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Jacques d'Amboise Shares an Unusual Lesson From Balanchine at Dance on Camera's Kickoff Event

Photo by Jeff Eason, courtesy of Dance Films Association

At the Dance on Camera Kickoff Gala on July 16, Dance Films Association honored two beloved dance artists from different generations: Jacques d'Amboise and Trey McIntyre.

McIntyre and d'Amboise. Photo by Jeff Eason, courtesy of Dance Films Association


After a composite of d'Amboise's charismatic dancing was shown, Jacques regaled us with stories. He didn't talk about dancing for Mr. B, he didn't talk about his dazzling turns in the movie Carousel, or how dashing he looked in the emerald green shirt in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. He talked about Tanaquil Le Clercqin Jerome Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun (1953)—a tiny clip of it was in the montage that DFA showed in tribute to him. Apparently both Jacques and Tanny thought the other had gotten permission from Robbins to make a film about Afternoon of a Faun in Toronto, but they hadn't. Jerry was furious when he found out about it. And then…Tanny came down with polio. And Robbins was soooo happy to have a bit of her gorgeousness on film. When Jacques gives her that slow kiss, which she accepts with a glowing stillness, a moment froze in time.

The fun part was a story-with-mime he told about the time New York City Ballet was headed for England and Mr. B decided to give the dancers a lesson in the proper way to drink tea. And d'Amboise's storytelling was delightful, captured below by filmmaker Maia Wechsler.


Trey McIntyre chose to be silent—almost. Ella Baff presented her view of why he is such a compelling dance artist. Then Trey changed his mind and instead pulled us into his next project. He asked us all to say the word "with" after a count of three while he captured the chorus on his iPhone. It was delightful to be part of his next project. His autobiographical film Gravity Hero plays July 23.

The Dance on Camera festival, which goes from July 20 to 24, is packed with 16 programs of films from 17 countries, including Maia Wechsler's If the Dancer Dances.

Music
Mary Malleney, courtesy Osato

In most classes, dancers are encouraged to count the music, and dance with it—emphasizing accents and letting the rhythm of a song guide them.

But Marissa Osato likes to give her students an unexpected challenge: to resist hitting the beats.

In her contemporary class at EDGE Performing Arts Center in Los Angeles (which is now closed, until they find a new space), she would often play heavy trap music. She'd encourage her students to find the contrast by moving in slow, fluid, circular patterns, daring them to explore the unobvious interpretation of the steady rhythms.

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For Parents

Darrell Grand Moultrie teaches at a past Jacob's Pillow summer intensive. Photo Christopher Duggan, courtesy Jacob's Pillow

In the past 10 months, we've grown accustomed to helping our dancers navigate virtual school, classes and performances. And while brighter, more in-person days may be around the corner—or at least on the horizon—parents may be facing yet another hurdle to help our dancers through: virtual summer-intensive auditions.

In 2020, we learned that there are some unique advantages of virtual summer programs: the lack of travel (and therefore the reduced cost) and the increased access to classes led by top artists and teachers among them. And while summer 2021 may end up looking more familiar with in-person intensives, audition season will likely remain remote and over Zoom.

Of course, summer 2021 may not be back to in-person, and that uncertainty can be a hard pill to swallow. Here, Kate Linsley, a mom and academy principal of Nashville Ballet, as well as "J.R." Glover, The Dan & Carole Burack Director of The School at Jacob's Pillow, share their advice for this complicated process.

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Teachers Trending

From left: Anthony Crickmay, Courtesy Dance Theatre of Harlem Archives; Courtesy Ballethnic

It is the urgency of going in a week or two before opening night that Lydia Abarca Mitchell loves most about coaching. But in her role as Ballethnic Dance Company's rehearsal director, she's not just getting the troupe ready for the stage. Abarca Mitchell—no relation to Arthur Mitchell—was Mitchell's first prima ballerina when he founded Dance Theatre of Harlem with Karel Shook; through her coaching, Abarca Mitchell works to pass her mentor's legacy to the next generation.

"She has the same sensibility" as Arthur Mitchell, says Ballethnic co-artistic director Nena Gilreath. "She's very direct, all about the mission and the excellence, but very caring."

Ballethnic is based in East Point, a suburban city bordering Atlanta. In a metropolitan area with a history of racism and where funding is hard-won, it is crucial for the Black-led ballet company to present polished, professional productions. "Ms. Lydia" provides the "hard last eye" before the curtain opens in front of an audience.

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