Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Happy International Dance Day!

Today is historically recognized as International Dance Day! Since 1982, our art form has had its own holiday annually on April 29.

According to UNESCO, the hosting organization, the message of the 2009 Dance Day is: "The future of dance lies where there are persons who do not dance. These belong to two categories: those who simply did not learn, and those who think that they are not able to dance. They represent the greatest challenge for the dance teacher's profession." So...go dance! Even if you're not a dancer.

Today is also Hug a Dancer Day, according to a Facebook invitation with over 6,000 "attendees."

And of course all this means we're in the midst of National Dance Week, which runs April 24-May 3 this year.

There's lots happening to celebrate today, if you're interested...

-The always interesting Misnomer Dance Theater is having another live webcast performance tonight at 5:30pm. They're dancing in a bank vault down in the financial district! Wow.

Misnomer Live Webcast April 29th, 5:30 PM EST from Chris Elam on Vimeo.
Watch the webcast here.

Also keep an eye out for the new issue of Movmnt Magazine hopefully out soon, where I did an article on some of Misnomer's other projects!

-The New York Dance Parade (which doesn't happen until May) is having a big fundraising performance at 7pm. Looks like a fun mix of dance styles to see.

-Dancer and writer (and a ballet mistress I worked with a while back) Leda Meredith is having a reading and signing event for her recent book, "Botany, Ballet, and Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes." It's at Ti Lounge at 7:15pm if interested.

Those are just a few New York events. Official events for National Dance Week around the country are listed here. But honestly, what better way to celebrate than to dance yourself? That's certainly what I'll be doing!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ailey II Repertory Favorites

(writing this got me to thinking about how I watch performances. I took a friend’s extra ticket to this performance last minute and was not intending to review it. I didn’t watch it with the normal note-taking, detail-oriented mind I often use as an audience member. Yet somehow I felt compelled to write about it after, as if putting it into words helped me make sense of what I had seen. Just a curious observation…And I also wrote this fast, three days after the actual performance instead of what I would normally do if writing ‘real’ criticism.)

Last weekend I got to see Ailey II perform for the first time. The main Ailey company is fantastic, full of powerful bodies, vivid personalities, and enough strength to choke a horse. The second company looks like just that: a group on their way to greatness but not quite there yet.

All of the 12 young dancers have the technique and very obvious work ethic to meet the demands of the Ailey name. Yet only a few seem marked by that special something onstage that distinguishes a real professional. It’s an unnamable presence different from the artistry of classical ballet or facial expressions of musical theater that set one apart. Most of the works on the program offered defined moments of individual attention for each, which made the distinction clear.

The Repertory Favorites program included four works made in the past two years. Is it significant that no repertory choreography by Ailey himself was included? Instead we have pieces from the junior company’s associate artistic director, Troy Powell, company dancer Chang Yong Sung, George Faison, and the standout: Christopher L. Huggins.

Powell’s opener, “The External Knot” garnered a great response from the audience. The evening I went Renaldo Gardner was featured. He moved with intention, as though some force rippled through his muscles. In choppy separate sections the dancers moved as couples, in smaller groups, and in unison. Powell’s choreography uses a lot of cannons, where the dancers repeat the same phrase beginning a count or two after each other. Al Crawford’s lighting design was perhaps the most interesting aspect, with a series of diamond shapes projected on the backdrop. But with the same Philip Glass score that accompanies Twyla Tharp’s masterpiece, “In the Upper Room,” it’s hard not to compare the two at Powell’s loss, despite their major differences.

“Requiem,” a duet of exacerbated contemporary movement for Renaldo Gardner and Jarvis McKinley, followed. Both men are superb dancers and complimented each other well in the harsh choreography. At times they would reach across violently to each other’s faces, barely missing contact before yanking away as if removing a liquid mask.

The highlight of the performance was by far Huggins’ “When Dawn Comes…” Four women begin curled up in a pointy pool of sunlight. They dance in lovely long, flowy, pale dresses designed by Jon Taylor. The men join and soon a couple dances a jarring pas de deux where the woman continually throws herself onto the man’s body, clearly aching for him in unrequited passion. He throws her. She jumps back on, clasping her arms and legs around his waist. At the end, all four women sprint to their men waiting in the four corners of the stage. They thrust themselves to the men. Barely catching them, they walk slowly to return the women to their beginning slumber in the dawn sunlight in silence.

A theatrical and fun “Movin’ On” concluded the evening with energy and pizzazz. The piece takes place in a ‘20s nightclub, complete with scatting music by Betty Carter. The dancers begin on red chairs in jazzy movements. Characters evolve throughout, allowing each dancer a moment in the spotlight, notably Megan Jakel. The only one in pointe shoes, she is featured playfully throughout. All of the dancers had smiles beaming by the end of the number, enjoying their work. And work it was for such a small, youthful company to put on a successful two week season.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring Dance Season

Apologies for not blogging so much lately...the past week or so has been a bit rough with sickness, insomnia, achilles bursitis, and the list goes on.

Anyway this week there's LOTS of dance events coming up. Spring time in New York is wonderful for dance!

Just a few highlights I hope to be getting to:
-NYCB's season begins tomorrow
-Wednesday is International Dance Day, with lots of events happening here and there
-Thursday there is a film showing of "Out of Focus," about Cedar Lake Dance working with the great Ohad Naharin
-Trisha Brown Dance Company has their season at BAM this weekend
-The New School's spring performance is also this weekend, with choreography by TAKE and others I have a long lost friend I danced with 5 years ago coming into town later this week. And next week it's already time to re-audition for Radio City (I've never been so at the mercy of my dancing. I NEED to get that job again!). And then next weekend I head home to dance in and help with my mom's studio's recital.

And I've been back again working on the book project, which had temporarily been on hold til recently.

Oh and I have blog posts in the works about "Every Little Step" and "Ailey II" still...


Thursday, April 23, 2009

That Conversation About Blogger/Critic

An interesting conversation going on about the future of dance criticism, blogging, and it's ability to be monetized (or not) and the implications of all it here and continuing on here. Seems to be based in Boston writers, which is the first conversation I've read about the issues outside of New York. Thoughts?

via InfiniteBody

YAGP 2009 Winners Announced

For those interested, the winners of the past week's Youth America Grande Prix competition have been announced.

Check it out here.

Didn't get to see any of it this year, but I've had many friends do it in the past and my old studio is a heavy competitor every year.

It's interesting to me that for an "American" competition only about 4 of the 18 top placing winners across juniors, seniors, and pre-competitive division are from the USA. Hm.

Bear with me this week...blogging may be slow because I'm having awful migraines from major insomnia issues, haha. Hopefully posts will return to normal after the weekend, when I may get to rest...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Man, they Make it Look Like Fun

In a search to see if the Youth America Grand Prix winners had been announced yet (they haven't), I just discovered my old studio on Twitter, which then led me to Youtube.

Must they use that music?
I'll save other editorial comments for now...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

More on Met Auditions

As audition season starts winding down (did it ever even wind up this year? ugh.) I just finished the third and last audition for various productions with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet for next season. Unfortunately none led me to a job, but the process was still interesting.

Because they work the auditions by particular show for the most part, each audition is very different and there are different directors/choreographers/producers in charge choosing dancers. So the three I went to over the past month were all unique.

The first was for "Aida" with amazing choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. This was my favorite and the best one for many reasons, besides the fact that I actually came close and got a callback for that one. Auditions can be a very painful process, but it's a nice treat when you actually gain something from them besides a hit to your self-esteem. In that audition, Ratmansky himself taught the phrase we would audition with. His choreography itself is just wonderful, organic, musical, and fun - but that goes without saying. What was better was that he took the time and energy to work through the details of the steps, focusing on particular elements he wanted emphasized and explaining the syncopated timing he was aiming for. Even though there were over 50 people crowded in the studio and hundreds more waiting to be seen, he actually made sure we knew what we were doing.

Whether or not you made the cut, I think most everyone in that room got something out of the experience of just working for half an hour with him. That's the kind of audition I appreciate, where you actually learn. The audition I did months ago for Phantom of the Opera was like that as well - it's more of a workshop where you learn the choreography quickly but then have the opportunity to develop and clean it instead of whipping out a nervous mechanical version of it for the "judges."

I would guess this method would be more helpful to the people selecting dancers as well because they can see how we interpret corrections, listen to the choreographer, and improve with every attempt. It is indeed time consuming, but these auditions make us wait around forever anyway, so why not put that time to good use?

I was beyond pleased just to get a callback for that one. Ratmansky is at the top of the world right now and I was honored he even saw me at all in such a crowd (there are some good dancers in New York City...). I usually have a knack for turning invisible in large groups of dancers.

The callback was equally as enjoyable as the open call, with a whole new combination taught. Everyone could see Ratmansky was having a hard time deciding on a final cast, especially with the girls. So many talented, lovely, strong dancers. We must have done that combination a million times in various groups before they finally made decisions. Seeing fellow dancers who I KNOW are amazing and beautiful onstage get cut before or with me just reminds me that so much of casting is not about anything besides "what they're looking for." It's not personal, and it's not all about body or technique.

Last week it was on to the next call - this time with Christopher Wheeldon for "Carmen." The audition notice was rather vague like most of them are, and just said they were "looking for ballet, contemporary, and modern dancers. Flamenco dancing a plus. Bring pointe shoes." Well, I couldn't have been more surprised. It was all very no-nonsense compared to the previous week. After waiting 2 hours to finally dance (the amount of unemployed dancers in the city is ridiculous) we got a 16-count pure flamenco combination, taught quickly by a real Flamenco dancer, and run in big groups. Cut! Definitely wasn't surprised with that one - I've only taken one flamenco class in my life (last summer at ABT) and it was a joke. Just proves dance schools should expand their curriculum beyond a thousand technique classes to prepare students for opportunities like this...and maybe audition notices should be more clear, haha, so that a thousand bunheads didn't show up without character heels or anything. Still, it was kind of cool to be (briefly) in the room with Wheeldon!

Today was the last call of the season, unless they post more later on. And it was another eclectic audition, haha. This time I got smart and instead of taking class immediately beforehand and arriving half an hour early to the audition, only to wait for 2 hours and get cold, I got there more than an hour ahead of time. I found out they took a group in early (which again I missed by only 3 numbers) but I'd only have to wait an hour this time. Good good.

We went in and were asked to just go chenne' turns straight across the floor (to the LEFT!) to the choreographer (Bartlett Sher) standing watching from the side - and if you're a dancer you know what a pain that is...I can't turn on a straight line even though I'm the most sober person out there, haha. One by way we wavered across, haha. As we reached him he directed us either to his right or left, clearly marking the good pile from the bad, haha. At least he was direct!

After that we were asked to improvise "like a doll." Um, what? In groups of four we got on our Coppelia/Harlequin/Columbine mood and pretended to be dolls. It was hard! I have no clue what exactly I did, but I'm sure I mimicked some form of the doll dance from Nutcracker, blowing kisses to nobody with flat palms and angular elbows. Cut! Haha. Well, I tried.

He kept about 10 of the 60 or so in our group and the rest of us headed through the maze that is the Met's basement to the elevator, up to "S" level, and out the stage door to Lincoln Center's construction madness - a maze I now know all to well.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Videos from TAKE Dance Intensive

TAKE Dance Company just posted videos of their Winter Intensive that I participated in back in January.

Their full youTube site is here, with clips of TAKE's work.

This first video was taken during class one morning during the intensive. Ok, I had to watch this 3 times to figure out where I am in it, haha. No wonder I often have the power of invisibility! Seriously, I watched it the first two times remembering being there, doing that combination, seeing a camera on in the corner - but I couldn't for the life of me remember what I might have been wearing, how bad or good I was at this, or what group I might have gone with, haha. It doesn't help that the video quality is less than perfect but...

I'm pretty sure that's me in all black starting the combination around 2:37 in the very back, haha.

This one is a mish-mash of our little performance at the end. It's cool the way they spliced the pieces together, since we did the same 8-minute piece over and over again with all the casts. It was only a bit easier to find myself this time - since I was wearing a bright purple leotard, haha. Though some parts seem to be from another rehearsal.

If you care to search for my brief clips, I'm at:
1:00 on the right
4:15 on the left (kind of hidden by the other girl, haha)
6:39 on the right

Also FYI the company has a summer intensive in the works tentatively set for:

August 17-23, 2009
Location: Morocco Studio
6 West 20th Street (between 5th & 6th Avenue)
 2nd Floor New York, NY 10011

I hope I'll be able to end after learning so much at the winter intensive!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

What's Better than Pink Trees?

The best week of the year in New York City? The week the trees in Central Park turn pink! Too bad they don't last more than a few days...

A Dramatic Ballet Anniversary

Francis Patrelle's company Dances Patrelle celebrated its 20th anniversary season this weekend at the Kaye Playhouse.

I had Mr. Patrelle as a regular teacher during my two years at Ballet Academy East, and his classes were always a nice blend of musicality and dance-y combinations. He placed a lot of emphasis on the upper body and use of epaulement as compared to the other, more Balanchine-styled teachers. I got to dance for him in his company's "The Yorkville Nutcracker" both of those years, as well - also held at the Kaye.

This afternoon I was happy to squeeze time to see his new ballet "Murder at the Masque: The Casebook of Edgar Allen Poe." Patrelle is known for "dramatic dance" and he seems to have a knack for telling a story through movement. In this work, several couples dance at a masquerade party only to find that their host has been brutally attacked - with a clock - and killed. Though it seems advertised as a great mystery (see the Times review here) there's lots of curious movement but not much "whodunit" here. We find quickly it was Heather Hawk's character who apparently commit the crime. She dances a passionate, powerful pas de deux with her dead victim before she leaves the party.

Rita B. Watson's ballroom gown costumes are elegant, and Gillian Bradshaw-Smith's simple backdrop sets work well to carry on the plot. Justin Allen's story is engaging but slightly muddled in its telling...why Poe? How do they know Heather (her character's name is Lenore Smith, according to the program) is the killer? Maybe I missed something being lost in Patrick Soluri's gorgeously haunting music, but parts of the narrative were unclear.

Still, the dancers took to their characters and to Patrelle's choreography well. Many of them I've been in the studio with before and it's nice to see them in these roles. Even with masks blocking the women's faces for much of the piece, they each have a unique sensibility about them. And the chorus of kids who danced as the eery "les cloches" and "les gobelins" looked very professional. Students from BAE, Ailey, ABT, Joffrey, Ballet Hispanico, Manhattan Youth Ballet, and the 92Y joined together in a well-patterned dance dressed as gauzy ghost-like creatures. Definitely a strong addition!

Patrelle's program also included the revival of his 1986 ballet "Come Rain/Come Shine" set to music by the wonderful Judy Garland and featuring six dancers from ABT. Unfortunately I had to run out to make it to yoga in time (haha) and had to miss this one. Reports, anyone?

It's nice to see his company doing well on such a milestone anniversary. Here's to the next 20 years, Mr. Patrelle.


...the new movie "Every Little Step."

Like, go immediately. It's amazing.
Will write more in the morning but this is the best recent dance movie to date. Wow.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blogger Meetup & Rioult Review

Sometimes we take New York City for granted. Well, the dance world of it anyway.

There’s always so much going on to see and so many wonderful people to meet, but sometimes it takes an organized gathering to really make you appreciate dance all over again. Last night dance blogger Deborah from Dance in Israel organized a blogger meetup at Dance Theater Workshop. Founder of, she’s visiting on a brief trip from Israel and thought it would be great to put a face to the names we all read about online. And what a great night it was!

It reminded me of the very first time many of us New York based bloggers met at a Cedar Lake Dance performance back in January 2008. As we introduced ourselves back then we already knew so much about each other from keeping up online and it was like we’d known each other for years. It was the same finally meeting Deborah in person, but even more funny now because we all keep in touch practically by the minute on Twitter, haha. They knew about yesterday’s audition and how I couldn’t sleep and where I was off to next. The internet is funny that way!

Besides Deborah and her boyfriend Tal, friends Tonya and Doug were there along with Marc from TenduTV and DJ. We had some great conversations ranging from why male dancers have it easier than women to discussions of particular choreographers (who then walked right past us, haha) to how we can facilitate more dialogue and support between dance bloggers around the world. I’ve said this before, but having the opportunity to chat, brainstorm, and gossip with such an intelligent and passionate group of dance lovers is such a rich experience. You don’t find that anywhere – but luckily we’re bringing that conversation online now.

After we talked for an hour we sat to hear a brief “Coffee and Conversation” panel there in DTW’s lobby. Another blogger (and longtime professional dance writer) Eva Yaa Asantewa spoke with Israeli choreographer Deganit Shemy about her piece that was premiering later that night. It was so nice to finally meet Eva as well, after following InfiniteBody and almost taking her Writing on Dance course last fall (before Radio City got me too busy). The conversation with Deganit was very interesting and covered her background and the choices she makes when choreographing. She didn’t start dancing until she was about 26 years old and didn’t have the first showing of her choreography until she was 32. She spoke about the financial struggles the art form faces (mentioning she has paid her dancers from her own pocket in the past) and her great fortune of winning the A.W.A.R.D. Show prize money. She went on to discuss her reasons for working mostly only with females and then made some interesting remarks about the concept of memory and how we shape and change it over time.

Listening to everything made me really want to see her work, which is exactly what hosting conversations like that is supposed to do – a great marketing technique not many dance companies take advantage of right now! Unfortunately my dance calendar is beyond packed for this weekend so I won’t be able to go. But if anyone else gets to see her work do report back ☺
We had a few more laughs before saying our goodbyes and heading to our respective performances we were seeing. I walked the half a block to the Joyce to see Pascal Rioult’s company, which I blogged about after seeing a rehearsal recently.


Rioult’s current season includes the premier of the full length work “The Great Mass” (read Tonya's review of it here) as well as a repertory program, which is what I was pleased to see.

“Views of the Fleeting World” opened the program in a series of nine broken up sections. Between each the projected backdrop changed between colorful paint splatterings that almost resembled tiger stripes. Earthy sound effects rose in the darkness that reflected the titles of the associated dances: “Gathering Storm,” “Sudden Rain,” “Summer Wind.” In each the strong dancers wore gray short unitards with varying accessories.

In one section two of the dancers lay on the floor, never standing higher than a kneel until the end of the piece. They roll sensuously, arms reaching for each other or legs aiming for the sky. The woman crawls her foot across her body to her partner, caressing his side with the pads of her toes. Tender but animalistic movement mark their relationship. This and a lovely featured section for Anastasia Soroczynski were highlights of the rather long work.

The second half of the program was much more alive. “Les Noces (The Wedding)” is a clever take on the ceremonial rituals a couple undergoes in getting ready just before being married. Rioult’s sexual references throughout the work are tasteful but obvious. He mixes movement with human images that slowly unveil a sort of narrative.

The stage begins divided in half by David Finley’s lighting, women lit on one side and men in the dark on the other. Four chairs are used as props they dance on while four white hoop skirts hang behind them. In their white underwear they seem to move in anguish, nervous or scared of what is to come, and lift each other one by one, knees splayed with crotch exposed.

Soon their side is dimmed and the men are revealed, also wearing their underwear with tuxedos hanging just upstage of them. They have their own go at emotional, sexual movement before they invade the women’s side. The chairs are shifted often to make an aisle center stage or to line the wings. Eventually the men and women meet, dancing together properly at first before letting loose. Then thye return to their respective areas to don the clothing waiting for them. One couple at a time they meet at the center, turn, and march straight towards the audience like zombies before the curtain comes down. The piece itself is a perfect marriage of humor and humanness.

Similarly, “Wien” causes a chuckle. The stage begins with dark lighting, the dancers moving almost in shadowy silouette. They shuffle in a circle around the stage as a tight group, their heads down and shoulders hunched as if they are an insecure New Yorker trying to go unseen. One falls. She stands quickly and rejoins the group. Another falls. She continues on. The pattern repeats throughout the piece, never failing to surprise the audience when one drops violently to the floor. The dancers then emerge as characters, humorously introducing themselves briefly through movement. They change, evolve, and make us laugh throughout. It’s definitely a work to see! The season runs through Sunday at the Joyce.

Also for dancers, Rioult is offering a free master class on April 25 with the purchase of a $20 ticket to their season. Info is on their website, so act fast before their season ends. I'll be at the class :)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Great Night! to come about a fantastic gathering with Deborah, Tonya, Marc, Doug, and others tonight at DTW. Plus finally meeting Eva and hearing a coffee/conversation, and later seeing Rioult (review to come).

Love New York nights like these where you just know dance is thriving.


Dance Theater of Harlem was featured on Good Morning America this morning.

Check out the video here.

A friend of mine is in the ensemble there and is shown in the video. It includes great rehearsal clips of the current and past company, plus a nice interview with director Arthur Mitchell and newly appointed artistic director Virginia Johnson.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Old Dancing Pics

Every time I make a trip home to Massachusetts I come across another stash of old dancing pictures that just crack me up.

I was home for Easter this weekend and found these...too funny. I was so serious! Haha.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Virgina Johnson is appointed new artistic director of Dance Theater of Harlem.

Another story that proves everything happens for a reason - she was let go from being editor of Pointe Magazine (for 10 years; it's founding editor) in January.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Performance Videos

Not sure if everyone will be able to view these on here, but they just posted videos of our performance at Ailey two weeks ago on Facebook...I hate watching myself haha, but it's not QUITE as bad as I expected...



Friday, April 10, 2009

Upcoming To See...

Wow, this week has been rather insane. I'm heading home to Massachusetts tomorrow night for a brief Easter break and on my bus ride home I'm planning to blog in more detail about everything (thank goodness for buses with wireless internet!).

In the meantime, here are a few interesting dance things to check out in the coming week...

*Everybody Dance Now: 20 Years of Dancing in Print, an exhibit at the AIGA National Design Center that revolves around two dance magazines. Given my background, this is one I'm definitely attending! Runs through May 15.

*RIOULT at the Joyce opens on Tuesday. Their preview rehearsal I went to last week was great. Go!

*Dances Patrelle, run by a former teacher of mine, is celebrating a big anniversary with their season later this month, and on Monday artistic director Francis Patrelle will speak at the Barnes & Noble in Lincoln Cente at 7pm. Marcelo Gomes of ABT and the wonderful Cynthia Gregory are two of the guests joining him. If I wasn't out of town I'd be there in a heartbeat!

*"Every Little Step" is a new documentary film about the making of the recent revival of "A Chorus Line" on Broadway - one of my FAVORITE shows. The film opens in limited release next Friday April 17 (New Yorker's can see it at the Clearview Chelsea on 23rd Street, other cities check their Facebook page here). I actually know one of the auditioning girls interviewed in the trailer, haha.

Trailer here:

Looks good, right?

Anyway, those are some things on my dance calendar I'm hoping to get to...
Happy Good Friday!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Oh Well

Didn't get the contract with the Met. Not surprised, really.

There were about 30 girls at the callback today and all were really really good. It seemed like Ratmansky and the other dance directors genuinely had a hard time deciding on who to choose, because they made various random groups of people do the combination a million times. In the end it seemed they picked mostly taller people - bad for me, haha.

Oh well.

Honestly, I was just thrilled to get the callback and to know that such a fantastic choreographer (his combinations were so fun and organic and great) saw me at all in a room of 50 dancers yesterday. I am usually the single most invisible person in cattle call auditions like that. Would have loved to work with him, but a callback is enough for now I suppose :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

What a Day!

Wow, I had an insane, wonderful day!

This morning I went to work early (yes, started a new part time job this week, which is another story) and left in time to take a quick barre to warm up for an audition.

The barre (which I ended up staying for center because it was so fabulous) was with Gelsey Kirkland. The audition was with in-the-hot-seat choreographer Alexei Ratmansky.


To make a long story short (I'll elaborate tomorrow afternoon when I have more time) I got a call back for tomorrow with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in in the brand new production of "Aida" choreographed by Ratmansky! Wish me luck tomorrow - I NEED IT. That's about the only stage that compares with Radio City Music Hall!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Eva Obituary

The Times finally put up an obituary for Eva Evdokimova. Read it here.

I'm surprised I haven't found or heard much more about her death. Seems a huge loss to me, even though I knew her very distantly.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Updated: First (& 2nd) Performance = Good!

Tonight's studio performance went really well, I think!

I was surprised how good it felt after being not so thrilled with the piece during rehearsals. And especially after a rough tech rehearsal last night (they asked us to be there at 8:30pm, didn't start running things til 9:30, and I didn't actually dance until 11:30pm after re-warming up 5 times. Ouch).

All the work was worth it, as it always is for those few moments onstage. It's hard to remember that it's always worth it while you're in the process, but thus far it's always payed off. I'm pleased and excited to do it again tomorrow night :)

Hoping to take some pictures backstage tomorrow to share.


Tonight's show went well, too. I stupidly forgot my camera at home today (in addition to my ballet slippers, which meant I did much more of Sunday morning ballet class on pointe than I wanted to...) so have not much material to blog with, haha. But I hear lots of people took pictures during the show, and the video taped it as well so...will post when I get it.

I felt like last night's performance was a bit better than tonight, but everything went smoothly. Both nights we had a packed audience and it was nice to see friendly faces at both. I felt really unprepared before the weekend but I think my partner and I pulled it together our best for the actual shows, and it seemed to go much better than any of our few rehearsals, which was a relief!

Anyway...the week looks pretty busy with a few new opportunities possibly popping up...will update!

Another Ballet Loss

Why does it seem like half of the great ballet world is leaving us lately?

Today the news came that former prima ballerina and ballet teacher Eva Evdokimova passed away April 3 at 12:30am. She was only 60 years old. :(

(photo from her Ballerina Gallery page)

"EVA EVDOKIMOVA was a member of the Royal Danish Ballet, Deutsche Oper (Berlin) and The London Festival Ballet (later known as English National Ballet). She has appeared as Prima Ballerina Assoluta with American Ballet Theater, Kirov Ballet, La Scala Milano, National Ballet of Canada, National Ballet of Cuba, Paris Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and Tokyo Ballet. She was partnered by Rudolph Nureyev for 15 years." Her "Teacher's Wisdom" column in Dance Magazine is here.

(Eva in Les Sylphides around 1:21 in this video. beautiful)

I've heard through the grapevine she had been sick for a while but I don't know with what exactly. I've never taken her class myself, but I know people who have worked with her and I've seen some gorgeous pictures of her dancing. She was a coach to many of today's great artists, and she taught until recently at Ballet Arts, where I'm performing this weekend (more on that to come...).

Though I didn't know her, my performance is dedicated to her and those she leaves behind. I've said this before just recently, but any loss of a ballerina is a loss to the art, and it makes me appreciate life and everyone it so much. RIP Eva.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

And onto the next performance...

I've barely recovered from last week's performance and it's already onto the next - but I'm not complaining!

This Saturday and Sunday night I'm dancing in a pas de deux from "La Traviata." We haven't had much rehearsal time at all, and it's a very emotional piece (I'm supposed to be dying and in love...two things I have yet to experience). The steps are relatively simple but it's the artistry that has been the challenge. Luckily I have a good partner to work with :)

Should be an interesting performance with lots of different things on the program. Hoping all goes well...we may not even get a dress rehearsal actually, but...I have faith, haha.

A Lovely Pas

Check out this beautiful video of a pas de deux danced by NYCB members Daniel Ulbricht and Stephanie Zungre. It was choreographed by a former teacher of mine, Chris Fleming.

Previewing Rioult

Yesterday I was invited to watch a preview rehearsal of Rioult Dance, whose season at the Joyce is coming up next week (April 14-19). I had never seen Pascal Rioult’s work before, but I was very pleasantly surprised! Rioult was a dancer with Martha Graham and has been running this full time company since 1994.

We saw excerpts from the company’s premiere “The Great Mass.” It’s still a work in progress until they open next week, but it looked like a great finished product. There are four main couples who move in and out of sections with tender partnering and sweeping lifts. Each of his dancers has a unique type and character, and it was nice to see that up close in the studio. The partners seemed well matched and each had a strong connection between them, making a moment where they stand quietly and kiss, women with their backs to the audience, very special.

In another part one dancer sits on the shoulders of a male dancer and is enveloped in a long piece of fabric (which was bright orange in rehearsal, though we were told it would be something like cream during performance). She folds the lengthy scarf around, hugging herself while other dancers drag the material out like a king’s cape. It’s a lovely image and one I look forward to seeing with actual lighting and costumes.

The company will present this full length piece and a second repertory program during their season – and I’m definitely going to try to make it to see both!

Before and after the rehearsal it was great to chat with some administrative members of the company (it looks like former Pointe Magazine editor Virginia J. is now helping them out) and hear more background about all of the educational endeavors the dancers pursue. It seems like a very wholesome troupe and I’m looking forward to seeing more of them.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Gift of the Stage

(This is my April column for my teacher's monthly e-newsletter I help put out. I have a bit more to blog about Sunday's performances but this must suffice for now...not much going on this week and yet I'm still too busy to blog!)

There is no greater gift to receive than the experience of being onstage.

When I was little I rarely asked my parents for toys or presents. On every bright star, birthday candle, or penny thrown into a fountain I wished for one thing: another performance opportunity. There’s something about giving all of yourself in moments of live theater. Any internal monologue goes mute and thoughts are misty. Music drives the movement. The warmth of the lights, the smile from within, the connection to the audience – bliss!

It’s scary to imagine that, especially with today’s economy and struggling arts world, such a chance is often reserved for the chosen few professional talents or young children in ballet school. But Kat has found a way around that with her student workshop performance series, which returned last weekend. And boy did she give us a lot!

This was our first student workshop in an actual theater (downstairs at the Ailey Citigroup Theater). In February 2008, our first showcase at Ailey had about 25 audience members in a studio and lasted maybe half an hour. It grew to include other dance groups from around the city in back to back performances. By November we had sold out two packed studio showcases almost weeks ahead of time. “It’s time we have a theater!” I complained to Kat at dinner afterwards. Doubtful, she told me maybe it would grow to that in 2-4 years. The next morning I got an email: “You dreams have come true. We got the theater!” Not only that, we sold out two full houses in advance.

As a dancer it was an honor to be a part this one, dancing in excerpts from Fokine’s “Les Sylphides” and Bournonville’s “Napoli” (my favorite) resulting from 3 months of weekly rehearsals with Kat and her fabulous “good cop” rehearsal assistant, Yuka. Besides us, the program included Les Ballets Grandivas and various small modern and theater dance companies. What is special about these performances, though, is that it’s NOT just for professionals! There is an optimistic, healthy, friendly, REAL atmosphere in working with artists who have a life outside the studio – bankers, food scientists, accountants, school teachers, and more. What a rich diversity of dancers to perform with! I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s an inspiration to dance alongside people with a genuine passion for dancing, in class as always, and in performance.

Though my time actually onstage is incomparable, what I enjoyed most about Sunday’s shows was assisting behind the scenes. From crafting those silly sylph wings, ordering last minute men’s shirts, and organizing the program names of 150+ cast members in advance, to running up and down collecting photo release forms ten minutes into tech, it was chaotic to say the least. But I love juggling and putting out fires before they happen.

I grew up with my family running their own dance studio with annual recitals each spring and was raised for about 15 years as the “assistant in training” to the directors. After watching my family (and now Kat) as role models for wearing many hats and doing so myself, it really came natural to me to step in to help as much as I could with this performance. I'm so very happy that I could contribute beyond what I give onstage, and I’m SO grateful for the opportunity to be part of both ends. Being involved in the production was a gift, from the theater, the audience, my fellow dancers, and from Kat. Thank you all!

(official performance pictures/videos are not in yet, but these are stolen from friends of other dancers who snuck some shots during the show, haha. better ones to come - i hope)