Take a Little Risk

As choreographers like Wayne McGregor push the aesthetic boundaries of ballet, even the most contemporary work still adheres to recognizable elements of the form. There are gradations—and yes, there’s the eventual hair-splitting difference between contemporary ballet and contemporary dance, when too many of those recognizable elements have been stripped away—but when a ballet company performs something “contemporary,” it’s likely that the piece will fit safely within a handful of stylistic guidelines.

Not so at the Royal New Zealand Ballet. For the month of August, the company is touring an eclectic program of contemporary and neoclassical work. Notably, they are the first ballet company to perform Larry Keigwin’s Mattress Suite in its entirety.


Shaun Urton performs a solo from Mattress Suite


Mattress Suite is pure Keigwin: deceptively tricky, gestural, quirky, humorous, athletic and tender. It is balletic only by a significant stretch of the definition, tailor-made for the highly technical modern dancers of Keigwin + Company. RNZB dancers will never look like K+Co when they perform this work, and that’s okay. As ballet dancers, they bring something new and different to a piece that wasn’t necessarily designed for their strengths.

This is the second Keigwin piece RNZB has performed, and in doing so the company proves that ballet dancers can challenge themselves without compromising their foundational aesthetics—that is, without losing themselves. Check out this clip of RNZB dancer Shane Urton performing a solo from Mattress Suite, followed by Larry Keigwin discussing his work.

Latest Posts

Getty Images

7 Eco-Friendly Choices Dancers Can Make to Green Up Their Lifestyles

Ballet dancers are known for their empathy and willingness to improve, so it is no surprise that many are educating themselves about the environment and incorporating sustainable habits into their lives. "I recently read that there are more microplastics in our oceans than there are stars in our galaxy. That really hit me," says American Ballet Theatre corps member Scout Forsythe, who has been making an effort to be more environmentally conscious.

Although no one can fix the climate crisis on their own, we can make small, everyday changes to help decrease waste, consumption and emissions. Here are some suggestions for dancers looking to do their part in helping our planet.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Left to right: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Daphne Lee, Amanda Smith, Lindsey Donnell and Alexandra Hutchinson in a scene from Dancing Through Harlem. Derek Brockington, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem

Dancers Share Their Key Takeaways After a Year of Dancing on Film

Creating dances specifically for film has become one of the most effective ways that ballet companies have connected with audiences and kept dancers employed during the pandemic. Around the world, dance organizations are finding opportunities through digital seasons, whether conceiving cinematic, site-specific pieces or filming works within a traditional theater. And while there is a consistent sentiment that nothing will ever substitute the thrill of a live show, dancers are embracing this new way of performing.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Alexandra McMaster

Start Your Dance Day With This Delicious Berry Breakfast Crisp Recipe

When it comes to breakfast, I want it to be easy and convenient but still taste delicious. My Berry Breakfast Crisp is just that. You can bake the crisp on the weekend as meal prep, then enjoy it throughout the week cold or warmed in the microwave. It freezes well, too!

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks