Dance Data Project® (DDP) today announces the release of Global Conversations: From the Ground Up, the fourth round in a series of virtual interviews. Round 4 re-imagines a more sustainable and equitable system for teaching, marketing, and branding ballet and features 10 conversations with a roster of majority women leaders of national dance and presenting service organizations, as well as artistic and executive directors, dancers, and choreographers.
3 March 2021
By Gia Kourlas
“This is so why I wanted to be a choreographer,” she said. “The choreographer has even more power than anybody else because we get to choose who’s in the ballet. Most places I go, I can take anyone in the company. Maybe they’ll nudge and say: ‘Oh, no, no, no, you shouldn’t choose her. You should choose her. She’s better.’ But I can go, ‘No. I want her.’ Every time! And it’s so empowering.”
Read the full article here.
Dance Data Project® (DDP) today announces the Data Byte: Global Resident Choreographer Survey 2021, a mini-report focusing on the gender distribution of 64 resident choreographer (RC) positions at 75 United States and 68 international ballet companies for a total of 143 companies.
This February, in observation of African American History Month, DDP is sharing the stories and names of Black and African American women leaders (past and present) in ballet/dance.
By Kate Silzer
13 February 2021
In a powerful 2019 essay in Artforum, Hannah Black, Ciarán Finlayson, and Tobi Haslett made the case that artists who were slated for exhibition in the 2019 Whitney Biennial had a moral obligation to withdraw their work in protest of the then vice chair of the Whitney Museum of American Art, Warren B. Kanders. Kanders had made himself very rich in part through his company, Safariland, which manufactures, among other weapons and police equipment, teargas used by governments to quash civil protests around the world. The authors cite as historical precedent the New York Art Strike Against Racism, War, and Repression, which kicked off in 1970 after Robert Morris closed his own Whitney exhibition in response to “the killing of students at Kent State, the suppression of the Black movement, and Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia.”
In May 1970, groups of activist artists and members of establishment art organizations gathered together in advance of this strike. Among those represented was Women Artists for Revolution or W.A.R., a feminist outgrowth of the Art Workers’ Coalition (A.W.C.), an organization fighting for racial and economic equality within the New York art scene. Cindy Nemser, an art critic and member of W.A.R., reported on the event for The Village Voice, writing that “neither Morris’s brand of moral indignation nor his proposals were strong enough for all those present.” W.A.R., along with the Art Students Coalition, the A.W.C., and Artists and Writers in Protest, voiced “dissatisfaction with what they considered rather mild palliatives.” This article is one of many primary sources compiled in A Documentary HerStory of Women Artists in Revolution, first published in 1971 and reprinted in 2021 by Primary Information.
W.A.R. existed for a brief yet prolific period, from 1969 to 1971. The group ignited a robust movement against gender discrimination within, and widespread exclusion from, New York City’s patriarchal art industry, particularly by galleries and museums who saw art made by women as inherently illegitimate and therefore ineligible for serious consideration. W.A.R. set out to change this.
Read the full article online here.
By Marina Harss
16 February 2021
On January 1, 2021, Uruguayan ballerina María Riccetto officially became the new director of her national ballet company, Ballet Nacional de Sodre. Seldom has the selection of a new leader felt so apt. Riccetto’s career has been a model of hard work, perseverance and attention to craft, rewarded by recognition and responsibility.
Many ballet lovers in New York City remember Riccetto with great fondness. The former American Ballet Theatre soloist, born and raised in Uruguay, had a very particular quality: the ability to transmit a combination of affability and joy, in roles like the young girl in Le Spectre de la Rose, or Twyla Tharp’s Known by Heart, or even as a flower girl in Don Quixote. When she danced, you felt you knew her.
In 2012 she returned to Montevideo, her native city, at the invitation of Julio Bocca, who had just taken the reins at BNS. It was one of the most significant decisions of her career. She became the troupe’s leading ballerina, performing every important role in the repertory. In 2017, she was awarded a Benois de la Danse for her performance of Tatiana in John Cranko’s Onegin.
Along the way, she became a household name in Uruguay, as universally recognized as the country’s soccer champions. Since last year, she has been a fixture on the Uruguayan version of the TV show America’s Got Talent. There is even a line of perfumes named after her. “Floral, with a hint of jasmine,” she told me.
So it makes perfect sense that, after retiring from the stage at the end of 2019 at age 39, she would be tapped for the company’s top job. When I caught up with her in early February, via Zoom, she spoke from her new office, with a photograph taken during one of her performances of Giselle behind her. What follows is an edited version of our conversation, translated from Spanish.
Read the entire article here.
By Emily Dixon
10 February 2021
Shortly after Adriana Pierce joined Miami City Ballet, someone watched her train and made an assessment: “Is Adriana a lesbian? Because she looks like one.” The comment propelled Pierce into exacting self-scrutiny: “I was like, does my dancing look gay? Do I look different? I am different – is that OK?”
Pierce, who left the company after seven seasons to focus on choreography and musical theatre, has rarely felt represented as a queer woman in the ballet world but with her new movement, #QueertheBallet, she hopes to inspire change. Her first project is a pas de deux en pointe choreographed on the American Ballet Theatre dancers Remy Young and Sierra Armstrong, which she is developing during a dance residency at the Bridge Street theatre in Catskill, New York. “I want to show people an authentic, complex relationship between two women through ballet,” Pierce explains. “I want people to see that ballet can be more than a man lifting a woman in a tutu.”
Although queer men are also largely cast in heteronormative partnerships, while facing well-documented homophobic stigma, the crucial difference for Pierce is visibility. “Queer women aren’t even on the radar in our spaces. I sometimes do experience overt homophobia, but the worst of it is the micro-aggression. I’m just never considered,” she says. “The idea that a woman might deviate from the image we expect as a professional ballet dancer is just not even a thought people have.”
Read the full article here.
By Zoe Phillips
09 February 2021
Last week, Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet celebrated the start of Black History Month with the launch of The Constellation Project, a star-studded online exhibition of dance history. The project maps the lives of six influential Black dancers—Arthur Mitchell, Mel Tomlinson, Lavinia Williams, Mabel Jones Freeman, Doris Jones and Claire Haywood—across a digitally rendered galaxy of historical events, institutions and more. The result is an educational experience that, much like its galaxy-inspired title, will no doubt only continue to grow.
Writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard founded MoBBallet in 2015 with a fairly simple mission: to make the invisible visible. She started with projects like her Roll Call of Black dancers and the Timeline that traces their presence back into the 19th century. These designs highlighted Black artists as individuals, but the more that Howard learned, the more complex these stories became.
“We don’t dance in a vacuum,” Howard explained recently, “and history is not as siloed as it’s presented when we teach it.”
Read the entire article here.
By Margaret Fuhrer
05 February 2021
“How am I supposed to feel confident in myself when these are the ballet body standards?” begins a TikTok video by user @hardcorpsballet. The question stopped this former dancer mid-scroll. An honest conversation about ballet’s cult of thinness? Yes, please.
Then came the slide show: not a parade of waiflike bodies, but instead the well-padded Bear from Boston Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” and the furred and feathered creatures of Frederick Ashton’s “Tales of Beatrix Potter.”
Reader, I giggled.
I had entered ballet TikTok, where a rule-bound art form meets unruly creativity. Casual, confessional and playful, TikTok offers a release for ballet dancers, particularly students, who spend their days chasing impossible perfection. TikTok is a place to laugh about the impossibility, rather than obsess over perfection.
As more and more stuck-at-home dancers join TikTok, it has also become a place to dissect some of the problems and clichés that dog ballet. Users make darkly funny memes about body dysmorphia, eating disorders, abusive teachers, misogyny and homophobia. They are the same issues that dance films and TV shows mine for drama and melodrama. But the wounded whimsy of ballet TikTok reflects what it actually feels like to be a ballet dancer — the frustrations and joys of a demanding, problematic, beautiful art.
Read the entire article here.
Candice Thompson for Dance Magazine
29 January 2021
The Australian Ballet has long been a home away from home for David Hallberg. During a two-year struggle with an ankle injury that required two surgeries, he spent the most pivotal time of his recuperation in Melbourne, working with TAB’s in-house medical and physical therapy team. Combined with a decade of guest performances there, including his triumphant comeback show in December 2016, it seems only fitting that Hallberg has returned to TAB as its new artistic director.
The announcement that you were taking over leadership at The Australian Ballet came about a week before much of the world started locking down due to the coronavirus. How has the pandemic affected your career transition?
When COVID hit, I was about to dance Swan Lake with The Royal Ballet, my last scheduled shows with Natasha [Natalia Osipova]. We’d wanted to do Swan Lake for years, and just as we were finally getting our chance, everything shut down. I got on a plane to Melbourne before the borders shut in Australia. I stayed there for three months, and—this is the silver lining—I got so much preliminary work done.
I’m not used to being on the other side. A lot of the ballet career is passive; if you’re in the machine of a huge organization, the machine just runs for you. So now I’m running the machine, in a way, and I’m green, but I’m learning.
You more or less said goodbye to New York City audiences with ABT’s digital fall gala.
There was supposed to be a farewell tour. I was in shape to dance Siegfried when everything stopped. I essentially took about four months off dancing. After Melbourne, I spent time with my parents and went on an epic road trip. I started getting back into shape in Phoenix and when I returned to New York, some things started to form: Christopher Wheeldon created on Sara Mearns and me for Fall For Dance. We had always wanted to dance together. And then Pam Tanowitz and I worked together on a solo that we filmed for ABT’s gala.
Tell us about your history with Pam.
When ABT Incubator was called the “Innovation Initiative,” she was the first choreographer I brought in. That was 10 years ago, and she wasn’t getting the recognition that she is now. She’s really fascinated with classical ballet, but comes from a completely different background, approaches it with a bookish dissection. Pam’s work is smart, not showy, and well thought out. She doesn’t spoon-feed the audience, nor does she tell the dancers, “Oh my God, do that trick that I saw you do on Instagram.” The solo was actually the first time we’ve ever created together. We did this kind of dark, film noir piece with a vintage feel.
Read the entire article here.
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