Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blogger vs. Critic

For lack of my own post today...

I'm interested in hearing people's opinions about these two recent posts by other dance bloggers regarding the role of the dance critic, and the role of the dance blogger as critic.

Read about it on Tonya's blog here and on InfiniteBody here.

My thoughts on the topic are added to the list of blog posts I must catch up on in the next few days...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Early Amusing Quotes

Okay, I really shouldn't start sharing stuff that will go into this book after only 2 days of working on it. But I simply can't resist.

I spent most of my Friday afternoon transcribing my first recorded conversation with Carol, which spanned from her childhood years to her first dance solo at age 7, to her brief time at SAB, and ending the discussion with her exciting apprenticeship with NYCB beginning in 1958. Wow!

Here are just a few of many amusing, intriguing, and exciting anecdotes she shared with me:

*Speaking of her first teacher in NYC (not at SAB): "She didn’t know how to teach young children and that’s what she had in her school. We never did anything like glissade assemble. We did 32 fouettes and chasse saut de basques and tour jetes. We used to get a silver dollar for doing six pirouettes on pointe. Even if we hoped around on pointe we’d get a silver dollar for doing six.

But she was strict, boy oh boy. We were afraid of her. She had a stick. Which was a good thing because that’s what ballet is. You are guilty until proven innocent in ballet. That was her attitude, and that was the attitude that I was conditioned to. And it was perfect for becoming a professional dancer. I liked it. I loved it. I was dancing my head off."

*Her audition for SAB: "I had an audition with Muriel Stewart. I did an arabesque on the right side and she fixed it. And it hurt. So then we did it on the left side and I looked for the place that it hurt and I figured that’s what she wanted. She said, 'Good.' I didn’t really know what she did, but it hurt. So I looked on the left side for that place. I was smart. I was clever. Savvy."

*"Part of wanting to be in NYCB was not just the dancing part. It was the idea of having a relationship with the people, the dancers. Getting to know these wonderful people that we saw on the stage, and getting to know this great genius, George Balanchine, and getting to work with him. It was not my idea to become a big star. I was just happy to be around those kinds of people, those kinds of mentalities and minds and professionals. It was show business."

Oh there's so many more fantastic quotes but I feel like I must save it all until I can work for the finished's already rather time consuming but at least I'm enjoying the "work." Now if only I could get paid for this :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

A Year Out of College

In case it's not absurdly evident: I'm a very nostalgic, memory-driven, time conscious person. I'm constantly thinking about the past...past experiences, people, change. It always intrigues me to think about how time passes and how much has happened since certain milestones. (Apparently I have an extremist personality, because I'm also constantly worrying about the future...)

One year ago today was my official graduation date from Marymount Manhattan College. Since my path has been somewhat (extremely) unconventional, it doesn't really seem all that monumental (nor all that long ago!). But so very much has happened in one year, and even in 6 months since my birthday (remember those tumultuous few weeks?!)

Internship at The New Yorker. Apprentice with Rebecca Kelly Ballet. Intensive at ABT. Teaching and choreographing on high school students for the first time. Writing longer articles for 2 additional dance magazines than before. Ballet contract. Apartment mayhem. Brief stint in book publishing. The call from Radio City. 110 shows of a dream come true. Finishing grad school. Branching out to modern dance. Starting my first book. And lots in between. Not to mention the many incredible people (friends, teachers, bloggers, editors, readers) I've come in contact with (it's been a particularly great year for that).

When I look at it like this, it seems like it's been a productive, long, and rather insane first year out of college.

As it all really happened it didn't seem nearly as wonderful, and as I look ahead to this next year, which will be my first out of grad school (and out of school for good for the first time EVER) it's hard to imagine what's coming down the road. It's scary.

Two years ago at this time I was interning with a dance publicist and learning Balanchine's "Divertimento No. 15" at BAE.

Three years ago at this time I got the great luck of landing my first internship (of 7) - with Pointe Magazine - at age 17, knowing hardly a soul in NYC, 1 semester into my college career, and with a largely empty resume'.

Four years ago at this time I was dead set on moving to New York and spent every waking hour not in the ballet studio researching the ins and outs of the city. Independent in Philadelphia was not enough.

(on an audition trip up from school in Philly)

Five years ago at this time, I first realized the speed at which my life was taking off by finishing sophomore year of high school in 3 months and still navigating my first year away from home.

(going to the junior/senior prom even though I was kind of a sophomore. and it wasn't a real "prom")

Six years ago at this time life had honestly not even begun.

(friends might hurt me for posting this one)

So, when people ask me what my one or five year goals are, how on earth, given my track record to the current moment, can I give an answer?!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Birthday: Balanchine and a Book

Today is the anniversary of George Balanchine's birthday.

And today a new project was born in my own life: a book project with a dancer who spent 20 years working with the legendary choreographer.

I've been taking class with former NYCB soloist Carol Sumner on and off for almost a year now. A stickler for Balanchine's musicality and technicality, she not only gives a great class (that kills the inner thighs!) but provides a host of witticisms in her corrections and explanations coming from her incredible career experiences.

She's been a great inspiration to me personally - being a main contact in landing my first real ballet contract and supporting me by coming to see Radio City (picture of us backstage below).

Last month through the grapevine I heard she had been wanting to write a book of her experiences working with Balanchine and so on, and she soon approached me to see if I'd be interested.

YES! I said. She's so inspiring, and writing a book has long been one of my goals, and it seemed like the perfect blend of my dance and publishing careers to springboard off of. But I thought it was going to be one of those things that just sounds like a nice idea but never really comes to fruition.

Luckily, in the past few weeks since Radio City ended she has been eager to get us started. And today we met for our first discussion to include in her biography! What a fantastic, intriguing, insightful conversation. It was the first of many to come, I'm sure. She made me laugh, quoting things Balanchine said in her early years. As I read this article in the New Yorker this week it reminded me of her and many others I've learned from...Arlene Croce writes, "Balanchine's followers have taken to repeating his saayings as if they were 'The Golden Verses of Pythagoras' (which some of them may well be), invariably incorporating the Master's twitch, his twang, and his habit of starting sentences wth 'You know dear...'

I'm really excited to get working on this, even though it's a daunting task with no financial rewards anytime soon (like everything else right now...). We have no time frame yet and no solid plans for the finished project, but...I'm excited.

Once things get moving I may try to post audio clips of some of our conversations, just because it's so interesting.

It's fascinating to me to listen to people's stories and how they came to where they are, how they achieved their success and lived through their struggles. People are such wealthy resources.

(PS- I have so much blogging to catch up of the movie "Ballerina", dvd "Center Stage Turn it Up," a rehearsal of Elisa Monte Dance at the Joyce, etc etc...)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

New Dance Movies: a GO and a NO!

Today (well, yesterday technically, since it's 3am and I'm still up...ah insomnia...) I saw two new dance movies. And until I find time at a decent hour to write about both in detail, here's a hint:

*"Ballerina" playing at Quad Cinema in NYC = GO!

This documentary film about 5 incredible dancers with the Kirov Ballet (including Diana Vishneva) is just beautiful and and quite an interesting peak inside the Maryinsky Theater traditions.

*"Center Stage 2: Turn It Up" released on DVD yesterday = NO!

I have so very much to say after watching my review copy tonight. I know many got to see it on television when it aired a while back, but this was my first viewing and...oh just wait for the blog post.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Works & Process: NYCB Emerging Choreographers

The “Works & Process” series at the Guggenheim Museum offers an inside look at art and, more importantly, its creation. In many instances, especially with dance, the time leading up to performance can be more interestingly layered, meaningful, and precious than the final product. This week’s program offered a delightful glimpse of New York City Ballet’s “Emerging Choreographers,” whose new pieces will premiere at the David H. Koch Theater later in the company’s winter season.

A panel discussion with the two featured choreographers, Melissa Barak and Douglas Lee, opened the evening with moderator Ellen Sorrin. They explained their opportunities involved in the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of NYCB that provides new choreographers with a criticism-free landscape to experiment with their ideas. Barak, a former NYCB dancer herself, attended the workshop in its inaugural year (2000) and then three additional times. It was here that she was truly introduced to the art of creating dance, she said. Lee, on the other hand, had been creating works before he attended his two years at the Choreographic Institute. A principal dancer with the Stuttgart Ballet, he came to create his new work on NYCB without knowing any of the dancers.

After the introductory speaking, Barak’s dancers came out for a presentation of what her rehearsal process was like. Her corps de ballet consisted of some of the newest members of the company: Sara Adams, Megan Jonson, Rachel Piskin, Kristen Segin, Mary Elizabeth Sell, and Lydia Wellington. Principals Sara Mearns and Jared Angle completed the cast.

Barak ran through a brief section of her ballet without music, clarifying details of arm movements and changing minor head positions to her liking. The dancers, in their average rehearsal leotards, tights and warm-ups, repeated her wishes without a word. Later the lead couple worked through a lift, laughing as they struggled to get the right momentum to move on. It was nice to see the dancers in a more casual atmosphere learning rather than showing off in performance.

Following the demonstration, Barak spoke with Sorrin about the theme of her piece – wanting to discover the old within the new. She said that she wanted to go back to what Balanchine had done in creating a great ballet and make something that looked like it had been around for years as opposed to something more contemporary, like Lee’s piece. With a completely different, less classical movement vocabulary, Lee’s work “Life Casting” plays more off the individual styles of his dancers: Kaitlyn Gilliland, Maria Kowrowski, Adrian-Danchig, Waring, Robert Fairchild, and Amar Ramasar.

Excerpts from the piece were danced smoothly, but the small size of the stage seemed to inhibit the beauty of the great height of Kowrowski and Gilliland. Both of their separate pas de deuxs were luscious and circular, inhabiting Lee’s swooping choreography. Robert Fairchild’s sections were particularly abstract yet deep. He joined the choreographer for a brief discussion after he danced.

Lee’s tease with the dancers and Barak’s sample of her romantic pas de deux promise great things for their final works. It should be interesting to see how they fare in the full lighting, costume, and breadth of the stage this season. Barak’s ballet will premiere February 17. Lee’s work will premiere January 22.

(The Works & Process program repeats tonight, Monday Jan. 19 at 7:30pm at the Guggenheim, 5th Ave @ 89th Street)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

TAKE Intensive Wrap Up (& a mild bash on ballet)

The TAKE Dance Company’s Winter Intensive was definitely a step (or two) outside my comfort zone. But it was a surprisingly fun break from the binding of ballet.

I first saw the company in an open rehearsal last spring, and then at their season at the Miller Theater at Columbia (my review here). Both times I was drawn by the naturalness of director Take Ueyama‘s choreography and the freedom with which his dancers moved. Merely watching was not enough. It’s the kind of dancing that makes you sway in your seat, and when the opportunity to learn with the troupe came up I had to take part.

Until recently I’ve been so strictly ballet trained it’s ridiculous. The luck of the gig at Radio City shoved me into a whole new realm of dance that I’d been unconsciously avoiding by focusing only on the barre. What I learned in those three months of jazz hands, sharpness, and stage time was so valuable, and the process of learning things so foreign to my body gave me a welcome and exciting challenge.

That process is also partly what made me sign up for Take’s intensive. Ballet will always be a constant struggle for me, but it’s the same struggle day in and day out. Learning an entirely new movement language (and way to carry your weight, and way to move in general) is different, and very exciting to me.

On the first day I found myself surrounded by very comfortable, very good modern dancers from places like NYU, Vassar, and The New School. The only modern classes I’ve ever taken have been at summer programs or once a week at ballet school, always surrounded by fellow bunheads equally as uncomfortable as I. Not here.

Baryshnikov Arts Center has some beautiful studios with huge windows looking out to the Hudson River. The best part: no mirrors! Well, at least not in the room we spent most of the program in. It’s so freeing not to have to stare at yourself, haha. But on day one, since we weren’t sure where the “front” would be without a mirror, I sat myself near the back wall by the barre to stretch before class. Little did I know that would be where the accompanist (the fabulous drummer Marlin, who I’ve seen around the city before) and Take would be to teach. So, I ended up right in the front for my first real true modern warm up, with no mirror to see what everyone else is doing. Eek! Talk about self-concious.

Luckily, as the class went on things got better, and as the week went on I learned where to stand and the repetition of the exercises each morning. Those early frazzles didn’t last long, thank goodness haha. There was so much to learn and, though I’m sure I still looked like a trina trying too hard, I got a lot just from watching the other people in class. Some of his company members were there and between them and a few other really great movers I sensed the style better.

Coming most recently from the tight choreography of Radio City, the loose, almost messy quality of Take’s movements made me feel so out of control. You know when you're a kid and you just spin around and around with arms flailing until you're so dizzy you crash? And then your hands tingle and your head feels airy? That's how some of the combinations felt.

At Radio City, every little inch down to the tip of your fingernail (literally) had a specific place to be and count to be on and spot on the stage. In these modern classes, everything is so natural and “easy” and…free. I keep coming back to that word. There are all kinds of curves and transfers of weight that, once you get it, feel so right and obvious and improvisational. The trick is to let go and find a way to “get it,” which I had trouble with I think. Also the lack of counts in the music.

Once we got past the morning class each day we went into a repertory class where the fabulous assistant director Jill Echo taught us sections of Take’s work, “Linked.” This is the piece I saw them perform and was so inspired by, but it’s so much harder to dance than it looks!

On the first day, Jill watched class and later told us she was “trying to figure out our personalities with never having met us.” Each part in “Linked” was choreographed on a specific dancer’s personality, and she tried to match each of us with the part that would be most natural for us. She nailed me, and I’m glad. I was given her slower solo (which was a duet for our performance purposes) that was more adagio and calmer than the whiplash, wild choreography of most of the piece. For day one, it was a relief!

Many of the company dancers were in the studio teaching their own roles to the various people taking them on, so it was a great coaching atmosphere. Jill gave us tips on her gesture-heavy section. Taking on someone else’s original role like that in this kind of choreography is tough for many reasons – in one way you want to keep the authenticity of the choreography and the role, but you also want to make it your own and give it your unique flavor. It’s not the same as taking on traditional ballet roles that have been danced by the same kind of perfect body type for generations. It’s a bit like wearing someone else’s shoes until you find the comfortable fit for yourself.

Luckily as the week went on everything felt more natural. Another section I was in involved a lot of floor stuff, which was painful! Haha. My quads were killing and my knees bruised, but it was worth it. That side of his choreography is like being shot out of a canon, and it’s fun. We finished up the piece by Thursday and spent the final two days running and cleaning it group by group. It was so satisfying to see everything fall into place.

There were 6 casts of the same piece so that all 35 (!) participants got stage time at our final showing on Saturday. There were a whole lot more people than I had been expecting, but everyone was very accommodating. Casting was beyond fair and everyone was there to really work. Everyone with the company who helped out was so enthusiastic about teaching. It was such a positive, constructive, fun atmosphere to work in. Between this and Radio City I’ve decided that ballet is the least friendly of the dance forms, even though most of my closest friends are from the ballet world and I myself am sometimes a culprit of the stereotypes.

I don’t really mean to be bashing ballet. Really. It’s just there’s so much more…

Saturday, January 17, 2009

TAKE Intensive Performance

Until I find time tomorrow to write all about the intensive, check out Philip's blog post about today's performance. It was nice to see him and a few friends in the audience. The performance went well and overall the intensive was such a great experience! More details to come.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Recent Reviews Up


Cedar Lake here.

Parsons Dance here.

I'm inundated in press releases right now and must play catch up next week to plan for more (lots more) reviews in the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for that.

In other news, the TAKE dance intensive is going really well. I won't have time to really write about it in detail until it's over, haha. But I'm enjoying it, despite the aches and pains that come with long days of dancing foreign movement. If you happen to be free Saturday afternoon we have a little free studio showing at 4pm of the piece we've been working on. Let me know if you're interested in coming and I'll give details.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TAKE Dance Intensive Day 1

Let's just say, it's pushing me out of my comfort zone. Way out.

I have lots of good things to say about the intensive but am just so beat. Besides the 5 hours of dancing there I took another ballet class and dealt with cell phone crashing drama, haha, so real blogging must wait until tomorrow or Thursday.

Promise to explain some more soon, even though tomorrow is an even longer day. It's okay - I love being busy...

Dance on TV - Old School Style

Why wasn't this on when I was watching tv growing up? I might be a much better dancer if I learned to grande battement with Suzanne Farrell at the same age I learned to count to 20...

Cracks me up! Found it while researching some Balanchine videos.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another Audition, NYCB Coppelia, & Frightful Films

Today was a busy, freezing cold Sunday.

It started bright an early with an audition for a well-known jazz dance company, which I honestly had little desire to actually dance with but...I'm trying to stay on this kick of trying for absolutely everything and trying to stay positive.

The audition started a half an hour late because of registration, and as usual there were tons of people crammed in the studio with little spatial awareness. That is my BIGGEST pet peeve in auditions AND class - people who are oblivious to those around them. Ugh. Anyway...the combination they taught was very hiphop-esque and uncomfortable for my ballet-based body. I wasn't particularly fond of the style and therefore was not a bit unhappy when I was cut, haha. It was not for me.

The director, however, was amusing. Before she cut the huge chunk of us, she made this big long speech about being a professional at an audition. She spoke about how jazz dance is an art form and not a "fad" and that it should be treated with respect. "You don't wear booty shorts to a concert dance audition. They're disgusting," she cringed, and half the room turned beat red with embarrassment. She's right, though. I was happy to be in my nice black tights with my hair glued back as usual. After criticizing clothing she went on to say that if you're going to bother to come to an audition for a professional opportunity you must "have a very fine tuned instrument. Don't do it if you're not in tune," she explained. "I don't know how some of you can even show up like that without a refined instrument..." Though she's right again, she was a bit harsh. It was just interesting to hear a speech like that in an audition situation.

Anyway, in the afternoon I saw my first NYCB performance of their winter season: the new "Coppelia." I bought a standing room ticket last minute but luckily nobody was in the last row up there so I got a seat. It was such a nice performance!

I like this story ballet and Delibes' music as well. I've danced bits and pieces of it for various performances over the years, and it's fun to do as well.

Tiler Peck was as great as she always is, with a special spark in her Swanilda. Andrew Veyette as Frantz was also good, particularly in his third act variation. Rachel Piskin danced the doll-like movements of Coppelia's 2nd act with great believability. She's so tiny onstage, much like the 8 ladies who played Swanilda's friends. They look like miniature perfect-bodied brunette clones (even though not all look like that in real life). Even better than them were the candy pink baby ballerinas in the Waltz of the Golden Hours in Act III. The perfect technique that defines SAB students was clear in all of their movements and poses. Their tiny tutus umbrella as they move, making them sparkling gumdrops lining the stage. Their spacing was cleaner than that of the company sections! Definitely a treat.

After that I practically ran downtown to attend the movie premiere of a film my friend (and often pas de deux partner) is in. "Perkins 14" is a gory horror movie, which has never been my kind of flick. But I was so excited to see Gregory on the big screen that a friend and I sucked it up and just hid our eyes for the scary stuff.

It was such a good movie! Yes, blood and guts, but the story was good and it was very well-directed. And of course Gregory was great. If you're in town please go see it! It's only showing a few more times this week.

Anyway, tonight I'm trying to get organized for a busy week. This is about the last week I have set post-Radio City plans for before I'll be really desperate for a job, haha. Tuesday I start the 5 day TAKE Dance Intensive, which I'm looking forward to. We have a mini studio showing at the end next Saturday. More details to come during the week.

Parsons "Remember Me" Review

At the end of David Parsons’ new rock opera collaboration “Remember Me,” two vocalists from the East Village Opera Company repeat: “Love is everything. Everything. Everything. Everything…” And everything is what Parsons seems to have piled into this work that premiered in his current Joyce season.

Loosely based around the story of a love triangle, the piece takes Parsons’ fantastic choreographic style and strong dancers and dilutes them in noise - both audible and visual. Familiar opera arias are infused with twangs, bangs, and extra volume. And the splendor of movement is challenged by the busy set.

A collaboration implies a coexistence of two forms, and in that sense Parsons was successful. His integration of EVOC’s lead singers, AnnMarie Milazzo and Tyley Ross, with his powerful dancers worked (most of the time) so that neither physically distracted from the other. When they weren’t shadowing the lead dancers as if becoming the angel on their shoulder (or the scream of death, as Milazzo was in Abby Silva’s ear), often the two stood on either side near the wings, rotating slowly in dim light. Both vocalists had gritty, forceful singing, but Ross held a significantly stronger stage presence.

Dancer Abby Silva plays the main love interest, with Zac Hammer and Miguel Quinones as her two suitors. Hammer’s brief solo under a peaceful moonlight backdrop is one of few times the art of Parsons’ choreography can be read. In most other sections Howell Blinkley’s creative but chaotic lighting design draws away from being tasteful, with backgrounds ranging from trippy flowers twirling to static lightning bolts to bubbling water ripples.

Another clunky section that the choreography deserves better from is a pas de deux where Silva is harnessed and “flying.” The thick wires holding her are very conspicuous and, though they allow her breathtaking suspensions of weight, kill the overall illusion.

Perhaps the work might be better in a more raw state. Towards the end of the 75-minute evening the stage goes black. The dancers emerge horizontally, corpse-like, into the front slivers of light. With that haunting image the other members of Parsons’ company finally dance without distractions. Here is a sole moment worth remembering in an otherwise scattered dance.

(The Times review is here).

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Brief Review of Cedar Lake (UPDATED with pics)

Writing in a rush but wanted to get this out. May extend it for ExploreDance if I find time. Right now I'm off to class all day, and then seeing Parsons Dance tonight.


Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet knows how to please. Its ten day winter season, which opened Thursday at its home space in Chelsea offers two world premiers and the return of a favorite from last year.

Didy Veldman’s new “frame of view” injects humor in what has become Cedar Lake’s signature writhing, powerful movement language. A cubic frame defines the set and challenges the eye’s perspective. Doors dot the two empty “walls” and back. During the piece the dancers move around, through, and over these barriers. At one point there is even partnering executed through the mail slot.

In a pre-performance discussion, Ms. Veldman and the company’s artistic director Benoit-Swan Pouffer noted that many choreographers shy away from humor, and for good reason. Yet “frame” ignites a chuckle in clever ways. Two of the dancers stare at each other and begin to move in slow motion, but this is not like any other pas de deux. The woman arches her way to the floor, balancing her weight with the man, whose free arm swings across her head. She turns and her jaw expands, her eyes bug. It’s like a fight through molasses. A third dancer stands observing over them, periodically tossing yellow confetti into the action. Cue laugh.

In another section, four women groove slowly in a line, only to pretend to faint. “Jason!” the first screams, and the man runs to catch the lithe damsel. A minute later, another shouts for him. And another reaches for her head. Soon poor Jason (Kittelberger) is submerged in arms and legs across his chest as he carries them offstage.

In all, it’s the theatricality of Ms. Veldman’s choreographic and music choices that make the piece enjoyable and a standout in the company’s often dark repertory.

The other premier on the program was less memorable even though it was danced intensely by some of the company’s best. Luca Veggetti’s “memory/measure” seems atypical of the company’s work because there is no real “wow” factor.

Crystal Pite’s “Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue” gets better with every viewing (my review of it’s premiere is here). Each segment varies in how it represents images of rescue, with some more obvious than others. But it is a lovely cohesive whole. Jim French’s lighting design adds warmth to the passionate dancing. Ebony Williams gives particularly strong energy in all that she does.

Looking at the company’s plans for the new year it is clear that growth is happening. No further performances in their cozy home space are currently planned (they head to the Spoleto Festival, America Dance Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, and then The Joyce). It’s definitely worth it to check out this program, running until January 18.

(photos by Julieta Cervantes)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Cedar Lake Opening, Performance Club, & other upcoming events

Cedar Lake Dance certainly knows how to throw an opening night.

Last night marked the start of their new winter season at their fantastic home space in Chelsea. I'm reviewing for soon, so performance details to come. But it was such a nice night! I met up with fellow bloggers whom I've been out of the loop with because of the Radio City schedule, and it was great to catch up and get the scoop on upcoming performances. We enjoyed people watching and star spotting too (Baryshnikov and Damien Woetzel were there...). Fun.

I'll post my review soon. If you're around you should definitely go.

In fact, if you're free Monday night you should go as part of Claudia's new Performance Club! Tickets are only $10 if you sign up with her, and the group is sure to be a lot of fun. She's planning lots of exciting outings to different performances for the new year, and you really should join in. Really.

As an eager participant I hope to attend their second Performance Club event of the month next week at The Kitchen: The Shipment, a black identity politics work created by a Korean-American.

Also of note is Parsons Dance at The Joyce, which I'll also be doing for ExploreDance soon.

And of course, NYCB started their winter season this week. I'm looking forward to seeing the new Coppelia.

There are a ton more good performances coming up this month. January is not the brightest month of the year, but at least it's good for dance-goers!

Dance on Camera Festival

Dance on Camera Festival
New Yorkers, if you have a spare evening in the next week you should check out the Dance on Camera Festival in Lincoln Center. It’s definitely a better alternative than the nonsense in normal movie theaters right now (Marley & Me? Sad! Yes Man? Oh please…).

Yesterday I went to the Jiri Kylian and Hans Hulscher collaboration program and really enjoyed it. A woman introduced the film by noting that this particular program was not typical for the festival because it was not exactly a screen adaptation of dance and it wasn’t truly taking the field in a new direction. But it wasn’t straight performance capture either.

All four of the short clips shown were shot in some great vast space with no wings and no apparent audience. It was really like viewing dance live, in that sense. Each of the pieces were different and very intriguing in terms of choreography, but what was admirable was how the camera movement enhanced rather than deferred from the work. Close ups and zooms seemed only used where appropriate and where you knew you weren’t missing anything on the other side of the stage. It was a smooth blend of camera and dance choreography. The dancers (of Nederlands Dans Theater, mostly) were fantastic as well.

As I was watching it got me thinking about how this would be an entertaining way to expose more audiences to dance. I need to brainstorm this more but…many companies have begun to experiment with livestreaming performances online so that anyone can watch at their computer. While this is great, I know that my own personal viewing habits show that watching things online distracts me. I’d much rather see it live or, after attending yesterday’s program, on the big screen. I believe there are ways to connect online videos to your television…and I know the Metropolitan Opera does those events with movie theaters across the country to show performances on the big screen. I wonder if dance companies might be able to do the same someday? It was just so enriching to see good dance like that, and it would be a good way to spread the art to the masses.
Just rambling, but it’s something I need to think about more and organize my thoughts about.

If you’re in town, the same Jiri Kylian program repeats next Sat. Jan. 13 at 3:30pm with a panel discussion hosted by critic Robert Johnson (an editor I worked with at pointe) and ABT’s Gillian Murphy. Details here.

Ah, Audition Season

January has a lot of connotations for a dancer – and not all of them positive. The end of the joyous Nutcracker (slash Radio City) run, the rush of the wintry snow and freezing cold winds, and the prospects of audition madness.

The latter is quite possibly the one I dread the most, haha. Up until this point in my life, auditioning has been just a normal part of the routine to figure out summer intensive plans, Nutcracker roles, and stints with small companies. But now…auditioning is THE routine. For the moment, it’s currently my full time job to FIND a job in this awful economy, where 12 Broadway shows closed at the same time and many ballet companies are laying off dancers. How lovely.

Ironically, my new year’s resolution is to “stay positive.” After week 1 of being back home in the city, I’m sticking to it but it’s certainly a struggle, haha.
Often in the past, when auditions have come up I’ve found some kind of excuse not to go. As usual I always had a thousand things going on at once and there was always somewhere else to be or something more productive I just had to be doing instead of stressing myself out at auditions. Now, I have no school and no internship, and therefore NO excuse not to go waste my time at equity auditions where I likely won’t even be seen.

Such was the case on Tuesday, when I was so proud of myself for attending 2 auditions in one day. Hah. The first was for Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. I auditioned for them about 2 years ago and when they made a cut the director called me over personally and gave me what she called a “pep talk”, saying that I was very young and needed more strength, but that I might be perfect for the show in a few years so I should definitely come back. At the time, I was ecstatic to hear that. Unfortunately now, the show is basically not hiring anyone, at all, haha.

Before we were taught the audition combination, the director (actually she’s the assoc. choreographer I believe) came right out and said that they don’t hire people straight into the show. They put people they like on a short “swing” list to potentially go in as understudies or when cast members take vacation leave. Then if someone eventually leaves (and why would you with that kind of gig/pay/opportunity???) then a swing may be put in full time.

So needless to say, the audition was unsuccessful in terms of landing a job. It was a decent time, though, because instead of just throwing out choreography and making us wait forever to do it in small groups, they actually took time to break it down almost like a coaching session. It’s nice to actually learn and get something out of an audition besides a big fat rejection.

After that one I ran downtown to another studio to try for another audition – for a musical theater summer season in Virginia (I figure after Radio City I must branch out beyond only ballet stuff…). This one, like Phantom, was an Equity call. That means you’re supposed to be part of the Actor’s Equity Union to participate and/or get the contract. Non-equity people can possibly be seen at the end of such a call if time permits, according to the rules.

Through Radio City I’m part of the AGVA union, but I can’t join Equity until I’m a year in good standing with AGVA. So perhaps my audition life will get easier next year at this time…

I sat in the crowded studio for 45 minutes before the audition monitor guy informed us non-eq folk that they would be typecasting us and only letting the people they were interested in that way come and dance. So we handed in our pictures and resumes and 20 minutes later they decided who to keep just from that. It’s a funny way of doing things, no? Anyway, I was cut from that as well but didn’t mind so much because they only seemed to keep tall people. Ah well.

This was just day one of audition season, so I think I’m going to have to develop some patience, haha. It’s not really the rejections I mind so much as the time lost in waiting around at these things. But I must remember that waiting and wondering is what got me Radio City, and I must hope that something similar will come along again soon!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

New Year, New Look

In case you didn't notice, I've revamped the look of the blog!

I was kind of bored of the old layout (which I changed at this time last year) and wanted to make the links a bit more readable and so forth. I also wanted a better header on top...

Let me know what you think! Seriously, input is appreciated on how I can make it better or if you like it or not.

I've also made some updates and changes to my website, so check it out.

Tomorrow I'm heading home to New York to start fresh for the new year. This short vacation to Florida was definitely much-needed, but I'm anxious to get back to real life and get on the job/audition hunt. I'm sure I'll regret saying that moments after I return to Manhattan, haha. But...oh well!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

RC Memory Videos

Happy New Year again, everyone.

I'm down in Florida on my mini vacation, but wanted to post quickly...

Over the last few weeks of shows at Radio City, I made myself a memory video of sorts with some of my favorite pictures and such. I'm going to put them on private settings very shortly because I don't want to get in trouble with the theater or PR people or anything (because most everything exposes backstage stuff...), but I will keep them up here at least til I return to New York on Monday so you can check them out!

Below are parts 1 and 2. I admit, I am quite possibly THE cheesiest person ever for doing this but...oh well :) If you go to my new Vimeo site you can even see clips of the actual show (taken by my grandmother, haha). Oh, and I'm also joining the Twitter craze for the new year.

Anyway, enjoy these now - they'll be password protected shortly.

Part 1

RC Memories Part 1 from Taylor G. on Vimeo.

Part 2

RC Memories Part 2 from Taylor G. on Vimeo.