Dalia Rawson's New Ballet Studio Company performs at the 92nd Street Y residency. Photo by Daniel Garcia, courtesy of Dalia Rawson

When her teenage daughter asked for advice on pursuing a dance career, Kathryn Roszak realized she couldn't give her encouragement, despite her own experience as a dancer, teacher and dancemaker. Earning a living as a dancer is a challenge, and when you look at potential leadership opportunities? It's a rare opportunity—especially as a woman—even if you danced with a prestigious company.

But Roszak is determined to change that. Last May, she held the first Women Ballet Choreographers Residency at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside, California, to improve visibility and funding for women choreographers. Her next event is in New York City this month: “Moving Forward—Women Ballet Choreographers East and West," a one-day event for 92nd Street Y's Dig Dance series. Roszak pitched the concept and worked with Catherine Tharin, curator for the Fridays at Noon series, to bring West Coast choreographers.

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Parrilla in Boston. Photo courtesy of Jacob's Pillow

Danza Orgánica artistic director Marsha Parrilla uses movement rooted in multiple dance genres as a vehicle for social justice and women's rights in her dance-theater work. This month she brings her company to its first-ever creative residency at Jacob's Pillow.

“We're just thrilled with this honor—it's a huge milestone, and it comes during our 10th anniversary," says Parrilla, who also founded and produces an annual arts festival in Boston, We Create! Celebrating Women in the Arts.

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Chicago's history is central to the Joffrey Ballet's new production.

The Joffrey Ballet's world premiere of Christopher Wheeldon's The Nutcracker takes place this month—a production with a $4 million budget, a creative team of Broadway veterans and a story line featuring the Chicago World's Fair of 1893. It replaces Robert Joffrey's The Nutcracker, which had run continuously from 1987 to 2015.

The Joffrey celebrated its 60th anniversary last season, and the existing costumes, sets and props were in a fragile state. “It was already apparent when I started in 2007 that the beloved production was falling apart—wood was rotting; sets were peeling," artistic director Ashley Wheater says. “It was threadbare, and we were looking at having to build a new production."

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Joshua L. Peugh's Dark Circles Contemporary Dance. Photo by Lynn Lane, courtesy of Dark Circles Contemporary Dance

This month the Dance Gallery Festival celebrates 10 years of helping hundreds of choreographers establish a foothold in the business. Its alumni have gone on to present work at Jacob's Pillow, The Joyce Theater, international venues and on TV.

“We want to find the next artist and the next voice, and we want to create a place for artists to get together and to share," says Astrid von Ussar, the festival's co-founder and artistic director. “It's very hard to be a working artist without funding, and it's hard to present if you don't have an audience or a following. The festival gives up-and-coming choreographers a chance to show their work and hopefully have their careers take off."

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Esmiana Jani and Tamas Krizsa in The Washington Ballet's Juanita y Alicia. Photo by Dean Alexander, courtesy of The Washington Ballet

After just a few months on the job as artistic director for The Washington Ballet, Julie Kent has revamped the company's enrichment programs and its school.

Dance legends will join Kent three times during the season in the series “ICONS: of dance—Sundays at The Joe." American Ballet Theatre artistic director Kevin McKenzie is the first to appear, September 18, to discuss his time training with Mary Day, founder of The Washington School of Ballet (TWSB). A member of the artistic staff will lead another five-part series “Beyond the Stage—Sundays at The Joe," which covers information and history about upcoming main stage works. The first takes place September 25, to discuss the company's 40th anniversary program. And beginning in October, Kent will lead four “Dialogue with Dancers—Sundays at The Joe" discussions where two company members talk about their backgrounds, motivations and approaches to their roles. “You have to support the programming with opportunities for people to learn why the master works are important," she says.

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Dance History

The Denver Art Museum presents “Dance!” this month, a summer-long program celebrating dance history in the United States. Dance-focused exhibitions, local artist collaborations and interactive installations are all designed to create an immersive experience. Activities are built around two major exhibits, and the museum has worked with the local dance community to make them come alive.

Beginning July 10, visitors will be able to trace a sequence of dance steps inspired by iconic American dance films in the installation #dancelab, choreographed by local dance company Wonderbound. Participants’ steps will be projected and combined with others taking part and shared via social media.

Visitors can also explore different dance techniques and mediums in Movement Studio, which has three separate hands-on activity areas for experimenting and hosts demonstrations each weekend, beginning June 4.

Mohawk artist Alan Michelson’s Round Dance video art installation will bring participants into a dancing circle as social protest for a tribe’s right to govern itself without U.S. government interference. It’s part of the larger resident exhibit “Why We Dance: American Indian Art in Motion” (May 29–August 15), which showcases works that present the motives behind Native American dance.

“Dance is essential to native people; it is one of the universal cultural expressions that we all share,” says guest curator Russ Tallchief, great-nephew of Osage ballerinas Maria and Marjorie Tallchief. Paintings and drawings illustrate animal dances, healing dances and rites of passage primarily found in the Plains region and the American Southwest. Native dance regalia on display, Tallchief says, “provide the visitor with a deeper understanding of the symbolism in the construct, design and adornment of what the dancers wear and why.”

From top: Denver-based company Wonderbound; Allan
Houser’s Apache Crown Dance; William H. Johnson’s Jitterbugs.

The other major exhibit spanning the summer, “Rhythm and Roots: Dance in American Art” (July 10–October 2), illustrates how American dance evolved from the private sphere to the public stage. About 90 paintings, photographs, sculptures, costumes, video, music and interactive spaces relate to American dance from 1830 to 1960.

The traveling exhibit was organized by and had its premiere at the Detroit Institute of Arts. “The opportunity to host ‘Rhythm and Roots’ is what inspired us to activate the whole campus around the theme of dance and explore the different ways artists respond to this creative artform,” says Angelica Daneo, curator of painting and sculpture.

Free dance performances will also be held during the summer on Martin Plaza outside the museum. DT

For more: denverartmuseum.org

Hannah Maria Hayes is a frequent contributor to Dance Teacher.

Wonderbound photo by Amanda Tipton; all photos courtesy of Denver Art Museum

Five years in, Brooklyn Dance Festival is gaining momentum.

SynthesisDANCE

It started with a conversation at Starbucks five years ago: How do we create a platform to cultivate and curate concert dance in Brooklyn in a way that makes it easily accessible to the public?

Since then, Tamia Santana and Tracie Stanfield—executive director and artistic director of the Brooklyn Dance Festival, respectively—have watched their audience grow from friends and family to a dance-savvy audience, thanks in part to landing at Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2015. “This is much bigger than we had envisioned. Now it’s a movement,” Santana says.

More than 300 dancers from about 30 dance companies will participate during the weeklong festival, which has three specific segments focused on New York City dancemakers: professional companies, emerging artists and youth ensembles. Some of the Main Stage performers include SynthesisDANCE, 10 Hairy Legs, Frederick Earl Mosley and The Bang Group. “The Main Stage is a professional stage, and we work with a strong, diverse group of like-minded performers,” says Stanfield, noting that some artists participate every year, and some are invited, and that both the emerging artist and youth stages are curated through a submission process.

One unique aspect of the festival is a professional-level boot camp experience for dancers. They audition for the Brooklyn Dance Festival Company and learn an entire piece from a guest choreographer in two days. This year’s guest artist is contemporary modern dance choreographer Sidra Bell. Company dancers will perform the piece during the Main and Next Stage shows.

Last year’s guest artist was Kristin Sudeikis, who returns in 2016 with new work on the Main Stage. “When I was invited to be a part of the festival, it was an immediate yes,” she says. “The dance scene in Brooklyn is vibrant, and this festival feels like it is at the exact right time and the exact right place. There is a pulse about it, a freshness to it, that is exciting.”

Main Stage performances are March 26 at BAM Fisher; the Next Stage and Youth Stage performances are April 2 and April 3, at Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts. Rounding out the festival is Brooklyn Dance Festival Day and a gala on April 4 at Brooklyn Borough Hall. DT

For more: brooklyndancefestival.org

Hannah Maria Hayes is a frequent contributor to Dance Teacher.

Photo by Jaqi Medlock, courtesy of Brooklyn Dance Festival

Arthur Mitchell (left) and George Balanchine

collaboration this month between two North Carolina arts institutions has resulted in a visual and performing arts celebration with one of America’s most beloved dance companies.

The exhibit, Dance Theatre of Harlem: 40 Years of Firsts, at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture, is timed to correspond with Dance Theatre of Harlem’s first-ever Charlotte engagement, at Blumenthal Performing Arts’ Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts.

Arthur Mitchell and Karel Shook founded Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969, shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The exhibit includes photographs and stories about the founders, the school’s formation in a church basement, its progression to a professional company and an overview of its repertoire. Overall, viewers can see more than 250 objects from Dance Theatre of Harlem’s archives, including 25 costumes with set pieces, 55 frames of about 160 photographs, 18 tour posters, four banners and four documentary video excerpts, across sections that walk visitors through a historical timeline of the company.

The show is a perfect fit for the Gantt Center season because it aligns with its recent 40-year anniversary. “It made it easy for us to decide to celebrate two historic institutions at the same time,” says David Taylor, president and CEO. “We are really looking forward to our youth coming and seeing this iconic company perform, and then seeing the exhibit to learn how it got to where it is today. Seeing Arthur Mitchell’s vision and the work of so many come to fruition, and then survive for 40-plus years, is extraordinary.”

DTH performs at the Knight Theater, January 22–24, and the exhibit runs from January 22 to June 26. One of the company’s performances will be dedicated solely to underserved youth. DT

For more: ganttcenter.org

Hannah Maria Hayes is a frequent contributor to Dance Teacher.

Photo by Martha Swope, courtesy of the Gantt Center

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