Dance: October 2002

Monday October 29

DANCE 10, SONGS 10 (IF YOU LIKE BILLY): The Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel Broadway collaboration continues to get respectful reviews. Joan Accocella: “At this point, Tharp needs no arguing for as a choreographer. She is the most inventive dance-maker of her generation, and her crossing of classical ballet with popular forms, which in other hands might have been tendentious (‘We’ll show those ballet snobs’)—and, come to think of it, was a little tendentious, once, even in her hands—has by now yielded her a full, eloquent, and unself-conscious language.” The New Yorker 10/28/02

ON THE LINE: Three years of intense training for Australia’s top young dancers culminates with a single event – a pas de deux exhibition that could make their careers. “Watching closely is David McAllister, the Australian Ballet’s artistic director. He has between three and five places available for next year. On stage tonight are 14 talented young dancers, all desperately wanting one of them. The dancers know that most of them will miss out.” The Age (Melbourne) 10/29/02

MACMILLAN CHARGES ROYAL INCOMPETENCE: One of the reasons Ross Stretton was forced out as director of the Royal Ballet was because Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s widow was ready to withdraw rights for his work. She says Stretton was just a small problem compared to the general incompetence of the Royal’s management. “We are talking about a huge business at Covent Garden, about people’s livelihoods. Though I don’t have any argument with the Royal Ballet’s professional managers, unfortunately, in dance terms, the Opera House has had at its helm a bunch of amateurs.” The Telegraph (UK) 10/29/02

Sunday October 27

ABT, BACK AND BETTER THAN EVER? It was only a year ago that the future of the American Ballet Theatre seemed decidedly uncertain, with lawsuits and backstage infighting overshadowing what should have been a period of celebrated artistic growth within the company. But these days, with a new management team in place and cooler heads prevailing, the ABT is reintroducing itself to the American dance scene, with a well-reviewed New York production celebrating the diverse music of Richard Rodgers and George Harrison. Chicago Tribune 10/27/02

Friday October 25

IF IT WALKS LIKE A DUCK… The Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel project now on Broadway is playing in a theatre theatre, writes Clive Barnes. “But if it looks like a ballet, sounds like a ballet, feels like a ballet and dances like a ballet – it is a ballet, the first full-evening Broadway ballet, at least since Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake a few years back got Broadway’s feet wet. No praise can be too high for the dancing.” New York Post 10/25/02

  • THE MOVEMENT BEHIND THE CLICHES: Ben Brantley writes that Tharp’s choreographic dynamic “keeps you engaged through what, baldly described, sounds like a snoozy series of clichés — the kinds of things regularly sung about, as a matter of fact, in Top 40 pop ballads of the 1970’s. Yet Ms. Tharp and her vivid team of dancers unearth the reasons certain clichés keep resonating and, more important, make them gleam as if they had just been minted.” The New York Times 10/25/02

ABT’S NEW BEATLES HIT: “American Ballet Theatre’s tribute to George Harrison, Within You Without You, given its world premiere at City Center last weekend, is not the first Beatles ballet, but it is the most ambitious. What could have been a gimmick has emerged as a signature piece for ABT.” New York Post 10/25/02

Tuesday October 22

IS DEREK DEANE RIGHT FOR THE ROYAL BALLET? Who will be the Royal Ballet’s next artistic director? “Typical wish-lists can be broadly divided into three categories: superstars, old boys and wannabes. Big names such as Mark Morris, Mikhail Baryshnikov or ABT’s Kevin McKenzie might have international cachet but the house’s arcane management structure and its reputation for ancestor worship might prove hard to bear.” So what about cheeky former English National director Derek Deane? The Telegraph (UK) 10/22/02

TWYLA’S LABEL PROBLEM: So just what do you call the new Twyla Tharp/Billy Joel collaboration that’s hit Broadway? It’s not really a musical. Not strictly dance either. Is it art? A pop entertainment? “I just think dance is very grand. And I think it’s very, very capable – dance can express anything. So you tell me if it’s art.” New York Magazine 10/21/02

Monday October 21

STRIVING TO THRIVE: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal is one of Canada’s major dance companies. But it’s currently in reduced circumstances, and most of its 35 members have been with the company only a few seasons. “Depending on how one looks at it, Les Grands can be thought of as either the most versatile or the least consistent of Canada’s major ballet companies.” Toronto Star 10/19/02

SOUTH CAROLINA’S NEW BALLET: South Carolina’s Greenville Ballet has changed its name to South Carolina Ballet, and has ambitious plans to grow a professional resident company. “For now, the company will work with guest artistic directors and professional dancers. However, by the 2003-04 season, South Carolina Ballet hopes to have its own corps of professional dancers in place.” Greenville News (SC) 10/19/02

Sunday October 20

THE NEW CLASSICS: Remakes of old ballets are an enduring tradition. But “the newest ballet remakes, created by a generation of mostly European choreographers, are different: They want audiences to remember the originals. Many of them prove daring about nudity and sex. Others put classically trained dancers through deliberately anti-classical moves to blur the line between ballet and modern dance. But the biggest change may be their sense of historical precedent. These ballets build on the past and acknowledge it every step of the way.” Los Angeles Times 10/20/02

Friday October 18

DANCING ON SCREEN: “The art of the dance film, a marriage of two art forms as old as the first moving pictures, grows more innovative by the year. No longer a simple matter of turning a camera on a stage performance, dance film and video makers borrow from music videography, from animation and computer-generated film techniques, and from stage technology to create choreography not only seen through the lens but created by contemporary audio-visual capabilities.” Toronto Star 10/18/02

Wednesday October 16

STAR POWER: Dance is a hard sell to a wider audience. Maybe what’s needed is some compelling star personalities… The Telegraph (UK) 10/16/02

Friday October 11

WHO OWNS DANCE? Once a dance is created, its recreation often depends on the memories or records of those who were there at the creation. But who owns the work once the choreographer is gone? “Questions revolve around whether choreographers in fact own their own dances and even wanted those dances to be seen after their deaths.” The New York Times 10/10/02

Wednesday October 9

ROYAL BALLET REMAKES ITS SEASON: After ousting Ross Stretton from the top job at the Royal Ballet in London, the company has dramatically remade its schedule for the current season, dropping ballets and changing soloists. The Guardian (UK) 10/09/02

ALBERTA BOUNCES BACK: A year ago, Alberta Ballet was staring at a $460,000 deficit on a $6-million budget. As anyone in the arts world knows, the past year has been an even worse one financially than the year before. So it was a big surprise last week when Alberta Ballet announced it “has not only eradicated the deficit but even managed to post an accumulated surplus of $44,500.” The financial feat has not been accomplished without some pain, however… National Post (Canada) 10/09/02

Tuesday October 8

ROYAL BALLET IN NO RUSH: London’s Royal Ballet says it is in no rush to appoint a new artistic director, after Ross Stretton was forced out of the job last week. “It has dismissed as speculation reports that the artistic director of the American Ballet Theatre, is the front-runner to take over following the resignation of Ross Stretton.” BBC 10/07/02

Sunday October 6

SAN FRANCISCO CONNECTION: “Unlike other world-class ensembles, San Francisco Ballet does not have a first-rate ‘heritage repertory,’ a repository of great works that grounds a company even as it is building its future.” But in the 17 years since former New York City Ballet star Helgi Tomasson took over the San Francisco Ballet, “he has transformed a respected regional company with a Balanchine tradition into an internationally prominent one, known for the excellence of its dancers and the smartness of its repertory.” The New York Times 10/06/02

Friday October 4

ABT HEAD IN RUNNING FOR ROYAL JOB: Kevin McKenzie is the early frontrunner to take the artistic director job at London’s Royal Ballet. For the past decade, McKenzie has been artistic director of American Ballet Theatre in New York. “Ironically, the former dancer… is the man who plucked the Australian choreographer Ross Stretton from relative obscurity.” Stretton was pushed out of the Royal last week after only a year on the job. The Guardian (UK) 10/04/02

  • BROKEN SYSTEM: Ross Stretton’s quick ouster from the artistic helm of the Royal Ballet has less to do with the kind of job he did than with the deeply flawed process by which he was chosen. The governance of the Royal is an impossible concoction that breeds a culture of irresponsibility, writes Norman Lebrecht. “The artists who risk limb and sometimes life in performance, are obliged to doff their caps to dilettantes and are the last to be told of decisions that affect and often prejudice their individual and collective destinies.” London Evening Standard 10/03/02

Dance: September 2002

Sunday September 29

SOUND MOVEMENT: “No one goes to the ballet for the conductor. But conductors matter.” Music matters too – and there can be a tension between what serves the music and what serves the movement. Which should take the lead? The New York Times 09/29/02

DANCE DIALOGUE: Boston has traditionally been a tough sell for modern dance. So presenters have started a program to not only bring significant dance companies to the city, but also create a dialogue for them with the city. ”We’re hoping to create an across-the-board ferment of interest in dance, to raise the level of awareness.” Boston Globe 09/29/02

Friday September 27

ROUSTING ROSS: Ross Stretton’s ouster as director of London’s Royal Ballet was the result of many factors. “They certainly made the right decision, artistically. Stretton’s first two seasons showed that he had little instinct for either the scope of the job or the character of the company. If he had carried on, it was reasonable to fear for the loss of the Royal Ballet’s unique character, as programming became blandly internationalised.” The Telegraph (UK) 09/27/02

  • WONDERING WHY STRETTON RESIGNED: More speculation about why Ross Stretton quit as director of London’s Royal Ballet, including “accusations of sexual liaisons with ballerinas and a series of behind-the-scenes-rows”. But “ballet unions and management yesterday denied the alleged affairs had played a part in the departure of Stretton, 50, as artistic director.” The Age (Melbourne) 09/27/02
  • ON THE OUTS: Stretton was always the outsider – in Australia when he ran the Australian Ballet, and at the Royal. “Ross is a one-man show. He does it his way. He could do that in Australia but not at the Royal Ballet. That’s not the way it works. It’s too big, and there are too many people involved.” Sydney Morning Herald 09/27/02

Thursday September 26

UNHAPPY DEPARTURE: Ross Stretton’s abrupt departure from the artistic directorship of the Royal Ballet was messy. “After months of mounting resentment about his management style, and whispered accusations of favouritism, his departure after only a year is a humiliating blow to Covent Garden. Publicly, dancers had accused him of confusing audiences by changing advertised casts and making them feel uncertain whether they would be performing in productions until the last minute. Privately, more fundamental concerns were expressed.” The Guardian (UK) 09/26/02

TWO STEPS FORWARD, ONE TO THE SIDE: So how is the Boston Ballet faring under its new leader? Mikko Nissinen has certainly brought buzz back to the city’s dance scene, and most reviewers agree that the quality of performance was up in this season’s opener. But an artistic director can only do so much, and Boston Ballet continues to have something of a bush-league feel: “All four musicians’ names are unconscionably omitted from the program; the insert and the program diverge on the number of intermissions (there are two, not one); the running time is badly underestimated (it’s close to two and a half hours); and after 10 years they still can’t spell principal ballerina Pollyana Ribeiro’s name right.” Boston Phoenix 09/26/02

Wednesday September 25

STRETTON RESIGNS: Ross Stretton, controversial artistic director of London’s Royal Ballet for only one season, has resigned. “Recent reports that dancers were ‘infuriated’ by the Australian’s methods were followed by a series of negotiations to resolve ‘a number of casting and management issues’.” But the negoiations failed and Stretton is gone. BBC 09/25/02

Friday September 20

UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT: “In the most anticipated event in Boston dance in the last decade, Boston Ballet opened its 39th season last night – the first season with new artistic director Mikko Nissinen in charge.” It didn’t take Nissinen long to break with local tradition, scrapping the customary season-opening “story ballet” for a series of modern shorts. Time will tell if he can take the company past its recent history of infighting and high-profile flops, but his debut is awfully promising. Boston Globe 09/20/02

Thursday September 19

DIABLO SAVED: The Bay Area’s Diablo Ballet has escaped oblivion after benefactors came through at the last minute and the company raised the $150,000 it needed to continue. “We have no operating funds and the dancers are waiting in the wings. We’re all on unemployment here. It would have been the end of the company, because I would have had to get a full-time job, as would the staff and the dancers.” Contra Costa Times 09/19/02

Tuesday September 17

CHINESE CONNECTION: Seven dancers from China have been brought to America to teach and perform in Silicon Valley for a year. “Given the outlandish economics of life in Silicon Valley, all seven – five men and two women – are sharing a single three-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment.” San Jose Mercury News 09/17/02

Thursday September 12

REVIVING GRAHAM: A judge’s ruling in favor of the Martha Graham Company and against Graham heir Ron Protas means the company can begin dancing again. The judge ruled that Graham created her work “for hire” and so it is owned by the company. But “retrieving the fullness of Graham’s legacy will prove an uphill task. In his time as director Ron Protas estranged many of Graham’s veteran performers, the very people who knew her works in their bones. Throughout the 1990s, as the company sank further into financial decline, it performed less and its seasons became progressively shorter.” Ballet.magazine 09/02

Tuesday September 10

NOT EMBARRASSING (AS IT COULD HAVE BEEN) BUT AS A PIECE OF ART… One of the most famous (infamous?) attempts at a piece of art about 9/11 so far is Canadian choreographer Brian MacDonald’s Requiem 9/11 ballet, set to Verdi’s Requiem. Even before it hit the stage, the project has been slammed for cluttering up Verdi’s music. Some have charged “that the whole thing smacked of opportunism and was tasteless and gratuitous.” The piece debuted this week at Ottawa’s National Arts Center, and Michael Crabb reports that while not as bad as it could have been, “Macdonald’s actual choreography is uninspired to the point of being academic and prosaic.” National Post 09/09/02

NOTHING SIMPLE: Merce Cunningham gets ever more complex as he gets older (he’s 80). He creates his dances now with a computer: “I am finding out that movement is ever more complicated. I began to see this through working with the camera, because when you look through it you don’t have to think of it as a stage space – you can just move the camera to get a dancer out of sight. With the computer you are asking ‘How does that movement translate to a dancer who is trained to move in another way?’ ” The Telegraph (UK) 09/10/02

SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED: Darcey Bussell has been a star of London’s Royal Ballet for 13 years. “She received an OBE at 25; she has modelled for Vogue; appeared on French and Saunders; her statue is in Madame Tussaud’s; her painting is in the National Portrait Gallery and, if you look her up on the internet, you’ll find 5,880 websites matching her name.” But what she’d really like to be – is a Bond girl. The Telegraph (UK) 09/10/02

Monday September 9

UNION ASSESSING STRETTON: The British performers union Equity is meeting this week with dancers of the Royal Ballet in London. “The union is investigating a series of complaints about maverick Australian [artistic director Ross Stretton], who has been accused of infuriating his company by making last-minute casting changes that leave them unsure if and when they are to perform.” The Independent 09/08/02

CHICAGO (DANCE) BLUES: Why don’t more major dance companies visit Chicago? “Despite some innovative smaller programming and the year-round presence of two of the nation’s leading dance companies, the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, this city suffers some disadvantages that rank it lower than even third when it comes to high-profile visiting dance. Ironically, that’s partly because we are so big: Competition for the entertainment dollar here is fierce, starting with a world-renowned music scene and the second busiest theater industry in the land.” Chicago Tribune 09/08/02

Sunday September 8

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES: When Cleveland’s Public Theatre decided to shut its doors for six months this year to save money and revitalize itself, the decision was applauded as a fiscally sound method of saving a beloved Cleveland institution. But the closing is having a devastating effect on several local dance groups which have called the Public home. The theatre’s management has been working to find a home for some of the troupes, but others are in serious danger of having to shut down their entire seasons. The Plain Dealer (Cleveland) 09/08/02

DANCE MEETS THE TECHNOGEEKS: “With the formal opening on Oct. 2 of the new Dance Theater Workshop in Chelsea, New York dance officially enters the cyber universe. The new D.T.W. is the most technologically sophisticated dance theater space in the nation and perhaps the world, judging by anecdotal evidence from touring dance companies… Every room in the complex is wired for video and computers. Even more impressive is the in-house Artist Resource and Media Laboratory, which will provide arts technicians and dance artists with extensive access to video-editing, digital video creation, graphics layout and digital performance playback.” The New York Times 09/08/02

Friday September 6

THE KIROV’S BACK: “Perhaps no ballet company in the world is more daunting to write about than the Kirov. The company has a deep and detailed past which is the stuff of scholars, and a performance history that is hard to know given restrictions during the Cold War.” Yet the book on the company in recent years is that it lost a step or two. The cliche goes something like: “if the Kirov watches us enough they’ll learn how to dance. Actually, maybe it’s time for us to watch them.” New Criterion 09/02

SAVING DANCE: Dance is an ephemeral artform. After it is performed, it is often lost, usually recreated from the memories of those who were taught it. A video archive project attempts to record the teaching of important roles. “During a taping session, which lasts from one to three days, the teacher coaches young dancers through the principal roles – not the entire ballet – in an informal studio setting; the teacher also takes time for interviews and commentary with a selected dance scholar or critic. The tapes are edited into a final version that is usually about an hour in length. Copies are kept at selected libraries around the world, where they are available for on-site viewing.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram 09/01/02

Thursday September 5

WHY MERCE DOESN’T WATCH DANCE: Merce Cunningham, “rarely watches other dance performances. He says it is because he has too little time, but he also admits, as politely as he knows how, that too much of what he sees is dull. Cunningham, whose company celebrates its 50th anniversary this season, has dominated modern dance for so long that he has acquired the status of guru, wise man, even saint. Changing fashions, artistic burnout and underfunding limit most choreographers’ careers to a decade or so; yet Merce has survived to become a still point.” The Guardian (UK) 09/05/02

Tuesday September 3

GRAHAM COMPANY IS BACK: The Martha Graham Company is preparing to dance again. “The prospect of performing again came with a victory on Aug. 23 in the long and bitter legal struggle over the rights to the name and work of Martha Graham. As soon as the federal district court decision was announced, calls and e-mails went out to the Graham dancers, who had been laid off when the center suspended operations for financial reasons in May 2000. Understandably, they were overjoyed.” The New York Times 09/02/02

DANCE OR FIGHT: Is capoeira – developed 400 years ago in Brazil by African slaves – the next big thing in participatory movement? “It is half a fight and half a dance, beautiful as ballet, brutal like kung fu, and just breaking into the American mainstream, popping up in dance revues and on college campuses, in video games and on the big screen. It is by many accounts the next big thing in the world of . . . well, martial arts, music, dance, cultural studies or all four. “It is physical theater, language with the body, communication without words.” Chicago Tribune 09/03/02

Sunday September 1

GOOD BEAT, BUT CAN YOU DANCE TO IT? Selecting music is one of the hardest jobs a choreographer has. Audiences judge a performance almost as much by what they hear as by what they see, and a score which is grating, or too complex, or, heaven forbid, too pop-based, can ruin a perfectly good dance for a large chunk of the crowd. So when Christopher Wheeldon choreographed a trio of dances to the music of noted atonal, arhythmic composer Gyorgi Ligeti this year, eyebrows were raised all across the dance world. The central question, of course, is what makes a piece of music danceable? The New York Times 09/01/02

Dance: August 2002

Friday August 30

WHY BILLY’S LEAVING: Long before William Forsythe announced this week he would quit the Frankfurt Ballet, there had been rumors. Rumors his contract might not be renewed. Rumors city funding was to be cut. Critics have charged that Frankfurt’s cultural policy has been half-hearted, and that its commitment to excellence is weak. “The short-sighted discussions on whether the culturally derelict banking city wants to keep financing a choreographer of world renown has been simmering for quite a while.” Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 08/30/02

  • Previously: CAN YOU FIGURE OUT WHY HE’S LEAVING? Here’s a resignation speech for you. William Forsyth announcing he’ll leave the helm of Frankfurt Ballet (which he tuned into one of Europe’s most experimental contemporary companies) in 2004 after 20 years: “For the present, I feel strongly that my own methodological evolution would be best served if conducted in a context less integrated into a field of political practice that is, understandably, challenged by the task of establishing primary descriptive models of cultural policy that can be accurately represented by numbers.” The New York Times 08/29/02

AUSTRALIAN BALLET’S NEW ERA: Richard Evans is, at 35, Australian Ballet’s youngest-ever executive director, as he begins the job this week. “This organisation being 40 years old, there’s a lot of conversation about what’s happened in the past, about the ‘golden age’ of the Australian Ballet… but the essence I’m interested in is the future, and what we can do in the next few years to mix a bit of alchemy ourselves and to really take it to a whole other level.” The Age (Melbourne) 08/30/02

Thursday August 29

CAN YOU FIGURE OUT WHY HE’S LEAVING? Here’s a resignation speech for you. William Forsyth announcing he’ll leave the helm of Frankfurt Ballet (which he tuned into one of Europe’s most experimental contemporary companies) in 2004 after 20 years: “For the present, I feel strongly that my own methodological evolution would be best served if conducted in a context less integrated into a field of political practice that is, understandably, challenged by the task of establishing primary descriptive models of cultural policy that can be accurately represented by numbers.” The New York Times 08/29/02

Wednesday August 28

WHO OWNS A DANCE? “A federal judge has ruled that the majority of dances that modern dance legend Martha Graham created belong to the Martha Graham Dance Center, dealing the second blow in as many months to Graham’s heir. Ronald A. Protas had claimed sole ownership to Graham’s dances and their sets and costumes. But U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum ruled that Protas only has the rights to one dance, “Seraphic Dialogue,” a dramatic piece about Joan of Arc. The Martha Graham Center dismissed Protas, who was a close companion of Graham, as artistic director more than a year ago. Graham died in April 1991.” Baltimore Sun (AP) 08/27/02

Sunday August 25

WHAT BECOMES A CLASSIC? “Just what makes a ballet a classic? Consider what happens, or doesn’t happen, in certain productions of supposed classics. We often don’t know what ballet’s classics really are choreographically. Company directors claim to revere the classics. Stars long to dance them. Audiences flock to see them. But what is it that they are seeing or dancing? The choreography for many works has eroded. Some scenes have been altered, some have been omitted and others have been added.” The New York Times 08/25/02

Friday August 23

WHY WE DANCE: Dance is one of the most basic arts. Millions of people dance. So “why do many people still find dance, the friendliest art, so mysterious when they encounter it on a concert stage? Perhaps the problem is communication. When we see another human body, we expect it to look familiar. We also expect to read with ease the physical signals that other people’s bodies send us. Yet choreographers – the artists who make concert dances – give the body an exceptional appearance.” Newark Star-Ledger 08/23/02

Wednesday August 22

ROCKETTES SETTLE: Radio City Music Hall has made a settlement with its Rockettes, averting a strike. The Hall will buy out 41 of the veteran dancers for $2 million – between $30,000 and $120,000 per dancer, depending on length of service. “It’s not the price the Rockettes wanted, but in the context of the negotiations, it was a reasonable price.” The New York Times 08/22/02

BAD MOVES: New York Magazine miscalculated when it fired dance critic Tobi Tobias. But the magazine has been cutting back on space for its other critics, and some might worry other cutbacks are in the works. “Eliminating a major voice from an important venue—either for budgetary reasons or to bring in someone trendier—is not merely a dance-world scandal, it’s a dark comment on the priorities of today’s journalism.” New York Observer [low down in the column] 08/21/02

Monday August 19

DECLINING DISCOURSE ON DANCE: What’s happening to dance criticism? There’s less and less of it. Major publications around the US have been cutting back on dance coverage. The latest to go is New York Magazine’s esteemed Toby Tobias, who was recently let go from the magazine. Orange County Register 08/18/02

Sunday August 18

DANCE FESTIVAL BRIBE SCANDAL: Thirty thousand people are expected in Liverpool to attend Creamfields, Britain’s largest outdoor dance festival. But the festival has been hit with charges of corruption after police “arrested one of the organisers for allegedly bribing a council officer responsible for awarding its licence.” The Guardian (UK) 08/17/02

DANCE FESTIVAL CALLS IT QUITS: Los Angeles dance presenter Dance Kaleidoscope has folded after failing to find a new director. “In its heyday, Dance Kaleidoscope was the city’s premier showcase for local dance, presenting a multi-week festival of modern, classical and world dance performances. In summer 2000, the event included five performances of nearly 30 artists or groups in four locations over three weekends.” Los Angeles Times 08/17/02

Thursday August 15

ROYAL DANCERS WON’T STRIKE: Dancers of the London’s Royal Ballet may be unhappy with artistic director Ross Stretton (they were talking strike earlier this week). But after talks with Covent Garden chief, the dancers have decided not to take a job action. BBC 08/14/02

Wednesday August 14

ROCKETTES REJECT CONTRACT: The Radio City Music Hall and its 41 Rockettes have broken off negotiations on a new contract. Owners of Radio City want to buy out the dancers and hold auditions for each new show. Cablevision, owner of the Rockettes, is holding a firesale of its assets, and trying to cut down on expenses. For now the Rockettes will work without a contract. Newsday 08/14/02

Tuesday August 13

BOURNE AGAIN: Star choreographer Matthew Bourne has had a rough couple of years. “He lost control of his celebrated production of Swan Lake and of his company, Adventures in Motion Pictures, and the big plans to settle as resident company at London’s Old Vic collapsed.” But he’s staging a comeback “His team of loyal dancers, once familiar AMP faces, have formed a new company, aptly called New Adventures.” The Telegraph (UK) 08/13/02

FAILED PROMISE? Ross Stretton’s fortunes as director of London’s Royal Ballet took a quick dive in his first season. “Only last September the Australian walked into Covent Garden as the Royal Ballet’s new boss, full of plans to move the company forward. Today his own dancers are so upset with his style of management that they are threatening to strike.” The Times (UK) 08/13/02

  • NATIONAL SNOBBERY? “There are two main reasons why the first year of Stretton’s three-year contract has ended badly. The first reason is chauvinism. The attitude in the British ballet world is this: Australia does not tell us what to do – we tell it… Sydney Morning Herald 08/13/02

Monday August 12

THE LATEST TRENDS IN DANCE: Toronto’s Festival of Independent Dance Artists is Canada’s largest international dance festival. “The first half of the festival reveals several interesting trends: There is an emphasis on beautiful dance, anchored in strong technique and form. There are also more group pieces rather than a long line of solos. The solos themselves are less introspective and self-indulgent than in previous years. Humour is making a welcome return.” The Globe & Mail (Canada) 08/12/02

ENDANGERED ROCKETTES: Is Rockefeller Center getting ready to toss out its high-stepping Rockettes? “The corporate owner of the landmark concert venue wants to replace the standing roster of Rockettes with a system of open auditions. The dancers with the trademark high-leg kicks have been working without a contract since February.” Nando Times (AP) 08/11/02

Sunday August 11

UNHAPPY ROYAL DANCERS: Dancers in the London’s Royal Ballet are unhappy with director Ross Stretton, who just completed his first season with the company. “The performers’ principal gripe concerns Stretton’s casting decisions, which are said to have left dancers uncertain whether they would be performing in productions until the last minute, and the public attending performances not featuring the advertised cast.” Dancers have considered taking a no-confidence vote in Stretton’s regime. The Guardian (UK) 08/10/02

Friday August 9

ATLANTA HIRES NEW EXEC DIRECTOR: Atlanta Ballet has hired Terri Rouse as its new executive director. Rouse comes from the visual arts world, where she has run museums. “She joins Artistic Director John McFall at the helm of the ballet, which has a $7 million annual budget. The company, with 22 full-time dancers, is coming off a season of critical kudos but struggling with a $1.2 million deficit.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 08/08/02

Wednesday August 7

DANCING WITHOUT A NET: “Nowhere in the nation is there anything like Boulder’s Aerial Dance Festival. It is unique. It is cutting-edge. And during the next few days, students will converge on Boulder to study with the greats of this emerging art form… What, exactly, is aerial dance?” Think low-flying trapeze work, combined with elements of modern and classical dance. Weird? You betcha. Dangerous? Sure. But hey, it’s art. Denver Post 08/07/02

Tuesday August 6

DISAPPOINTING FIRST YEAR: Ross Stretton has just finished his first year as director of London’s National Ballet. How’d he do? “Yes, ballet is a hazardous job and every company gets its share of injuries, but the Royal Ballet right now seems worse than most. Possible causes are choice of repertoire, overworking dancers through casting policies, and the quality (or lack of it) in teaching – all of which must end up on the director’s plate. Not a wonderful end for Ross Stretton’s first year in charge.” The Independent (UK) 08/05/02

DANCE PIONEER DIES: Freidann Parker, co-founder of the Colorado Ballet, has died at the age of 77. Parker and her lifelong business associate and companion, Lillian Covillo, established the Colorado Concert Ballet in 1961 and saw it through a number of incarnations. Today, the Colorado Ballet has a company roster of 30 professional dancers and 30 apprentices. Denver Post 08/06/02

Monday August 5

SCOTTISH BALLET’S NEW COURSE: Ashley Page is about to take over as director of the troubled Scottish Ballet. The company’s directors have declared the company will be remade into a modern company. Page says that will mean expanding the company. He also says that “under his directorship the ballet would be performing an ‘eclectic’ mix of work, which may require the addition of another 10 contemporary-skilled dancers to the company.” The Herald (Glasgow) 08/04/02

Sunday August 4

THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE: Is New York dance on the road to extinction, or at least irrelevance? On the surface, it seems like a silly question. After all, the Big Apple is the undisputed capitol of American dance, and one of the world’s great centers of the art. Certainly, there is “a strong circumstantial case for New York still being the dance capital of the world – until you notice that every one of these attractions relies on a presiding talent that is either middle-aged, old or dead.” So once the Baryshnikovs and the Cunninghams are gone, will young innovators like Mark Morris and Christopher Wheeldon really be able to carry on the tradition of great American dance? The Telegraph (UK) 08/03/02

Dance: July 2002

Wednesday July 31

NEW TURN IN HOUSTON: It’s been 27 years since Houston Ballet last hired an artistic director. With Ben Stevenson’s resignation, the company’s choice of a new leader will say much about what direction it wants to go. “The perception is that it’s a very good dancing classical company, not a great dancing classical company. … That it had reached a very high level of (technical ability), but it has fallen back a bit,” he said. “Everyone feels there’s a company that they can personally improve. Whether or not that is a reality may be more because of what they’ve toured than what the company really is.” Houston Chronicle 07/28/02

Monday July 29

DANCING AS A CRIME: An Iranian American visiting Iran is arrested there for the crime of dancing. Is dancing dangerous? “The truth is that dance can be about communication, rumination and celebration. It embodies ideas about religion, politics, culture, individuality, survival and more. Is dance dangerous? The governments and religions that try to control and ban it think so. The Khordadian case is not just about one dancer. Before him, people have died for the right to dance or, sometimes, they have just died inside without it.” Los Angeles Times 07/28/02

BUILDING A BRAND: A little good marketing and branding would get England’s National Ballet back on the right track again. “Why has high culture such reticence to get down there and exploit its international reputation to bring in hard cash? Tuesday night showed the wealth of talent in the Royal Ballet, and the genuine charisma and star quality of their principals. But, for all the massive interest in dance, they remain known only to a relatively small and select audience.” The Independent (UK) 07/27/02

Sunday July 28

9/11 REQUIEM: Hopes have not been high for a Banff Centre Canadian-government-funded memorial dance to September 11 set to Verdi’s Requiem. The project has seemed, to many observers, as a bit over-the-top. But the work premiered this week and “if not for the title and a brief still image at the end, Requiem 9/11 has the potential to be a nicely costumed, well-lit and beautifully danced generic expression of mankind’s aspiration to triumph over evil.” National Post (Canada) 07/28/02

Wednesday July 24

STILL MOVING INTO NEW TERRITORY: Merce Cunningham is 83, and the subject of a retrospective at Linoln Center this summer. “For all his reputation as a master producer of impenetrably difficult modern dance, Mr. Cunningham’s long voyage through the art of dance has been surprisingly simple. At heart, this journey of six decades has been a matter of ‘how adroitly you get one foot to the next,’ as he describes his notion of rhythm.” The New York Times 07/24/02

Monday July 22

NOT READY TO CONCEDE THE POINTE: “As regulars at Covent Garden will know, the Royal Ballet is changing. Under the new artistic director Ross Stretton the company is becoming less classical and more modern, less traditional and more adventurous. Today’s ballet dancers need to be versatile, to try anything, even if it means going barefoot.” That’s not good news for the company’s more classically inclined dancers. Dancers like Miyako Yoshida, who are not about to give up a career-long devotion to classical training. The Times (UK) 07/22/02

Sunday July 21

RESTLESS IN PORTLAND: Some people just aren’t meant to stay in one place for too long. Such was the case last winter when James Canfield, the 42-year-old Joffrey alum and choreographer of the Oregon Ballet Theater, called his most senior dancers to his office and announced to them his intention to step down from the company. Canfield has built the OBT into one of the nation’s respected ballet troupes, and was certainly facing no pressure to move on, but he described a restlessness that has become a familiar theme in his professional life, one that has almost always resulted in a career move. What’s next for Canfield is uncertain, but there is no doubt that there will be a next. The New York Times 07/21/02

Friday July 19

AUSTRALIA’S GREATEST DANCER: Russell Page was only 33 when he died suddenly this week. Thursday he was eulogized as “perhaps the most talented dancer Australia has produced, skilled in both the old traditional dances and contemporary forms.” A fiery principal dance with Bangarra Dance Theatre “Page was an amateur daredevil and a truly ‘deadly’footballer, often sneaking off from dance practice to play touch footy with Redfern’s street kids.” Sydney Morning Herald 07/19/02

Wednesday July 17

CITY BALLET FALL: A consensus seems to be building among the critics – New York City Ballet is in a state of alarming decline. Why? “The problem at City Ballet lies partly in what’s being danced. Not only is there less and less Balanchine on view, but much of what’s replacing him comes from a very different, often antagonistic, aesthetic.” New York Observer 07/17/02

Monday July 15

DANCING SOUTH AFRICA: “South African dance is the latest global trend to capture the attention of British audiences. Whether it’s been Vincent Sekwati Mantsoe’s ritual dances of possession, or Gregory Maquoma’s wittily constructed statements of personal and political uncertainty, South African dance has seemed to display an identity refreshingly different from our own.” But coming out of a culture of Apartheid, South African dance is in a precarious state, warns one of its leading practitioners. The Guardian (UK) 07/15/02

BALLET TO OPERA? Kevin Garland’s defection from working on building a new opera house for the Caadian Opera Company to becoming director of the National Ballet of Canada has fired speculation about whether the companies might work together. Is the Ballet going to share the Opera Company’s newly brokered home? The Globe & Mail (Canada) 07/13/02

CHOREOGRAPHER KILLED: Noted Russian choreographer Yevgeny Panifilov was found stabbed to death in his apartment. “Panfilov, 47, became popular in the early 1980s when he was among the first to create a Russian modern dance group. He was particularly well known for his choreography of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet, which has been performed in major Russian theaters and around the world under his direction.” Nando Times (AP) 07/15/02

Sunday July 14

THROWBACK AT THE KIROV: “Makharbek Vaziev, the dynamic and opinionated 41-year-old director of the legendary Kirov Ballet, represents something of a break with the past. Unlike his recent predecessors, he was not a choreographer or a star dancer, although he danced respectably in principal roles through the early 1990’s. And unlike ballet directors of the Soviet era, he does not seek to modernize the 19th-century classics, the Kirov’s signature pieces. Instead, he has stirred controversy at home and abroad by presenting reconstructions of these ballets in virtually original versions, based on turn-of-the-century choreographic notation.” The New York Times 07/14/02

SORT OF AN ELITIST PR MAN: Gerald Myers has an interesting job, that of philosopher-in-residence at a dance festival. “In layman’s terms, he is trying to give dance the intellectual respectability that many of its practitioners say it lacks. He contends that scholars like the college president who dismissed dance ‘as that hopping and jumping going on down in the gym’ need enlightenment.” The New York Times 07/14/02

Friday July 12

SF BALLET GETS A WINDFALL: “[California governor] Gray Davis approved $20 million in bond financing Thursday to enable the San Francisco Ballet to renovate and expand its Franklin Street headquarters and fund the creation of new productions, including a new “Nutcracker” in 2004. The bonds will be issued by the California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank, and the Ballet has 30 years to repay the loan.” San Francisco Chronicle 07/12/02

SOFT LANDING: Jacob’s Pillow is 70 years old, and dance luminaries are gathering. “Ted Shawn started the tradition of welcoming the public to ‘Tea Lecture-Demonstrations’ in 1933, and then expanded his invitation into this annual summer festival. Jacob’s Pillow was recently named to the National Register of Historic Places as the oldest continuing dance festival in the United States.” Christian Science Monitor 07/12/02

Thursday July 11

GENERATIONAL MALAISE? Several longtime New York City Ballet stars retired this season. That means a new generation of dancers is being asked to step up. But too many of them seem underpowered and passionless. “This is all too true of many City Ballet dancers these days: technical facility combined with a near-total lack of expressivity.” New York Observer 07/11/02

DEATH STANDS ALONE: Reception to the news that the Canadian government is helping sponsor a dance production commemorating September 11 set to Verdi’s Requiem has not been good. Celia Franca, founder of Canada’s National Ballet: “The Requiem stands alone. It doesn’t need any embellishment. I’m speaking as a ballet dancer and I love ballet, but I feel I also have respect for music. I think it’s a matter of respect for the way Verdi wrote it, and Verdi didn’t write it with ballet in mind.” Ottawa Citizen 07/11/02

Tuesday July 9

REQUIEM 9/11: A flood of art about and commemorating September 11 is on its way. In Canada, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ottawa’s Opera Lyra company, and the Banff Centre for the Arts are teaming up for a piece called Requiem 9/11 – a dance set to Verdi’s Requiem. The production funded in part by the Canadian government, has the feel of an official national commemoration. “I think they’re quite relieved to see that we have this unprecedented collaboration that’s truly national in scope and that’s practically been handed over to them.” National Post (Canada) 07/09/02

DANCE AS CORRUPTING FORCE: “A Tehran court has sentenced Iran’s best-known male dancer to a 10-year suspended jail term for promoting corruption among young people by setting up dance classes in the United States, his lawyer said Monday.” Nando Times (AP) 07/08/02

Friday July 5

TOP JOB SWAP: Kevin Garland, head of the Canadian Opera Company, is leaving to run the National Ballet of Canada. National Post (Canada) 07/04/02

Wednesday July 3

SCOTTISH BALLET CHIEF WALKS OUT: Scottish Ballet’s embattled director Robert North has quit is contract a month before it was to end. North has been critical of the company board’s decision to reinvent as a modern dance company. Glasgow Herald 07/02/02

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER: Katherine Dunham’s name has never been as immediately recognizable as Martha Graham’s, but the 93-year-old dancer/choreographer has contributed arguably as much as Graham to the world of dance. An innovative choreographer, a quietly political crusader, and a devoted student of African and Western dance traditions, Dunham is finally starting to gain the recognition many aficionados feel she has long been deserving of. Boston Globe 07/03/02

Monday July 1

THE DOWN SIDE OF BEING THE TOP GUY: Christopher Wheeldon is arguably the world’s hottest choreographer right now. Does he have any aspirations to run one of the big companies? “I see what artistic directors are going through, and I think it must be one of the worst jobs in the world. You never seem to be able to do what’s right for the company. If you’re trying to push the envelope, you’re attacked for that. If you’re a great advocate for tradition, you are attacked for that.” The Age (Melbourne) 07/01/02

WANTED – A GOOD EDITOR: How long should a dance be? Hard to tell – and choreographers aren’t always the best ones to know. “Novelists submit to editors, and directors and playwrights have dramaturges to help them maximize theatrical impact. Filmmakers trust editors to make the final cut of movies. But choreographers get no such formal assistance while work is being created.” The New York Times 06/30/02

RUNNING OFF TO JOIN THE CIRCUS: For 15 years Sally Ann Isaacks was a star of the Miami City Ballet. But along the way she began to want something different. So she quit the ballet at the end of last season and ran off to join the circus – performing with the Cirque Du Soleil. Miami Herald 06/30/02

CAMP DANCE: Thousands of young dancers across America are off to dance camp. “From early June through late August, many such programs flourish across the country, attracting far more applicants than they accept. While no exact figures on summer programs exist, the January issue of Dance Magazine, in what is considered the most complete listing, included more than 400. The programs are chiefly for young dancers, many of whom hope their progress will be noticed by professionals.” The New York Times 06/30/02

PICTURING BARYSHNIKOV: A new book tells dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov life in pictures. But first he talks about a long career. “In this country, there’s so much dance, so much talent, so much choice. American tradition of entertainment is very strong. We are entertainers, you know, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” The Plain Dealer 07/01/02

Dance: June 2002

Sunday June 30

BACK ON TRACK IN BOSTON? The Boston Ballet has had something of a tumultuous few years, with executives and dancers alike departing the company unexpectedly and under less than ideal circumstances. But this week, the company’s artistic director announced that the ballet will soon be hiring 16 new dancers and four new administrative staff. It’s probably too soon to declare a turnaround, but it’s the first positive sign in what the company hopes will be an eventual reestablishment of its national reputation. Boston Herald 06/29/02

JUILLIARD NAMES HARKARVY SUCCESSOR: “Lawrence Rhodes, an internationally known ballet dancer and administrator and the former director of the dance department at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, has been appointed artistic director of the dance division of the Juilliard School, effective on Monday. Mr. Rhodes succeeds Benjamin Harkarvy, who died in March.” The New York Times 06/29/02

Thursday June 27

DANCING TO VICTORY: The games have been fun. But this year’s World Cup has set a new standard for celebratory dances. “As every anthropologist knows, dance is one of the oldest, most potent ingredients in human ritual. If dance can function as the language of mating, prayer, supplication and commemoration, what more proper way for a team to mark its amazing progress in the World Cup?” The Guardian (UK) 06/27/02

Wednesday June 26

JAFFE’S LAST CURTAIN CALL: 40 may not be particularly old in most professions, but for a ballerina, it is a ripe old age, and one at which most dancers have already hung up their toe shoes. So it was for Susan Jaffe at the American Ballet Theater this week, as the company favorite took her final bows in a well-received performance at the Met. “The 25-minute ovation at the end left Ms. Jaffe, a heap of flowers at her feet, mouthing ‘I love you’ to the audience.” The New York Times 06/26/02

Monday June 24

MISSING INGREDIENTS? In the old days of New York City Ballet, it was a joy to watch talented young dancers come into the company and grow into artists right before your eyes. The stream of promising dancers continues. But somehow these dancers aren’t developing in the ways they once were. “Presumably, part of what is holding the dancers back is their new repertory.” The New Yorker 06/24/02

THE GREAT AMERICAN DANCER: Anyone with eyes can tell why Fred Astaire was considered the great American dancer. He was the first with the most — the pioneer who was also the supreme refiner. On the high end, Mikhail Baryshnikov hailed him as the dancer of the century, and Jerome Robbins created a ballet in tribute to Astaire’s I’m Old Fashioned dance with Rita Hayworth. Starchy Teutonic theorist Siegfried Kracauer praised him for injecting realism in Hollywood films by ‘dancing over table tops and down garden paths into the real world’.” Time 06/22/02

Friday June 21

TALKING ABOUT THE STATE OF DANCE: In Miami 400 dance adminstrators from around America gather for Dance USA. “As the artistic directors of ballet companies from across the country discussed the trials of the past year, money troubles seemed outweighed by advances, such as the number of troupes moving into new buildings or performing arts centers. And in a forum for modern dance choreographers, strategies for attracting audiences ranged from offering birthday cakes at concerts to casting local religious leaders in dances.” Miami Herald 06/21/02

DANCING IN THE REAL WORLD: How to grow the audience for dance? Take it to where people are – the pubs, the streets, the offices. “Site-specific choreography, as Ashford defines it, is a relatively recent phenomenon, although the use of unconventional venues, such as art galleries, museums, warehouses and lofts, for what is known as location-based dance, has a much longer history. These venues provide choreographers with a natural performance space, without the formality and conventions of the theatre. They also allow the audience to experience the performance in a different way.” London Evening Standard 06/21/02

TECHNO DANCE: A Bay Area dance group has created a piece that “combines animation, dance and electronic music to simulate a video game world. The 3-D animation of the characters was created using motion capture – the same technology used to make video games. ‘We’re emulating … the creation of a video game, but we’re creating live performance’.” Wired 06/21/02

POINTE OF DEPARTURE: At a time when many artists are just hitting maturity, dancers reach the end of their careers. This season two of New York’s most prominent ballerinas are retiring: Susan Jaffe of American Ballet Theatre and Helene Alexopoulos of New York City Ballet. New York Post 06/20/02

Thursday June 20

STEVENSON TO DFW: Houston Ballet director Ben Stevenson has been named artistic director of the Dallas Fort Worth Ballet. In 27 years in Houston, “Stevenson doubled the size of the Houston corps, built up a major school of ballet and recruited significant talent. As a choreographer, he gained attention for a great variety of works but was particularly acclaimed for evening-length ballets in the romantic tradition.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram 06/19/02

A NUTCRACKER GONE WRONG: Donald Byrd’s company is shutting down after 24 years. Of course it’s a funding issue, but Byrd says the company’s gamble on a major production didn’t pay off. “For the company, The Harlem Nutcracker was supposed be like capital campaigns for some organizations. It was supposed to push us to the next level of institutionalization. And when you fail at that, you’re like a presidential candidate who doesn’t win the election. You are tossed out and forgotten.” Los Angeles Times 06/19/02

UNCOMMON PRIMA BALLERINA: Royal Ballet star ballerina Darcey Bussell is “tall, beautiful and with that unconscious grace that marks out natural talent; the world has never seen a ballerina quite like Bussell. In today’s age of celebrity, she’s managed what few other dancers before her have: a fearless dedication to her art, as well as an enormous following that has brought her almost pop-star status, with fan clubs, websites, a stint modelling for Vogue, TV appearances, and even interest from Hollywood.” The Age (Melbourne) 06/20/02

Sunday June 16

DONALD BYRD COMPANY CLOSING: After 24 years, Donald Byrd/The Group is closing because of money problems. “A lot of it has to do with debt issues that have been ongoing since Harlem Nutcracker. The $1.2 million production, which had its premiere in 1996, was artistically successful and toured extensively throughout the United States. But Mr. Byrd said he had struggled for six years to pay off the debt arising from it, now about $400,000. His 10-member company, which has an annual budget of just under $1 million, also has an accumulated deficit of another $400,000. Byrd, 52, has been among the most innovative and busy of choreographers in recent years, tackling unusual themes in an unusually eclectic style.” The New York Times 06/15/02

Thursday June 13

TOO LONG AND ELECTRONIC: Generalizations are sometimes dangerous, but it is possible to hold a few obvious truths about this year’s Canada Dance Festival. Choreographers from Toronto and Montreal dominated, the pieces were too long (most were hour-long full-lengths designed to satisfy presenters), and original electronic music seems to be the accompaniment of choice “which seems to be developing a universal template that is best described as cinematic-cum-atmospheric soundscape.” The Globe & Mail (Canada) 06/13/02

BOULDER CUTS BACK: The Boulder Ballet and Philharmonic in Colorado is cutting back operations becauise of mounting deficits, reducing its $2.6 million budget by $400,000. The ballet cuts a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, while the orchestra cuts two of its nine programs. “We have to stop the financial hemorrhaging and we’re close to doing that.” Denver Post 06/13/02

Wednesday June 12

DANCE OLYMPICS: One hundred and eighteen dancers from 25 countries are converging on Jackson Mississippi this week for the USA International Ballet Competition. It’s held every four years, and “the competition is an expensive, stressful, and time-consuming proposition. But for dancers ages 15 to 26, it offers a chance to network and showcase their skills for representatives of some of the world’s most noted dance companies. Outstanding performers are often rewarded not only with prizes, but with job offers and guest opportunities- a real boon for emerging talents.” Boston Globe 06/12/02

IRELAND LEARNS TO DANCE: Contemporary dance has struggled in Ireland for decades. But last month an international festival of dance played to full houses. Is dance finally finding a place in Ireland? “The question is, can a country of fewer than four million with a capital city of about one million support a thriving contemporary dance scene? Fewer than 30 people in Ireland, mostly choreographers and administrators, rely on dance for full-time employment. If the calculation included all members of Irish dance companies, who mostly work part-time as actors or teachers, the total might reach 60.” The New York Times 06/12/02

Sunday June 9

SPEAKING UP FOR DANCE: Modern dance needs an advocate. As an artform it has a lot going against it in developing infrastructures and acceptance. Contemporary dance is often overlooked in mainstream culture. But in New York “some 400 dance companies, of every aesthetic stripe, are at work in the five boroughs. Dance/NYC aims to give them a unified voice.” The New York Times 06/09/02

BACKSTAGE AT THE BALLET: Running the backstage operations of American Ballet Theatre is a complcated manouevre, a ballet of its own, composed of “scene changes, the size and positioning of the sets, the wardrobe, lighting design and electrical needs. It requires coordination with the ballet masters over rehearsal schedules and artistic changes that crop up over the course of performances. And it demands adherence to a budget that comes out of the $4 million a year allocated to production costs.” The New York Times 06/09/02

KEEPERS OF THE FLAME: New York is home to two of the world’s great ballet companies. But “as excellent as the two companies still are on a good night, both seem to be struggling to reinvent themselves, to reach beyond powerful past identities. Ballet watchers have complained that ABT is neglecting its heritage – the profound works of Antony Tudor and the popular ones of Agnes de Mille. City Ballet’s public has complained about the stewardship of the company that Peter Martins has run since the 1983 death of its cofounder, George Balanchine. Martins hasn’t regularly invited key keepers of the Balanchine flame back into the fold to teach the ballets to a generation of City Ballet dancers who never knew the master. Former company luminaries are instead scattered across the country.” Boston Globe 06/08/02

Thursday June 6

BOLSHOI RESCUE: The Russian government has decided to allocate $180 million to fix up the badly-decaying Bolshoi Theatre. “Four and a half years of rebuilding work would start in 2003, performances would continue while work was being done, and the theatre would only be closed for a few months during the summer.” BBC 06/06/02

Tuesday June 4

ABT COMING UP FOR AIR? American Ballet Theatre is one of the country’s great dance companies. Also one of its most financially troubled in recent years. “After a financially trying two years in which productions were canceled, staff members quit, donors defected and the executive director was forced to resign, could Ballet Theater be heading for fiscal and spiritual health? Apparently not just yet.” The New York Times 06/04/02

REPRIEVE IN FRANKFURT? Last week it was reported that the City of Frankfurt planned to close Frankfurt Ballet and cancel director William Forsythe’s contract. Now Forsythe says that “Frankfurt city officials have told him they want his acclaimed dance company, the Frankfurt Ballet, to continue working in the city after his current contract ends in 2004. But he added that a deal was not assured, as the city’s finances are in dire straits.” The New York Times 06/04/02

Sunday June 2

THE BOLSHOI’S MARKET FORCES: For much of its 200+ year history, the Bolshoi has set its budgets based on artistic need rather than theatre economics. This meant ticket prices could be low. Now things are different, and the Bolshoi has implemented a new ticket pricing scheme that more properly reflects the marketplace for its efforts. “This new ticket-sales system increased ticket revenue by 82 percent in its first month. Further price increases, made possible by a new distribution system with many sales points, should push up ticket revenue to $10 million—almost three times higher than last year’s figures—in the 2001–02 season.” McKinsey Quarterly (registration required) 06/02

Dance: May 2002

Friday May 31

BALLET VS OTHER: The School of American Ballet (SAB) at Lincoln Center and the La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts across the street both enroll the city’s best dance students. But their styles are entirely different. “While their styles differ, the two schools have long had an amiable relationship. SAB is strictly a dance academy; students there must go elsewhere for high school courses. La Guardia, a public institution with a reputation for strong academics, has been a popular choice. But the dust has barely settled on a controversy that raises questions about the perpetuation of racism and elitism in the dance world, and the power of the private sector over public education.” Village Voice 05/28/02

SCOTTISH BALLET CHOOSES NEW LEADER: The beleaguered Scottish Ballet has named a new artistic director – Ashley Page, the choreographer and former principal dancer with the Royal Ballet. The company has been rocked since announcing it was ousting its former director and reinventing as a contemporary dance troupe. The Scotsman 05/30/02

Thursday May 30

FRANKFURT KILLS DANCE: In what it hopes will be a money-saving move, the city of Frankfurt has decided to close down Ballett Frankfurt, the city’s acclaimed contemporary dance company. The company is led by choreographer William Forsythe and has earned an international reputation. Says Forsythe: “Ballett Frankfurt has the highest income rate in relation to public subsidy of any cultural institution in Germany. We have a 96 per cent attendance rate at our performances, and I have earned this city 40 million marks [about £12 million] with my touring. What single other person has contributed that kind of money to the city?” The Telegraph (UK) 05/30/02

REINVENTING THE ENGLISH NATIONAL: Why is the English National Ballet’s Matz Skoog trying to reinvent the company? Why not? “Ever since it was founded in 1950 (as Festival Ballet), it has played second fiddle to the Royal Ballet. Not only does it receive a fraction of the latter’s funding – £5m from the Arts Council as opposed to well over £9m – it has less access to the best dance talent.” The Guardian (UK) 05/30/02

Tuesday May 28

MEASURING SUCCESS: Australia’s Chunky Move dance company is exploring success and failure. So it sent out a survey to people around the country “asking them to indicate their favourite and least preferred dance movements – flexed feet, you may like to know, did not score well outside Tasmania – music, costumes and choreographic style. On the basis of a statistical breakdown of the survey results, [choreographer Gideon] Obarzanek has created Australia’s most and least wanted dance work.” The Age (Melbourne) 05/28/02

RESISTANT TO CHANGE: The English National Ballet “badly needs a shake-up. At a time when ballet needs more than ever to supply a young, live, theatrical challenge to the dominance of the internet and TV over today’s culture, the major British companies have been beating a retreat into safe programmes. Now ENB sees its box-office competition no longer as the top world ballet companies but as The Lion King.” But recognizing change is necessary and actually being able to accomplish it are two entirely different things, the company’s new director has discovered. The Telegraph (UK) 05/28/02

  • ATTENTION SOCCER WIDOWS: Male dancers of the English National Ballet have posed in a giant poster ad “draped only in their national flags which are also those of 11 World Cup countries. It’s all in the best possible taste. The text promises: “For 180 minutes of pure artistry (and no penalty shoot-outs)”. We are targeting soccer widows. Our message is you don’t have to sit there on the sofa beside your old man – come and see our fantastic dancers instead.” The Guardian (UK) 05/27/02

Monday May 27

THE BOLSHOI’S MARKET FORCES: For much of its 200+ year history, the Bolshoi has set its budgets based on artistic need rather than theatre economics. This meant ticket prices could be low. Now things are different, and the Bolshoi has implemented a new ticket pricing scheme that more properly reflects the marketplace for its efforts. “This new ticket-sales system increased ticket revenue by 82 percent in its first month. Further price increases, made possible by a new distribution system with many sales points, should push up ticket revenue to $10 million—almost three times higher than last year’s figures—in the 2001–02 season.” McKinsey Quarterly (registration required) 06/02

Sunday May 26

END OF AN ERA? George Balanchine’s choreography built New York City Ballet into one of America’s great cultural institutions. “Now the unthinkable has happened: at the City Ballet, Balanchine ballets have become boring, pompous and passé. Since Balanchine’s death, what was once so vital has become dull and “established: a lifeless orthodoxy reigns. What happened? Balanchine’s ballets are not in trouble just because Balanchine died. They are in trouble because an era has ended.” The New York Times 05/26/02

JUSTIFY THE LOVE: In 1997, hoping to create and encourage an alternative contemporary dance company, Australia’s Victoria government put out a tender for a company it could support. A group called Chunky Move won the support, but ever since the group has been mired in controversy. “It is, perhaps, not unfair to suggest that by their excellence and versatility, the Australian Ballet and the Sydney Dance Company have unwittingly undermined the evolution of alternative groups such as Chunky Move.” But now it’s time for the company to prove “to the dance public and arts funding bodies that their investments and faith were not based on false judgment.” The Age (Melbourne) 05/25/02

BALLET IS GONE WITH THE WIND: Atlanta Ballet has canceled plans to create a ballet based on Gone with the Wind. “Board members felt the company could not take on the $1 million fund-raising drive to create the original full-scale ballet while it was trying to reduce its debt and balance its budget.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 05/25/02

Thursday May 23

FORM OVER FLAMBOYANCE? It is the eternal question of every artistic competition, whether the subject be music, dance, or pairs figure skating: is flawless technique more important than artistic merit, or vice versa? Judges at such events, who tend to be professionals in the field, often prize technique, since they are trained to look for detail and minutiae, while critics and writers may take a broader view, preferring a passionate but flawed performance to one of careful calculation. A recent edition of one of North America’s premiere dance competitions illustrates the point. The Globe & Mail (Toronto) 05/23/02

Wednesday May 22

WHAT EUROPE NEEDS: The three-year-old Carolina Ballet, based in Raleigh, North Carolina, travels to Europe with a production of Handel’s Messiah. This is, writes one German critic, the kind of dance not seen in Europe anymore. It should be. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 05/21/02

Tuesday May 21

IF YOU CAN MAKE IT THERE… Is the Paris Opera ballet school the best in the world? ” The school was founded by Louis XIV in 171. Of the 300 or so who apply for entry each year, some 30 are accepted; after one year, 10 survive; and of these, only a handful graduate.” The New York Times 05/21/02

A REAL NATIONAL DANCE? Classical ballet is struggling in Ireland in a cut-down form. “So should we still aspire to having a full-time national ballet company in Ireland? ‘I don’t think the audience is there to sustain that type of company. A healthy dance culture should have all forms of dance but a full-time classical company certainly wouldn’t be viable.” Irish Times 05/16/02

  • RESPONSE – DEFENDING THE FULL-LENGTH: Should Ballet Ireland give up traditional full-length classical ballets and think about becoming a modern company, as an Irish Times dance critic seems to have suggested? The director of Ballet Ireland argues full-lengths are just what the company’s audiences want. Irish Times 05/17/02

Monday May 20

BALLET SUMMIT: Artistic directors of 11 of the world’s leading ballet companies are meeting in Toronto to discuss the future of the art form. “Audiences are shrinking and many of the big companies, especially in North America, are finding it hard to compete in a crowded entertainment market. The economics of ballet companies, many of which live hand-to-mouth, make it almost impossible to take the kind of artistic risks needed to keep the art form vibrantly alive.” National Post 05/18/02

  • SENSE OF CHANGE: In a public session, the artistic directors talk about the future: “The artistic process is about change. We shouldn’t assume that ballet will go on forever and ever, (Ballet) is a living art form. It’s not a museum and it’s not a church.” Toronto Star 05/20/02

DEFENDING THE FULL-LENGTH: Should Ballet Ireland give up traditional full-length classical ballets and think about becoming a modern company, as an Irish Times dance critic seems to have suggested? [Editor’s note: that story doesn’t appear to be online] The director of Ballet Ireland argues full-lengths are just what the company’s audiences want. Irish Times 05/17/02

Friday May 17

TURNING AROUND RAMBERT: When Christopher Bruce took over the Rambert Dance Company in 1994 “audiences had dwindled frighteningly, and Britain’s oldest dance company – 75 last year – was in danger of being killed off. ‘People were saying there was no place for a repertory company, and the sword was hanging over both London Contemporary Dance Theatre and Rambert. I didn’t believe this at all.” Now, after many years of struggle, Rambert seems to have stabilized, and Bruce is ready to move on. The Independent (UK) 05/13/02

Wednesday May 15

HARTFORD RIGHTS A WRONG: Five years ago Hartford Ballet fired Kirk Peterson, its dynamic young artistic director. He had built a viable company that was starting to get some respect, and after he left, the company eventually went bust. “After five years, the firing is seen by many as one of Hartford’s biggest boneheaded moves instigated by an ill-advised board.” Now reconstituted as Connecticut Ballet, new management has invited Peterson back as a guest choreographer. “It was a leap for both parties that showed imagination, risk and a love of dance.” Hartford Courant 05/12/02

Monday May 13

GOOD YEAR FOR AUSTRALIAN BALLET: The Australian Ballet reports a healthy year – the result of “good box office in Sydney, a short but successful season of Manon in Melbourne, and a substantial increase in government funding.” Sydney Morning Herald 05/13/02

Friday May 10

FOOT FETISH: Chris Wheeldon is “one of the few choreographers in the world today excited by classical ballet. While his European colleagues run amok in soft-shoed philosophising and radical revisionism, Wheeldon carries the torch for classicism. He does it mostly in America, his adopted home, but he’s now back in his native Britain to make a ballet at Covent Garden.” The Times 05/10/02

Tuesday May 7

BALLET’S LATEST STAR: Christopher Wheeldon has been a full-time choreographer for only two years. But it’s been a packed two years – he’s resident choreographer at New York City Ballet, where he’s been hailed a star. And “if anything, Wheeldon has almost too much to do. He’s in London now, making his first big work for the Royal Ballet. He came here from California, where he has just created his second production for the San Francisco Ballet, Continuum. And, just three weeks after arriving back from the Covent Garden premiere, he has another show on in New York.” The Independent (UK) 05/06/02

PORTRAIT OF THE NEW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AS A YOUNG MAN: Mikko Nissinen blows into town as the new director of Boston Ballet. It’s a rock star performance, meeting the staff, the dancers and the company’s supporters. Can he make them forget the company’s recent turbulent times? ”I’m in a great time in my life. I have a fantastic job. I’m one of the youngest directors of the major companies anywhere in the world. Isn’t that great? I’m going to be around for a long time.” Boston Globe 05/07/02

TURNING A BACK ON BALLET: Adam Cooper was a star of London’s Royal Ballet. He played the grown up Billy Elliott in the movie. Then he gave up ballet for musical theatre. Why? “I felt trapped at the Royal Ballet. It is such a tiny world and there is so much snobbery. Some people think ballet is the only important form of dance, and some dance critics perpetuate that view by the kind of work they cover. But there are so many more areas of dance to explore. I very much wanted to use all of myself, not just a tiny part.” The Guardian (UK) 05/07/02

Monday May 6

GRAHAM – FORCING THE ISSUE: Dancers of the former Martha Graham Company are performing this week for the first time since the company shut down in 2000. Rights to Graham’s choreography are still in dispute in the courts, and dancers say they’re performing not to force the rights issue but because they want to keep the work alive. Others fear the dispute will only be further deadlocked. “This is going to impale the dance community on the horns of a dilemma. I see it as a no-win situation.” Newsday 05/06/02

SAN FRANCISCO BALLET AT CROSSROADS: San Francisco Ballet is 70 years old – America’s oldest dance company. The season just ending was one of pleasant surprises and surprising disappointments. With some major retirements coming up, SFB is at a crossroads. San Francisco Chronicle 05/05/02

Sunday May 5

GRAHAM TO DANCE AGAIN EVEN WITH LAWSUIT: Ownership of Martha Graham’s dances is still in legal dispute. But dancers of the Martha Graham Dance Company, who haven’t performed together since May 2000 when the company closed because of financial problems, is putting on a performance of Graham’s work this week in New York. The New York Times 05/05/02

DIAMOND OUT OF THE ROUGH: New York City Ballet’s Diamond Project is ten years old. At least one critic’s expectations for its success at the beginning were quite low. But it has proven a major addition to American dance. “Essentially, the project proclaims that the classical idiom in dance is still worth exploring and exploiting. Part festival, part workshop, it has, at its best, challenged choreographers to stretch their creativity. At its weakest, it has presented the insignificant. Many of the 40 works created so far for the project by 23 choreographers have been discarded. Yet at least 14 Diamond ballets have been picked up by American and foreign dance companies, and more important, many have entered City Ballet’s repertory.” The New York Times 05/05/02

Thursday May 2

LOOKING FOR PRINCESS DI: Peter Schaufuss, the ex-New York City Ballet star, and ex-director of the Berlin Ballet, English National Ballet and the Royal Danish Ballet is putting together a ballet on the life of Princess Diana. “The Princess Diana ballet will follow musicals and operas based on her life in Germany and New York.” BBC 05/01/02

BOLSHOI ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY: “After almost a decade of turmoil, uncertainty and artistic decline, Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater seems on the road to recovery. The theater, which houses both a ballet and opera company under its venerable roof, has a newly reorganized leadership team and has released plans for an ambitious new season. But soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, a legendary figure at the theater until she left for the West in 1974, says that far more drastic changes are required.” Andante 05/02/02

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

Dance: March 2002

Friday March 29

NEW DIRECTIONS: The English National Ballet and the Royal Ballet have new artistic directors. “In a few years, assuming they get what they want, the landscape of British ballet will have changed considerably, thanks to Ross Stretton at the Royal and Matz Skoog at ENB. But what kind of landscape is that shaping up to be?” The Times (UK) 03/29/02

AFTER THE STAR GOES IN: Sarah Wildor was one of the Royal Ballet’s brightest stars when she suddenly quit the company shortly after new artistic director Ross Stretton took over the company last September. Why’d she quit? “If I’d stayed, I would have turned into a nasty, bitter person. So instead of staying and whingeing, I thought, I’m the only person who can make things happen for me, so I’ll take the bull by the horns. And I resigned.” The Telegraph (UK) 03/29/02

Thursday March 28

MORE FIRINGS IN BOSTON: It didn’t take newly appointed artistic director Mikko Nissinen long to throw himself into the Boston Ballet’s way of doing things. He’s firing dancers, including a couple of very popular local stars who, even Nissinen admits, are supremely talented. There may be reasons for dismissals, but it’s hard not to view the actions as just more of the melodrama that has plagued the company for the last several years. Boston Herald 03/28/02

Wednesday March 27

BUILDING BEYOND BALANCHINE: Peter Martins has led New York City Ballet since 1983, having inherited one of the world’s great dance companies. “Martins has been reviled and admired in equal measure. You can criticise some of his changes, but you can’t deny that he has done his utmost to stir choreographic creativity and stretch his dancers with a cornucopia of ballets: 49 for the 2001-2 season, including six world premieres and four New York premieres. No other company has such a large, effervescent repertoire.” The Independent (UK) 03/26/02

Tuesday March 26

CANADA’S NEW DANCE COMPANY: It’s been about 15 years since Canada’s Maritime provinces have had a dance company. Now a new professional company – the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada – is forming in Moncton New Brunswick. “The dancers competed against 60 applicants from 19 countries to win their spots in Moncton. Their reward? All the dancers share a single house, and work eight-to-10-hour days of strenuous physical activity, for which they receive about $500 a week, along with a pointe shoe allowance and benefits. Sound grim? Some of them had never even seen snow before they arrived in the New Brunswick centre, a city renowned for its sizeable annual snowfall.” The Globe & Mail (Canada) 03/26/02

Friday March 22

THE ROYAL’S INJURY LIST: Dancers of London’s Royal Ballet are getting injured. Is it coincidence or is there something wrong? “There has been some speculation that dancers are being forced to pay a high price for suddenly learning a large range of ballets imported by Ross Stretton – six months into the job, Stretton is already facing criticism of his taste, let alone his personnel management.” The Telegraph (UK) 03/22/02

ANYWHERE YOU WANT TO FLY: The Australian Ballet is celebrating its 40th anniversary. To celebrate, Qantas, the national airline, has agreed to fly the company anywhere it performs in Australia. The company has planned more than 200 performances around Australia. The Age (Melbourne) 03/22/02

Thursday March 21

SF BALLET CEO STEPS DOWN: “San Francisco Ballet yesterday announced that Chief Executive Officer Arthur Jacobus will not renew his current contract and will leave his position in one year… Jacobus, who declined to comment on his departure, is credited with keeping San Francisco Ballet financially in the black for the past nine years, a rare achievement in American ballet.” San Francisco Chronicle 03/21/02

Monday March 18

DANCING ON AIR: “A growing group of choreographers in the Bay Area are liberating dance from the ground. In recent years, these artists have been dancing on window ledges, rooftops, clock towers, grain elevators and mountain peaks, not to mention suspending themselves over stages. They have achieved these dramatic feats by exploiting rock-climbing gear, by creating new hanging devices to dance on and by pioneering new ways of moving.” San Jose Mercury News 03/17/02

Sunday March 17

TOUGH TIMES FOR TEXAS BALLET: The Fort Worth Dallas Ballet is in trouble – dancers have been laid off, the season has been cut, and it’s not at all clear who will be the company’s next artistic director. Remaining dancers have staged a benefit to try to keep the company going. Fort Worth Star-Telegram 03/14/02

ALL DANCE IS NOT (RE)CREATED EQUAL: “A work created yesterday is put onstage differently from one reconstructed from pictures and written material. How a ballet is staged may affect what you actually see. A repertory staple, performed continually, carries its own authority; a reconstruction may not deliver total authenticity but still satisfy as an approximation of a lost work.” The New York Times 03/17/02

Thursday March 14

BOSTON BALLET FINALLY GETS SOME LEADERSHIP: “Valerie Wilder, a long-serving and valued manager with the National Ballet of Canada, is leaving Toronto to become executive director of Boston Ballet. Both companies are expected to make an official announcement today. Wilder will work in partnership with Boston Ballet’s incoming artistic director, Mikko Nissinen. Nissinen is also leaving Canada to take up his new post; he is currently finishing a four-year stint as artistic director of Alberta Ballet.” National Post (Canada) 03/14/02

MILWAUKEE BALLET SHAKEUP: In a major restructuring, “Milwaukee Ballet announced Tuesday that executive director Christine Harris and artistic director Simon Dow will not renew their contracts with the company. Harris and Dow are viewed as instrumental in turning the once-struggling ballet company around. Harris joined the company in 1997 and was key in eliminating the Ballet’s heavy debt burden and getting the company back on sound financial footing. Ticket sales continue to increase each year and subscriptions are up 13 percent over the year before.” Milwuakee Business Journal 03/13/02

SHOWTIME FOR SHOES: Few things are as personal (or essential) to a dancer as her shoes. “Ballet shoes are as individual as false teeth. Even the humblest student is offered half sizes and four width fittings (XXX, XX, X and the super-elegant “USA narrow”). Professional dancers are pickier still and their shoes will be made to their individual specifications. Tiny, all-important differences in the height of the vamp, the length and thickness of sole and insole, the width and hardness of the block are all docketed on a little pink slip.” The Telegraph (UK) 03/14/02

Tuesday March 12

GOTTA DANCE: What is it about Quebec that has produced so many good (and unique) dance companies? The province has little in the way of dance tradition, but has produced modern companies with distinctive personalities. Perhaps “Quebecois’ need to express themselves to the wider world may have prompted an unusually high proportion of artists to utilise the language of dance.” The Scotsman 03/12/02

Monday March 11

DANCING TO THE MUSIC: There are choreographers who don’t care much about music in their work. Then there’s Mark Morris. Morris’ work is so wrapped up in music that at times it seems that he cares more about sound than movement. Then again, the movement is so intensely musical…(BTW, is Morris phasing himself out of dancing?) The New Yorker 03/11/02

Sunday March 10

A ROOM OF THEIR OWN: Mark Morris’ new company studio complex in Brooklyn seems luxurious (Morris has a whirlpool in his office so he can sit in the tub while he’s takling meetings, and the company’s changing rooms “rival the ones at Yankee Stadium”). But ”The building isn’t luxurious,” Morris insists. ”It just has everything we need. It only seems fancy because other American dance troupes, except for the big ballet companies, have nothing like it.” Boston Globe 03/10/02

APPRECIATING THE LESS-THAN-PERFECT: “Classical ballet has to a large extent remained the province of perfection, at least in New York City. Jobs are hard to come by for dancers who do not have the properly slender, elongated bodies.” But who’s to say that “flawed” bodies can’t be wonderfully expressive? “The loud-and-proud presence of imperfection on the dance stage can be unnerving, and certainly seems to be giving the self- appointed guardians of the imperfect a new lease on life.” The New York Times 03/10/02

DANCE – A TRADITION OF POVERTY: To be a classical dancer in Cambodia is to live in poverty. Even dancers at the Royal University of Fine Arts – “for everyone who performs and teaches here, art and poverty go hand in hand. Almost penniless, the dance school can barely afford to pay them, and many live second lives as shop assistants, market vendors, seamstresses and motorcycle-taxi drivers.” The New York Times 03/09/02

BEATING UP THE PIT BAND: “It is widely held that ballet music is inferior to opera music, that the orchestra rarely plays its best for ballet, and that ballet music attracts the dimmer, less expensive conductors.” But maybe that’s the perception because of the way ballet scores are conducted. The Telegraph (UK) 03/10/02

Friday March 8

NEW MOVES: Ross Stretton’s brief time as head of London’s Royal Ballet has been rough. “He has been taunted by the British critics, but enjoys much support from the Royal Opera House board, and their new executive director, Tony Hall, eager to attract younger audiences enthused – they hope – by Stretton’s repertoire choices. At least that’s the plan.” But Stretton’s modern repertoire “will mean the birth of a new age for the Royal Ballet, whose 70-plus years’ heritage drags behind it like Marley’s chain, or is its raison d’etre, depending on your point of view.” The Age (Melbourne) 03/08/02

Thursday March 7

TALL TALES OF DANCE: Last week Yana Booth was crowned Miss Great Britain 2002. Her real training though was almost two decades as the only British dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet school. So why isn’t she dancing? She’s tall. “In the ballet world Yana – six-foot tall and a curvy 36-26-36 – stands as much chance of making it as Barry White. Even the fact that her Bolshoi studies were sponsored by the film star Sharon Stone hasn’t eased her plight. ‘When I graduated I wrote to every dance company in Europe. Most of them saw my measurements on the CV and didn’t even call me in for an audition. I was desperate’.” The Telegraph (UK) 03/07/02

Sunday March 3

A CONTEMPORARY TRADITION: A dance festival in Limmerick, Ireland draws dancers from all over the world, presenting a variety of traditions. One of the pressing issues is the tension between tradition and innovation –  “We need to create a contemporary culture out of tradition. What do I need from the past and the present to make my future?” Irish Times 03/02/02

EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD STORY: Story ballets once ruled the dance stage. Then came Balanchine and a long period of abstract dance. But “the rising popularity of story ballets suggests the pendulum of popular taste may be swinging back. The difference now is that we live in an age dominated by film and television. Yesterday’s sets and costumes can’t do the eye-seducing job they once did.” Toronto Star 03/02/02 

DANCING TO THE SINGING: A number of dance companies have recently taken up operas as subjects for dance. “Given the dramatic and musical vitality of great operas and the way the performing arts can borrow from one another, it is no surprise that choreographers venture into operatic subject matter. Yet making ballets out of operas — turning dramas expressed through song into dramas based on movement — requires solving challenging theatrical problems.”  The New York Times 03/03/02

Friday March 1

ANYTHING FOR A CROWD: Moscow’s Russian Imperial Ballet was created eight years ago. Its programs are “constructed on the foolproof principle of trying to appeal to the widest and least discriminating audience possible.” Is this any way to build a company? St. Petersburg Times (Russia) 03/01/02

Dance: February 2002

Wednesday February 27

RAGGED LEGACY: The Kirov Ballet is one of the world’s most-stories dance companies. But “on the evidence of its recent season at the Kennedy Center, though, the company is in a state of confusion, rushing pell-mell in two different and opposite directions at once.” New York Observer 02/26/02 

Tuesday February 26

HERE THEY GO AGAIN IN BOSTON: “Mikko Nissinen won’t arrive in town for good until April, but the Boston Ballet’s incoming artistic director has let go of six of the company’s 43 dancers and decided not to renew contracts for three of its four instructors. This is less turmoil than there was last year, when 15 dancers were laid off. Only a week later, Maina Gielgud, hired to take over as artistic director, resigned abruptly, complaining that cuts had been made without her involvement.” Boston Globe 02/26/02

Friday February 22

NORTHERN BALLET CROSSROADS: Northern Ballet’s new director David Nixon is taking the company in new directions. “It’s a crucial time for both Nixon and NBT – arguably the most popular ballet company in Britain. The pioneering outfit has done much to popularise the artform with its unique ‘dance drama’ approach to storytelling. But last year the company was treading water after the critical drubbing of its ‘exotic’ – read whips, chains and leather – production of Jekyll and Hyde.” The Scotsman 02/22/02

Tuesday February 19DANCING ON ICE: Art or sport? Figure skating likes to have it both ways. And while there’s no question that there’s an art component to ice dancing, “it’s hard to get past the frozen smiles and smug cuteness. So why are critics so eager to review these works?”

Irish Times 02/18/02

Sunday February 17

DANCING FOR THE GOLD: As part of the Olympic Arts Festival (see companion story in Visual Arts,) the Salt Lake organizers have commissioned several dance pieces to be performed during the games. The performances highlight the fine line between dance and sport – after all, what is figure skating but dancing on ice, and what is dancing but an Olympic event sans crooked judges and endless press coverage? Los Angeles Times 02/16/02

Tuesday February 12

WHAT’S WRONG WITH DANCE… The recent ballet season in New York was as excellent as you’ll find anywhere. “But all of this effort only made the truth more glaring: we were wowed, but rarely moved; impressed, but almost never inspired. Where was the edge, the exhilaration, the sense of having been a part of something larger than a masterful pirouette? Has ballet been reduced to a series of sensational athletic moves, a gymnastics of turns, jumps, and splits–and are audiences content to be cheerleaders? Are we so seduced by pyrotechnics that we have forgotten that ballet might also offer something more complex and daring?” The New Republic 02/12/02

Sunday February 10

PIRATE DANCE: “Most of the great dance performances telecast in our lifetimes can’t be bought or borrowed, and probably never will be until their copyrights lapse. If you taped them off the air, great, and if you can afford to visit archives in New York, Paris, Copenhagen and other dance capitals to view company collections, even better. Otherwise, your choice is to do without or to join the unholy ranks of dance video outlaws.” It’s a thriving subculture. Los Angeles Times 02/10/02

REINVENTING LES GRANDS: Montreal’s Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal is one of Canada’s premiere dance companies. But two years ago it was awash in debt and on the downside of a decade of shrinking audiences. But the company’s new director decided to reinvent – transforming a repertory stuffed with modern abstract classics, to one featuring new works with strong narratives. Cheering audiences suggest the strategy is working. The New York Times 02/10/02

Friday February 8

THE ONCE AND FUTURE KIROV: “The Kirov Ballet is to get modern new premises that will alter the pre-Revolutionary architectural landscape of the former Imperial capital of St Petersburg… Yesterday a design by Eric Owen Moss, a Los Angeles-based architect, was presented in the Kremlin. Ultimately, President Putin will decide whether his home town will make the jump from the architecture of the 18th century to that of the 21st. If he favours the project, he will face tough opposition from St Petersburg’s snobbish cultural elite, its hardened Soviet architects and city planners.” The Times (UK) 02/07/02

Thursday February 7

DANCE DOESN’T STUNT GROWTH: A new study finds that, contrary to popular perception, “there is no evidence to show that rigorous exercise affects a young ballerina’s growth or delays sexual maturity.” The Scotsman 02/07/02

MEANING TO DANCE: Is expressing the same as communicating? “Dance is not a universal language. Movement is human, yes, but dance is more specific and has numerous dialects that are like foreign languages to many people. We can’t assume that through our dancing we will communicate with others.” Dance Current 02/02

Wednesday February 6

KOREAN WINS TOP INTERNATIONAL DANCE PRIZE: Three Korean dancers won top prizes, including first prize in the Prix de Lausanne international dance competition. Choe Yu-hui, 17, beat 115 dance students from 21 countries to win the competition, which is staged to identify the world’s top young dancers. Korea Times 02/06/02

Sunday February 3

THE MAN BEHIND MARK MORRIS: Behind every great artist there’s a manager. Barry Alterman plts Mark Morris’s course. “Barry meets people that I don’t meet, he knows producers that I’ve met and maybe can’t even remember the names of, and he’s on the phone with them all the time, encouraging, cajoling.” The New York Times 02/03/02

THE TYRANNY OF MUSIC: “American dance is obsessed with, or even tyrannized by, music. Of course, dance and music have been partners for ages and deserve to continue their pas de deux. Yet fundamentally dance does not need music. Dance needs rhythm.” The New York Times 02/03/02

Friday February 1

GETTING FIT FOR DANCE: Who’s in better shape than dancers? But it isn’t just dance that keeps them fit – members of the Alvin Ailey Company add swimming, tae-boe, weight lifting, step-aerobics, and jogging. “Your body is never going to be perfect. You want it to be better, sure. And you always want what someone else has.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution 01/31/02

REINVENTING A CLASSIC: Just how popular is Riverdance? There are some 15 touring companies doing Irish dance worldwide right now. Before Riverdance came along there was no way to make a living as a step dancer… Glasgow Herald 01/31/02

POSITIVELY PINA

“One of the seminal performance figures of the 20th century, Pina Bausch is a choreographer who has expanded the possibilities of modern dance, opening up the genre to snatches of dialogue, stage visions and chaotic intrusions from everyday life. She is based in an obscure German town where her avant garde, often violent, work attracted furious hostility. Her own company rebelled over her methods but more recently, after she overcame personal tragedy.” The Guardian (UK) 01/26/02