Why NYCB Principal Lauren Lovette Is Glad Her First Ballet Got Picked Apart

Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of NYCB

Lauren Lovette is having a good year. Maybe too good—after creating her first ballet for New York City Ballet last fall, For Clara, she realized she'd checked one of the last items off her dance bucket list. "Once you choreograph on New York City Ballet, you're like, 'Well, I didn't dream past this,'" says the NYCB principal. "It made me feel a little lost. I thought I was dreaming the highest I could. That's what I'm trying to figure out this year—what else do I want?" For starters, she wants to choreograph more. She'll get that chance this month, when she shares a program with three other female dancemakers at the Vail International Dance Festival in Colorado on August 7.

How she decided what her Vail piece would be about "We were talking concepts first, and I gave Damian [Woetzel, Vail's artistic director] a couple of safe ideas. He said, 'No, I want you to do something braver—something you can't do anywhere else.' I told him about my dream to do something to spoken word or poetry, and he said, 'Perfect.' Creating movement to different passages of poetry feels like trying to use sign language without actually knowing sign language. How do I show in a universal way what this woman [slam poet Andrea Gibson] is saying, without copy-and-pasting?"

On her process for this piece "People can only process so much information at once, so the choreography can't be too busy, and the words can't be too rich. I need to cut it in a way that people can digest the information—by not creating too much onstage. I won't have a lot of people dancing at the same time. It's too much for the eyes and ears."

Lovette at work in the studio with NYCB dancers. Photo by Erin Baiano, courtesy of NYCB.

What she looks for in a dancer "I love working with good energies and positive people who are willing to try anything. I'd rather work with someone who's less well-known and unlock something they can do that nobody thought they could."

On being one of the few female choreographers at NYCB "I'm glad I didn't get a rave review on my first work just because I'm a girl. I'm glad it was picked apart. I want to be treated fairly. I want the work to speak for itself. I intend to continue adjusting and fixing and making things more interesting—that's what all the great choreographers do. I have to remember, if the material's good enough, people will respect me."

Training: California Dance Theatre; Cary Ballet Conservatory; School of American Ballet

Performance: New York City Ballet, 2009–present

Choreography: for New York City Ballet (2016); another premiere for NYCB this fall

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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less
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.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.