It may seem that the stork dropped Wendy Whelan at New York City Ballet's doorstep--but she was actually born in the small city of Louisville, Kentucky. Though she never got the chance to meet Balanchine, she was familiar with his neoclassical style when she arrived at the School of American Ballet. She credits Robbie Dicello at the University of Louisville Dance Academy for instilling in her a working knowledge and love of the famous ballet-maker.
"He was so smart; he raised our intellect and desire to understand more. He had a great love for Balanchine's choreography, and in Louisville at that time, we didn't see a lot of that. He taught us about Concerto Barocco, Four Temperaments, Agon--and we were only 12 or 13 years old. We learned the part of the Russian girl in Serenade. He taught us to look past the classroom. As a young dancer, it's important to go to books and videos and learn for yourself about these ballets."
Whelan will perform four contemporary duets with the choreographers Kyle Abraham, Joshua Beamish, Brian Brooks and Alejandro Cerrudo in the world premiere of Restless Creature at Jacob's Pillow, August 14-18.
Photo by Paul Kolnik
Why should students have all the fun? Teachers can get in the back-to-school spirit, too, with NDEO’s latest dance education courses. After offering Mini Courses over the summer, the organization’s Online Professional Development Institute is launching three new classes this fall. And just to be clear, this is an online continuing education institute. That means you can study in yoga pants, from the comfort of your own home or dance studio, possibly while sitting in a stretch, and at your own pace.
Whether you’re working toward the Certificate in Dance Education or simply growing your teaching toolbox, OPDI’s new 12-week courses offer the chance to learn from accomplished experts in the field. Patricia Cohen, Lynn Monson and Karen Bradley will lead Intro to the Professional Teaching Standards for Dance Arts, Creative Dance in Early Childhood and Intro to Dance Education: Theories & Practices, respectively. Bradley has published a book on Rudolf Laban, Monson has held prominent titles in state dance education organizations and Cohen trained under jazz greats. Hungry for knowledge yet? Visit ndeo.org/opdi for more information, then hit the books!
Photo courtesy of Rose Eichenbaum at UC Irvine
If you missed Dancing at Jacob’s Pillow: Never Stand Still in theaters in May 2012, now is your chance to catch it on the small screen. The award-winning documentary will air on PBS this Friday, July 26, at 9:00pm (check local listings) as part of Thirteen/WNET New York’s Great Performances.
Bill T. Jones’ deep voice narrates 74 minutes of Pillow tribute. Suzanne Farrell, Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, Judith Jamison, Mark Morris and other dance world heavy-hitters discuss the Pillow's role in the study, creation, and celebration of dance. These conversations are set against the backdrop of the tranquil festival grounds, interspersed with other stunning visuals: priceless black-and-white historical footage and vibrant clips of recent live Pillow performances.
Experiencing Jacob’s Pillow's idyllic scenery and dance diversity firsthand is, of course, a dream come true, but Never Stand Still comes pretty close! Plus, the film chronicles decades of the festival’s history, so you can catch up big-time on recent highlights. So get cozy at home this Friday night in front of your TV—and don’t forget your Pillow!
Photo by Christopher Duggan
Carbohydrates are necessary to any dancer’s diet—they yield energy. But too many refined carbs can ultimately make you feel sluggish.
A recent study suggests that eating cookies, chips, and packaged foods chock-full of corn syrup can trigger food cravings by causing blood sugar levels to spike at first and then plummet like an amusement park’s drop tower ride. When those levels are down, we head to the fridge or pantry searching for another burst of energy. You can do the math: refined carbs + additional cravings = overeating.
Instead of highly processed carbs that will always leave you wanting more, fill out your food pyramid with lots of whole grains and vegetables. The body takes longer to break these carbs down into glucose, enabling blood sugar levels to rise gradually, instead of frantically. The result? You won’t be constantly returning to the kitchen, and that leaves more time for dance.
Read DT’s “Performance Boosters" for foods to keep you fit, fueled and focused.
There aren’t many opportunities to see 300 feet tapping in sync—unless you own Happy Feet on DVD. But this weekend, “Tap it Out” will give New Yorkers a show to remember. The performance will conclude the American Tap Dance Foundation’s week-long Tap City festival, which has hosted jams, master classes and performances in the area, as well as the 2013 Tap City Awards.
On Saturday, July 13, 150 tap students of all ages from all over the world will converge on Times Square, the perfect place to reflect the ensemble’s diversity. Dancers will perform choreography at noon, 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm. ATDF artistic director Tony Waag, who has been dubbed the “mayor of Tap City,” staged the event as a free a cappella extravaganza for NYC’s public. It may be hard to raise the roof at this outdoor venue, but the metallic symphony of riffs and rhythms is sure to be a hit.
Photo by Sara Krulwich
What do you get when you put devoted young hip-hoppers in a renowned training studio? Crazy, hard-hitting talent. And that’s what you’ll see on “Dance Kids ATL,” a new reality show that promises to serve up some serious moves by pint-sized prodigies.
The series’ pilot episode follows pre-professional dancers ages 9–16 as they prepare for the first competition of the season at Atlanta’s Dance 411 Studios. Celebrity choreographer Sean Bankhead gives students some tough moves—and tough love. Luckily, these kids aren’t afraid to work hard. In the teaser video (below), one tenacious 9-year-old describes Dance 411 as “the dance studio of America,” because alumni have gone on to work with commercial stars like Chris Brown and Usher. He adds, “I see myself going to the top.”
Will dance coach Tracey Berry feel the pressure to measure up to big personalities like Abby Lee Miller on “Dance Moms”? Will the looming, self-described “momager” watching rehearsal from the hallway stir up trouble? And most importantly, what kind of skills do these young, sassy movers have up their sleeves? Tune in to TLC on July 24 at 10/9c to find out!
Photo credit TLC
Amidst the commotion of New York City, it might be easy to forget about the summer solstice—but not for yogis. Friday, June 21 was the longest day of 2013 and the first official day of summer. Yoga enthusiasts arrived in Times Square as the sun rose to usher in the new season, with a united-we-pose mindset.
Officially called “Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga,” the 11th annual event offered a challenge to its participants: “Anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain. Can you find it in the middle of Times Square?”
Yoga in Times Square means coping with pollution, crowding, surrounding noise. But the all-star team of instructors for the event knew how to bring everyone to a collective “Ohm” before long.
Five outdoor yoga classes were offered across five busy blocks of Broadway between 7:30am and 9:00pm, making good use of the ample daylight. Organizers granted free yoga mats to the first 1,200 to arrive to each class and hosted three 15-minute yoga-wear fashion shows throughout the course of the day.
By the end of the event, over 15,000 participants could meditate on their success of finding peace in the city that never sleeps.
Photo of participants by Lucas Jackson
Though Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater enjoys super-star status as a company, its leaders know great dance often grows from humble beginnings. As part of the organization’s Arts in Education department, AileyCamp is designed to serve inner-city middle-school students nationwide. This summer, the oldest AileyCamp location, Kansas City, Missouri, celebrates 25 years of vital dance outreach. Other locations—from Miami to Newark—adhere to the same principles that have guided Kansas City for the past quarter-century.
Children must apply for the tuition-free summer camp, though dance experience is not a prerequisite. The most important attribute for students is the desire to learn and grow. Former Ailey dancer and director of the Berkeley/Oakland AileyCamp David W. McCauley says, “[Alvin Ailey] gently reminded us of our responsibility to give our very best. Remember who you are, imagine who you wish to be, and give it your all!” He adds, “Mr. Ailey always said to his dancers, ‘You are all gods and goddesses!’” AileyCamp presents similarly supportive “daily affirmations,” or resolutions of love and encouragement, ceremoniously recited by a different camper each day.
The day camp offers classes in ballet, jazz, Horton technique, and West African dance, as well as workshops that foster self-expression and personal development. The program also provides counseling in nutrition, conflict resolution, sexual responsibility, and substance abuse prevention. Dancers participate in a culminating public performance at the end of the six-week session.
Photo by Joe Epstein, alvinailey.org