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ABT's Fall Season To Celebrate Herman Cornejo, Includes World Premieres by Twyla Tharp and Gemma Bond

Gemma Bond in the studio with ABT's Cassandra Trenary. Jim Lafferty.

If like us you're already mourning the end of American Ballet Theatre's marathon Met season, don't fear. The company just announced the lineup for its fall season, and there's a lot to look forward to.

Running October 16-27 at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater, ABT's fall lineup includes world premieres by choreographers Twyla Tharp and Gemma Bond. While Tharp has been creating for ABT since 1976 (the company's Met season included a trio of her works), corps dancer Gemma Bond will be making her choreographic debut for ABT's main company. The season also shines a spotlight on principal Herman Cornejo, who will be celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company.


Tharp's ballet will have its premiere at ABT's October 16 Fall Gala, sharing a program with Jessica Lang's Let Me Sing Forevermore (in its New York premiere) and George Balanchine's Theme and Variations, as well as a performance by students of ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School. Tharp's new work, her 17th for ABT, will be set to Johannes Brahms' String Quintet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 111 and will feature Cornejo. It will be given five additional performances throughout the season.

In recent years, Bond has created works for companies including The Washington Ballet, Atlanta Ballet and ABT's Studio Company, and has received a 2017 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship among other awards. She's been a member of ABT's corp de ballet since 2008, making it all the more exciting to see her home company giving her this major opportunity. Her ballet will have its premiere on October 23, with three additional performances throughout the season. It will be set to Benjamin Britten's Suite on English Folk Tunes, with costumes by Sylvie Rood.

Herman Cornejo in La Bayadère

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

October 26 will mark a special all-Cornejo program, celebrating his long tenure with the company. He's slated to dance in works by Tharp and Balanchine. This diverse season will also feature revivals of Balanchine's Apollo and Clark Tippet's Some Assembly Required, as well as the return of Alexei Ratmansky's The Seasons, Lang's Garden Blue, Tharp's Deuce Coupe and Michelle Dorrance's Dream within a Dream (deferred).

Teacher Voices
Photo courtesy Rhee Gold Company

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there has been a shift in our community that is so impressive that the impact could last long into our future. Although required school closures have hit the dance education field hard, what if, when looking back on this time, we see that it's been an incredible renaissance for dance educators, studio owners and the young dancers in our charge?

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It's a Wednesday in May, and 14 Stanford University advanced modern ­dance students are logged on to Zoom, each practicing a socially distanced duet with an imaginary person. "Think about the quality of their personality and the type of duet you might have," says their instructor Katie Faulkner, "but also their surface area and how you'd relate to them in space." Amid dorm rooms, living rooms, dining rooms and backyards, the dancers make do with cramped quarters and dodge furniture as they twist, curve, stretch and intertwine with their imaginary partners.

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Securing the correct music licensing for your studio is an important step in creating a financially sound business. "Music licensing is something studio owners seem to either embrace or ignore completely," says Clint Salter, CEO and founder of the Dance Studio Owners Association. While it may seem like it's a situation in which it's easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission—that is, to wait until you're approached by a music-rights organization before purchasing a license—Salter disagrees, citing Peloton, the exercise company that produces streaming at-home workouts. In February, Peloton settled a music-licensing suit with the National Music Publishers' Association out-of-court for an undisclosed amount. Originally, NMPA had sought $300 million in damages from Peloton. "It can get extremely expensive," says Salter. "It's not worth it for a studio to get caught up in that."

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