borrowed from a grandmother’s attic, and brick fireplace made from paneling, with tissue-paper flames, transport the audience to the 1950s as a dancer—a boy around 9 years old—enters wearing short pants and a sweater vest, hair neatly parted down the middle.
The boy saunters around, tossing an apple hand to hand, looking bored and mischievous. Suddenly the voice of James Earl Jones draws attention to the downstage right corner of the stage, where Jones is revealed sitting in a tall chair, wearing glasses and holding a book.
A cardboard rabbit-ear TV, green sculptured damask couch borrowed from a grandmother’s attic, and brick fireplace made from paneling, with tissue-paper flames, transport the audience to the 1950s.
“ ‘The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus’ by Ogden Nash,” booms the actor while peering over his glasses knowingly at the audience. He begins to read.
“In Baltimore there lived a boy, / He wasn’t anybody’s joy.
Although his name was Jabez Dawes, / His character was full of flaws.
In school he never led his classes, / He hid old ladies’ reading glasses,
His mouth was open when he chewed, / And elbows to the table glued.”
The lights come back up on the boy, Jabez Dawes, sulking at a table, With a dour expression, he sings “I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas,” while a class of 6-year-old ballet students joyfully skip across the stage with large gift-wrapped boxes in their arms. Jabez Dawes never leaves his sour post as the children tendu, chassé, and exchange gifts behind him. The little girls giggle and shake their heads as he wraps up his lament: “Cuz’ I ain’t been nothing but bad!”
Jones continues his tale.
“He stole the milk of hungry kittens, / And walked through doors marked No Admittance.
He said he acted thus because / There wasn’t any Santa Claus.
Another trick that tickled Jabez / Was crying “Boo!” at little babies.
He brushed his teeth, they said in town, / Sideways instead of up and down.”
A group of moms dressed in 1950s dresses and pushing strollers enters from stage left to the tune of “Baby’s First Christmas” by Connie Francis. They chassé happily with their babies in a modern dance, then curve and spin through space until Jabez Dawes shuts down the fun with a giant “Boo!”
Jones continues his story.
“Yet people pardoned every sin, / And viewed his antics with a grin,
Till they were told by Jabez Dawes, / ‘There isn’t any Santa Claus!’
Deploring how he did behave, / His parents swiftly sought their grave.
They hurried through the portals pearly, / And Jabez left the funeral early.”
Jabez Dawes is back on his feet now at center stage and the lights shift to green. Advanced jazz dancers enter and circle him, dancing to the song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” They point their fingers at him as they battement and turn, but Jabez Dawes doesn’t seem to mind. He pushes through the group in a flurry of châiné turns to stand facing the audience with his hands on his hips.
The lights fade as Jones continues.
“Like whooping cough, from child to child, / He sped to spread the rumor wild:
‘Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes / There isn’t any Santa Claus!’
Slunk like a weasel or a marten / Through nursery and kindergarten,
Whispering low to every tot, / ‘There isn’t any, no there’s not!’ ”
The Nutcracker party scene music “Decorating and Lighting of the Christmas Tree” begins, played softly by the orchestra in contrast to the story being told by Jones.
“The children wept all Christmas Eve / And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.
No infant dared to hang up his stocking / For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking.
He sprawled on his untidy bed, / Fresh malice dancing in his head,
When presently with scalp a-tingling, / Jabez heard a distant jingling;
He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof / Crisply alighting on the roof.”
Intermediate tap dancers come from both wings to take Jabez Dawes by surprise as Bruce Springsteen’s version of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town” pounds through the speakers. As the tap dancers flap-ball-change offstage, the music fades and the narration picks up in intensity.
“What good to rise and bar the door? / A shower of soot was on the floor.
What was beheld by Jabez Dawes? / The fireplace full of Santa Claus!
Then Jabez fell upon his knees / With cries of ‘Don’t,’ and ‘Pretty please.’
He howled, ‘I don’t know where you read it, / But anyhow, I never said it!’ ”
Santa emerges from the fireplace to face a fearful Jabez Dawes, who has fallen to his knees. As the electronic song “Jack-in-the-Box” by Logic Bomb begins, a small group of advanced hip-hop dancers enters from behind the set, wearing matching homemade Jack-in-the-box costumes. They pop and lock their way into a line behind Jabez, where they continue dancing in place.
“ ‘Jabez,’ replied the angry saint, / ‘It isn’t I, it’s you that ain’t.
Although there is a Santa Claus, / There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!’
Said Jabez with impudent vim, / ‘Oh, yes there is; and I am him!
Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t’— / And suddenly he found he wasn’t!”
“From grimy feet to grimy locks, / Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,
An ugly toy with springs unsprung, / Forever sticking out his tongue.
The neighbors heard his mournful squeal; / They searched for him, but not with zeal.
No trace was found of Jabez Dawes, / Which led to thunderous applause,
And people drank a loving cup / And went and hung their stockings up.”
All the dancers return triumphantly to the stage, dancing with Santa Claus to “The Man With All the Toys” by the Beach Boys. The 6-year-olds pretend to play along on homemade drums and guitars. The scene fades to stillness as Jones finishes his story.
“All you who sneer at Santa Claus, / Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,
The saucy boy who mocked the saint. / Donder and Blitzen licked off his paint.”
The dancers take their bows as the Chanukah song “Light One Candle” ushers the audience out of the theater.
The Princess Grace Foundation-USA has announced the 2013 recipients of more than $1 million in grants, scholarships, and apprenticeships, to 24 artists in theater, dance performance, choreography, and film.
The awards continue the legacy of Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco, who helped emerging artists pursue their artistic goals during her lifetime. This year’s winners will receive their awards at the 31st annual Princess Grace Awards Gala on October 30 at Cipriani 42nd Street, New York City.
The Foundation has cultivated a diverse group of over 600 artists to date who continue to advance the spectrum of performing arts with innovative, cutting-edge, and vibrant theater, dance, choreography, film, playwriting, and design.
This year’s winners in dance and choreography are:
• Alexander L. Anderson; dance scholarship, Alexander Moore Bayer Dance Award; The Juilliard School dance division
• Skylar Brandt; dance fellowship; American Ballet Theatre
• Courtney A. Henry; dance fellowship, Chris Hellman Dance Award; Alonzo King LINES Ballet
• Talli Jackson; dance fellowship; New York Live Arts
• Rachelle Anaïs Scott; dance fellowship; Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet
• Rosie Herrera; choreography fellowship; Ballet Hispanico
• Loni Landon; choreography fellowship; BODYTRAFFIC
• Robyn Mineko Williams; choreography fellowship; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago
To see the full list of winners in all disciplines, visit http://www.pgfusa.com/news/view/2013-Princess-Grace-Awards-Winners.
Francia Russell hasn’t performed in 50 years, but she says as soon as she hears the music for George Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco, her body starts to move: “I could do it in my sleep, you know, get up and sleepwalk and do it.”
Balanchine’s work as a choreographer for the New York City Ballet came to define ballet for much of the 20th century. He died 30 years ago, but in Russell—and in dance companies around the world—his work lives on.
In an NPR report, Russell describes how Balanchine sometimes used her when he was making new dances. “Those dancers who worked with him a lot understood very quickly what he wanted. It wasn’t just a physical thing in the studio,” she says. “Our minds were working all the time. They had to be.”
Russell left New York City Ballet in 1962, but two years later, Balanchine called her back and offered her the job of assistant ballet mistress.
She focused on learning every one of his ballets so she could help teach them to company members. Russell documented every dance by hand in a spiral-bound notebook. She brought the notebooks with her to Seattle in 1977, when Russell and her husband, Kent Stowell, took over artistic leadership of Pacific Northwest Ballet.
“So many people look at the video . . . but I think the process of transmitting what the choreographer wanted is so important. And in ballet it’s so personal . . . for instance, those of us who actually worked with Balanchine—to learn from a videotape is not the same as learning from us who were in the studio with him.”
To see the full report, visit http://www.npr.org/2013/07/27/185807882/preserving-balanchines-ballet-legacy-30-years-later.
The Bessies, NYC’s premiere dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, has selected Joanna Kotze as the recipient of the 2013 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer.
Kotze was nominated for her work It Happened It Had Happened It Is Happening It Will Happen, presented at Danspace Project. Other nominees were: Justin Peck for Year of the Rabbit, presented by New York City Ballet; Molly Lieber and Eleanor Smith for Tulip, presented at Roulette; and Ephrat Asherie for A Single Ride, presented at Dixon Place.
Kotze challenges habitual movements and explores the body’s potential through intense physicality and rigor in her It Happened, performed by Kotze herself, Stuart Singer, and Netta Yerushalmy. Kotze, who has created her own choreographic work since 2004, seeks to juxtapose classifying, ordering, and structuring with the unnamable, vulnerable, and imaginable in her It Happened.
In accepting the award—presented at a press conference this month—Kotze stated, “I feel honored just to be nominated amongst these amazing people and after so many years being on the scene as a dancer. I never really imagined this would happen for me now. When you make work, you never know what it’s going to turn out to be, and I’m so glad it’s been accepted by the dance community.”
The Bessies will take place October 7 at 8pm at the Apollo Theater in New York City. For more information, visit https://www.dancenyc.org/bessies/.
The Joffrey’s Annual Choreographers of Color Award recognizes promising young choreographers of color whose diverse perspective will ignite creativity in the form of original works of dance.
The Joffrey Academy of Dance, the official school of The Joffrey Ballet, has sent out a national call seeking artists for the fourth annual award program. The deadline for application is September 2.
Three selected choreographers will each receive a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours to set their pieces on the Joffrey Academy trainees; a $2,500 stipend; and an opportunity to work directly with academy artistic directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik. Choreographers whose permanent residence is more than 100 miles from Joffrey Tower in Chicago will be provided with accommodations for the duration of a two-week residency. The completed new works will be performed at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance on March 1, 2014.
Choreography created for the Joffrey Academy trainees must be original work developed by the applicant, running between 10 and 12 minutes long. Applicants must be 18 or older. For full application details, visit http://www.joffrey.org/cofc.
Dancer and choreographer Joan Myers Brown, the founder of Philadanco and a commanding presence in the world of dance and arts education has been named a recipient of the National Medal of the Arts, the White House announced Wednesday.
In announcing the twelve winners of the nation’s highest civic honor for excellence in the arts, President Obama cited Brown, 80, for carving out “an artistic haven for African American dancers and choreographers to innovate, create, and share their unique visions with the national and global dance communities.” She founded her dance school in Philadelphia in 1960, a time when formal dance was segregated and African Americans were virtually excluded from serious training in white schools and companies. In 1970, Philadanco was launched. “It’s totally unexpected,” Brown said of the award. “Totally exciting.”
The awards will be bestowed Wednesday at a ceremony at the White House. In addition to the Philadelphia winners, nine other artists and one organization will receive the award, including soprano Renée Fleming, playwright Tony Kushner, and moviemaker George Lucas.
To read the full story visit: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20130704_Philadanco_
With Bring It On: The Musical snagging a Tony nomination for best musical and Pippin leading the revival parade with 10 nominations and four wins, flash—particularly in choreography—has caused the tap shoes of yesteryear’s chorines to yield to today’s barefooted gymnasts, reports Backstage.
“Instead of being a triple threat nowadays, you have to be a quadruple threat,” said Trevor Sones, a 24-year-old actor who spends his days auditioning for regional theaters, national tours, and Broadway musicals. “You have to be able to do all the styles of dance and do tumbling on top of that to book the gigs.”
From the leaping paperboys of Newsies to the trained circus performers of Pippin, Broadway musicals today require young performers to add acrobatics to their repertoire. “Every audition that I’ve been to thus far has asked every male dancer if they can do tumbling or tricks,” Sones said. It seems that those without gymnastics skills are left at a disadvantage.
Is tumbling the lasting device to push these creative boundaries, or is all this flipping and flying just a fad? Many in the business believe that the gymnastic trend is cyclical but on a hot streak right now. “Especially in the musical theater realm, it’s kind of becoming a necessary skill,” he said. “I would advise anybody to go and get a basic acrobatic skill set if they’re planning on being a dancer,” said Newsies’ Tommy Martinez.
Despite the time and training needed to master proper technique, none of the top musical theater programs in the nation specifically advertises a course that teaches this craft. But, said Ralph Zito, chair of the drama department at Syracuse University, “I think a training program’s first responsibility is to teach students those fundamental storytelling skills, what is always going to last, and then to begin to attend to the skills of the moment.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.backstage.com/news/secret-landing-broadway-chorus-gig/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+backstage%2FNews-Features+%28Backstage+-+News%26Features%29
A powerful dance piece highlighting the tragic effects of teen bullying presented by guest artist Neil “Dradle” Schwartz with Brian Henninger and a cast of 23 young dancers, was presented at New York’s Young Choreographer’s Festival (YCF) June 15.
The Examiner reported that the audience was stunned into silence, then erupted into applause for the hard-hitting hip-hop piece. Now in its fourth year, producer Emily Buffered’s YCF has emerged as a highly regarded New York dance showcase offering inspirational works developed by both young talent and seasoned professionals.
“This work calls attention to the issue of bullying and teen suicide which has personally touched both of us,” explained Henninger with Schwartz at his side. “This is our chance to use art for good, and raise awareness for this important issue that does not get enough attention.”
Performed to music originally titled “Suicide” but later changed to “Chop Suey!” by System of a Down, the Schwartz dance begins with short voiceover vignettes from three bully youth victim “types”: the girl that has internalized the pain of physically not fitting in, the “cutter” who appears fine on the outside yet feels desperate that she cannot live up to peer expectation, and the young man who is physically picked on who considers putting a permanent end to his torment. In the piece, the audience views the anguish and pain of the physical and emotional bullying endured by the three, only to witness one finally succumbing to the pressure.
To read the full story, visit http://www.examiner.com/article/new-schwartz-dance-highlights-the-tragedy-of-teen-bullying-and-suicide?cid=rss.
The Tonys aren’t until Sunday, but when it comes to achievement in dance, Pippin and Motown the Musical are already at the head of the pack.
Both dancers and choreographers from the two shows won Fred and Adele Astaire Awards Monday night for their achievements this Broadway season, reported The Huffington Post.
Charlotte d’Amboise took the trophy for best female dancer in her role as Fastrada, Pippin’s scheming (and high-kicking) mother-in-law. And Eric LaJuan Summers won best male dancer for his portrayal of singer Jackie Wilson in Motown.
For best choreography, Chet Walker, who recreated the Bob Fosse choreography in the Pippin revival, tied with Patricia Wilcox and Warren Adams of Motown.
The Astaire awards honor dance in film, too, and this year’s winner was Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui for Anna Karenina.
The evening at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts was filled with dance performances. Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild of New York City Ballet presented a haunting rendition of the Carousel pas de deux, choreographed by Warren Carlyle. A reconstructed “Simply Irresistible” from the Broadway show Contact was performed by the American Dance Machine for the 21st Century. The New Jersey-based Art of Dance troupe offered a vibrant “Dancin’ Fool.”
For more information visit www.fredandadeleastaireawards.com. To see the original story, visit
Devon Carney, a veteran dancer and choreographer with ballet companies in Boston and Cincinnati, is Kansas City Ballet’s new artistic director, announced The Kansas City Star.
Carney, who will take over in July, is succeeding William Whitener, who retired this month.
Carney, 52, told The Star that he appreciated the stability of the Kansas City company and the firm foundation created by his predecessors. He was impressed by the company’s new Todd Bolender Center for Dance and Creativity and the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.
“Kansas City Ballet is ready for some incredible growth,” Carney said. “It’s like everything is in place. And now you’ve got the final part of that—an artistic director on the ground and ready to go.”
Carney, who was selected from among 62 initial candidates, joined Boston Ballet as a dancer in its second company in 1978 and became a principal dancer with the main company eight years later. He was named artistic director of the company’s summer dance program in 1994 and was appointed ballet master in 1998. He joined Cincinnati Ballet as chief ballet master in 2003 and was named associate artistic director in 2008.
He has performed with Rudolph Nureyev, Fernando Bujones, and Cynthia Gregory, and choreographed, among other works, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, two acts of the four-act Swan Lake, and Dracula—a version of which his new company will stage at the Kauffman Center next season.
Jeffrey Bentley, Kansas City Ballet’s executive director, said the company’s strategic plan calls for staging more full-length ballets and creating a second company for young trainees to provide more performances in the community and fill out the ranks of the corps members in full-length, big-scale ballets. Carney, he said, has all the qualities to achieve those goals.
To see the full story, visit http://www.kansascity.com/2013/05/23/4252831/kc-ballet-names-a-veteran-dancerchoreographer.html#storylink=cpy.
Four years after the death of choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch, Lutz Förster is set to take the helm at her dance theater in Wuppertal, Germany, and to breathe fresh air into the beloved institution, reports En.Haberler.com.
Pina Bausch was not interested in how people move, but what moves them. The director of the dance theater Tanztheater Wuppertal, Pina Bausch became an icon, was awarded profusely for her work, and was sought after by the most prestigious opera houses in the world. She died of cancer in June 2009. German director Wim Wenders memorialized her two years later in a posthumous documentary, Pina.
At the time of her death, the decision was made to continue the Tanztheater’s leadership under the direction of Bausch’s assistant, Robert Sturm, and long-time dancer and friend, Dominique Mercy.
This decision invigorated the ensemble both psychologically and artistically, captivated old audiences, and garnered new ones. The troupe’s performances are now more popular than ever around the world; they even made a guest appearance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Nevertheless, a certain restlessness and discontent began to permeate the group. There was no artistic challenge to be found in maintaining the Bausch tradition by recycling and performing the old pieces over and over again. It became clear that eventually the repertoire would grow stale, frustrating young dancers and causing audiences and critics alike to lose interest.
Thus it was decided to forge forward. This summer, dancer and dance educator Lutz Förster will assume artistic direction of the Tanztheater. “You can only attempt to fill Pina’s big shoes,” said Förster, who is not a choreographer, and instead will work to guarantee the preservation of Pina Bausch’s legacy by bringing in a team of supporters, instigators, consultants, and moderators. “But I’m not afraid.”
To see the full story, visit http://en.haberler.com/pina-bausch-s-troupe-embarks-on-new-beginning-271089/.
Merrill Brockway, a director and producer who brought high art to millions of Americans by presenting many of the 20th century’s greatest dancers and choreographers on the PBS television series Dance in America, died on May 2 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to The New York Times. He was 90.
Brockway’s work introduced many people to George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Agnes de Mille, Jerome Robbins, Twyla Tharp, and other giants of dance. Dance in America premiered in 1976 with the Joffrey Ballet, and later became part of the PBS series Great Performances.
Modeled after the dance numbers in Fred Astaire movies, Dance in America became known for showing dancers’ bodies mostly in full. Brockway said his collaboration with Balanchine influenced that approach.
“If you notice, all Fred Astaire movies are full figure, and Balanchine ballets are like that,” he said in an interview in The New York Times in 2011. “So we devised acceptable shots, and we came up with those together. If you watch TV now, it’s like they’re taking pictures. In dancing you can’t just take pictures, you’re telling a story.”
A pianist and World War II Army veteran who gravitated toward the budding television industry in the 1950s, Brockway became interested in dance, he said, after a classmate at Columbia University took him to see Martha Graham. In his 2010 memoir, Surprise Was My Teacher, Brockway wrote: “I saw a tiny lady dancing a solo. She grabbed my gut, swung it around, tossed it in the air, slammed it to the ground, then tenderly picked it up and cradled it. I would be, forever, Martha Graham’s disciple.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/arts/television/merrill-brockway-producer-of-tvs-dance-in-america-dies-at-90.html?_r=0
University of Illinois dance Professor Tere O’Connor’s selection as a Doris Duke Artist Award winner will bring him an unrestricted $225,000, plus another $25,000 to pay for an audience-development project, and another $25,000 to put toward his retirement.
The News-Gazette reported that Duke award winners are culled from a pool of artists who have won at least three designated national accolades during the preceding decade. Among those given to O’Connor: U.S. Artists Rockefeller Fellow, 2009; Guggenheim Fellow, 1993; and three New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Awards.
He also has received multiple grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Harkness Foundation for Dance, and other organizations.
In addition to the national recognition, the UI College of Fine and Applied Arts recently gave O’Connor one of two research awards. “Tere is a great example of an artist who maintains an active, cutting-edge practice while also being highly engaged on our campus,” college dean Ed Feser told the UI News Bureau. “He very much helps put Illinois ‘on the map’ in dance.”
O’Connor, an internationally known choreographer, joined Dance at Illinois in 2006. Based in New York, where his Tere O’Connor Dance Company is located, he spends the spring semesters at Illinois.
“I love the work I do with the students here,” he said. “The choreographic product I make is not divorced from my teaching and advocacy for dance. And those experiences all kind of converge in the dances somehow.”
Change It Up
It’s easy to let classes fall into a too-comfortable routine that can dampen dancers’ enthusiasm. To keep things fresh and interesting in all types of classes, change things up! Here are some ideas.
• Have students change from their usual place at the barre or center. Continue to do so throughout the class.
• Begin combinations on the left side or on a different count of music.
• Change the music you normally use for class. Explore using popular or ethnic music for ballet class or classical music for jazz, tap, or modern.
• Have a music theme week using a particular musical artist, composer, or style.
• Let young students know that at each class, one of them will be selected to be the class leader. Don’t tell them ahead of time who will be selected. No one will want to miss her turn. Keep track so that everyone gets a turn.
• Ask students to retrograde combinations (perform the steps in reverse order), being careful to use age- and ability-appropriate combinations that won’t turn challenge into frustration or failure.
• Assign older students “homework” to create a 16- to 32-count combination, and randomly choose one student per class to perform her combination for the class.
• Have each student choose one movement or step and randomly place students (and their steps) in order to create an 8- to 16-count phrase. Change the order one or more times. This exercise can produce interesting combinations, and working together to add connecting movements that make the phrase flow helps students understand transitions.
• Bring in photos of famous dancers or choreographers and teach your dancers about them and their contributions to the dance world.
• Have students mirror each other in pairs for port de bras or other movements. It develops focus and is fun for students of all ages.
Dancing Through Decades
I recently reintroduced an idea I incorporated a few years ago, called “Dance Thru the Decades.” It was a response to the fact that my students seemed to lack knowledge of past dance styles, and did not realize that their “new” cool moves are actually derivative of steps that have existed for years.
I find that this works well with my intermediate-level students, who love learning about different periods in dance history.
Every other month I choose a decade and we spend 10 to 15 minutes in each class learning about it. We look at video clips to find out which dancers and choreographers were popular during that time, learn about the dances or steps that were made famous during the period, and listen to music that was commonly danced to.
After two months of learning about the dance and dancers of the decade, we devote a whole class to revisiting what we learned. I allow students to dress in the style of that era and award a small prize for the most authentic outfit. I also give them a trivia sheet to complete and we learn a combination influenced by the music and dance style from that time period.
To get started, choose a decade to focus on. Internet searches will help refresh your memory about what was trending during that time. I start with the 1920s, when the charleston was the rage. As we move ahead, I can then show how this style was incorporated in the 1940s with the jitterbug. I play big-band music and teach swing and lindy hop phrases. We dance a combination to Benny Goodman’s “Sing Sing Sing” and watch a dance clip from the movie Swing Kids.
I continue the theme and format, always emphasizing the evolution of dance, until we reach the present. It is a fun yet structured way to introduce and incorporate dance history into your class curriculum.
Dorrance is the first tap artist to receive the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, which honors outstanding, visionary dance artists. It carries a prize of $25,000, one of the largest cash awards in the dance industry, to be used by the choreographer to advance their artistry in any way they choose.
Michelle Dorrance will perform at the Gala with singer Aaron Marcellus. Her ensemble, Dorrance Dance, will perform at this summer’s festival July 24 to 28, accompanied by award-winning singer, musician, and composer Toshi Reagon and band.
Past recipients of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award include Crystal Pite, Merce Cunningham, and Bill T. Jones. Ella Baff, Jacob’s Pillow executive and artistic director commented: “With this year’s award, we recognize a hugely talented young artist who is experimenting with new ideas and moving the art of tap forward. We are also honoring the great American art form of tap, which has created some of the best dance and music-making ever.”
Dorrance is lauded as “one of the most imaginative tap choreographers working today” (The New Yorker). A 2012 Princess Grace Award Winner, 2012 Field Dance Fund Recipient, and 2011 Bessie Award Winner, Dorrance is among the world’s most sought after tap performers, teachers, and choreographers today. For Festival 2013 information and tickets, call 413.243.0745 or visit www.jacobspillow.org.
The inaugural Times of India Film Awards in Vancouver on April 6— the Academy Awards of Bollywood cinema— was defined by large-scale production numbers devised by Shiamak Davar, an A-list Bollywood choreographer who divides his time between Mumbai and Vancouver.
“TOIFA is an extension of the cultural exchange that has been taking place between Canada and India for years now,” Davar told The Vancouver Sun. Many of the participating B.C. dancers were members of the Shiamak Davar Dance Team, the professional wing of his North Vancouver dance school affiliated with a string of international Shiamak style dance schools, including centers in Victoria and Toronto.
Davar, who served as both director of choreography and design for the Vancouver events, is widely credited with re-positioning Bollywood dance for an international market.
“When I started off 20 years ago,” he said, “Bollywood dance did not have a structure. The first movie I choreographed went on to win a national award, and introduced jazz technique to Bollywood. It was a first for Indian cinema to have properly choreographed pieces with dancers who were trained and had fit bodies. This movie—Dil Toh Pagal Hai—is considering a turning point for dance in Bollywood movies.”
A marker of his success is the fact that the term Bollywood now refers to a dance style, as well as to the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai. If old Bollywood dance was modeled on classical styles like bharata natyam and kathak, or folk dances like bhangra, the new Bollywood marries those older forms with western genres like contemporary, jazz, and hip hop.
The choreographer of bestselling London West End shows Cats, The Phantom of The Opera, and Aspects of Love is worried about the future of the industry.
Gillian Lynne, set to receive an Olivier award for lifetime achievement next month, told The Observer she senses a growing threat to musical theater from television. “It is a real problem for the West End,” said the former classical ballerina. “Television, especially reality TV, is a danger because producers drop someone into a role who has been on television. It’s not healthy. They want instant fame.”
Recently, The Wizard of Oz, Chicago, and Oliver! have all been promoted by using cast members known to TV audiences first, but it is a trend she decries.
At 87, Lynne is the most successful choreographer of several generations. The Olivier award will celebrate her contribution to theater and a career she believes has been built on a commitment to her art and a dislike of shortcuts. In spite of a close working relationship with Lord Lloyd-Webber, who uses TV contests to pick out his new stage stars, Lynne fears the reliance on celebrities has undermined her craft.
Lynne worked most recently on the West End show Dear World, but her life in dance started in London’s East End at the age of 16. Later, she danced with Sadler’s Wells Ballet and at Covent Garden, before turning to acting, choreography, and directing.
Her Olivier award means she joins an elite list of previous recipients, including Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Dame Maggie Smith, and Sir Alan Ayckbourn. The ceremony in London will crown a career in which she has danced with both Frederick Ashton and Fred Astaire.
To see the full story, visit
Can a single-artist dance company become an ever-evolving, interactive, mobile museum?
That is the question, and the premise, of the Trisha Brown Dance Company’s revolutionary plan as the iconic, 76-year-old dancemaker retires her choreographic cap and becomes the company’s founding artistic director and choreographer, reports an article in Berkeleyside.
As of February 2011 and after a series of minor strokes, Brown concluded 50-plus-years as a master creator of elegant physical vocabulary unfurled in magnificent metaphors of time, tasks, and space.
Naming Diane Madden and Carolyn Lucas (long-time TBDC members since joining as dancers in the 1980s) as associate artistic directors, the company embarked in January on a three-year international “Proscenium Works, 1979-2011” tour.
At the tour’s conclusion—and even now, as plans are laid and funding sought—TBDC’s papers, visual art and sets, film and video archives, costumes, educational programming, and yes, the lovely dances that are its creative centerpiece, will enter a new phase.
Immortality, if it is possible, will come from the rigor of Brown’s vision as it lives on in site-specific re-mountings of the repertoire, cross-genre engagements with public institutions, and a curated, online media library.
A key component will be TBDC alumni, like the two women now charged with carrying a legacy into its future. “Trisha always shared her process, her thoughts’ gestation, as these dances were made,” Lucas said, in an intermission interview during the company’s one-night Cal Performance appearance at Zellerbach Hall on March 15.
To read the full story, visit http://www.berkeleyside.com/2013/03/19/114044/.
As the trailblazing dance artist Trisha Brown, 76, moves from making dances into a more administrative position in her company, fans can relish some of her best works on a two-disc DVD set available from ARTPIX.
Trisha Brown: Early Works 1966-1979 features film and video footage by filmmakers, including Babette Mangolte, Carlotta Schoolman, and Jonathan Demme, of 18 of Brown’s major performances from 1966 to 1979. A companion DVD contains a conversation between Brown and art historian Klaus Kertess in which Brown talks about her dance education, early years in New York, work with Judson Dance Theater and her fellow choreographers, and the creation of her innovative dances.
Brown, one of the most acclaimed choreographers of contemporary dance, first came to notice in New York in the 1960s and founded her company in 1970. Along with like-minded artists Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and Simone Forti, she pushed the limits of what was then considered appropriate movement for choreography, and changed modern dance forever.
Other DVDs available from ARTPIX include the Merce Cunningham Dance Company’s final performances at the Park Avenue Armory, New York, in 2011; and Cunningham’s collaborations with designer Robert Rauschenberg (Suite for Five, Summerscape, and Interscape;) plus dance construction pieces from Simone Forti presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles in 2004.
Trisha Brown: Early Works 1966-1979 is available for $40 from http://www.artpix.org/02TB.htm.
This May, the Group Theatre Too (GTT) will present its sixth annual Choreographer’s Canvas, a one-night event featuring the works of more than 15 established and emerging choreographers from around the country.The Canvas, headed by GTT executive producer Justin Boccitto, will showcase many styles of dance including tap, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary, theater dance, aerial, and swing dance. Since its inception, the Canvas has presented more than 65 choreographers, with more than 450 dancers performing to sellout houses.
This year’s event features choreography by Bobby Hedglin-Taylor, an aerial choreographer whose work is represented in the Broadway revival of Pippin, as well as Richard Hinds, who is the associate director of both Newsies and the upcoming Broadway revival of Jekyll and Hyde.
Other work will be presented by choreographers Michael Blevins, Justin Boccitto, Emily Bufferd, Pam Covas, Francesca Harper, Punchali Khanna Kumar, Merete Muenter, Derek Mitchell, Nicole Ohr, Sue Samuels, Jaime Shannon with Tony Fraser, Stephanie Sine, Jeanne Slater, and Broadway Dance Center’s teen company, AIM.
The 2013 Choreographer’s Canvas will be presented May 18 at 8:30pm at the Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, 248 West 60th Street (between Amsterdam and West End Avenue), New York City. Tickets are available at www.choreographerscanvas.com ($30 in advance/$35 at the door).
Choreographer, director, and educator Lin Hwai-min’s “fearless zeal for the art form has established him as one of the most dynamic and innovative choreographers today” will be recognized when Lin receives the 2013 Samuel H. Scripps/American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement from the American Dance Festival (ADF).
The award celebrates choreographers who have dedicated their lives and talents to the creation of modern dance. The Scripps/ADF Award presentation will take place July 26 at 8pm prior to the evening’s performance at the Durham [NC] Performing Arts Center as part of the ADF’s 80th anniversary season, which will run June 13 to July 27.
Lin’s illustrious career as a choreographer has spanned more than four decades and has earned him international praise for his impact on Chinese modern dance. He is the founder, choreographer, and artistic director of both Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan (founded in 1973) and Cloud Gate 2 (founded in 1999), and his choreography continues to be presented throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Of his 86 choreographic works, 20 have been made into dance films, and most recently, Lin was the subject of three full-length television documentaries including the Discovery Channel’s Portraits Taiwan: Lin Hwai-min.
In 1983, Lin founded the Department of Dance at Taipei National University of the Arts and served as its chairman for five years. In 2005, Lin was celebrated by Time magazine as one of “Asia’s Heroes,” and in 2009 was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Movimentos Dance Prize in Germany, among many other awards and honors.
For information about ADF’s programs, please visit www.americandancefestival.org.
By Jennifer Kaplan
Summer intensives are meant to challenge students, push them outside of their comfort zones and, ultimately, make them better dancers—and, perhaps, better people for the experience. Last summer the Brazil Project took CityDance Center students far from their spacious, well-appointed studios in Bethesda, Maryland—4,796 miles, in fact.
The nonprofit studio, which has a growing pre-professional conservatory training program, sent 16 advanced dance students to Rio de Janeiro for a two-week intensive. There they studied with some of the city’s top ballet and modern teachers and choreographers, interacted with their Brazilian dance peers, and even picked up a little samba. The Brazil Project, as the intensive was dubbed, culminated in a studio theater performance in which the CityDance students performed a work they learned with the young adult dancers of Rio’s Ballet Jovem.
“When I came to CityDance nearly five years ago,” says Lorraine Spiegler, artistic director of studio education for the school and conservatory, “in keeping with my vision, I realized it’s logical that we should be connecting because the world’s very small. That was part of my motivation to initiate the Brazil Project.”
It took a year of intensive planning, two advance trips, and a fund-raising campaign that raised more than $10,000 to get the project off the ground—and the students in the air on a flight to Rio. But Spiegler hopes her efforts will pay off in time, by providing a greater depth of experience to some of the most promising young dancers, introducing new choreography to the CityDance pre-professional company, and forging lasting relationships between the CityDance teachers and their Brazilian counterparts.
CityDance Center, which is based at the Music Center at Strathmore in suburban Washington, DC, offers a wide range of recreational, pre-professional, and conservatory options, including classes in ballet, modern, jazz, Bollywood, hip-hop, and Sri Lankan dance. Of the 550 or so students, 120 belong to CityDance Conservatory/Select and work on what Spiegler calls a pre-professional track. She notes many parallels between the work she does at CityDance and the training she observed during the six years she lived in Rio de Janeiro.
“I saw that the energy and vitality of Brazilian dance across genres was exactly how I saw myself implementing programming at CityDance,” she says. “There’s strong ballet, strong contemporary modern, strong jazz, and now there’s strong hip-hop and strong tap, very much influenced by the United States.”
The ballet training is Vaganova-based, but it is filtered through teachers who are immersed in Brazilian, not Russian, culture. Brazilian dancers often have a different physical facility than the Russians do, and Spiegler says the teachers acknowledge this in how they train. Those teachers also point to the multicultural nature of Brazilian society for adding “spice” to the technique. The ballet training there doesn’t only allow for diversity, it encourages it.
Spiegler also notes how ingrained dance is in the social lives of most Brazilians, in a way it simply isn’t for Americans in the United States. Communities of amateur dancers of all ages organize themselves into samba schools and clubs that prepare for elaborate parades and performances at the annual Carnival festival in Rio de Janeiro. “There are the specialty dance programs in Rio de Janeiro—Brazilian, Afro-Brazilian, capoeira, and a variety of folk dances,” Spiegler says. Dance culture is rich, varied, and deeply embedded in Brazilian society, she adds.
Organizing the trip took about nine months of actual hands-on planning; Spiegler and former CityDance faculty member Elizabeth Gahl took the helm in making arrangements. Because Spiegler had lived and taught in Rio, she was familiar with the dance studio culture and principal dance educators there. Also, in 2001, she had initiated and organized a similar program at Goucher College in Maryland, in which dance students spent a few weeks of winter break on a study and research trip focusing on various aspects of dance in Rio.
Even with her familiarity with Brazilian dance, Spiegler took two advance trips (one in November and one in May), supported by the Partners of the Americas foundation and other donors, before the students left in late June. This enabled her to make sure the dance studios could still host her students; meet the teachers; arrange for a pair of minivan drivers; check the accommodations; scope out healthy, low-cost places to eat; and fine-tune other details. The students paid about $3,300 each, which included classes, hotel, airfare, and the hotel breakfast. (Some students received partial need-based scholarships supported by the fund-raising campaign and by a pre-trip concert the students presented.) They brought spending money for souvenirs and for some lunches and dinner each day. Spiegler and two chaperones, one of whom was a doctor, accompanied the students and kept tabs on them wherever they went.
Their work with Ballet Jovem, the young pre-professional company, introduced Rio de Janeiro–based contemporary choreographer Alex Neoral to the Brazilian ballet world. Neoral, a favorite of Spiegler’s, has spent significant time working with CityDance students in Bethesda, where, since his first trip to Maryland in 2007, he has set numerous works on the dancers on annual visits. The visiting students also studied with teachers from prominent Brazilian studios including Cia de Dança Deborah Colker, Escola Maria Olenewa, and Focus Cia de Dança. At the end of the two weeks, they traveled across town to a studio theater with their Ballet Jovem colleagues to perform in a mostras (an informal showcase), dancing a Neoral work (Quase Uma, which they learned jointly with Ballet Jovem), a capoeira demo, and another new piece choreographed by Janice Botelho that they’ll take back to Bethesda and add to the conservatory repertory.
In Brazil, the American students, none of whom spoke Portuguese, managed quite well—particularly in dance classes, Spiegler says, because so much of the work is universal. “Plié is still plié. Contraction is still contraction,” she says. “Their ability to get along [in class] was a testament to our program, I thought, and to good training in the U.S. We have excellent technique training in the U.S. at this point, so the kids were very comfortable.”
She was on hand to translate if necessary, and Neoral and a few of the other teachers spoke English. But the students quickly found their own ways to communicate, especially with one another. A few of the Brazilian students could manage a bit of English and the rest was negotiated through experience, a growing familiarity, and a readiness to bridge cultures. “Even if we weren’t speaking the same language, we were able to communicate and understand each other through dance,” says 17-year-old Colleen Hoerle of Gaithersburg, Maryland.
When not taking class or rehearsing, CityDance and Ballet Jovem enjoyed some downtime together, which Spiegler felt was an important part of the program. One day there was a beach party; other times it was a stop in an open-air market or trip to the mall. These moments of peer-to-peer interaction, Spiegler hopes, will prove lasting. The CityDance students also had a bit of time for sightseeing in the Cidade Maravilhosa, “the marvelous city,” as Rio is known, for its beaches, mountains, sweeping views, and sophisticated multiethnic culture.
Spiegler has dubbed the Brazil Project “Dancing in One Language.” She would like to expand it to three weeks in Rio this summer and open it up to other countries in coming years. CityDance has already invited Bollywood master teacher Vishal Kanoi of Calcutta to teach workshops for the conservatory students. Spiegler envisions a day in the future when she brings students to India, or China, or . . . The possibilities are endless.
With students representing nearly 35 nationalities on CityDance’s roster, Spiegler sees international exchanges not as a luxury but as a necessity when training pre-professional dancers for the competitive job market. College freshman Taryn Bailey, 18, says the experience opened her eyes about how hard dancers must work. “While I was there I saw the professionalism and focus the [Brazilian] dancers had. Being there helped me really hone my technique and taught me that I needed to work even harder.”
Already a few of Spiegler’s students have their sights set on auditioning for some of the Brazilian companies they encountered; some hope to return there to further their studies.
“We lived exactly like Brazilians live for two weeks,” Spiegler says. “We’d have morning ballet, rehearsal, then walk to a place for a big lunch, then get back in the van and go to our afternoon class—that could be a folk dance workshop or something else. I’d never seen our kids healthier. I saw our contemporary dancers gain a new respect for ballet, and the ballet dancers discovered new things like capoeira or samba. Everyone was crossing boundaries.”
Matt Mattox, a Jack Cole protégé who pioneered his own signature jazz technique based on ballet and who was highly regarded as a teacher and choreographer, died February 18 in France. He was 91.
Bob Boross, Radford University Department of Dance assistant professor, posted on the Matt Mattox Freestyle Jazz Dance Facebook group: “I’m sure I speak for all in saying that his presence in this world has had a major influence on the dance world and on those who lived in the light of his charismatic flame. He truly was a remarkable dancer, teacher, choreographer, and advocate for dance. . . . There will truly never be another Matt Mattox—he was a most spectacular original.”
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mattox performed on Broadway in, among other productions, the original production of Once Upon a Mattress (1959) and the 1957 revival of Brigadoon (as Harry Beaton). His Hollywood career included roles in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Yolanda and the Thief, The Band Wagon, Till the Clouds Roll By, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and There’s No Business Like Show Business.
He used his background in ballet technique to create his own technique for jazz dance, and his jazz classes were assembled in the progression of a ballet class. He also choreographed for Broadway and television, and created a concert dance company.
Most recently, Mattox lived and worked in Perpignan, France. (Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matt_Mattox)
A prolonged economic downturn, reduced arts funding, and dwindling grant allotments have painted a bleak picture for artistic nonprofits, so several Chicago-area female choreographers have decided to apply their onstage creative spirit to their business offstage, reports Crain’s Chicago Business.
The heads of four local dance companies—Dance COLEctive, Hedwig Dances, Same Planet/Different World Dance Theatre, and Zephyr Dance—formed FlySpace in 2012, an umbrella organization through which they share resources and administrative duties for marketing and audience-building to “gain economies of scale,” said Michelle Kranicke, artistic director of Zephyr.
With FlySpace, they are eschewing competition in favor of joining forces. “Through increased audiences, we’ll have more income, more financial resources, and be able to raise the collective visibility of our individual companies and hopefully the visibility for contemporary dance in general in Chicago,” she said.
It’s an unusual arrangement. Nonprofits do team up to share grant writers or executive directors, but FlySpace didn’t want to have a person forced to split her energy four ways. The women said that in their research, they have not found other groups teaming up in this way.
The women in the consortium say sharing business resources while retaining individual creativity is a smart way to stay afloat and, like it or not, is the future for artistic nonprofits.
To read the full story, visit http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130214/NEWS07/130219903/nonprofit-dance-companies-join-forces.
Performers, choreographers, teachers, educators, artists, dance critics, dance researchers, and artistic directors from all over the world are invited to the first international symposium dedicated to the teachings and influence of Isadora Duncan, set for June 16 to 18 at The George Washington University, Washington, DC.
The Isadora Duncan International Symposium (IDIS) is accepting proposals now through March 1 from Duncan Dance practitioners wishing to demonstrate their methods and techniques, share important experience and knowledge, or present research and scholarship through master classes, lectures, panel discussions, or other presentation formats.
The symposium will provide opportunities for all participants to share work, learn best practices, and meet new colleagues, thus strengthening and enlarging the existing world-wide Duncan community in order to expand the reach and impact of Isadora’s revolutionary ideas.
“The Dance of the Future: Cultivating Duncan Dance for the 21st Century” is open to all Duncan Dance practitioners of different fields, genres, techniques, and forms, including performance, choreography, repertory, instruction, research and scholarship, criticism, photography, visual and multimedia art, biography, and more.
All attendees, including presenters, must register for the symposium. Symposium registration is $150 for the three-day event, and all sessions are open to all attendees. Please visit www.duncansymposium.com to register and for details on submitting presentation proposals.
In this installment of “Get to Know Your DLTC Faculty,” we continue our conversation with Diane Gudat, guest artist, choreographer, master teacher, and author.
If you were a superhero, what special skill would you like to have?
Diane: I would like to be able to fly so that I could get from place to place more quickly.
A genie in a bottle is granting you three wishes: what are they?
Diane: Happiness for my children and my grandchild; a long, healthy life; a television pilot.
What has dance meant to you in your life?
Diane: That’s very hard to say. It is my life, so it’s hard to be objective and say exactly what it truly means. I never did anything else!
I know dance allowed me to be home with my children as they were growing up. It allowed me to travel the world, and has challenged me to constantly learn and study. It has given me life-long friends. It has filled my life with emotional highs and lows. I am proud of who I am and what I have accomplished through dance, and when all is said and done, I hope that people will remember me as someone who might have inspired them and helped make their job easier.
To learn more about the DanceLife Teacher Conference scheduled for August 1 to 4 in Scottsdale, Arizona, visit www.dancelifeteacherconference.com.
The University of Utah’s Departments of Modern Dance and Film and Media Arts are requesting submissions of student dance films to be screened on the opening night of the 9th International Screendance Festival and Summer Intensive Editing Workshop with Simon Fildes, set for June 23 to 28.
This week long workshop offers in-depth experience for choreographers and filmmakers in shooting and editing screendance with Fildes, an award winning screendance editor, who will hold screenings, discussions, and demonstrations.
Submissions must be screendance pieces created specifically for film or video, a staged work recreated for the camera, or a short dance-related documentary—not performance documentations. A small cash prize for the Jury’s Choice will be awarded.
Submitted work, not to exceed 15 minutes in length, must have been completed while the student is enrolled in a full-time degree program or workshop setting. There is no submission fee, and artists may submit up to three different projects for consideration. The deadline is March 1 for mailed submissions or March 16 for online submissions.
See www.dance.utah.edu/screendancefest for more submission instructions as well as details and registration information for the festival and workshop.
Director Wim Wenders’ exquisite dance documentary Pina gets a beautiful Criterion treatment in a recently released 3D/2D Blu-ray combo now available at The Criterion Store for $39.96.
Specifically shot in 3D to add dimension and depth to the dance performances, this is probably one of the truest reasons for the use of 3D since its inception, reads a review in Edge Chicago.
More of a celebration of choreographer Pina Bausch than a documentary on her life, the film offers small glimpses into her persona, in addition to some previously filmed dance sequences with her. But mostly it’s a gripping showcase of her work. Shot in various locations around Germany, the19 featured dances give audiences a fascinating overview of her talent and style.
Special features include 14 deleted dance sequences, behind the scenes footage showing some of the dance sequences from the perspective of someone visiting the set, an interview with Wenders, and “The Making of Pina,” a 45-minute documentary on the film’s production.
Visit http://www.criterion.com/films/28404-pina for more info. To read the original review, visit
For each DanceLife Teacher Conference, Rhee Gold assembles a faculty of some of the most creative and enthusiastic leaders in the entire dance studio industry. Their resumes are impressive, for sure, but what really makes them tick? What brought them to dance, and what keeps them there? What do they love about teaching, and makes them keep moving?
In this installment of “Get to Know Your DLTC Faculty,” we learn more about Gregg Russell. Gregg, an Emmy-nominated choreographer shares his insights into tap education each month as part of Dance Studio Life’s “Two Tips for Tap Teachers” feature. He’s directed and appeared in commercials, performed with numerous music artists and on TV, is a faculty member at Co. Dance Conventions, and produces his own Tap Into the Network dance intensives.
When did you first start dancing and why?
Gregg: My mom enrolled me in tap when I was 4 because I was hyper!
Did you ever seriously consider a career in another field? What was it?
Gregg: I decided around age 13 to focus on dance, but did have partial scholarships when I graduated for geology and business. Maybe I can own a dance studio in a cave one day!
What person/event was the biggest inspiration in your life?
Gregg: I have had many mentors and personal guides throughout my life, but I think the two most inspirational ones for me were Henry LeTang and Keith Clifton.
What do you do for fun (other than dance)?
Gregg: I am a sports fan (any sport, really). Along with music, movies, and random trivia, I also love puzzles, long walks on the beach, good conversation . . . wait, now this is sounding like Match.com. Ha ha!
To learn more about the DanceLife Teacher Conference scheduled for August 1 to 4 in Scottsdale, Arizona, visit www.dancelifeteacherconference.com.
Four top performer/choreographers—Shaness Kemp, Theresa Ruth Howard, Iquail Shaheed, and Ronald Todorowski—will be leading open master classes and judging a dance student concert next month at Dean College, Franklin, Massachusetts.
The guest choreographers will serve as judges for a Choreographers’ Concert, set for February 22 at 7:30pm, and featuring works and performances by students from the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance at Dean.
Master classes open to the public have been scheduled for February 23. Dancers 12 to 14, 15 and older, and Dean alumnae and students can take classes in Broadway jazz, Afro-modern, contemporary, and modern repertoire. Registration is from 8 to 8:45am, with classes running from 9am to 3pm. Cost is $60 (Dean students/alumni $20).
Guest instructors include: Shaness Kemp, member of the Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers who has performed with Philadanco and Rennie Harris Puremovement; Theresa Ruth Howard, a faculty member at The Ailey School who has danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Donald Byrd, and Armitage Gone! Dance; Iquail Shaheed, founder and artistic director of Dance Iquail! and a teacher at Steps on Broadway and The Ailey Extension; and Ronald Todorowski, an assistant of Mia Michaels and Twyla Tharp with Broadway credits including Come Fly Away, Guys and Dolls, The Times They Are A-Changin’, Movin’ Out, Wicked, and Footloose.
For more information on Choreographers’ Concert or to register for a master class, visit www.dean.edu/DanceMomentum.
Described as an “East Coast urban dance event,” ICONS of Dance aims to showcase top dances and dance crews while also providing performance opportunities and industry contacts.
Dancers will receive live feedback from a celebrity panel, following the feedback format popularized by TV shows such as So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew. Judges lined up for Atlantic City include SYTYCD choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo (Nappytabs), Step Up Revolution assistant choreographer Mike Song, and Arnel Calvario, manager for many top hip-hop artists and board president of Culture Shock International and Culture Shock Los Angeles.
A convention with master classes will be held from 8 to 11:45am. As a means of encouraging relationships within the urban dance community, the afternoon session will begin with a “freestyle session” from 2:15 to 5:15pm that will allow all participants to rehearse their routines onstage and engage in cyphers and freestyle sessions inside the event venue. During the evening session from 7 to 10:30pm, crews can either compete or choose to perform in showcases and exhibition numbers. An “unofficial” party will follow the 10:30pm awards presentation.
Audience member tickets are $20 general admission, and doors open at 6:30pm. More events are tentatively planned for the fall in Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. For more information or to register, visit http://www.iconsofdancetour.com/.
Diane Gudat, freelance writer, teacher, and choreographer known to Dance Studio Life magazine readers for her humorous and heartfelt takes on the life of a dance teacher, will be a faculty member at next summer’s DanceLife Teacher Conference.
The conference, set for August 1 to 4 at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona, will feature 27 teachers and speakers—from professional company directors to business experts and master teachers—sharing anecdotes and information with teachers and studio owners.
A native of Indianapolis, Indiana, Gudat began The Dance Company in 1979. She is the artistic director of the Indianapolis Children’s Dance League and originally produced/directed the Indiana State Dance Championships.
Gudat has served as a guest artist and choreographer to numerous private studios, high schools, and companies all over the United States and Canada, and served as a master teacher for many dance teachers’ organizations, including Dance Masters of America, Dance Teachers Club of Boston, Florida Dance Masters, Southern Association of Dance Masters, and the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. As an independent, award-winning choreographer, she has staged a wide variety of musicals and has choreographed numerous show choirs and dance lines. She was one of the coaches to the 2002 gold medal USA Tap and Showdance teams at the World Championships held in Germany.
Gudat is the author of three dance books: Acrobatics for the Dance Studio, The Time Step Dictionary, and Music Theory for the Dance Classroom. Her humor and energy have made her a popular judge and faculty member for numerous conventions and competitions across the U.S. and Canada.
For full details on DLTC, visit http://www.dancestudiolife.com/dltc/dltc-fees-info/.
Emmy-nominated choreographer and master tap teacher Gregg Russell will be sharing his insights into tap education each month as part of Dance Studio Life magazine’s “Two Tips for Tap Teachers” feature.
Russell, who will also be teaching at next summer’s DanceLife Teacher Conference, has joined the magazine’s esteemed “tipsters” Bill Evans (“Two Tips for Modern Teachers”), Mignon Furman (“Two Tips for Ballet Teachers), and Geo Hubela (“Two Tips for Hip-Hop Teachers”).
Russell has directed commercials and performed with numerous music artists. He appeared in a national Volkswagon commercial, trained Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough for an upcoming feature film, and performed on the Jerry Lewis Telethon and Dance Halloween charity events. As a master teacher he travels with Co. Dance Conventions and produces his own Tap Into the Network dance intensives.
His first set of tap tips will appear in the January DSL. For more information on the DanceLife Teacher Conference, visit http://www.dancestudiolife.com/dltc/dltc-fees-info/.
The Joffrey Academy of Dance, official school of The Joffrey Ballet, announced this week that Ma Cong, William McClellan, and Jeremy McQueen are the winners of the Third Annual Choreographers of Color Award.
The Choreographers of Color Award was created to recognize promising young minority choreographers. Winners receive a minimum of 30 rehearsal hours to set a new work on the Joffrey Academy trainees, a $2,500 stipend, and the opportunity to work directly with Joffrey Academy artistic directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.
Cong started his career at the Beijing Dance Academy training as a Chinese classical dancer before he joined the National Ballet of China in 1995, then Tulsa Ballet in 1999; he has created works for Tulsa Ballet, Houston Ballet, BalletMet, Ballet Florida, Smuin Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Ballet Nouveau Colorado, and Ballet Des Moines, among others
McClellan, a principal dancer and resident choreographer for 10 years for the first and second Dayton Contemporary Dance companies, is currently an MFA candidate in the Department of Dance at University of Michigan.
McQueen, a 2008 graduate of The Ailey School/Fordham University, BFA in Dance program, has presented his choreographic works throughout New York City, including the seventh annual Dance From The Heart concert presented by Dancers Responding to AIDS, the Young Choreographer’s Festival, and the Dance Gallery Festival.
The three world premieres will be presented in “Choreographers of Color Award 2013: Winning Works” at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, 205 East Randolph Drive, Chicago, on March 10, 2013 at 4pm. Tickets are $18 in advance or $22 at the door and will be available as of January 8, 2013, by calling the Harris Theater Box Office at 312.334.7777 or online at www.harristheaterchicago.org.
When Miley Cyrus struts, spins, and swivels around her concert stage, it was Boston-born choreographer Nancy O’Meara who helped her hone those moves.
O’Meara will be just one top industry faculty member at next summer’s DanceLife Teacher Conference. Her fast paced and powerful choreography can be seen on television (Hannah Montana), in music videos (“She’s No You,” Jesse McCartney), on live stage tours (Vanessa Hudgens), and in concert (High School Musical).
She’s danced on TV award shows—the Grammys, Oscars, MTV, and others; appeared in films such as The Wedding Planner and Forrest Gump; and worked with Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Usher, Reba McEntire, and Paula Abdul.
And August 1 to 4, 2013, in Scottsdale, Arizona, O’Meara will work with the 700-plus teachers at the DLTC. For registration info, visit http://www.dancestudiolife.com/dltc/dltc-fees-info/.
The Bethesda Arts & Entertainment District is accepting applications for the ninth annual Dance Bethesda Concert, according to The Gazette.
Selected dance companies will be invited to perform in the concert, March 9, 2013, at Round House Theatre, and will receive a $600 honorarium. Auditions will be viewed by the Dance Bethesda selection panel which consists of Dan Joyce of the School of Dance at George Mason University; Elizabeth Walton of the University of Maryland Baltimore County; and Septime Webre, artistic director of The Washington Ballet.
Dance companies and choreographers located in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, are eligible to submit an audition application. All dance genres are eligible. Dance companies must have been in existence for at least two years. Choreographers are not required to have an established dance company. Selected performers must perform the piece submitted on the audition tape.
Auditioning companies and choreographers can apply two ways; apply online at www.bethesda.org or mail in a completed application and DVD including one performance piece that is 8 to 10 minutes in length, a resume including past performances, and a nonrefundable entry fee of $15. Applications must be received by November 16.
For a complete application, visit www.bethesda.org or call 302.215.6660.
To see the original story, visit http://www.gazette.net/article/20121017/NEWS/710179977/1151/dance-bethesda-accepting-applications&template=gazette.
Choreographer and dance teacher Peter Chu will participate in the 24 Seven Dance Convention, a tour of two-day workshops for aspiring dancers ages 5 to 19 that will visit 15 cities across the United States in 2012-13, culminating with a national dance competition in Las Vegas from July 14 to 19, 2013.
Launching next month, the brand new 24 Seven Dance Convention will present classes, choreographed routines, and an adjudicated competition over the course of a weekend, under the tutelage of a faculty that includes Sonya Tayeh, Danny Wallace, Lauren Adams, Brooke Pierotti, tWitch, Anthony Russo, Jess Hendricks, and Francisco Gella.
Chu, a 2002 graduate of The Juilliard School, has danced with Montreal’s BJM Danse Company, Crystal Pite’s company Kidd Pivot, Celine Dion’s Vegas spectacular A New Day, and was the lead character in Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts” music video. His choreography was featured on Season 9 of So You Think You Can Dance. His company, chuthis., will tour Nothing Sticks, inspired by the vaudevillian era, across the United States this spring.
The 24 Seven tour begins in Chicago on November 9 to 11 and will make stops in Phoenix, Denver, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Orlando, and Washington, DC, among other cities. Visit www.24sevendance.com for more information.
Legendary choreographer Paul Taylor was feted at a state dinner at the iconic Lotos Club on October 3 where he received the Medal of Merit, the club’s highest honor given to leaders in the arts and cultural worlds.
The Lotos Club, one of the oldest literary clubs in the United States, was founded in 1870 by a group of young writers, journalists, and critics. Frequent guests then as well as now include top scholars, musicians, painters and sculptors, art collectors, historians, novelists, and college presidents.
Past recipients include Gilbert and Sullivan, Ulysses S. Grant, Samuel Clemens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Woodrow Wilson, Enrico Caruso, Fiorello LaGuardia, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, Gloria Swanson, Harry Truman, Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, Stephen Sondheim, Peter Martins, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Marilyn Horne, and Barbara Cook.
Lotos Club president Anne Russell read letters of praise from Baryshnikov, Ellsworth Kelly, and Alex Katz, all of whom have worked closely with Taylor. “Mr. Taylor embodies the tenets that the Lotos Club holds so dear: to promote and develop art, and encourage and inspire other artists and audiences alike,” Russell said. “It was a fitting tribute to such an accomplished and lovely man.”
Taylor has achieved countless accolades, including two of our nation’s highest artistic distinctions: the Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts.