I love dance neophytes. Accompanying one of those newbies to a performance—whether it’s their first exposure to dance in any form, to a particular kind of dance, or to a specific work—has the added perk, beyond the performance’s offerings, of a delicious mingling of pleasures.
Last December, when I took a friend to San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker, I got to share in this 20-something’s delight as she discovered the magic of a ballet she had never seen as a child. She swooned over costumes embellished with beading and silken textures and glorious colors, gasped when the Russian trio burst from their Fabergé-like eggs, exhaled soft “ooh”s at the elegant perfection of the grand pas de deux. Sitting next to her, in effect seeing the stage through her eyes, I experienced this Nutcracker, which I’ve seen too many times to count, with a renewed feeling of joy. And pride, a sense of ownership.
Isn’t it odd how we can feel possessive about something as impermanent and intangible as a dance performance? When I expose someone to something that’s new to them, I see their experience of dance art as something real and permanent. When dance moves us, for whatever reason—beauty, provocation, a shift in perspective—it becomes part of us, something we internalize and integrate into who we are. Maybe we revisit a performance mentally because it challenges our thinking, or maybe we simply let it resonate quietly within us, an emotional touchstone. Either way, the art lives, and we have become something we were not. The choreographer and the dancers have sent us a message, and we have interpreted it as we will.
Dance, all spectacle aside, is a form of communication. All art is—dance, literature, music, fine art. Our need to communicate on a deep level through art is, to me, the most elemental definition of being human. Art shakes us up. It creates wonder, transcends the rote of the everyday.
In that darkened theater, those vital messages were flying faster than IMs, from the dancers to my friend, from my friend to the dancers, and from her to me. How lucky I am to be able to give that experience to others and in return live it anew. —Cheryl A. Ossola, Editor in Chief
Power of One
Last month editor in chief Cheryl Ossola wrote about Nederlands Dans Theater; I saw the same performance. But rather than bringing to mind Calvino’s literary manifesto, it got me thinking about individualism and discipline.
I saw onstage a retinue of dancers, each of whom was intensely and tangibly distinct. There was no prescribed “style” of dancer. The dancing was as individual as it could be. One dancer had a fierce dramatic presence. Her slow creep across the stage could have stopped traffic. Another moved so smoothly into and out of the floor that he might have been cutting through the surface of a pond.
Yet when any group danced in unison, the impact was astonishing. A phalanx of men moved across the stage with a power that pinned me against my seat.
Dancers have to learn to control their bodies and constrain their egos to convey the kinds of choreographic ideas only unison movement can communicate. Also, dancing as a group is immensely satisfying, in the same way that playing or singing in a musical ensemble is.
Yet cultivating an individual, unique relationship with dance is what makes a dancer an artist. Certainly teach your kids to watch spacing, keep their legs at uniform levels, match the group’s dynamic quality. But also teach them to know when they’re allowed to bust out. Help them find the personal spark that will make them glow inside and shine onstage.
Many years ago I saw a ballet company whose dancers were so interested in expressing their individual fabulousness that they were almost incapable of touching their noses in unison. A talented ballet master got hold of them; now what you see onstage is a unified ensemble that brings to the stage the soaring melody of group movement—but also individuals whose gifts ring clearly and distinctively. —Lisa Okuhn, Associate Editor
For the first time, 24,000 films and tapes from the New York Public Library’s dance archive is available to view online, reports Hyperallergic.
The New York Public Library recently digitized thousands of hours of its videos in the Jerome Robbins Dance Division Moving Image Archive, from grainy historic footage to contemporary productions. Before, you had to ask for copies individually at the library. Even now, not all of the thousands of videos are viewable off-site, as much of the archive does still require you to be present in the library. However, in terms of accessibility, it’s miles ahead . . . [of where it was] before.
What you can view online includes documentation of the Khmer Dance Project featuring the Royal Ballet of Cambodia, and the Dance Division and Core of Culture’s three-year project of recording the Kingdom of Bhutan’s vanishing dance traditions.
There are also modern pieces like the 2011 Performance Space 122 reconstruction of the intense 1980s Them by Ishmael Houston-Jones, Chris Cochran, and Dennis Cooper, as well as the haunting Water by Eiko & Koma performed in 2011 right in the Paul Milstein Pool at Lincoln Center.
Then there’s the 2007 Monet Impressions performed by the Carolina Ballet depicting Monet’s life and his relationships in dance, as well as older works like the 1923 silent film star Alla Nazimova’s Dance of the Seven Veils, and Danse Macabre where two lovers try to escape the plague that frolics as a skeleton around them.
More films will continue to be available as the archive undergoes digitization. The Jerome Robbins Dance Division Moving Image Archive can be accessed online at http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/dancevideo.
To see the original story, visit http://hyperallergic.com/117959/new-york-public-library-puts-major-dance-video-archive-online/.
Wendy Whelan, principal dancer with New York City Ballet who became a major star of the post-Balanchine era, plans to give her farewell performance with the company on October 18 after 30 years—and then to continue her leap into contemporary dance.
“It’s exactly like a 30-year circle,” Whelan, 46, told the New York Times. Whelan joined NYCB as an apprentice in 1984 and went on to become a prima ballerina and to create roles in new ballets by choreographers including Christopher Wheeldon, Twyla Tharp, and Alexei Ratmansky, among others. “It feels perfect. I wouldn’t want to stay 31. Thirty years is a good, long time.”
But Whelan, whose departure is being announced Monday, does not seem inclined to slow down. After making a critically acclaimed foray into modern dance last year with her program Restless Creature, she is planning a second venture: a program of new works for her to perform with the Royal Ballet’s Edward Watson that is scheduled to have its premiere in London in 2015.
Whelan said she was recovering well from a hip injury that required surgery and sidelined her, forcing the postponement of a national tour of Restless Creature that had been scheduled for this spring. “I’m making some steady progress,” she said, adding that she hopes to dance with NYCB this spring and to dance this summer in Saratoga, New York; London; and Vail, Colorado. The Restless Creature tour has been rescheduled for next year.
The public is welcome to attend two free outreach programs offered up by American Repertory Ballet’s Access & Enrichment department this April.
“Dancing Your Way into College,” an On Pointe enrichment series event, will be held April 4 at 5:15pm at Princeton Ballet School, 301 North Harrison Street, Princeton, New Jersey. Representatives from ARB and from Princeton University’s admissions and financial aid departments will advise high school dancers and their families on their college options and how to best navigate the admissions process. Attendance is recommended for high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing a degree in dance, as well as those who wish to keep dance as an extracurricular activity as they pursue a degree in another subject area.
Waiting in the Wings, a performance designed as the culmination of ARB’s 2013–2014 DANCE POWER educational residency in the New Brunswick Public School District, will take place April 7 at 7pm at State Theatre, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, New Jersey. The performance, on the theme “Carnival of the Animals,” will feature more than 400 third-grade students from the New Brunswick Public School District who have participated in DANCE POWER since last fall.
The sisters had a month to get the lift right. Kiera Brinkley slides across the floor on legs stumped at the thighs. She jumps. Uriah Boyd catches Brinkley with her feet, grabs the arms that end just below the elbow and pushes her sister up.
It’s the airplane trick people play as children with their parents. When Brinkley—who lost parts of both arms and legs to an infection when she was 2—and Boyd do it right, it becomes art.
The Oregonian said an upcoming documentary by filmmaker Susan Hess Logeais, Soar, follows the past two years of the sisters’ lives, beginning with the last time they performed their duet in April 2012 at Jefferson High School. The films uses dance and disability to explore the ways siblings form identities away from each other.
A viewing of Soar and a dance performance is planned for April 21 at 7:30pm at the Newmark Theatre, Portland. “It’s about the human potential, how we grow and contract and continue and live,” said Melissa St. Clair, a dance choreographer who works with the sisters.
Students used to crowd circles around Brinkley in elementary school to watch her jump rope. She learned dance routines at Da Vinci Middle School, then taught them to Boyd at night. Then she’d choreograph her own, pushing her younger sister to perform with her.
Amputees “aren’t really supposed to dance,” Brinkley said. Dancing sharpens her bones to pencil points. Every few years she goes to the hospital. A doctor breaks the sharpened bones off, resets her legs. Brinkley spends the months after incapacitated, depending on family members to help her use the bathroom or make dinner. Nevertheless, she is now a member of Polaris Dance Theatre, a professional contemporary dance company.
To read the full story, visit http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/03/documentary_follows_sisters_ki.html.
The Dance Council of North Texas and the Town of Addison will celebrate dance styles from contemporary ballet to traditional Aztec dance to Russian folk dance during a free Mother’s Day event to be held May 11 from 2 to 4pm at the Addison Theatre Center, 15650 Addison Road.
This year’s Taste Dance Addison Style interactive performance schedule includes:
• Mitotiliztli Yaoyollohtli: Aztec Dance Company
• Hathaway Academy of Ballet: The Project Contemporary Dance Ensemble
• Marina Almayeva School of Classical Ballet: Russian Folk Dance
• Booker T. Washington HS of the Performing and Visual Arts’ Rep II Dance Company
Presenting groups will also give instruction in their style. Visit www.thedancecouncil.org for more information.
Boston Ballet will climax its 50th-anniversary season with its first-ever performances at New York’s Lincoln Center, reported the Boston Globe.
Two programs will be offered in six performances over five days, June 25 to 29, at the David H. Koch Theater. Program 1 will comprise William Forsythe’s The Second Detail, a new work (still untitled) by former Paris Opera Ballet étoile José Carlos Martínez, and Alexander Ekman’s Cacti. Program 2 will include George Balanchine’s Symphony in Three Movements, Vaslav Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun, Jorma Elo’s Plan to B, and Jirí Kylián’s Bella Figura.
It’s a contemporary group of works; only the Nijinsky and the Balanchine are more than 25 years old. Symphony in Three Movements will be particularly familiar to New York audiences; the company’s performances will invite direct comparison with those of Balanchine’s own New York City Ballet.
“This is one of the biggest historic things Boston Ballet has ever done,” artistic director Mikko Nissinen said of the tour. But he’s confident the company will be received as enthusiastically in New York as it was when it opened its 50th anniversary year last June in London. “I’m very proud with the way we do Symphony in Three Movements, and I’m very happy to take it to Balanchine’s home,” he said.
For tickets, visit www.davidhkochtheater.com. To read the full story, visit http://www.boston.com/culturedesk/2014/01/30/boston-ballet-will-conclude-anniversary-season-lincoln-center/yViqy8zkWIPD6Uu4acQY3K/story.html#sthash.lZuLxBaT.dpuf.
Celebrity Series of Boston is looking for more than 150 dancers to participate in a public “dance extravaganza” that will descend on Copley Square this May 16 to 18, reported Boston.com.
Informational “recruitment” meetings will be held February 2 to 4 at the Boston Conservatory.
Volunteer dancers will participate in a series of 20 rehearsals to learn and perform Le Grand Continental, a 30-minute performance of music and dance created by Montreal choreographer Sylvain Émard Danse. Le Grand Continental requires no previous dance experience and all ages are welcome.
Gary Dunning, Celebrity Series of Boston executive director, said organizers will accept as many dancers as Copley Square can hold. “We look for passion, energy, and the desire to do this, while we take on the responsibility for training. We’ll take all the applicants and work with them,” Dunning said. “In a sense, it’s as much about creating community as it is about celebrating community.”
Dunning said he was amazed by the success of “Street Pianos Boston,” a similar event of public performance art sponsored by Celebrity Series, and feels that city residents crave more opportunities to participate in and develop community around performance art. “Our goal is to have a project every year of some kind or another that celebrates how much Boston loves performing arts.”
For more information or to sign up for an information session, visit http://www.celebrityseries.org/lgc/. To see the original story, visit
Forty-six former Paul Taylor Dance Company dancers have accepted the modern dance master’s invitation to join the current company in the revival of his work, From Sea to Shining Sea.
Broadway World said the work will be presented along with the Taylor masterpiece Esplanade at a special added performance March 23 at 6pm as part of the PTDC’s three-week season at Lincoln Center. A 60th-anniversary party will be held immediately following the performance on the promenade of the David H. Koch Theater.
From Sea to Shining Sea, the first dance in what has become an acclaimed series of Americana-themed works, was initially hailed by some as sharp-eyed commentary and panned by others as tastelessly unpatriotic. Made in 1965—a time colored by presidential assassination, church bombings, urban riots, and an increasingly unpopular war—the dance provided an unabashed and controversial perspective on American history and cultural icons. Many observers outside of the United States were amazed that an American artist could exercise such freedom of expression.
In addition, to honor all Taylor dancers, Taylor Foundation executive director John Tomlinson has announced that all company alumni will be given free admission to Taylor Lincoln Center performances in perpetuity.
All special-performance tickets will be priced at half of regular prices: $5, $15, $27.50, $40, $55, and $80. Performance-with-party ticket prices are $65, $75, $87.50, $100, $115, and $140. Tickets are available at the Koch Theater box office, 63rd and Columbus Avenue, online at www.ptdc.org/tickets, and by calling 212.496.0600.
Ballet in Cleveland, a nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting extraordinary ballet performances and education with the best professional ballet companies and dancers from across the nation, will hold its first gala fundraising event February 28.
WhatsNewInBusiness.com reported that doors will open at 6pm for the ballet-inspired evening taking place at the Tudor Arms Hotel, 10660 Carnegie Avenue in Cleveland.
Proceeds from the gala will benefit scholarships for young dancers in Northeast Ohio to attend master ballet classes with world-class instructors, presented by Ballet in Cleveland. The fundraiser will also enable the organization to present professional ballet productions in Cleveland, including a world premiere performance to be produced and danced by ballerina Ashley Bouder—and featuring other New York City Ballet principal dancers in works by Balanchine, as well as a new ballet choreographed by up-and-coming choreographer Joshua Beamish—planned for October.
The gala will include dinner, dancing, and performances by Ballet Le Reve as well as nationally recognized professional ballet stars Allison DeBona, Rex Tilton, and Christopher Ruud of Ballet West and the television series Breaking Pointe.
Tickets are $100 per person and available online at www.balletincleveland.org/gala. To see the original story, visit http://www.international.to/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=29990:ballet-in-cleveland-announces-first-annual-gala-event-feb-28&catid=323:prlog&Itemid=479.
The Curtain Up! Performing Company from On Center Performing Arts in Missoula, Montana, is taking aim against cyberbullying with its annual show “To Missoula, With Love.”
This year’s edition, titled “#Instant Fame,” is a multi-perspective show about the impact of social media on today’s youth, and features a piece on cyberbullying.
“A lot of people don’t actually understand that people can bully through the internet and texting and all that kind of stuff. We just kind of make it apparent and we show people kind of what can happen,” said student director Riley Sanders on NBC Montana.
The company dancers are ages 8 to 17, and several contributed choreography to the show, along with On Center Performing Arts’ owner and director Lisa Deer and instructors.
The show will be held at the MCT Center for the Performing Arts on 200 North Adams Street in Missoula on January 31 at 7pm and February 1 at 2 and 7pm. To see the original story, visit http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/missoula-dance-company-tackles-cyberbullying-with-performance/24002320.
American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company will make its inaugural appearance at the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center in New York City with four performances February 7 to 9.
In 1935, what became 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Center provided a home to the fledgling American modern dance movement. In the decades that followed, every great American dancer and choreographer—visionaries including Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Merce Cunningham, Jerome Robbins, Agnes de Mille, Robert Joffrey and Donald McKayle—spent time at 92Y.
The ABT Studio Company is comprised of 14 dancers-in-training ages 16 to 20 who gain performance experience through residencies, cultural exchanges, and local performances. The works scheduled to be performed include a world premiere choreographed by Larry Keigwin, Martine van Hamel’s Trio a Deux, excerpts from Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Great Galloping Gottschalk, Antony Tudor’s Continuo, and the pas de sept from Raymonda.
Tickets, priced at $25, are available at www.92y.org/dance. The 92nd Street Y is located at 1395 Lexington Avenue in New York City.
Dancers from Paramus [NJ] High School, Mariann’s School of Dance, Center Stage Dance Studio, and the Ridgewood High School Dance Company will perform a special choreographed piece titled Let’s Help to call attention to the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone’s effort to abolish the stigma of mental illness, reports The Paramus Post.
The special choreographed performance for the Paramus Stigma-Free Zone will be presented at 2:30, 3, and 3:30pm on January 25 at the Paramus Park Mall in Paramus.
The Paramus Stigma-Free Zone is a community group established in July of 2013 by Paramus resident Mary Ann Uzzi under the belief is that the best way to end stigma is to begin a healthy conversation on mental illness. The dance performance is one of many local events planned by the group. As more events are held, the expectation is that the conversation will continue to grow.
“As an artist and teacher, I truly believe in advocacy through the arts and see this as a natural way to address the issues within our community,” said Jennifer Landa, lead choreographer of the dance project, along with Claudine Ranieri, Ann Marie Coelho, and Mariann Paul. “It has been wonderful to see the dancers and teachers here in Paramus collaborate and have the opportunity to share their work, their thoughts, and their feelings on the issue.”
For more information, visit www.paramusstigmafree.org. To read the original story, visit
Ten-year-old tap prodigy Luke Spring has tapped his way onto the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in A Christmas Story: The Musical, the Tony Award telecast from Radio City Music Hall, and now Madison Square Garden.
“I’m just honored and blessed to be performing onstage,” says Spring, a remarkably well-behaved, 4-foot-tall blond boy from Ashburn, Virginia, told the Associated Press. Luke has returned to A Christmas Story, the hit musical based on the 1983 movie about a kid who dreams of getting an air rifle for Christmas. It’s at The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, until December 29.
His second-act tap solo has become a special highlight of the show; even the show’s dressers crane their heads offstage to watch his act, which he improvs every night.
Dance captain Mara Newbery recalls an early rehearsal in which Luke unleashed a flurry of tap-tappity-taps that stunned everyone. The assistant conductor leaned over and whispered in her ear, “You just got outtapped by a 9-year-old.” Newbery, who holds a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Michigan and is a seasoned performer, agreed: “I was like, ‘I know. I need to go to class.’ ”
She’s even found herself learning from Luke, some 15 years her junior. He’s unfailingly polite, regularly practices on his own after rehearsals, and carries himself with total professionalism.
“I think that’s something we forget as adults: you can learn so much from kids. We try and act like, ‘Oh, we know what we’re doing. We’re here to tell you what to do,’ ” she says. “Sometimes you get a kick in the pants and you’re like, ‘Oh, wait. I can learn something from you.’ ”
To read the full story, visit http://bigstory.ap.org/article/luke-spring-tap-dancing-prodigy.
To see a video of Luke’s performance on the Tony Awards, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tguc49ODMI.
Teamwork, timing, and fun were on display when more than 600 participants in five states performed kick lines as part of National Dance Week Foundation’s second annual Kick It! Challenge.
The performances were held during October and November and took place at a variety of venues and events, including high school and college football games. Participants filmed the performances and submitted them to the NDWF for judging.
“The winning videos are featured on our website and posted on Facebook,” Cathy Graziano, NDWF executive director, said. “We can’t wait to see what people do next year.”
Groups competed in five categories: high school, elementary school, college dance team, dance studio, and longest. Winning entries included:
• Texas High School Royals Dance Team (47 dances) at Hall Stadium, Missouri City, Texas, on October 4 and 11
• Seaman High School Vikettes (22 dancers) in Topeka, Kansas, on September 6
• Lake Travis High School Cavalettes (39 dances) in House Park Stadium, Austin, Texas, on September 27
• Apache Babes (106 dancers ages 3 to 12) at Rose Stadium, Tyler, Texas, on September 21
College Dance Team:
• Apache Belles (46 dances), a precision dance and drill team from Tyler Junior College, at Rose Stadium, Tyler, Texas, on October 26
• Westport Academy of Dance junior and senior company members (19 dancers) in Westport, Connecticut, on November 9
• Angela Floyd School for Dance and Music dance company (23 dancers) at the Knoxville Civic Auditorium, Knoxville, Tennessee, on October 14
Longest Kick Line:
• Dance-N-Drill (213 dancers) in Tyler, Texas
To see the winning entries, visit http://www.nationaldanceweek.org/.
By Julie Holt Lucia
Dear Former Customer,
Today was such a special day. Our annual recital, like most, is so much more than a performance—it’s a chance for all of our students to dance their hearts out in front of their families and friends. From the tiniest preschooler to the teenager with nine dances to remember, they all look forward to their moment onstage where they can share their love for dance.
Our staff members too, look forward to this day with great anticipation. Finally, the hours and hours of work they put in, most of them behind the scenes, are recognized by an audience. As the studio owner and director, I’m always nervous and excited for everyone—dancers and teachers alike—and I always hope that we’ve done enough to satisfy you, the parents.
You believed the dancers were being taught by perfect teachers; we are not perfect. You thought perfection was our goal; it wasn’t.
We clearly failed you. But I am not sorry.
You expected to watch perfect dancers; we did not put perfect dancers on the stage. You wanted to see perfect technique; we did not show you that. You believed the dancers were being taught by perfect teachers; we are not perfect. You thought perfection was our goal; it wasn’t.
Somehow you missed the joy, the smiles, and the pure excitement of the dancers on that stage. Backstage too, there were countless high fives, hugs, and happy tears.
We have nurtured these dancers and instilled in them a sense of accomplishment. Whether they are naturally gifted—like your beautiful daughter—or struggling to keep up, we encourage them. We walk a line every day between how to correct and how to inspire. We take pride in teaching technique that is developmentally appropriate and will not injure young bodies. Choreography is planned and costumes are chosen with the intent of helping our dancers look their best.
Year after year, the dancers achieve new goals, on and off the stage. When a kindergartner finally masters shuffle hop step, we are beyond thrilled. When a shy dancer learns how to freestyle in hip-hop, we hug her and whisper, “Way to go!” When a high-schooler is accepted into a summer intensive or an arts magnet school, we are delighted beyond words.
And yes, all of those students are tickled pink to perform in the recital. For them, each in his or her own way, being a dancer is realizing a dream. For me, being a small part of that dream is incredibly rewarding and humbling.
And so the hateful, vile criticism you posted via social media about my studio, staff, and dancers? The comment that next year, your daughter can do “real” dancing somewhere else? It made me feel sick.
But only for about a minute. Because after that minute, I realized that you’re looking for all the wrong things in a dance school, and we are not the right fit for you. You and I have very different definitions of “real.” For me, what’s “real” are the dancers’ accomplishments, big and small, and the happiness they share when the curtain falls.
Hundreds of people were happy today. It’s a shame you weren’t one of them.
Proud Studio Owner
A city council committee has approved a $5.46-million funding request for a proposed $17.9-million dance facility in Calgary’s Beltline, reported the Calgary Herald.
At 3,250 square meters, the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks Dance Centre would be the largest facility of its kind in the city. It would house several dance studios, performance venues, a recreational school, and community space.
“We moved into our current facility in 1993 . . . and we paid $35,000 a year in rent,” said Kathi Sundstrom, executive director for Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. “We now pay in excess of $250,000, so we can’t afford to operate where we are because we can’t expand our revenue because there are only so many studios.”
DJD is partnering with the Kahanoff Centre for Charitable Activities to build a $40-million, 12-story building at Centre Street and 12th Avenue S.E. DJD, which is kicking in $17.9 million for the project, would occupy the first five floors of the building through a 49-year lease.
The $5.46 million, which still needs council approval, is through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative Culture-Related Infrastructure Fund. The provincial and federal governments have already approved $5 million and $1.9 million, respectively, for the project. DJD has also received $1.5 million from the Calgary Foundation and $3.5 million in private donations.
Sundstrom said the new performing arts facility should open in November 2015 and will provide the community with additional arts space. “Our objective was to bring dance to the street and make it accessible,” said Sundstrom.
To read the full story, visit http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Proposed+dance+facility+Beltline+receives+million+boost
The professional dancers in the St. Paul City Ballet’s holiday production Clara’s Dream often pull double or triple duty, dancing multiple roles in the one-hour performance. The dancers pull extra duty offstage as well, said the Pioneer Press, covering administrative roles as part of the company’s rare artist-led business model.
When Minnesota’s St. Paul City Ballet announced the 2013–14 performance season was in jeopardy, dancer Shannon Corbett pitched to the board the dancers’ plan to step into the administrative roles, overseeing the direction of the ballet in addition to the work they do in the studio, including a budget that would make it possible.
“Being artist-led makes it really easy for us to kind of have control, and have a little more artistic freedom, in that sense,” said Jarod Boltjes, who joined the St. Paul City Ballet this season and serves as the production coordinator, booking performance spaces for the company.
Dancer Zoe Henrot was nominated by the company to be the interim artistic director, overseeing much of the choreography for the season. “It’s kind of a blessing. Because we are artist-led, we can sit down and be like ‘What part has someone always been dying to do, but never has had the chance?’ ” Henrot said. “It gives us a lot of flexibility in what we want to put on stage.”
The company puts on a free performance once a month in downtown St. Paul. Dancers walked in the 2013 Twin Cities Pride parade, and the company maintains an active social media presence. This community outreach is crucial, Henrot said, because of the artist-led business model’s reliance on community support. “We’re just really trying to get out there and talk to people about what we’re doing, because we think it’s really cool,” she said.
To read the full story, visit http://www.twincities.com/stage/ci_24634446/dancers-take-over-st-paul-city-ballet-keep.
According to The New York Times, The Joyce Theater Foundation will present the New York premiere of Snow White with choreography by Angelin Preljocaj. Performed by Mr. Preljocaj’s French dance company, Ballet Preljocaj, and based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, not the 1937 animated Disney film, the production is scheduled for a six-performance run from April 23 to 27 at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Mr. Preljocaj recently choreographed a new work for the New York City Ballet and Ballet Preljocaj completed a run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music during its Next Wave Festival this month.
To see the original story, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/25/arts/dance/grimm-snow-white-coming-to-lincoln-center.html?ref=dance&_r=0.
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre is the first professional ballet company in the United States to offer an autism-friendly performance of The Nutcracker, set for December 27 at 2pm at the Benedum Center.
According to CBS News/Pittsburgh, the city of Pittsburgh is a leader in making its performing arts accessible for people with disabilities—whether it’s a physical impairment, visual impairment, hearing impairment, or a developmental disability. An autism-friendly performance of The Lion King in September filled the Benedum Center’s 2,800 seats. (Pittsburgh was only the third city in the country to offer it.)
Alyssa Herzog Melby, education director for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, spearheaded the ballet’s autism-friendly Nutcracker with a focus group that included people with autism who gave them guidance. All choreography will remain the same, but the lights in the mice’s red eyes will be turned off, flares used in a magic trick will be eliminated, the sound will be lowered, and the house lights will be partially up.
The Benedum Center lobby will be outfitted with quiet areas for anyone who needs to calm down and activity zones for anyone who needs a break from the show but still wants to stay connected. Last week, the dancers had a special training on autism and what they can expect from the audience at the show.
All tickets for the performance are reserved for families who have a child or someone in their family on the spectrum or another cognitive disability, and are available at a discounted rate at www.PBT.org.
To see the original story, visit http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2013/11/19/pittsburgh-ballet-theatre-offering-autism-friendly-nutcracker-performance/.
By David Arce
During performances the audience looks at the dancers’ faces first, and then moves on to the choreography and technique. To encourage students to explore facial expressiveness without feeling embarrassed, try this between barre exercises: have them close their eyes and then call out expressions for them to try.
One major element that separates students from professional dancers is the quality of the connecting steps in choreography (such as walking and running), as well as non-choreographed stage movements such as bows. These must be done with confidence and are as important as the turns, jumps, and other technical steps; therefore they should be given equal attention in rehearsals.
Strategies for prepping students physically, mentally, and emotionally
By Megan Donahue
Adults know that dancers at a competition should warm up, stay focused, bring extra hairpins, and probably not get hopped up on soda. But what seems obvious to adults is not necessarily clear to students. Learning to prepare for a performance is as important as learning routines. That means that no matter how busy teachers and school owners get as competition days approach, they can add one more thing to their to-do list: teaching preparedness to students. Here’s how to do it.
Laying the groundwork
It’s easy to focus on choreography when you’re getting students ready for competition; however, getting up on that stage involves much more than dancing. If your dancers are new to competition, there’s a lot they don’t know, and a lack of knowledge can make them nervous. When you tell your students where to go, what to bring, what not to bring, and the order in which things will happen, you help to build their confidence. They can relax, knowing that they don’t have to figure things out.
Manda Moore, owner of Manda’s Rhythm and Dance in Clinton Township, Michigan, holds informational meetings ahead of competition season. “We do a lot of talking,” she says. She explains every detail and provides a list of tips, compiled by a veteran dance mom, to give new dancers and parents an insider’s perspective. These tips range from how to put on false eyelashes to methods for storing costumes, all of which help dancers and parents feel prepared and capable.
When you tell your students where to go, what to bring, what not to bring, and the order in which things will happen, you help to build their confidence.
Once at the competition, you can continue to boost dancers’ comfort level by taking extra steps to supply information. For example, to minimize any stress dancers might have about getting oriented to their surroundings, Moore makes signs that have her studio logo on them, along with arrows directing the way to the dressing rooms. “They’re never lost,” she says.
Moore also posts updates on events and locations on the studio’s Facebook page so that parents can check in on their smartphones if they’re wandering around a venue looking for their group, or to keep everyone informed if there’s a schedule change.
Warming up is not only necessary for safety, it’s also a good way to focus energy and bring the team together. Moore has different warm-up routines for each age group that competes, and they’re the same at every competition so that dancers have the comfort of a familiar routine. After the warm-up she lets the dancers run their piece one time, and no more. “If they don’t know it by then, they’re not going to,” says Moore.
Sarasue Taylor, owner of Sarasue’s Dance Zone (formerly Sarasue’s Academy of Dance) takes a different approach. Possibly following in her self-sufficient footsteps, Taylor’s students warm up individually, using the same warm-up they do in each class and rehearsal. “I used to tell them, ‘Girls you have to find a place to go warm up,’ ” says Taylor, but she soon found the reminder unnecessary. “I noticed they were going and doing it themselves.” As new dancers join the team, they pick up the habit from the established dancers.
This is more useful than a group warm-up, Taylor thinks, because the dancers are scheduled to dance at different times and can warm up at their own pace. She does not run the dance before the competition because she found that doing so “didn’t really achieve a difference” in performance.
Taylor reminds the dancers to take care of their bodies after dancing as well as before. “I tell them to take a hot bath and stretch when they get home,” she says.
Warming up and stretching are necessary, but dancers can overdo it. They want to be prepared, and with a lot of downtime at the event they can end up tiring themselves or over-stretching. Be sure to caution them about the dangers. Whether you’re leading a group warm-up or your dancers are preparing on their own, they have to stay strong and flexible all day.
Emphasize the need to treat their bodies gently. Let them know how much warming up is too much and which stretching activities to avoid. In particular, watch out for ballistic (bouncing) stretching, which can lead to injury.
Students may appreciate knowing that their desire to push harder while stretching isn’t a problem that only students have; professionals struggle with it too. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater dancer Vernard J. Gilmore wrote on the Ailey blog, “Most often we as dancers just want to go for it, but we must use our innate intelligence toward stretching.”
Make sure your dancers know that warming up comes before stretching every time, understand which muscles are being activated before stretching, and don’t sacrifice alignment for the temporary satisfaction of reaching that little bit farther. Helping them develop this kind of intelligence will teach them how to keep themselves safe now and in the long run.
Additionally, the hallways and dressing rooms of competition venues are not always physically comfortable places. Moore requires her students to wear warm-ups between performances to keep warm, and cautions them about cooling off during down time. “If we have a long break, we’ll warm up again,” she says.
Competition days are long and can take a physical toll. Nutritious snacks, lots of water, and getting rest during the day can make the difference between a happy dancer and a tired, crabby person who’s trying to remember choreography. Moore encourages her students to bring non-messy healthy snacks, water, and a pillow and blanket to every competition.
Sometimes things go wrong during a dance. Lights go out, the wrong music plays, someone ends up in the wrong spot—these are the hazards of live performance. Moore and her staff teach students to be prepared for anything by playfully sabotaging their rehearsals. “We’ll throw things at them like stopping the music, or making it skip on purpose,” she says. No matter what happens, Moore instructs the students, do not stop dancing unless there’s an actual emergency.
When dancers experience things going wrong and practice handling them successfully, they worry less about mishaps. Moore saw how this preparation can pay off when one dancer’s shoulder straps came completely undone during a performance, posing the risk of considerable exposure. “We had talked about that being the only time they are allowed to exit the stage, if they were at risk of their costume falling off or exposing them,” said Moore. “The dancer came off the stage during a time when it was easiest to not be noticed. I fastened her straps and then she found an appropriate time in the music and ran out with an added arm [gesture] like it was part of the routine.”
Competition teacher Emma Davis, of The Art of Dance in White Lake Township, Michigan, helps her dancers prepare mentally for whatever results they will receive by explaining each competition’s scoring system. “They’re looking at confusing numbers,” she says, since competitions’ scoring systems can be markedly different.
“There’s a lot of pressure put on [kids] for something they do for fun,” Davis says about competitions. Performing and being judged can be an intense experience, so she tries to focus on positivity. “It can be fun to be part of a team and work toward a goal,” she says. Davis reminds students that they are there to enjoy themselves as well as perform. She meets them as they come offstage, and greets them with congratulations and encouragement, offering particular reassurance to those who are beating themselves up for things that didn’t go well.
Moore pairs younger and older students as “buddies” for the competition and awards, which gives the younger dancers someone to look up to and “keeps [the older dancers] out of trouble,” she says. “They know they have a responsibility.” The dancers develop a relationship when they watch their buddies compete. “They root for each other,” says Moore. The pairings also foster a deeper emotional connection among all team members.
Davis recalls her own experience having a competition buddy as a young dancer, first as a younger buddy and then as an older mentor. She believes it encouraged teamwork and reminded the dancers that they weren’t competing against each other. The buddies would bring each other little presents and treats, which she thinks “reminds us we’re here to have fun too, not stress out.”
Taylor prepares her students emotionally by focusing on performance and teamwork instead of scoring. “I hope they learn more from losing than winning,” she says. She doesn’t think her students’ performances suffer when she doesn’t push them to be competitive—they took 10 best overalls at a recent competition. She encourages them to dance as an ensemble, not a group of individuals. Before they go onstage, Taylor tells them, “Dance like nobody’s watching.”
Another way to emphasize the idea of emotional preparedness is by keeping calm and happy yourself. “I love coming to work every day, and I think that shows,” says Taylor, who has owned, managed, and taught at studios for 49 years. At competitions, she stays relaxed and doesn’t stress the competitive nature of the events. She wants her dancers to have fun, not worry about scoring. “I don’t ever pressure them,” she says.
Moore allows students to have whatever kind of emotional reaction they want to about their awards—once they’re in their cars on their way home. When they are in the competition venue, they must “be OK with any results they get,” she says. No backstage breakdowns are permitted; Moore thinks it’s important for dancers to be gracious. “It doesn’t matter what they hand you—you say thank you,” she says.
Part of helping dancers become emotionally prepared is teaching them how to be in control—able to focus on the group instead of only on themselves, constructively direct pre-performance nerves, and handle disappointment with grace.
With your help, your dancers can become experts at getting themselves ready to go onstage. The physical, mental, and emotional preparation you teach will soon become second nature to them, and you’ll have a team of dancers that’s ready to go.
The Joffrey Ballet School will be celebrating its 60th year by featuring the largest cast ever for its annual holiday season Nutcracker—355 dancers, according to a JBS release.
Three casts will perform five performances of the holiday favorite December 13 to 15 at New York University’s Skirball Performing Arts Center, 566 LaGuardia Place, Washington Square, New York City.
Davis Robertson, a former principal dancer with Joffrey Ballet and current artistic director of Joffrey Ballet School’s Concert Group, has choreographed the school’s Nutcracker since 2009. “It’s a tribute to the talent and hard work of our students and faculty to be able to have so many dancers perform this year, with the youngest dancer starting at age 2,” Robertson said.
A tradition started by founder Robert Joffrey 60 years ago, the Nutcracker has been an important part of the history of the Joffrey Ballet School. Of the dancers participating in this year’s program, 89 are from the school’s Children’s Program, 54 are enrolled in the Young Dancer Program, 7 are from the Fort Hamilton H.S. Joffrey Dance Academy; 145 are ballet trainees, 5 are jazz and contemporary trainees, and 30 are pre-professional dancers from the school’s Concert Group. For ticket information, visit www.nyuskirball.org.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the New York City Center stage in December for its annual holiday season, the 25th since the passing of legendary founder Alvin Ailey.
The five weeks of performances include:
• The world premiere of LIFT by in-demand choreographer Aszure Barton
• New York and company premiere of Chroma, a Wayne McGregor’s ballet performed to a score by Joby Talbot and orchestrations by Jack White III of The White Stripes
• D-Man in the Waters (Part I) a New York Dance and Performance (“Bessie”) Award–winning work by Bill T. Jones
• Four Corners, a powerful and hope-filled journey of tribulation, devotion, and triumph by Ronald K. Brown
• New productions of Ailey’s Pas De Duke and The River, set to music by Duke Ellington
• Encore performances of recent commissions including Kyle Abraham’s Another Night, Ronald K. Brown’s Grace, Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort, Garth Fagan’s From Before, Ohad Naharin’s Minus 16, Paul Taylor’s Arden Court, and Rennie Harris’ Home
• Special evenings include a celebration of Matthew Rushing and his inspiring artistry, a New Year’s Eve Celebration featuring beloved Ailey dancers of the past and present, a Special Season Finale Program for Alvin Ailey’s birthday with highlights from the season, and select programs with live music accompanying Alvin Ailey’s signature masterpiece, Revelations.
To see the full calendar of performances, visit http://www.alvinailey.org/programmingprb1.
More than 30 dance classes and special workshops will be featured in the first Dance Festival of Southern Arizona, planned for this weekend at Tucson High Magnet School, 400 N. 2nd Avenue.
The AZ Weekly reported that the festival is sponsored by the AZ Dance Coalition and the AZ Dance Education Organization (AzDEO).
Classes for dance students ages 14 and up, adults including seniors, dance instructors, and dancers, will begin October 19 and 20 at 8:30am, and will include subjects such as tap, modern, ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, Feldenkrais, flamenco, qigong, floor barre, and step dancing (body percussion); plus a special study of polyrhythms, a tap choreography workshop, a folklórico workshop, and classes specifically for teachers.
The lineup of master faculty members includes Anita Feldman, director of the dance education department at New York’s Hofstra University; Chad Michael Hall, assistant professor at the University of California–Irvine; Kathleen Sinclair, co-artistic director of Ballet Yuma, and others.
STEP to the Rhythm, DANCE to the Rhythm, a public performance, will be held October 19 at 7pm at University High School, 421 N. Arcadia Avenue, Tucson. Twenty-two companies and dancers will present dance styles such as African, Argentine tango, salsa, ballet, hip-hop, modern/contemporary, and tap. The award-winning Step’s JUNK FUNK Percussive Movement Art will also perform.
Performance tickets are available at www.BrownPaperTickets.com/event/454652.
For details and registration information, visit www.azdancecoalition.org/dance-fest-soaz/. To see the original story, visit http://azweeklymagazine.com/article-1009-1st-dance-festival-of-so-az-unites-dancers-and-enriches-learning-performing-experience-for-high-school-dancers-instructors-and-dancers-at-large.html.
The Wooden Floor, an arts-for-youth organization that partners ground-breaking choreographers with low-income youth in Southern California, will present three contemporary dance works January 17 and 18, 2014, 8:30pm, at the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) at Walt Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
The Wooden Floor seeks to produce work that is original, inventive, and idiosyncratic. Performances seek to break down ethnic, gender, and age stereotypes about who can inspire, create, perform, and appreciate art. [See DSL January 2012 article: http://www.dancestudiolife.com/2012/01/poor-kids-rich-prospects/ ]
Through performance opportunities and dance education, the program participants change the way they think about themselves, which helps them aspire beyond the grip of the poverty cycle. This will be the third time The Wooden Floor has showcased its pioneering work at REDCAT, Southern California’s leading theater for new and innovative arts.
It is highly anticipated that in the fall of 2014, The Wooden Floor will celebrate the 10th consecutive year in which 100 percent of graduates from the organization will have graduated from high school on time and enrolled in college, exceeding the national average for their peers threefold.
Tickets are $20 general admission or $10 for students, and are available at www.REDCAT.org.
Imagine Ballet Company, a preprofessional company from Bakersfield, California, will hold a public, free, three-hour class of training and choreography that will culminate in a flash mob–style dance performance on October 12 in Beach Park.
“Dance with Us” will begin at 9am, with a noon performance. “We are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year, and we thought it would just be awesome to invite the public to come and dance with us,” Norma Hamm, a member of the Imagine Ballet Company’s board of directors, told The Bakersfield Californian. “This is not something that you always see with a ballet company.”
After group stretching, participants will break off into performing groups to learn the moves—a mix of jazz and hip-hop—before reuniting to learn the grand finale. Imagine Ballet Company dancers will be teaching the moves and performing alongside the students.
The choreography for Dance with Us is designed to be one size fits all. “There is no prior dance experience necessary to take part in this,” Hamm said. “Our dancers will be out there showing everyone how to do it and you can follow along. Just wear tennis shoes and something comfy you can really move around in.”
The event is open to the first 100 registered participants ages 7 and up and includes lunch. Information/registration forms can be found at http://imagineballetcompany.com/dance-with-us/.
To see the original story, visit http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/entertainment/community/x196573171/Would-you-like-to-dance-Troupe-seeking-partners.
Russia’s legendary Bolshoi Ballet will perform at the Saratoga [NY] Performing Arts Center next July 30 to August 1—one of only three U.S. locations that will host the company during the summer of 2014.
According to The Saratogian, the Moscow-based company will present four performances of Don Quixote, and be accompanied by its 80-piece orchestra.
“We are honored to present the iconic Bolshoi Ballet on the heels of an extraordinary artistic season that will welcome back our beloved resident company, the New York City Ballet. The wide breadth of programming will also include engagements by contemporary group, Martha Graham Dance Company, performing at SPAC for the first time since 2008, and MOMIX, following its popular SPAC debut last season,” SPAC president and executive director Marcia J. White said.
The Saratoga Springs summer residency of the New York City Ballet, one of SPAC’s original resident companies, had shrunk from three weeks to two and, in the summer of 2013, to one. Only one week is planned for summer 2014. Long considered the heart of the SPAC ballet program, NYCB saw its visits cut short based on financial concerns. Of late, the venue has attempted to counter losses by expanding its offerings to include Live Nation concerts and visits by dance companies new to Saratoga Springs, such as National Ballet of Canada and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet.
To see the full story, visit http://saratogian.com/articles/2013/10/04/news/doc524f4a1906338925122832.txt.
The head coach of the Marshfield [WI] High School dance team was fired last month after a performance to an edited version of Robin Thicke’s popular summer anthem “Blurred Lines” at the first home football game of the season, reports the Green Bay Press Gazette.
The dismissal of Lisa Jolin has been met with confusion from parents and students, and concerns that the dance team might be forced to disband without a coach who helped bring a measure of respectability to a team often seen as “social pariahs” by their classmates.
The dance team performed to the song at halftime of Marshfield’s 10-9 loss to Wausau West on August 23, two nights before Thicke appeared at the MTV Music Video Awards alongside Miley Cyrus in what would become one of the most talked-about events of the year. (A video of the half-time performance shows the high school dancers dressed in black long-sleeved shirts and long pants, performing a series of very basic, non-suggestive dance steps.)
Peg Geegan, superintendent of the Marshfield School District, would not comment in an email except to say that “action was taken to remove Jolin from the assignment as high school dance coach based on appropriate reasons and following district protocols.”
But parents of the dance team members aren’t satisfied with the answers the district has given them. “I didn’t see it as so egregious because she edited the music,” said Kathy Hennick, the mother of dance team captain Leah Hennick. “It’s not a black-and-white issue. The district is saying it was so hideously bad that she is a danger to students. That’s what is upsetting to us. Not a single parent that I talked to was upset with them using that song.”
American Ballet Theatre’s opening night gala performance features the world premiere of The Tempest, choreographed by artist-in-residence and recent MacArthur genius grant recipient Alexei Ratmansky.
The gala, set for October 30 at 6:30pm, celebrates the opening of ABT’s fall season at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, New York City, and marks the company’s first return to the venue since 1976.
The Tempest cast will be led by Marcelo Gomes as Prospero, Daniil Simkin as Ariel, and Herman Cornejo as Caliban. The evening will also feature a new production of George Balanchine’s Theme and Variations led by Gillian Murphy and James Whiteside, and a pièce d’occasion choreographed by ABT principal dancer Marcelo Gomes and set to “Souvenir de Florence” by Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
Performance-only tickets, beginning at $20, are available online, at the Koch Theater box office, or by calling 212.496.0600. For more information, visit www.abt.org.
Pennsylvania Ballet is saying “thank you” to the city of Philadelphia for 50 years of support with A Gift to the City, a free performance set for October 20 at 3pm at the Academy of Music.
This one-time-only matinee will feature marquee selections from the company’s past and present. Tickets are first come, first serve, and all guests must register for a free ticket at
http://paballet.org/free-performance. WHYY will record the performance for national broadcast on PBS.
Pennsylvania Ballet was founded in 1963 by Balanchine student and protégée Barbara Weisberger. For its upcoming 50th season, the company will present four Balanchine classics: Jewels October 17 to 27; The Nutcracker December 7 to 29; Serenade (sharing a program with Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, Margo Sappington’s Under the Sun Pas de Deux, and Jiří Kylián’s Petite Mort), February 6 to 9; and Stravinsky Violin Concerto (along with John Butler’s Carmina Burana) March 6 to 15.
Other programs include Coppélia, Director’s Choice, and A 50th Finale: the Ultimate Celebration. For more information, visit www.paballet.org or call 215.551.7000.
The Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season 2013–2014 will bring Royal Ballet performances of three iconic ballets to patrons in more than 500 cinemas across the U.S. this fall.
The series will begin with Don Quixote starring Carlos Acosta on October 16 at 7pm, to be followed by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with U.S. dancer Sarah Lamb on November 19 at 7pm, and The Nutcracker on December 17 at 7pm.
The ballets are presented thanks to the collaboration between digital cinema company Arts Alliance Media and the Royal Opera House (ROH) Cinema Live series. Tickets are available at participating theater box offices and online at http://www.fathomevents.com/#!the-royal-opera-house-ballet-series/more-info/details.
Hundreds of students, companies, and choreographers will be searching for a new place to dance after October 14 now that New York City’s dance education and performance center, Dance New Amsterdam, has been officially told to vacate its home at 280 Broadway, Manhattan, by that date.
According to a press release, an agreement reached last week with landlord Fram Realty allows DNA to remain at its current location through October 14. DNA—which filed in May for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection—has agreed to leave 280 Broadway after that date and may then need to permanently close.
Classes and rentals will be running through October 13. The upcoming 2013-2014 DNA Presents season is on hold. Executive director Catherine Peila and the DNA board are working hard to find a way to keep the dance center running.
DNA moved into downtown Manhattan after 9/11 to help revitalize the area, but despite a history of grants and philanthropic gestures, plus the support of elected officials, community leaders, and thousands of artists, teachers, students, and audience members, DNA has not been able to secure the long-term strategic partnerships or substantial donations that would allow it to meet its business responsibilities and remain at 280 Broadway.
DNA impacts tens of thousands of individuals yearly: it offers 140 weekly classes and provides performance and gallery spaces for hundreds of choreographers, companies, and visual artists. For more information, visit www.dnadance.org.
Fifty years ago this Sunday, four young girls lost their lives in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama—a turning point in this country’s civil rights struggle.
Now, 50 years later, four girls from Florida have taken on the task of honoring those lives lost. Dancers Brandi Boetto, 12; Rachel Vogin, 12; Avery Richey, 11; and Emily Wightman, 12, from Winter Springs’s Studio 5D have performed a tribute dance more than half a dozen times for audiences across Central Florida and at dance competitions.
The dance, choreographed by Studio 5D’s Rebecca Tarner, features a large set constructed as a condemned church, with walls torn down in the center and two large staircases. The girls arise from under a white cloth in flowing, white costumes and begin a dance that is choreographed to represent the bombing victims as angels. At its conclusion, the dancers lay to rest back inside the church.
The idea for the performance came from one of the dancers, Avery Richey, who came across the song Birmingham Sunday by Joan Baez, and brought it to studio owner and artistic director Gaymarie Tomlinson. Work began last August, and the piece went on to win first place and high score awards at competitions. But as for the studio and the dancers, this was more about creating a work of art that speaks and resonates through movement.
As for the girls, it was a performance they will not soon forget and an experience that has affected them deeply. “I know that I’ve definitely grown as a dancer more emotionally, definitely. I can really connect with the song more because of this,” said Avery, who sometimes cried during and after practices. “In life, it just makes me really, really think.”
To read the full story, visit http://www.seminolechronicle.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2013/09/11/5230a9b40b604.
In gratitude to its home city, Boston Ballet presents the first-ever free Night of Stars on Boston Common, a performance for the community, on September 21 at 7pm.
This exhibition showcases the company’s diverse repertoire and versatile talent as it heads into its 50th season. The full company performs works that range from beloved classics like Florence Clerc’s La Bayadère, to Balanchine’s contemplative Serenade, to crowd-stirring contemporary pieces like Christopher Bruce’s Rooster set to the music of The Rolling Stones.
The Boston Ballet Orchestra joins the company live on the Common. The stage will be set against Beacon Street close to the intersection of Charles Street. Open seating on the lawn will be first come, first serve, with a special video presentation beginning at 4pm. The rain date is September 22 at 7pm.
For more information, visit http://www.bostonballet.org/nightofstars/.
Legendary dance historian Nancy Reynolds has been chosen as the recipient of the 2013 NY Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance Award from the The New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies).
The award will be presented at the 29th Annual Bessie Awards ceremony at the Apollo Theater on October 7.
Reynolds, a former New York City Ballet dancer, will be honored for profoundly altering and enriching the field of dance preservation and archival research. Reynolds currently serves as director of research at the George Balanchine Foundation, where she manages the Balanchine video archives, giving new life to his works by filming former ballet stars coaching Balanchine’s work on current dancers—an invaluable resource for educational institutions.
Reynolds has simultaneously published authoritative dance history books such as No Fixed Points, a 900-page history of Western dance in the 20th century, and Repertory in Review, a history of NYCB’s repertory from 1935 to 1976. She edited Lincoln Kirstein’s book Movement and Metaphor and contributed to the International Encyclopedia of Dance. She directed research for Choreography by George Balanchine: A Catalogue of Works.
For more information on The Bessies, visit https://www.dancenyc.org/bessies/.
From Matthew Bourne’s groundbreaking all-male Swan Lake—filmed in 3D—to director RJ Muna’s Dervishes, a story of movement and physical architecture based on the characteristics of circular movement, next week’s San Francisco Dance Film Festival promises to be an imaginative and compelling cinematic feast.
The San Francisco Dance Film Festival, in partnership with the International Music + Media Centre, will host the Dance Screen 2013 competition and conference September 12 to 15.
The four-day celebration will include parties, panel presentations, and the screening of 49 dance-based films, as well as 21 additional documentaries and performances available on viewing stations at the Museum of Performance + Design (September 12 to 30).
The San Francisco Dance Film Festival was established in 2010 to give the Bay Area a much-needed platform for the presentation and further development of dance-based films. The festival seeks to bring dance to wider audiences and supports interdisciplinary collaboration among artists by providing opportunities for education and creative exchange.
To see a full listing of films, dates, and times, visit http://www.sfdancefilmfest.org/2013/.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the New York City Center stage for the 42nd consecutive year from December 4 to January 5, 2014, with premieres and new productions representing a wide range of important choreographic voices.
Some of the performances will feature:
• In-demand choreographer Aszure Barton’s world premiere LIFT is an exhilarating exchange with Ailey’s renowned dancers, who inspired the process, movement, and composition, as well as the original percussive score by musical partner Curtis Macdonald.
• Wayne McGregor’s Chroma is a ballet filled with layered, beautiful dancing, and astonishing lifts. The Ailey company premiere marks the first time a work by this multi-award–winning British choreographer will appear in the Ailey repertory.
• Modern dance innovator Bill T. Jones’s D-Man in the Waters (Part I) is a true modern dance classic and a New York Dance and Performance (Bessie) Award–winning work.
To see a complete description of the coming Ailey season, visit http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwdance/article/Alvin-Ailey-Dance-Theater-Announces-New-York-City-Center-Season-124-15-20130829.
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.
A diverse and international roster of artists will join Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company for the 10th annual Fall Festival of Indian Arts, set for September 20, 21, 22, 27, and 28 in Washington, DC.
Performances are at 8pm, with the exception of September 22, when it starts at 4pm. All shows feature a headlining artist or group as well as an opening artist or group, and will be held at the Shakespeare Theatre’s Sydney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW; preceded by free community performances at 6pm in the hall’s forum. The festival kicks off September 20 at 6pm with performances by DC–region Indian dance schools.
Guest artists from India include Leela Samson and Sadanam Balakrishnan, Astad Deboo, Madhavi Mudgal and Dancers, Sheejith Krishna and Dancers, Shanta and VP Dhananjayan. U.S.–based artists include Gowri Koneswaran, Alif Laila, Anu Yadav, and Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company. Additional artists continue to be finalized and the roster will be updated weekly.
Visit http://www.dakshina.org/2013/08/15/10th-annual-fall-festival-of-indian-arts/ for the full schedule.
The Bolshoi Ballet’s artistic director Sergei Filin left the German clinic where he was being treated for the first time on Sunday to come to see his company as they perform in London.
Filin was left virtually blind in an attack in January where acid was thrown into his face. He has undergone numerous operations since in an attempt to restore his vision. His reunion with his dancers backstage at The Royal Opera House where the company has been performing for the past two and a half weeks was deeply emotional. Many were near tears.
Though he had originally intended to come to London “incognito,” he also emerged on stage at the end of Monday’s performance of Jewels to rapturous applause. Wearing dark glasses he was led out on stage by two of his protégées, Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin, who had just performed the final section of the Balanchine ballet.
He bowed both to the audience and then, deeply, to the company. Pavel Dmitrichenko, a soloist at the Bolshoi, is one of three men charged with offences relating to the attack. They are in prison awaiting trial.
To see the original story visit http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/dance/10239721/Bolshoi-ballet-Sergei-Filin-watches-company-at-Royal-Opera-House.html.
A new program, Show Piano™, presents combo classes, performances, and competitions based on the concept of showcasing piano students’ skills by adding props, costumes, and choreography in a themed performance.
Private piano teacher Melisa Humphrey of Florida created the idea of Show Piano™ performances, programs, studios, merchandise, and competitions for young pianists “to excite her students and revolutionize how piano is performed,” according to the program web site.
Show Piano™ will “help stimulate a wider interest in and appreciation for piano by making it about an overall performance experience rather than just walking up to and sitting still at the piano. Show Piano™ performances will augment a theme, create and become the character(s), add technical difficulty, and enhance the overall experience for the young pianists.”
The program features regional and national competitions and is the property of Legacy Piano Competition LLC. For more information, visit www.legacyshowpiano.com.
A 42-city tour featuring this season’s So You Think You Can Dance Top 10 finalists will kick off on October 1 at the Wharton Center in East Lansing, Michigan, with shows through November 27 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, California.
The line-up for the SYTYCD Tour 2013 includes Aaron Turner, Amy Yakima, Fik-Shun, Hayley Erbert, Jasmine Harper, Jenna Johnson, Makenzie Dustman, Nico Greetham, Paul Karmiryan, and Tucker Knox, and will feature this season’s most popular routines as well as original pieces created specifically for the tour.
“Every year produces new talent on So You Think You Can Dance that continues to inspire and amaze, and season 10 is no different,” said Nigel Lythgoe, co-creator, executive producer, and judge of the hit Fox show. “This year’s astonishing Top 10 will undoubtedly bring you to your feet.”
Tickets for most shows go on sale August 17 at 10am. For tickets and the full list of dates and locations, visit www.fox.com/dance.
A New York City dance troupe canceled its final two performances at Musikfest and left Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, early after they were harassed by people attending the festival over the weekend, reported The Morning Call.
According to officials from the city and Musikfest, members of the Sidra Bell Dance New York troupe were harassed Friday and Saturday when the dancers—which included three men dressed in skirts—were walking through the festival, and did not happen while they were on stage. But it was enough for them to cancel their Sunday shows for their own safety.
Sidra Bell Dance New York is a six-member contemporary troupe that performs at music and dance festivals around the world. Though led and directed by Bell, a critically acclaimed dancer and choreographer, the other five members were scheduled to appear without Bell for six performances at the Community Stage at Air Products Town Square over the first three days of Musikfest, Bethlehem’s 10-day festival.
Dressed in short skirts and wearing long, false eyelashes, the troupe of three men and two women performed 30-minute dance shows designed to keep Musikfest fans entertained between music acts being performed at the nearby Levitt Pavilion. The dance troupe performed at 5:30 and 7:30pm Friday and Saturday, in each case preceding rock performances.
“Artistic expression and diversity have been a part of Bethlehem’s fabric since its founding,” said Joseph Kelly, Bethlehem’s city spokesman and director of community and economic development. “The actions of these few do not represent the views of the residents of the city.”
To see the full story, visit http://www.mcall.com/news/breaking/mc-bethlehem-musikfest-hecklers-20130805,0,869382.story.
Making Books Sing returns this fall with a new family dance/theater production, Ballerina Swan, a 50-minute family show blending dance, theater, and puppetry, reports BroadwayWorld.com.
Making Books Sing is an award-winning, critically-acclaimed theater and arts-in-education nonprofit organization with the mission of promoting children’s literacy and social development through professional theater productions and arts-in-education programs.
Based on the children’s book Ballerina Swan by former New York City Ballet prima ballerina Allegra Kent, the production tells the story of Sophie, a Central Park swan with dreams of becoming a ballerina and dancing in Swan Lake.
The piece features three dancers and a dancer/puppeteer who operates a five-foot dancing swan puppet, and is choreographed by Michael McGowan, head of the Spence School Dance Program. Special guest artist is Edward Villella as the voice of Mr. Balletski.
Performances are set for November 10 to 24 at Theater 3, 311 West 43rd Street, New York. Recommended for ages 4-8. Tickets go on sale in October at www.makingbookssing.org.
To see the original story, visit http://offoffbroadway.broadwayworld.com/article/Making-Books-Sing-to-Present-BALLERINA-SWAN-119-24-20130726#.
Pina Bausch’s Wind von West (Wind from the West), set to Stravinsky’s Cantata, was created and performed in 1975 on a groundbreaking program that included Bausch’s masterpiece, Das Frühlingsopfer (The Rite of Spring).
Eventually lost to time, this haunting and poetic work will be revived this fall by two schools where Bausch developed as an artist—The Juilliard School and the Folkwang University of the Arts’ Institute of Contemporary Dance in Essen, Germany. The Wall Street Journal reported that Wind will be reconstructed by former Bausch dancers who remembered the work and had the assistance of a low-quality video that provided partial material. Three Bausch dancers will teach the work to the Juilliard students this fall.
Performances by shared casts of dancers from each of these institutions will take place in Wuppertal, Germany, in November, and at Juilliard in New York as part of the school’s New Dances series, running December 11 to 15 in Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater.
For more information, visit http://www.juilliard.edu/about/newsroom/2013-14/juilliard-dance-announces-its-2013-2014-season?destination=node/30745 and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323993804578612013454433722.html.
Dallas residents can enjoy both visual and performing arts in one location thanks to two free performances planned through a partnership between the Dance Council of North Texas and the Nasher Sculpture Center.
The Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora Street, Dallas, offers free admission, performances, and activities for kids such as scavenger hunts and art projects from 10am to 2pm as part of Target First Saturdays, held the first Saturday of every month.
Free dance performances will be provided by DCNT on two Saturdays:
• August 3: 8 &1 Dance Company will present a modern dance routine with demonstrations and props for kids.
• November 2: Dallas Power House of Dance will present an upbeat hip-hop routine.
Both shows begin at 1pm, and audience participation is encouraged.
Open to the public since October 20, 2003, the Nasher Sculpture Center is one of the few institutions in the world devoted to the exhibition, study, and preservation of modern sculpture. Conceived as a serene urban retreat for the enjoyment of modern art, the Sculpture Center is the new home of the renowned Raymond and Patsy Nasher Collection of modern and contemporary sculpture.
For more information, visit http://www.nashersculpturecenter.org/getdoc/a396d816-f2e0-495d-bcce-3ceb37090847/Target-First-Saturdays.
Tap it Out, a free, public, and outdoor a cappella tap performance held as part of the Tap City Festival presented by the American Tap Dance Foundation, will be performed three times on the afternoon of July 13 at Father Duffy Square/Times Square in the heart of Manhattan.
Tap it Out is a pre-choreographed orchestral collage of a cappella unison rhythms, contrapuntal sequences, individual riffs, movements, and grooves. Numerous 8 and 16 bar phrases are developed through repetition, creating multiple canons and conversations, mixing and blending unison segments with overlaid beats that build to crescendos or diminish to a silence creating a super “hybrid” explosion of tones and rhythms.
A video of last year’s event, where 150 dancers of all ages—students and professionals—performed material originally created and choreographed by Brenda Bufalino for the American Tap Dance Orchestra, directed and staged by American Tap Dance Foundation artistic director Tony Waag, can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPN59jtgYPU&feature=youtu.be.
Performances are set for noon, 1, and 2pm. For more information, visit http://www.dance-enthusiast.com/onthewire/Events/view/800.
Colorado’s Boulder Ballet will visit the Broomfield Amphitheater June 16 for a free night of dance during the ninth edition of the family-friendly Ballet in the Park, reports the Broomfield Enterprise.
Enthusiasts are encouraged to come early and bring a picnic. The show starts at 7pm.
“People love Ballet in the Park, because it brings this exceptional art form into their daily lives,” said Boulder Ballet marketing director Shana Cordon. “The entire purpose of a park is to provide a space for community enjoyment. For an art form often perceived as exclusive, the park invites people to participate.”
The dancers warm up just feet away from the audience—a special thrill to young dancers in the crowd. After the performance, the audience can meet the dancers, and children are invited on stage to display their own dance steps.
The Broomfield audience will be treated to a variety of dance styles ranging from 19th century Danish ballet (Bournonville’s The Flower Festival) to original contemporary work by Alex Davison set to Cole Porter.
For more information, visit www.boulderballet.org. To see the original story, visit
The Chicago Dancing Festival’s seventh season this August 20 to 24 will feature performances by festival newcomers Ensemble Español (contemporary flamenco), Philadelphia-based Philadanco, and Chicago-based Natya Dance Theatre (contemporary bharatanatyam), along with an esteemed roster of top ballet, modern, and rhythmic dance companies from Chicago and across the country.
Co-produced by choreographer and native Chicagoan Lar Lubovitch and Chicago dancer Jay Franke, this “free-to-all” festival will once again be featured in top venues across Chicago’s downtown: the Harris Theater, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Auditorium Theatre, and the outdoor stage of the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
Highlights this year include two Chicago Dancing Festival commissions: the Chicago premiere of Swedish choreographer Alexander Ekman’s Episode 31, performed by Joffrey Ballet, and the premiere of Lane Alexander’s and Bril Barrett’s In the beginning . . . performed by Chicago Human Rhythm Project.
For details, visit http://www.chicagodancingfestival.com/.