Dance: April 2002

Monday April 29

THE ROYAL’S NEW YOUNG STARS: London’s Royal Ballet has two young stars. “Both are new to the Royal Ballet, with Alina Cojocaru joining in 1999 and Tamara Rojo a year later. Neither is English, but that’s not unusual for the Royal Ballet, a troupe once dominated by dancers from Britain and the Commonwealth. Only two of its 10 principals were born in England. Cojocaru is from Romania, and Rojo, born in Montreal, was raised in Spain. They are coy about their personal life. Both live alone, in rented apartments and if there are boyfriends, they are well hidden.” Sydney Morning Herald 04/29/02

Sunday April 28

STAR CRITICIZES HER COMPANY: Evelyn Hart has been one of Canada’s top dancers since she broke into the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1975. But she’s hinting she might retire, citing not age, but what she considers the deterioration of the RWB. “When you’re young, you can still progress just by doing the role. When you are older, you really need people with a lot of experience to help take you forward, people who understand what it’s like to be in that position. And we don’t have that at the Winnipeg Ballet at the moment.” CBC 04/26/02

BELIEF IN STUDENTS: What makes a good dance teacher? Four of New York’s best, “all long-time producers of gifted and interesting performers, suggested that toughness and a belief in students’ individuality and potential may be among the most important qualities, along with a solid sense of craft and artistry and how to communicate that.” The New York Times 04/28/02

Wednesday April 24

SEEKING A BALLET IN MINNESOTA: “Why have the Twin Cities never added a ballet company to their roster of major arts institutions? Minnesotans are known to go weak in the knees at the very mention of phrases like ‘flagship institution’ (the Guthrie Theater) and ‘internationally renowned’ (the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra). Yet civic pride has never produced a major ballet troupe. Is dance just the poor relation of theater, music, and the visual arts–shortchanged by the Cities’ male boosters? Or have the Twin Cities, with their reputation for creativity and innovation in dance, bypassed a monolithic ballet company in favor of smaller, more experimental troupes?” City Pages (Minneapolis/Saint Paul) 04/24/02

Tuesday April 23

DANCE – OR IDENTITY POLITICS? “Today the Alvin Ailey company is usually thought of as ‘black.’ Yet this was not Ailey’s intention. When Ailey started his own company in New York in 1958, he did so with a particular mission, which is often overlooked today. His idea was to create an American repertory company that would showcase the work of twentieth-century American modern dance choreographers.Ailey seems to have been keenly aware that he was living at an important juncture in the history of dance, and he wanted to bring these works and styles to ‘the people.’ But which people?” The New Republic 04/22/02

Sunday April 21

STEALING THE ASSETS: “To many, Ron Protas is the most hated man in dance: a controlling and abusive manipulator intent on destroying the legendary Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance… Protas was dumped as the center’s artistic director in May 2000 after years of losing money and butting heads with its members, including one incident in which he allegedly tied up a dancer ‘to teach her fear.’ But he’s now attempting to wrestle away the one Graham asset he doesn’t have in his possession: the dances themselves.” New York Post 04/21/02

Wednesday April 17

LIFE OUTSIDE BIG DANCE: Why would established male dancers leave London’s Royal Ballet for a small uncertain company? In their early 30s, each could see their careers playing out. “It would have been so easy ‘to play the game and stay in the company for a long time, winding down from Princes into character roles… and collecting your pension’. But none of them was prepared to sit out that kind of life. Like most dancers in big companies they often had to wait long periods between good roles and had to dance some choreography that bored or offended them in between. ‘The more successful I was, the more bored I became. I was just repeating myself’.” The Guardian (UK) 04/17/02

Monday April 15

THE BILLY ELLIOT EFFECT: For the first time in its 76 year history, the Royal Ballet has admitted more boys as students than girls. The company attributes it to the movie Billy Elliot, which was released two years ago. The Telegraph (UK) 04/14/02

Sunday April 14

TAKING CENTER STAGE: The rules of how dance and music interact may be changing. “Up through the 19th century, classical music composed for the concert hall remained off limits to ballet; instead, house composers supplied accompaniments to order.” For much of the last century, the dancers were the sole focus, with the music predictably supplied from the pit, or even from a recording. Now, a new generation of choreographers are integrating sound and movement in a variety of ways that bring the music (and the musicians) to the fore. Los Angeles Times 04/14/02

Friday April 12

FROM BALLET TO BROADWAY: Christopher Wheeldon is one of the hottest ballet choreographers in the world right now. But can he transfer his work to a Broadway stage? “I felt that some people were trying to frighten me, because they were saying how tough a Broadway show could be. I was told that when things got rough, it can be unpleasant; that it’s very rare that a team stays intact, and [that] it ends up falling apart at the end.” Christian Science Monitor 04/12/02

ROYAL BALLET’S DOWNTURN: Clement Crisp is depressed by recent turns at London’s Royal Ballet. Ballet companies are born with a genetic make-up as potently formative as that of any human. The Royal Ballet was given beliefs by Ninette de Valois: about a school and a theatre, about roots in the nation’s arts and in an older repertory, which would encourage choreography. The Royal Ballet conquered the world with a distinctive manner of dancing and dancemaking. It is increasingly difficult to reconcile today’s Royal Ballet with its past. Is it, with preponderant foreign principals, still the Royal Ballet? Why has the company’s school failed to produce talent as impressive as Tamara Rojo, Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg, Ethan Stiefel? Why no house choreographer, no musical director?” Financial Times 04/12/02

  • BUT MAYBE IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON: The Royal’s latest outing brings “a welcome sense that the company, after a long stagnation, is beginning to move forward.” London Evening Standard 04/11/02

MIDDLE EAST DANCE: The Israel Ballet is celebrating its 35th birthday this year, a feat many supporters consider as miraculous. It was founded in 1967 by husband and wife team… Jerusalem Post 04/11/02

Sunday April 7

ANATOMY OF A MELTDOWN: What happened to Fort Worth Dallas Ballet? The company seemed to have a lot going for it a few years ago, as it moved into the impressive new Bass Hall. Yet, the company never had a coherent artistic direction, and many say its leadership wasn’t settled. Now the company has a large deficit and its artistic direction is once again “up for grabs.” Dallas Morning News 04/07/02

DANCE AT 30 FRAMES/SECOND: There’s “a new kind of dance-on-screen genre, a hybrid. In these experimental works, the word ‘dance’ expands to all manner of movement: nuns who somersault across seats on a moving train, men who wrestle like bulls in a cow pasture, and a romantic duet between a man and a large earth-moving vehicle. Over and over, its not just a person’s performance, but also the camera’s dance that draws in the viewer.” Los Angeles Times 04/07/02

Friday April 5

SAVING DANCE: “The troubled Fort Worth Dallas Ballet has moved to right itself, securing donations to eliminate a $700,000 deficit, restructuring its board, sketching out a new season and announcing that it will have an interim artistic director soon.The budget had been cut from $5 million to $3.8 million, forcing the cancellation of several performances and layoffs of dancers. ” Dallas Morning News 04/03/02

Wednesday April 3

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE: The Boston Ballet has been in turmoil for the last several years, and incoming artistic director Mikko Nissinen appeared to leap right into the fray a week ago, when he fired a number of the company’s top dancers. But next year’s season has been announced, and a refreshing departure from the norm is in store. “The Ballet’s seasons have traditionally opened with a full-length, name-brand classic, the thinking being that those are the works that are big at the box office. Not this year. The opening program features two modern masterworks along with a world premiere by Jorma Elo.” Boston Globe 04/03/02

JUILLIARD LOSES A LEGEND: “Benjamin Harkarvy, director of the dance division of the Juilliard School since 1992 and an internationally respected ballet teacher, director and choreographer, died on Saturday at St. Luke’s Hospital. He was 71… Before arriving at Juilliard, Mr. Harkarvy had been artistic director of important companies like the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Netherlands Dance Theater, the Dutch National Ballet, the Harkness Ballet and the Pennsylvania Ballet. A methodical and articulate teacher, he was constantly in demand by ballet schools around the world.” The New York Times 04/03/02

Monday April 1

BETWEEN DANCE AND ATHLETICS: Why do we celebrate figure skaters as stars, but not our dancers? “The figure skater embodies one half of our nation’s soul: the individual. Because most dancers start out in the corps, because stardom comes later and unexpectedly, if at all, the dancer evokes the other half: the community. They have distinctly opposite missions. The athlete strives for that all-or-nothing moment in the Olympics’ finals. As Michelle Kwan learned so painfully, a flub that one night can wipe out all the perfection in practice. Though a dancer’s career is short, until retirement, he or she always has one more night, one more performance, often seven or eight each week.” Chicago Tribune 03/31/02

DANCE DIVA: Sylvie Guillem is the reigning queen of London’s Royal Ballet. “For 13 years the tall, wiry Parisienne has been both queen and outcast at the Covent Garden company. She has the biggest fees, the biggest dressing room, and unique choice over her roles. She has a freedom to perform anywhere that is unheard of at the ensemble-minded Royal Ballet. She sometimes refuses the costume prescribed for her, or dances with bare legs.” The Telegraph (UK) 04/01/02