Fresh. Unprocessed. Dance.
How many career advice books are there in publication? You could spend hours in the Personal Development section learning about the health and growth of your personal financial portfolio, how to hone your interview skills, tips on networking in “the field,” not to mention ways to innovate in your office.
But how many are there on those of us who don’t have an office? How many manuals have been written about getting home at 2 AM from a bar shift and auditioning the next morning at 9 AM and how to make the coffee strong enough to stomach it? How about the roller coaster of successful performance tours and the confusion when tours end? Or advice for musicians who have worked tirelessly to build a band through the nights, but still sit at a service desk in the day? We performers are strange creatures who have a hard time squeezing our carefully quirky lifestyle into the paradigm of 9 to 5. This is old news. We are used to thumbing through career books to find the one chapter that might truly apply. The one about time management.
Ciara Pressler just put something new on the shelves, and it’s for us.
Dance like any language is alive and morphing. We continue to add ideas and flair; to create new dialects altogether. Even so, we seem to embody many nuances of those who came first.
Here are three iconic dancers and one choreographer who have set the stage for much of what you see today. The links below will show each of their distinctive influences, threading from one era into the next. So when you find yourself in that blissful place, trying on a dance that fits just so, perhaps you’ll think of those who sewed the seams.
Dancers struggle to make their New York rents.
They also struggle to make their $18.00 fee for dance class, and often skip class because they can’t afford it.
These two conditions combined to create quite the conundrum for Dance New Amsterdam, one dance studio in Manhattan committed to keeping prices low for dancers, but accumulating massive rent debt because of it. If, as suggested by local government, dance studios take a “more entrepreneurial” approach then what follows are higher class prices, lower teacher payments, higher studio costs, higher ticket prices and ultimately loss of the original goal: to train and nurture artists. For sustainability, a studio requires a combination of revenue from the services they offer and strong fiscal support from the community. Even an organization that seems to be thriving may be in danger of losing its home…
Outsiders of the dance world often marvel at the discipline, commitment and sheer tenacity of those trying to be professionals in the business.
Dancers however, never think twice about what it takes to make it. Raised on the mantra “no pain, no gain,” they often thrive under high pressure and high expectations. To them, all this effort is common sense. If you really want it, you are singularly-focused on the pursuit of a career in dance. If you lack the passion, you quit early. It is simple.
Swedish choreographer and dancer Pontus Lindberg’s Labyrinth Within is a series of pas de deux on film that explores the lines between reality and perception. The majority of the 28 minute film, with a score created by David Lang (and recorded in 2009 by The Symphony Orchestra of Sweden’s Norrlands Operan) takes place in Giovanni Bucchieri and Wendy Whelan’s apartment. The two main characters are in the later years of a now stale marriage.
n January 27, 1881 Elena Kunikova and Marius Petipa premiered the Grand Pas from Paquita. In 2012 at the Fall For Dance Festival, over a century later, the piece still brings sequined glamour and romanticism. These are the patterns we all know and love: the half circle created by a cleanly positioned corps, the strong soloist, the princely male partner entering with gusto and enticing solos. Originally developed to crowd-please by highlighting beloved Russian ballerinas Paquita’s solos are now done by the cream of Ballet West.
The piece, very simply stated, reminds us of our roots. The footwork is clean and uncomplicated. While the musicality is perhaps the most important element for success, there is a notable patience in the music. There is space to complete movement where in more contemporary work transitions are quicker and often complicated. Ballet West’s solo women stand up boldly to the challenge of the spotlight, but there is one who triumphs: Sayaka Ohtaki, whose coy charisma charms the audience to cheers.
In many Balanchine works, the first strains of a Stravinsky score serve as musical nitroglycerin: poised in stable tension, dancers suddenly explode into movement well matched to the music’s complexity and precision.
Such was the case Saturday afternoon in New York City Ballet’s “Black and White” program, which continues the company’s seasonal tribute to one of the last century’s most iconic creative partnerships.
Featuring such masterpieces as “Stravinsky Violin Concerto” and “Symphony in Three Movements,” the program consists of five works whose minimalist sets and costumes only augment their timeless grandeur. Against a solid azure backdrop, dancers stripped down to black-and-white practice clothes perform solos, duets and large ensemble segments that glorify their own instruments as well as every note of the composition.
It was a night for classics at New York City Center’s Program 2 of Fall For Dance Festival. The spectrum of work illuminated the deep historical tradition of codified technique and striking discipline. Juilliard’s senior dance class shared the work of Pam Tanowitz, a blend of classical and modern technique. Set beside Martha Graham’s “Chronicle” from 1936, Twyla Tharp’s 1983 “Sinatra Suite” performed by American Ballet Theater and a 2010 Peter Quanz ballet by The Hong Kong Ballet, the program seemed to illustrate the journey of dance and the subtle specificity of its many vocabularies.
He stuck out like a sore thumb outside of New York City Center. An unkempt outfit consisting of a black and grey plaid shirt and long cargo pants matched his crazy demeanor, the gap in his teeth, and giant grey hair. It was only after a few moments of analysis that I realized that he was begging me for an extra ticket to the Fall for Dance Festival’s opening night. The demand has never been higher for the popular series, now in its ninth year. Expanded to 12 evenings, Fall for Dance provides a unique glimpse into the world of dance today. A program of unbiased diversity offers glimpses into the current state of ballet, modern, tap, flamenco, contemporary, hip-hop and everything else under the sun (under the fluorescent dance studio lights?). I took my seat in the beautiful theater and admired the eclectic program when I saw our desperate grey-haired friend sitting two rows in front of me. He made it.
The heat having finally broken, New Yorkers are back in town, getting down to business and starting a new season. New York Fashion Week has already offered us a peak at next spring, Apple is breaking records again with the release of the new iPhone, and the Presidential election has taken off in a sprint to November.
It’s this cultural landscape, amidst so much forecasting and anticipation that New York choreographer Jonah Bokaer and noted English light sculptor Anthony McCall opened the BAM Next Wave Festival’s 30th season with an evening length work called Eclipse September 5-9 in the brand new (and still smelling of just laid carpet) BAM Fisher. Eclipse isn’t a speculative look into a crystal ball, however. McCall and Bokaer tell us something about present, and naturally our future, by looking straight back.