I was recently talking with my parents about Alexei Ratmansky's new Nutcracker, which he's choreographing for ABT. It's coming to the Brooklyn Academy of Music in December, and I for one can't wait to see it. By all accounts, it will be more grown-up, with a fresh, yet classical approach to the story.
Got the choreography bug? The Young Choreographer's Festival in New York City is now accepting applications for their June 2011 performance. For the second year in a row, this program presents work by up-and-coming young artists of all dance genres. Any budding choreographer ages 18 to 25 is invited to submit their work to be performed at Symphony Space alongside prestigious guest artists. The advisory board includes esteemed teachers and choreographers such as Kat Wildish, Sheila Barker, Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo, and others.
Ballet dancers train long and hard to excel at what they do. It is imperative that they be confident in their technique when they step onto a stage, as doubt can have a crippling effect on a dancer's ability to perform a movement that they've practised and rehearsed scores of times. I've often had the opportunity of seeing elite dancers in class and rehearsal, and their relaxed manner and the ease with which they correctly execute all the steps shows that they know they can do this. However, ballet dancers are also famously superstitious and wedded to rituals that
Last Sunday and Monday, I had the opportunity to perform in Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum. It was so much fun! Before the performance, there was a company class with ABT that I got to take--and wow, the company dancers are soooo good. It was amazing to be in the same class with them.
I have an odd confession to make: I enjoy watching dancers who have bad feet. And I don't just mean that I can appreciate good dancers in spite of their stereotypically "bad" ballet feet. I actually like their lack of instep and/or little arch.
What an exciting trip this was! Overall, I was extremely impressed with the kindness and enthusiasm of the Cuban ballet fans. Dance is a huge deal in Havana--there are pictures of Alicia Alonso everywhere. Many people saw our first performance and insisted on coming back for the second one. They waited for us outside the stage door and took pictures and asked for autographs. They tried hard to communicate to us in broken English how much they enjoyed the program. I met some people in the hotel who had traveled from Argentina specifically to see the dance festival.
Sometimes ballet can feel a bit like arithmetic: Turnout should stay at exactly 180 degrees, arabesque should rise to at least 90 degrees, fifth position should have zero space in between your toes and heels. But although there are certain marks we all aim to hit, the artistry in ballet comes from the limitless ways there are to get there.
Wendy Whelan, NYCB principal, on teaching a recent master class at Manhattan Movement & Arts:
I don’t teach often, so I’m learning about myself as a teacher. You have to articulate both with your body and with your words. A certain word might make all the difference to someone in the class. As I teach, I think a lot about Willy Burmann—I’ve been taking his class for more than 20 years. I love the ideas he brings to his students. He does a lot with opposition—being down in the ground and up into the air.