News
Rudolf Nureyev. Courtesy Spotlight Cinema Networks.

What's better than one film about Rudolf Nureyev? Two films about Rudolf Nureyev!

We're excited to share that a feature-length documentary titled Nureyev is slated to make its North American premiere this month. Nureyev will be shown in major U.S. cities starting April 19, giving you just enough time time to brush up on your Nureyev history before the Ralph Fiennes directed biopic, The White Crow, hits U.S. theaters on April 26.

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News
Peter Frame performing Paul Taylor's solo in George Balanchine's "Episodes." Photo by Monroe Warshaw.

The dance community mourns another loss this week, as we learned former New York City Ballet principal Peter Frame passed away on August 30. Frame, who was 61, trained at the School of American Ballet and was a member of NYCB (his twin brother Paul danced with the company as well) from 1976 to 1990, earning the rank of principal in 1988.

Frame joined SAB faculty in 1993, where he is credited with developing a body strengthening program for the dancers as well as creating a weight training class for men. Additionally, Frame taught at Ballet Academy East, where in a 2017 blog post on their site, he shared one of his fondest memories—dancing in George Balanchine's Episodes, where he was cast in the solo originated by Paul Taylor, who also passed away earlier this week. "Omitted since Taylor performed it, I would reintroduce the solo to the stage," Frame said in the post. "This was one of the most exciting moments in my career." Frame performed the solo from 1986 to 1989, becoming the only person after Taylor himself to dance it until he restaged the piece for Miami City Ballet in 2017.

Described as a "kind and generous spirit" by NYCB principal Megan Fairchild in an Instagram tribute, Frame is being remembered on social media by members of NYCB and beyond. We're sharing some of these touching tributes below; feel free to add your own in the comments.

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Ballet Stars
A young Paul Taylor in Aureole. Photo by Jack Mitchell, Courtesy PTDC.

Legendary choreographer Paul Taylor, whose illustrious career spanned seven decades, passed away yesterday in New York City at age 88.

Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Taylor discovered dance relatively late in life, while in college at Syracuse University on a swimming scholarship. He then transferred to the Juilliard School, and in 1954 began to choreograph. In 1955 he joined the Martha Graham Dance Company. Taylor first stirred the dance world in 1957 with Seven New Dances. The piece was composed entirely of long sections of standing, sitting and pedestrian style walking across the stage. Audience members were outraged; critic Louis Horst famously published a blank review in The Dance Observer in response. Since 1954, Taylor has choreographed 146 dances.

Despite his postmodern roots, Taylor quickly found favor with ballet companies. In 1959, George Balanchine invited him to be a guest artist with New York City Ballet for the creation of Episodes, a two-part work that he and Graham were co-creating. Balanchine's section included a solo made on Taylor, which the New York Times described as "disturbingly complex" when NYCB revived it in 1986. (Today, only Balanchine's section of Episodes, sans solo, is performed.) And some of Taylor's most loved works, including Airs, Company B, Black Tuesday, Aureole and Sunset are frequently performed by major ballet companies including American Ballet Theatre, Miami City Ballet and Royal Danish Ballet.

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Ballet Careers
A scene from Stephen Mill's "Light/The Holocaust & Humanity Project." Photo by Tony Spielberg, Courtesy Ballet Austin.

Ballet excels at defying gravity. Lightness, ethereality, wispiness, symmetry, lineal order, chivalry and blissful endings to well-worn tales bestow on ballet a reputation as an art form that embraces divine beauty and design. But themes of grief, trauma, death, war, annihilation, exploitation, abuse, oppression and genocide do not frequently skim the surface sur la pointe. Bearing weighty burdens has traditionally found a place in the realm of modern dance in works such as Martha Graham's Lamentation, or Paul Taylor's image of Armageddon in Last Look.

But beyond shimmering tutus and pristine arabesques, there are other reasons why heavy issues seldom appear on the ballet stage. Taking on a serious subject requires a serious treatment. A ballet about terrorism could easily trivialize the subject through melodrama or prettification. Classical vocabulary was born from noble demeanor in the royal courts; in the wrong hands, it can seem limited in registering the mood of a sordid subject or for expressing disturbing behavior. Add to that the industry's marketing directors and board members, tempted towards steering directors and choreographers away from challenging ballets for fear of poor ticket sales.


New York Theatre Ballet performs "Dark Elegies." Photo by Darial Sneed, Courtesy New York Theatre Ballet.

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American Dance Festival has traditionally showcased great modern companies. But this year ADF is taking a slightly different tack, exploring the symbiotic relationship between ballet and modern dance with its “Where Ballet and Modern Meet” theme. Many of the modern choreographers whose works will be presented during the Durham-based festival—familiar names like Paul Taylor, Twyla Tharp, Ohad Naharin and Mark Morris—have created works for major ballet companies. ADF will also feature pieces by ballet choreographers like William Forsythe (Aspen Santa Fe Ballet is set to perform his Slingerland Pas de Deux, pictured) who have helped shape the world of modern dance. The festival runs June 11–July 25; www.americandancefestival.org. — MF

It's safe to say that Tiler Peck and Robert Fairchild aren't your average ballet dancers. Over the past few years, the New York City Ballet principals have collaborated with the likes of contemporary choreographer Larry Keigwin and jookin star Lil Buck, and both appeared in the New York Philharmonic's presentation of the classic musical Carousel. They not only seem to be everywhere, all the time, but also to be unfazed by any style or setting.

This Thursday, the pair will cross genre lines again, performing at the Paul Taylor Dance Company's gala in an excerpt from Taylor's Airs. Peck and Fairchild first tried out Airs at the Vail International Dance Festival last year (Damian Woetzel, the festival's director, seems to love throwing non-ballet curveballs their way—and watching them hit each out of the park). Here's video from that performance, a sneak peek of what's in store at the Taylor gala:

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