Forsythe's in the middle, somewhat elevated uses the battement like an attack. Photo by Alexander Iziliaev, courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet
Just before retiring in 2015, Sylvie Guillem appeared on "HARDtalk with Zeinab Badawi," the BBC's hard-hitting interview program. Badawi told Guillem,
"Clement Crisp of the Financial Times, 14 years ago, described your dancing as vulgar."
"Yeah, well, he said that. But at the same time, when they asked Margot Fonteyn what she thought about lifting the leg like this she said, 'Well, if I could have done it, I would have done it.' "
They were discussing Guillem's signature stroke—her 180-degree leg extension à la seconde. Ballet legs had often flashed about in the higher zones between 135 and 160 degrees before. But it wasn't until the virtuoso French ballerina regularly extended her leg beside her ear with immaculate poise in the 1980s that leg extensions for ballet dancers in classical roles reached their zenith. Traditionalists like Clement Crisp were not taken with it.
- Next month, in addition to having artistic advisor and faculty member William Forsythe back in the studios teaching ballet, composition and improvisation, artist-in-residence Fiona Lummis (former Nederlands Dans Theater dancer) will teach repertory by Jiří Kylián.
- Master classes with Bill T. Jones and Hubbard Street 2 will occur in March. Also, Martha Graham Dance Company members will teach a work to students, which they will perform with the company on April 27.
- To cap off their first Spring semester, students will get to take master classes with artist-in-residence Desmond Richardson (DT, January 2016) and Complexions Contemporary Ballet in April.
It’s an exciting time for the University of Southern California! In our September 2014 cover story, we got a peak inside the new USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, which boasts not only former Joffrey Ballet dancer Jodie Gates at the helm, but the coveted faculty addition, William Forsythe, who begins teaching this month. To celebrate the new dance program, USC’s arts initiative Visions and Voices hosts four renowned dance companies during its 2015–16 season.
Tomorrow, September 16, Alonzo King LINES Ballet comes to USC with a mixed-bill program including Biophony, a new work set to recordings of ecosystems from around the world.
Hubbard Street 2 performs at USC, March 23, 2016. Following the performance, director and choreographer Terence Marling will engage in a discussion with Jodie Gates.
Bill T. Jones adapts his work Story/Time for USC dance and music students in March. The piece combines storytelling, music and movement.
To close out the season, Martha Graham Dance Company performs, April 27, 2016. The performance will include one Graham work danced by USC students.
For more info about dance at USC Visions and Voices, visit visionsandvoices.usc.edu.
Bill T. Jones
Photos from top: by Todd Rosenberg; by Paul B. Goode, both courtesy of USC