Dance and Film Fans Agree: We Love Ballet Behind-the-Scenes

We dancers are lucky the rest of the population has become so interested in our craft. It means there are more outlets for films like Ballet 422, which will be featured in the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival (April 16–April 27).

Originally backed through crowd-funding site HatchfundBallet 422 documents the creation of Justin Peck’s latest work for New York City Ballet. Peck has been in the spotlight since he fulfilled his dream of collaborating with musician Sufjan Stevens and fans and critics went gaga over the results in Year of the Rabbit. Paz de la Jolla, an homage to Peck’s southern California home region and NYCB’s 422nd original ballet, premiered in February to positive reactions. Now audiences will see this promising dancemaker’s process in action, and we could not be more excited about that.

The tantalizing trailer shows the always gorgeous (and increasingly popular with mainstream media) Tiler Peck in rehearsal, plus Justin mapping formations, reviewing footage and discussing his vision with the orchestra. Camera crews were clearly given full access, going everywhere from Justin’s apartment to the costume shop to dress rehearsals and live performances.

The film was conceived by former NYCB soloist and director of media projects Ellen Bar and directed by her husband, filmmaker Jody Lee Lipes. Bar says in the Hatchfund description that she has long dreamed of “pulling back the veil on the making of a new ballet.” We feel the same way, and we cannot wait to see more!

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

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Teachers Trending

Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

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Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

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