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Do dancers' brains react differently to music than other people's, including those of serious musicians?

In a recent study at the University of Helsinki, researchers observed the brain functions of 20 professional dancers, 20 professional musicians and 20 laymen watching a recording of a dance performance. Compared to the other groups, dancers' brains responded more quickly to sudden changes in music, even before the dancers themselves were conscious of the shifts. While watching the video performance, their brains also demonstrated functions associated with memory and emotional processes, implying that dancers might experience music in a more personal way than others. Although you already know musicality is an important part of your creative expression, this research suggests an even deeper connection between the two art forms.

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Boston Ballet is bringing Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free to the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, MA. Photo by Gene Shiavone, Courtesy Boston Ballet.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.


Houston Ballet Brings a World Premiere to Jacob's Pillow

August 15-18, for the first time in almost four decades, Houston Ballet is appearing at Jacob's Pillow, the famous summer dance festival in Becket, MA. Headlining the program is Just, a world premiere commissioned by the Pillow and choreographed by HB artistic director Stanton Welch, set to music by contemporary composer David Lang. Also from Welch are Clear, an abstract piece for seven men and seven women, and excerpts from Sons de L'ame, with music by Chopin. The company will also perform In Dreams, choreographed by former Pillow choreographic associate Trey McIntyre.

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Aspen Santa Fe Ballet will revive "An Evening with Pianist Joyce Yang" this weekend in Aspen. Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, Courtesy of ASFB.

Wonder what's going on in ballet this week? We've pulled together some highlights.


Vail Dance Festival Races to the Finish Line

This Sunday, Vail Dance Festival wraps up an eventful few weeks jam-packed with premieres, collaborations and guests. The final week of the festival has us looking forward to appearances from American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Hispánico and more.


Vail's NOW: Premieres Includes New Michelle Dorrance Work for ABT

On August 6, Vail's NOW: Premieres program features new works commissioned for the festival. Choreographers include New York City Ballet star Tiler Peck (making her festival choreographic debut), Lauren Lovette, Justin Peck and Claudia Schreier, who is creating a ballet on dancers from Ballet Hispánico. Tap maverick Michelle Dorrance is also choreographing a piece on American Ballet Theatre, the second of Dorrance's three works on the company this year. Watch some of the same choreographers' premieres at the 2017 edition of NOW below.

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Viral Videos
Mr. Jeremy FIsher, from Sir Frederick Ashton's "The Tales of Beatrix Potter."

Animal roles might not typically be what dancers dream of performing…but they're oh-so-fun to watch. You can't help falling under their spell (and perhaps aspiring to dance one someday). Here's a round-up of some of our favorite furry and feathered roles.

Bunny Hop

Run. Dance in a circle. Pretend to be a rabbit. It might sound like a creative movement combo, but don't let that fool you. The role of Peter Rabbit in Sir Frederick Ashton's The Tales of Beatrix Potter requires fierce technique—not to mention the ability to project personality while wearing an animal head and fur suit.


Four-Legged Interlude

Who do you turn to for halftime entertainment during a quartet of fairy variations? Dancing lizards, mice and a frog of course! This charming quintet of creatures light up the stage in David Bintley's Cinderella.

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We all know this feeling. Photo via Scot Dir.

Symptoms: Your morning cup of coffee, or other stimulant of choice, feels like a distant memory, as does your New Year’s resolution to cross-train. (Guilty.)

Diagnosis: A serious case of the Mondays.

Complications: The lure of Netflix and the thought of 30 mind-numbing minutes on the elliptical.

Treatment: You’re one workout away from a good mood and serious health benefits. Actually motivating yourself to get into the gym before or after a long day of rehearsal? Easier said than done. So we asked Boston Ballet corps member Sarah Wroth to give us the inside scoop on her favorite workout pump-up jams.

The 13-year company veteran looks for songs with “rhythms that make me want to move and lyrics that make me want to sing out as loudly as possible.” That being said, if you can sing during cardio without being out of breath, you should probably up the intensity. “I know I’m working hard if I can only belt out a few words,” Wroth says.

See her 13-track playlist for your musical Monday motivation, and get to work!

Sarah Wroth leaping in Balanchine's Concerto Barocco. Photo by Rutt via Digital Grin.

  1. “Firework” by Katy Perry. Appropriate for your pre-barbeque Fourth of July workout!
  2. “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay
  3. “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers
  4. “Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now” by Starship. “Think Drake’s ‘Started From the Bottom,’” Wroth says, but a less explicit 80s/90s version.
  5. “We are Young” by Fun
  6. “Old Haunts” by The Gaslight Anthem. With lines like “Your blood was mixed with wine and robbery,” how can you not feel an extra surge of energy?
  7. “One Day More” from the Les Misérables soundtrack
  8. “Single Ladies” by Beyoncé. A shameless hit, even for the non-single.
  9. “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor
  10. “So What” by Pink. I am (hopefully, when two thirds of the way through a workout) still a rock star.
  11. “Kill Your Heroes” by AWOLNATION. Wroth’s hubbie discovered this one. “He always picks the next popular song before it’s famous. He picked me, maybe I’ll be famous one day!”
  12. “Sk8ter Boi” by Avril Lavigne. “The ‘Call Me Maybe’ of its day!” Wroth says. Plus, what bunhead dancing in the 90s didn’t thrill in the “She did ballet” lyric?
  13. “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten

 

Have a favorite pump-up song? Tell us in the comments!

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

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